“When you wish upon a star, it makes no difference who you are. “
That’s the phrase that comes to mind when I think of Disneyland, there is something about a place that when you enter you are enveloped by these types of messages. Things of wishes, dreams and wonder are often left in the state of childhood. Regardless of age and where you come from, the minute you enter the park everyone has the same access to all the Disney magic. You might have to wait in long lines and manage through busy crowds, but everyone with a ticket to the “Magic Kingdom” is able to enjoy the benefits of the “happiest place on earth”.
I recently had the pleasure to visit the park along with a few teen moms and their kids from YoungLives. There’s something special getting to witness others experience places like Disneyland, especially through the eyes of a child. At every turn there is wonder and amazement. Children have a way of reminding us the simple and beautiful things that make us human. We spent a whole 12 hours walking around the park and making the most of all the sites, rides and delicious treats. The park was decorated for Christmas with trees, trimmings and many, many lights. It was the sweetest thing to see the moms delight in sharing this experience with their little ones. Throughout the entire day they were all smiles and carefree spirits, the kind that comes when you are in the moment and embrace life’s simple pleasures. These moms are some of the bravest women and they model so much sacrifice and love for their kids, to say this gift was a treat is an understatement.
One of the things I appreciate about serving with YoungLives is that they do many amazing things to help and care for teen parents and their families, but what stands out is how they don’t just strive to provide basic needs, they go above and beyond to restore love and dignity with gifts and experiences like Disneyland. They may start with the practical, but they move on to help these teens to believe in themselves and their futures. They say that raising a child takes a village, and for those that are a part of YoungLives, they get to experience community and support in ways that allow them to not just thrive but flourish.
That day, God reminded me once again, it really doesn’t matter who you are. Even greater than Disneyland, the invitation into the Kingdom of God and access to the abundant life is available for all. Regardless of where we’ve been and what our circumstances are we can step into the reality of life and joy to the full. That is what the gospel is all about, Jesus desires to restore hope, love and new dreams to all those who would accept the invitation.
Ellie Fonseca, YoungLives Mentor