Monday, March 21, 2011

Night Of Joy 2002

Night of Joy, 2002
The student ministry of Wesley Memorial UMC had some definite momentum as we exited the Summer of '02.  Our mission trip to DC, our Myrtle Beach trip, our Youth Week and all of the little relationship building events had created a sense of community and some real excitement.  Our next big event, Night of Joy at Walt Disney World, seemed to pulling it all together.  We were only going for Saturday night, and we had way too many youth signed up for our van, so I chartered a bus.  We left mid-afternoon on the 90 minute ride over to WDW and were in the Magic Kingdom at 7 PM when the gates opened.  Our group was excited for a variety of reasons.  Some were psyched to hear artists like Audio Adrenaline, Jacquie Velasquez, Plus One and Michael W. Smith.  Others were more interested in Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and the other attractions of the MK.  And the high school guys...well they were just excited about Ed's Sister.

Let me bring you up to speed.  Ed Smith (along with his wife Robyn) was a part of our Youth Ministry Team, and he was with us on this adventure (that's him squatting in the front of the picture).  Ed had a lovely 20-something sister named...well, no one could ever remember.  I didn't know her.  The older guys guys, for whom Ed was the small group leader,  just knew her as Ed's Sister.  And they were all "in love."  When word leaked that Ed's Sister (front row, far left) would be joining us at Night of Joy their excitement levels went through the roof.  There was one (actually lots, but for the purposes of this story, one) major problem.  Ed's Sister would be joined on the trip by her boyfriend, Ed's Sister's Fiance.  Nonetheless, we invaded the park with great energy and enthusiasm and had a marvelous evening.  As we chatted and caught up on everyone's evening in the park on the bus ride home (around 2 AM), I was reminded of an essential truth of student ministry.  An important part of building relationships is a shared history.  Nothing gives a group more of teenagers more shared memories than a trip.  Every trip is a completely unique experience, because that particular group of people will never be together in that place again.  Every person is important to the event.  The memories you create are special to that group and help create a bond that cannot ever be removed.  This trip helped to cement the relationships that had begun to bloom that summer.

A couple of years later we would return to Night of Joy from Tampa with a huge group, staying 2 nights at Disney's All Star Sports Resort and having an amazing weekend.  But the roots of that story (to be told later) could be found in this simple little bus trip from 2002.  And while I like to think my creative planning was the key to the whole thing, I know this to be true- it wouldn't have been the same without great people like Ed Smith... and Ed's Sister!  Every person counts.

Because of Jesus,

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