GLENDALE, Calif. --- A team of 50 Glendale Academy students has returned safely from a successful mission trip to Disneyland. The teens emerged from their chartered bus positively radiant and buzzing with life-changing stories despite the grueling 90-minute return trip.
"All those bake sales, missions offerings and walk-a-thons were totally worth it," said 16-year-old Senior Class Pastor Kristen Rodgers. "This experience has taught me that no sacrifice is too great when it's for a higher cause."
Many students spoke of how privileged they had felt to share their faith by smiling, waving and chatting with fellow park-goers behind them in line.
The teens had planned a variety of different outreach activities. The Space Mountain team focused their energies on that particular ride, confident that repeat exposure to the same park staff would make them more effective in their outreach. Also, 17-year-old Dana Lim described the Space Mountain gift shop manager as "the hottest guy I have ever seen."
Other teens opted for a more scatter-shot approach at the counsel of staff sponsors who warned them not to get too attached to fleeting attractions. "We reminded students that we are called to be in the world but not if it," said Mrs. Becky Delgada, who led a team that tried to go on as many rides as possible to cast a wide witnessing net.
When it came to meals, students were delighted at how much of the local cuisine they could eat. The park was a vegetarian wonderland of Dole whip, french fries, frozen lemonade, churros and giant slices of cheese pizza. "I had no problem with the local food," said 15-year-old Danny Delacruz.
Students did their best to blend in, spending their fundraising dollars on elaborate Disney T-shirts and personalized Mickey Mouse ears. "It's so important to be culturally sensitive," said Anthony Lee. He also took several stunning nature shots from the jungle cruise safari to show friends and family that had sacrificed for him to go on the trip.
"The Disneyland trip taught me so much," said Junior Class President, Jamila Patton. "Up until this experience I had taken clean bathrooms for granted. Those bathrooms by the entrance were a real eye-opener. I took one look at them and decided that I would just hold it in."
"I always thought I was going to teach and be a blessing, but really I was the one who was blessed," said Patton of her Disneyland outreach experience. "There really is so much that we share that it's time we're aware it's a small world after all."
By closing time, students found it really hard to say goodbye to the park and all the cute potential converts they had befriended during the day. They vowed to come back the minute they had raised the money for another trip. The next fundraising effort is for season passes as there is so much more that must be done. "The harvest is ripe for the reaping," said Patton.
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