There are not words to describe the incredible joy God has brought me through the Walt Disney World Summer Mission. I am still astounded at the many incredible things He has done this summer. I had so much anxiety going into this mission over whether I would make friends, whether I would grow spiritually, whether I would even like working at Disney World… But barely a week in, God proved all of these doubts completely wrong. Just a matter of days into the mission I had so many friends, I was being challenged in my faith, and while I was still wary going into my first job outside of ministry, I knew Disney was the place to be. And now, here I am, sitting on a plane ten weeks later, trying not to cry in front of complete strangers as I reflect over all the things I learned this summer.
One of the things God taught me this summer was how to get along with people who are completely different from me. Half way through the summer, Cru staff left the mission and handed the reins of leadership over to the students. We were a group of 18-24 year olds who barely knew how to adult, trying to coordinate 50 people toward one goal of telling people about the love of Jesus. There was conflict. All of us had our own way of doing things, and were pretty set in these ways. It took a lot of compromise and prayer on everyone’s part to orient the mission in the right direction. Even within my carpool group, we had four strong, distinct personalities, who each wanted to do their own thing. Human beings are selfish. We are sinful and hard to get along with. But somehow, on mission, despite this sin and personality differences, we pulled it together and worked as one Body of Christ, reaching out to the World.
This summer, I also felt God confirming His call for my life to be a missionary. Now, I loved working at Disney World. If any company could get me to have a normal, retail job for a summer, it would be Walt Disney. However, I know now that I could never be satisfied in a job like that the rest of my life, even at the Happiest Place on Earth. I never had a moment where I felt joy going to work, or felt like I was right at home while ringing somebody up. It was a great job, and I enjoyed seeing all of the magic around me, loved watching Mickey float by in the parade every night, and hearing about every single guest’s experience on Space Mountain. These moments all made my summer incredibly special; however, the moments when I truly felt that I was doing what God had me doing for the rest of my life were the moments building up others spiritually. They were the moments when I got to have deep conversations with my roommates about life and where they are spiritually, the moments I got to learn about God in Bible study, or plan an evangelism event, or invite a co-worker to be a part of what Cru was doing. Disney World is great. But Jesus is greater.
Finally, this summer God also blessed me by reminding me that He is always alive and active around me if I just stop to watch and pay attention. Two years ago at this time I was getting back from a mission trip to Athens, the first time in my life I had truly experienced spiritual warfare. On that trip, God taught me the power of prayer, and had showed me the ways He shows up if only asked. I came home from that trip determined to pray more in everyday life. It worked for a little while, but over time my prayer life began to fizzle out. For the next year and a half my spiritual life felt dry, and I couldn’t figure out why until this summer when I began praying again. It started when, one day driving to work, two members of my carpool group began discussing all the times at work they pray when they have downtime, or when they’re not talking to guests. They brought it up so casually, like it was a normal thing, and I began to wonder – why isn’t it? Why don’t I talk to God every chance I get? That day at work, I just happened to be assigned Door Greeter for two hours. This is one of those jobs where you get a lot of downtime. I stood outside in the Florida heat, Mickey glove on my waving hand, and smiled at guests who barely noticed I existed – and I prayed. For two hours I prayed over all the guests walking by, told God what was going on in my life, and shared my emotions with Him. Two hours later I went down to my break sweaty, hungry, and full of the Spirit. Has my prayer life improved 100% since then? No. But it was a starting point for my growth.
So there you have it! Walt Disney World Summer Mission 2015. God was good to me, and I made friends that will last for a lifetime. As I go into this school year, I have set many goals to continue living out what I experienced on mission. Some of these include:
- Praying more. Every time I get a spare moment such as walking to class, getting ready for bed, or even making dinner, I want to turn to God and tell Him what’s going on in my life. Jesus is my best friend, and like any other friend, I want to talk to Him daily, being open and honest about what is going on in my life to build our relationship.
- Have one quiet time a week that is extended. Every Friday, Cru set aside two hours for reading the Bible and journaling thanksgiving to God. Taking that time out of my week to reflect on God and thank Him for the many blessings He gave me that week really helped me orient myself toward Him. It’s definitely something I want to continue.
- Share what I’ve learned this summer with others, and mentor other students toward God. This semester I want to be intentional about encouraging others toward their faith in God. I am so excited to go back to ACU and accomplish this!
- Lastly, I want to keep in touch with people from summer mission. I experienced something truly amazing and magical with them this summer, and it is an experience that cannot be shared with other people. Saying good-bye to everyone was hard, and it might be easy now to go back home and forget that those people I’ll never see again existed, and forget everything I did on summer mission. I don’t want to do that. I want these friendships to continue so I can see how everyone grows in their faith and is used by God.
As I take my next steps in life, I pray that God will use everything I learned this summer to continue shaping me and those who I come in contact with. Stay tuned for more stories to come as I reminisce the next few weeks!