I just got back from Greenville, Illinois for national bible quizzing finals.
Before I left I had a lot on my mind, waiting to see how things would work out this time. I was not wanting quiz finals to be like it was last year- the whole not wanting to talk to anyone, not wanting to participate in anything, and not wanting to be there attitude. Somehow, I just knew that God was going to make this Quiz Finals special for me.
If you’re a Facebook friend of mine, you could so totally tell I was ready for this, with my countdowns, my study updates, and definitely my common behavior of mentioning it so many times. And if you’ve talked to me in person in the last few months, I probably said something about meeting my friend from Illinois- Haven, the one I talked to on the phone, the one who wanted to sing with me, the one I’ve never actually met. So even though I was extremely excited for this, I still had some things to talk to God about- the things I was nervous for, the things I remember from last year.
On my way to Greenville, I was “napping” (no, just jamming out to my music with my eyes closed.) and trying to contain that inside screamy feel, all while getting texts from other quizzers asking how far I was, or how much longer until I got there. I was getting closer and closer to this Jesus party that I had been anticipating all year. And I just really wanted to meet Haven. We were running a little late because of frequent bathroom stops, and Haven was helping with worship, so I knew I would have to wait until the evening activities to see her.
But we arrived soon enough, sat down in a pew, and I received my first tap on the shoulder- a friend from Kentucky! When it was time to stand up for worship, they were introducing the worship team, and Haven’s name came up, and my whole team looked at me and smiled.
Later in the evening when it was time for activities in Scott’s Field (with inflatables!!!) I was walking around looking for people and my name was called. My friend from Kentucky with my friend from Illinois- woo! I hugged Haven and Grace, who is another friend from Greenville that I was looking forward to meeting. Then the whole group of us went over to some steps and sat on them and talked.
I ate breakfast with Haven the next morning, and gave her the gift I got for her- a music journal for her to write her own songs in! With the hug that came with her “I love it,” I smiled because I felt a part of something special.
On the first day of quizzing, my team was undefeated. And yes, I totally did pre-jump a three part question in individuals and get it right. I never pre-jump, and I was sort of expecting to not do well, considering I was quizzing against all guys (I made it to individual finals twice in my conference, but was never able to out- jump the five guys I was placed with). But I heard the words “3 part question…….subject to judgment” and had to jump because I knew it was from a chapter I memorized. And even though it was the only question I answered, and didn’t make it to finals, the way I felt to see my light up first and to get that pre-jump right was awesome, and I was literally shaky from it the whole day.
Wednesday night was the testimony service, and just like at conference finals, I was thinking about what I would say if I actually got up there and talked. I didn’t end up talking, but I really enjoyed listening to how God works- how he heals. And knowing from experience the Grace that comes from God in the healing process, I hugged someone at the end of the service, someone who maybe hasn’t experienced it all just yet, and told her that it gets better. I will remember the look that was on her face when I came up to her for a long time, because it reminds me of those who came up to me when I was in a similar situation, the feeling of relief, the feeling of knowing I’m not alone. And in that, I really saw that God can use me for things like that- giving big hugs to strangers, but getting the why right.
After the service, I went to find my friend Grace so that I could get a picture with her. Asking Haven to join in, and Haven asking Rebekah, we put our arms on each other’s shoulders and it made for an awesome picture. When Haven was talking to Rebekah, I introduced myself to Haven’s mom and said, “I’m Calandra, if you didn’t already know that. I’m sure Haven talks about me a lot though,” and I turned to see Grace nodding to agree, “YEAH!” (So it’s not just me. It’s mutual. I’ve mentioned Haven so many times that if she were to come to Albion, she’d most definitely be considered famous, I’m sure!) Haven and I then went to my dorm to get my guitar so that we could sing together. We ended up sitting on the steps outside of Armington Center and sang for each other. Something I was definitely looking forward to! She went first, singing “Awake” (I think), and I went second singing Worn, by Tenth Avenue North. Then she sang a few verses of another song she’d been working on. Even though our time singing together was short, it was great. I wasn’t nervous, I enjoyed singing for her, and I enjoyed spending some time with her because it was hard to find time throughout the week.
Thursday. The last day. My team was still in because we only lost once during double elimination. We were quizzing a team we didn’t have much trouble beating before, and ended up going into overtime to break the tie. We were still tied on question 17. So there it was- Win or lose- question 18. The other team answered correctly. I was happy for them, though, because I could see how they felt- they were so excited! Instead of saying “That could have been us,” I’m saying “Well done, team” because we did our very best. And we were a three-way connection. I was in a position of trying to cheer up two team mates that were upset- one feeling she didn’t contribute, and the other just wanting to have won. I’m not sure if I was much help or not, but I was so proud of how well we quizzed together, and how well we all gave God the glory throughout the week. No, we didn’t bring home a trophy, but we brought home a True prize- a stronger love for Jesus. And that’s definitely memory worthy.
It was the last day. The vans were packed, and I had to say goodbye to all of my friends- new and old and all those that I might not see for a long while. This week I felt connected with everything- my friends, the games of Frisbee, my improvement on jumping, being a part of a team, the non-stop hugs, God. Thinking about all that happened last year, looking forward to what was coming this year, and being very afraid of the transition between Jesus Party and home life, I know that I don’t need to worry because God has it all under control. I had so much fun at this Jesus party, and it was beyond awesome to see how God can connect the dots, how he can turn something broken into something absolutely beautiful. And that’s what I want to talk about- how God can change lives.
And for that, I give God glory.