Sunday, June 18, 2006
Photo 1: A stream we passed over at the entrance to Polyface Farm in the Shenandoah Valley.
Photo 2: Tournament attendees walking in front of "Founder's Hall" at Patrick Henry College.
Photo 3: Paul waiting to perform his speech in Semi-Finals.
Photo 4: Reflection of the "Monticello" building in PHC's Lake Bob.
Photo 5: Ten people from Austin qualified for NCFCA Nationals and this picture includes nine of them. [l-r] Front row: David Umstattd, Paul, Brian Morgan, Madeleine Sullivan. Back row: me, Monica Calderon, Cynthia Umstattd, Brisa Calderon, and Justin Louis. Not pictured is Kristin Rodgers.
Photo 6: Another look at the Patrick Henry College campus.
The reason I haven't posted in a while is because we went to Virginia for the national home school NCFCA speech and debate tournament (a.k.a. Nationals or Nats) and then Paul and I were at the last AWANA camp...ever. Nationwide, AWANA has called this summer the last summer for its camps. Really sad news :(.
We started for Virginia on Friday, June 2 at 11:00 p.m. We drove...and drove...and drove...out of Texas...through Arkansas...from one end of Tennessee to the other...and into Virginia. Twenty-three hours after our start we stopped in Salem (near Roanoke), which is a few hours across the Virginia border. On Sunday morning we left early for another three hour drive to church near Winchester to meet our old friends, the Coles family. That was a completely breathtaking drive up the Shenandoah valley between the Appalachian Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains. At church we met the Gowdy family for the first time.
After church we stopped at the Salatin's farm. We knew Sheri Salatin when she used to be a Margason in Texas. It was so interesting to see how differently they run a farm than how most farms are. Everything they did was based on Biblical principles and is highly organic. That night we stayed in Fredericksburg at the house of our cousins Ron and Sharon.
Then on Monday afternoon we went to the Nationals opening ceremony which was held in a large church just north of Dulles airport. My mom's cousin lives about an hour away so we spent the night there. Paul was almost late for his speeches on Tuesday due to traffic (and spending 30 minutes on a near-futile search for a gas station), so we decided that since we had to be there even earlier the next day we would move to a closer place, so we stayed in a motel in Winchester. The entire Coles family came to the tournament on Tuesday and we had lunch with them. They were so neat! Wednesday night was the banquet social. That was probably the most fun time of the tournament...and that's saying a lot! Then the NCFCA president announced "breaks"or advancements. I felt...well...super joyful...when I heard that Paul "broke" to semi-finals (technically tremi-finals, that is, three rather than two rooms of semi-finalists) in Open Interpretation!
Thursday: Paul performed in semi-finals and that night we stayed at the Gowdy's house. The Gowdy's have three daughters: Ellen (15), Anna (13), and Mary Lee (11). We laughed...and laughed...and talked...and talked. They are totally awesome people!
Since Paul didn't make it to finals we watched people who did until 4:00 p.m. Because of time constraints, we had to skip the final debate and the closing ceremony, but we were anxious to get back to Texas as soon as we could to get to Awana camp.
Before I change the topic to Awana camp I must say something. Nationals was the best tournament I have ever been to!!! I'm so glad that I got to go. I saw the best in the nation...the most talented...the dramatic ones that made me cry...the humorous ones that made me laugh my head off...the persuasive ones that swayed me in their direction ...and the best ones of all that taught me more about God and how to grow in faith.
Awana camp was great! I got there three hours late, but I only missed orientation. I'm not sure how to describe it, but I will say that I grew so much there in my spiritual walk. Being a soldier of God was the main theme of camp this year. I'm trying to be one and at camp I found other people who are as well. Now through correspondence we can grow together. Camp was a great experience!