Yesterday was our official Disney Day, and we were at it from sunup until after midnight (hence the lack of blog post last night). It was an amazing day! Most of our groups went to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for the day, since we hit Magic Kingdom the night before.
Hollywood Studios included tons of Star Wars shows, rides, and souvenirs! There was also Indiana Jones attractions, the Muppets, Disney characters, the Tower of Terror, and Aerosmith’s Rockin Roller Coaster (which was AWESOME). At the end of the evening they ran a spectacular Star Wars lights and fireworks show that may have made a few of us sci-fi geeks tear up a little…
This morning we got packed up, checked out, and went to closing worship. Our bus driver is the best and arrived early enough to pull up to the side door, so we loaded the bus and slipped out before the huge rush hit! We are officially on the road to KC now. This has been a fantastic trip and we are grateful to everyone who helped make it a reality (especially our church family, everyone who contributed to the memorial fund for Lyle Brown, and for Liz Brown who chose to give us that fund for the trip)! You all are the best. See you in 24ish hours…
Today was our workshop day. In between the bookends of morning and evening worship, we attended multiple workshops and meals. The topics were diverse: peacemaking, addressing modern slavery, creating worship services for youth, finding the gospel in Pixar movies, and so many more. We spread ourselves out to cover more ground, and also had time for exploring the resort and swimming.
Worship services included great music, Hawaiian dance, scripture, social media, and inspiring talks from youth and adults who are working to change the world. We were encouraged to believe in each other and believe in the unconventional.
Tonight, after a quick meeting, we’re headed to bed early. Tomorrow is our Epcot education and service project day, so we have to be up VERY EARLY. We’ll check in more tomorrow!
After 23 hours on the road, we pulled in at the massive Disney hotel & conference center that will be our home for the next few days. Thanks to the hard work of Cara Massie, who flew in and started the process of checking us in at 8 am, when we got here we were in our rooms within an hour. With a few thousand arrivals all at once, that was no small feat.
After getting into our rooms, we had a few hours to rest, shower, swim, and explore. Then we ate a delicious dinner in the huge dining room and headed to the exhibit hall before worship.
The exhibit hall includes booths from many event sponsors: Disciples/UCC colleges & seminaries, general units of both denominations, mission organizations, and more. At the Locks of Love booth many NYE participants (including Emma B. and Rev. Lara) received hair cuts and each donated 10 inches of their hair — the hair will be used to make wigs for people who suffer from illnesses and treatments that cause hair loss.
Worship included greetings from the general ministers of both denominations, as well as a special parade of signs and banners for all the Disciples Regions and UCC Conferences represented at this event. Our speaker tonight was an inspirational young man who has created environmental advocacy programs in his Florida community. This tied into the theme for the day: “Believe in the Earth!” It is amazing to worship God with thousands of other DOC/UCC youth from around the country and world!
Tonight, after some after-sessions and evening swimming, we’re headed to bed. It will be so good to sleep fully stretched out instead of cramped up in bus seats, and we have to rest up for a full day of workshops, worship, and play tomorrow.
We’ll check in again tomorrow evening. Until then, be well and Believe!
This afternoon we gathered at Merriam Christian Church, loaded the bus, and picked our seats. After prayer, a few group pics, and a quick visit from our Regional Minister, Bill Rose-Heim, we started the long haul to Orlando.
On this journey to the National Youth Event there are 17 of us from FCC Smithville, and another 28 folks from churches around our Region. We’ll post pics and stories as we go, and invite you to join us via this blog (as well as through your prayers)!
Today was our last full day in Saint Louis, and we made the most of it. We started by working all morning at the Saint Louis Food Bank — a huge warehouse that receives, sorts, stores, and distributes food donations to food pantries and other organizations all over Eastern Missouri and Western Illinois (much like Harvesters in Kansas City). Working with other other volunteers, over the course of three hours we packed and labeled 5600 pounds of frozen black bean patties that were donated by Morningstar Farms! That translates to 4571 meals for people who are hungry and/or food insecure.
After our work was done, we went on a tour of the food bank, including their huge freezer area. Then we ate lunch in their break room and debriefed the week’s work with Sue, our work coordinator. Everyone agreed that it has been a truly great trip filled with very meaningful service and education.
After lunch, we hung out at the Saint Louis Zoo. Our time there included train rides, a sea lion show, the brand new penguin habitat, and the opportunity to pet stingrays! Then we ate dinner and root beer floats at Fitz’s to celebrate a wonderful week. Tomorrow we’ll clean and load up, spend some time at the Gateway Arch, and then drive home to Smithville. We’ll see you then!