Thursday, April 13, 2006

We're Back!

We're back! And boy, did we have a fun trip! We left on Thursday (even though we were supposed to leave on Wednesday) and traveled all night in order to arrive at the Vision Forum-sponsored father-daughter retreat in time. And we did!

The retreat was awesome! Godly fathers such as Scott Brown and Geoff Botkin spoke along with their daughters Kelly Brown and Anna and Elizabeth Botkin. They encouraged the five hundred daughters and fathers at the retreat to embrace their role in the family and fulfill it. It was moving to see daughters give their hearts to their fathers on Saturday night.

On Saturday afternoon we were allowed about five hours to enjoy Callaway Gardens in any way we wanted. Now, most people had cars, but we were among those who had to travel by foot (Paul and my mom had the car twelve miles away at a motel). By the time we finished eating lunch, talking to people, and getting ready for our hike we had only four hours to cover as much ground as we could and still be back by 7:00 p.m. So we set off for an adventure.

We were having such a great hike that we didn't keep track of the time very well. We had 40 minutes to cover two miles to get back for the evening session. It's true that I could run two miles in less than 20 minutes, but would I notice the beauty around me as much? Besides, could my dad keep up? And my legs were tired anyway. So we hiked quickly and we barely made it in time. But we did.

By the time we got back, we had hiked eight miles in all. Yes, if you do the math that averages only two miles per hour (there were many beautiful and interesting things to stop and see along the way). But we were determined to hike at least ten miles total at Callaway. The question was where to find the time during the busy conference? We finally decided to get up extra early on Sunday and between breakfast and church walk the extra two miles in the Azalea Bowl garden which was in gorgeous full bloom.

Later that day my family was reunited and we then headed off to South Carolina to visit my 16-year-old cousin Sith. He has an amazing story to tell. To sum it up briefly, he was saved this past year at Bob Jones Academy (which is where he goes to school) and he is really a dynamic Christian now. God is so wonderful and caring! He extends to all of us, the wretched sinners who deserve hell, His grace and love. Hallelujah!!! Sith's life is a testimony of the miracle that God can work in anyone's life.

The next day we headed off to Stone Mountain, which is just east of Atlanta, Georgia. Stone Mountain is (can you guess) a mountain made out of stone! It's a massive granite monolith about 500 feet tall. After getting seriously lost on the highways at night, we arrived there at about 11:00 p.m. We were tired but we still had to eat dinner and set up camp. On Tuesday, here are some of the things we did (maybe I can some pictures later):

  • Rode a train around the mountain
  • Climbed the mountain
  • Rode the gondola down the mountain
  • Visited several different activities centers for kids
  • Toured a museum
  • Explored an antebellum plantation
  • Rode on a paddlewheel steamboat in the lake beside Stone Mountain
  • Watched the laser show on the side of the mountain after dark
  • And more...
Stone Mountain was so great that it was hard to leave it on Wednesday! We made a driving loop around Stone Mountain and kept making stops and side trips. Once we finally left, we took a long stop at a Lego store in Atlanta. We didn't actually leave Atlanta until 7:00 p.m. and we had to be in Fort Worth, Texas by 8:30 a.m. or else I would lose my debate round! So we drove...and drove...and drove...all night long. After 13 hours we finally arrived at the tournament with TWO MINUTES to spare! I was scared that we weren't going to make it, but we did! Hooray!! Three cheers for my parents!

Now I think I'll shift gears to the tournament. It was like the last one except that Paul didn't do quite so well but I did better than I did at the last tournament. I qualified for regionals in Open Interpretation and Paul qualified in all five of his speech events, but not debate. There's always next year though!

As you can probably tell I had a wonderful time on this rather lengthy trip!