We had the best week of our lives traveling to Florida with our mamas and their children. 15 girls, 14 children, 7 leaders and 7 child care workers were along for the ride.
All year we've focused on making our girls feel seen and loved. Our camp trip is the epitome of this. Southwest Airlines graciously helped us roll out the red carpet for our friends by chartering a plane just for our group and our travel companions of 3 other YoungLives areas from the DFW area. They helped us with excellent service from the moment we arrived at Love Field. After check in, we announced to the girls that we would be heading to Disney World before camp. They couldn't believe it.
We arrived in Orlando and headed to Disney's All Star Movie Resort. Night one kicked off with a pizza party by the pool. The next day, we headed to Magic Kingdom. I loved watching the girls be kids themselves, loving rides and excited to meet their favorite characters. At the same time, I saw them be incredible mothers as they cared for children, endured the heat, patiently waited in lines, and engaged with their children. We set them up to give their kids an incredible day at the "Happiest Place on Earth." Our girls went to the max. I watched the firework show that night with two of our girls and their toddlers. Tears flowed down my cheeks as I watched their looks of awe and wonder. It was truly a gift.
The next morning we loaded up buses and headed to Young Life's Southwind where we spent the next 5 days proclaiming the Gospel to these girls and continuing to awe them with love, service, and excellence. They were told that we love them because God loves them. They heard that He has a plan for them and for their children.
We told our girls that they "mommed hard" all week. Traveling with small children and parenting in a different environment is no small feat. One of our mamas came on the trip with a 5/6 week old and dominated it! One highlight of the week was hearing the girls talk about how empowered they felt as moms because they were able to do it all and care for their children. They had a lot of time to bond with their children during the time at Disney World, participating in swim lessons from Linda DeSanders of Dolfin Swim School who traveled with us at camp, and time at camp like the kiddie carnival. It is beautiful to see these young women love and adore their children. We want them to be excellent mothers regardless of their past experiences.
Many of our friends responded to the message of Christ's sacrifice by choosing to walk in relationship with God. At the end of the week we celebrated 6 of our girls choosing to begin a relationship with Jesus. We were overjoyed.
After leaving camp, we surprised the girls one last time by taking them to the beach for two hours. None of our girls had ever seen the ocean before and two of them cried when they saw it's beauty. They soaked up the beauty of creation after spending a week learning more about the Creator.
Our leaders are continuing to walk with these girls back home. They've all received bibles and some bible studies to begin learning more about God on their own. Some leaders are doing the study alongside the girls. We continue to gather them together and they've started to gather themselves. A few of our girls have started looking for churches to attend (Would love any recommendations for Spanish speaking options with good theology!). Our prayer now is that these girls would be "good soil" and that we would be able to fight back against the sun scorching their faith or the weeds choking it out.
Thank you for the opportunity to give these girls the best week of their lives!