Post-Trip Checklist: 5 Ways to Keep Your Pilgrimage Alive
Wonder Voyage has been the leader in pilgrimage adventures around the world for two decades. Our guides have been the doorkeepers of wonder to over 12,000 participants. This puts us in the unique position to hear twenty years of stories post-pilgrimage and mission trip. There’s not a month that goes by that we don’t receive an email, a call, or have a face-to-face conversation with a person who joined a Wonder Voyage in their youth.
One of the questions I like to ask is, “What did you do after your pilgrimage to keep the experience alive?” Through these conversations, I have collected five key ways to keep the pilgrimage experience alive long after you return home. We encourage all teams to incorporate one or more of these principles into their post-trip routines.
Tell Your Story
As you share two or three significant stories from your pilgrimage with the important people in your life, those stories will anchor into your soul. The stories might be a moment of wonder that you experienced or a story you heard that stirred your heart. Keeping it to yourself is not nearly as satisfying as sharing your moments with others.
How Have I Changed?
What is one way you have shifted gears in your mind and heart over the course of the pilgrimage? Make a commitment to walk a path that honors that change. Again, it is vital you share with others that there has been a shift.
A good guide asks each participant to answer a question on the first day of their journey: “Why are you on this pilgrimage?” Our journey often takes us to a place very different than we expected. It’s vital that you take time after the trip to reflect and ask yourself, “Why was I on the pilgrimage?” Recognize the difference in the answers to those questions and acknowledge those moments of wonder that went beyond what you thought possible.
I hope you kept a daily record of your time on pilgrimage. Whether through words, pictures, online posts, or little relics you collected, set a date on the calendar for six months post-pilgrimage and revisit that record of your adventure. Reassess how you’ve changed and where you’re traveling in life at this point.
Cultivate the relationships that formed while you were on your adventure. You spent a once-in-a-lifetime voyage with people.. Build off that common ground. Spur each other on to new adventures. Be the reminder for each other that says, “I know that experience was real. I was there.”
When a person goes on vacation, they go as a tourist. They want to be entertained, they want to rest, and they want to have fun. A pilgrim will obtain all those things, but there is a deeper movement behind their voyage. They go as wonder seekers, asking big important questions, and they are open to moments that may change the trajectory of their lives. Think back to your trip. Find a quiet spot and pray. Ask the Creator to reintroduce you to the wonder you experienced on your pilgrimage and ask yourself if you’re willing to continue down the road you discovered on your voyage. Then do one last thing:
Plan your next pilgrimage no matter how big or small it may be.
After a decade working in parish youth ministry Shawn started Wonder Voyage Missions. Over the last 15 years, WVM has led thousands of pilgrims to over forty countries. Shawn is a storyteller and an award winning filmmaker. He is an author who brings the gift of engaging narrative to our journeys. Shawn is dedicated to creating voyages that give people abundant opportunities to encounter God.