While I took a break from blogging for Christmas and New Years! We've been doing a goal setting course with one of my favorite inspiring authors, and encouragers…..Michael Hyatt. The course is called 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever! It has been very encouraging and inspiring,…….but I'll share more on that later:)
For now, think back on my blog ( or click here) to pick up where we left off with our Month Long family trip.
Today I bring you part Three….and my personal favorite part…. of the month long trip. Our adventures with the National Bible Bee in Orlando, Florida!!
After leaving our friends the W.'s house in Tennessee, we travelled on to Florida. We stopped for a break, and saw this beautiful field of cotton. It was SO soft, and white!
Soon after, we dawned our "official" hand drawn Bible Bee sign hoping to spot some other family travelers on the way, but it was not to be!
On the way to Orlando, we stopped to have dinner with our brother Ian and visit his Navy base for a few hours. It was good to see him, and catch up with things in his life. We are praying that God allows him to be protected, and established in His Word more and more this year!
A few hours later, we arrived in sunny beautiful Orlando, Florida!
After checking into our hotel, Evan and I walked the hallways to see where the weeks Bible Bee events were going to be held, and we met up with Zachary M., and ended up going swimming, and have a great discussion about what we'd learned over the past year.
The next morning, we got up early to go shopping and get situated in our hotel before the "big" afternoon of volunteering.
Mom and Evan and I enjoyed walking across the street from our hotel to Downtown DisneyWorld in the early afternoon.
We saw this amazing sculpture made entirely from Legos!
Then we enjoyed getting re aquatinted with the other volunteers and helped setup and prepare the rooms and other materials for the competition. It's amazing how a conference room can transform into a site for the National Bible Bee!
It all came together so fast, and before we knew it, it was time to go to the volunteer pizza dinner.
We had a great time talking and fellowshipping with the other volunteers. The National Bible Bee is the life blood of some of the most amazing people I know. God is SO good to use His word to be the foundation for so many wonderful relationships.
And after dinner, we enjoyed seeing the amazing ballon creations the man at the restaurant made for the kids.
Evan requested a boat for the Jonah themed contest this year:)
After dinner we did some more volunteer work, and then went swimming again:)
The next morning we got up bright and early for the BIG ( my favorite) day of registration for the contest!
I was VERY excited to be a tour guide for the families again this year:)
It is a privilege to get to be one of the first faces of the "Bible Bee" the families see throughout the weekend.
I love hearing the stories, and getting to meet new families every year.
Dad waiting for the families to come to his table in the registration room!
Dad got to be on the registration line for the Seniors this year:) He always enjoys the interaction with the families.
The theme for the volunteers was to dress Nautically this year. Dad and Mr. W had a great time acting as Captain and First Mate:) I think they looked great in their hats!
Mom got to be at the Info Booth during registration, and Evan enjoyed a new job this year, of being a Host to a TV reporter. It was a great learning experience for him, and he enjoyed it!
After registration, the hotel kind of goes quiet until the next morning as all the contestants use their final moments to prepare for the Oral and Written tests early the next morning!
After enjoying some fellowship with Emily H. and other friends; We got some dinner, helped set up the final things for the tests, and then went to bed early! It was a wonderful day!
Contest day began VERY early with all the excited contestants filling the hallways, and encouraging each other to do their best!
After their intense oral and written tests, everyone enjoyed playing Octaball to work of the stress.
I felt very blessed to not be stressed this year, in fact, I almost felt bad about what I got to do all day:) My job …along with my Mom… was to watch 30 little kids in the "Little Siblings Room". We enjoyed Duck Duck Goose, Tag, and modified versions of Soccer, and Volleyball, and of course plenty of story times:) It was a lot of fun, and I was once again grateful for the opportunity to spend time with the little ones. I don't get to do that very often.
Also, I found some great time during the afternoon ….When we only had a few children in the room…. to pray for my friends who were competing in the Senior round. For many of my friends this was their last year, and I know how it feels to want to do your best…. but also give God the glory no matter what happens!
After the stress of the day, many of the contestants enjoy gathering to share stories, rekindle friendships, and take photos….of course:) Here is a group of friends from Memverse….( joined by Evan in the background:)
Before the opening ceremony that evening, we enjoyed going out to eat with many of our friends from Oregon. What a great group of people!
Next comes the long awaited opening ceremony when …among other things… the Semi- Finalists of the day are announced.
There's the grand processional of the contestants which is always a favorite highlight at Nationals!
The crowd eagerly awaiting the contestants arrival! You never know how long you can clap, and you've never seen people that deserve an applause more, until you've attended an opening ceremony of the National Bible Bee! It is an amazing experience, that I cannot express with words!
And now I present the 2014 Senior Division of the National Bible Bee!
And now I present the 2014 Junior Division of the National Bible Bee!
And now I present the 2014 Primary Division of the National Bible Bee!
After the contestants were seated, there was a wonderful performance from the GLAD singers.
They did an amazing job bringing hymns to life with tight harmonies, and beautiful arrangements.
And then there was my favorite performance of the night- but it's not really a performance. It's when Tim McKenzie from On Every Word presents a multi dimensional dramatic narration of the Scriptures from memory!!!!!! SO inspiring! It nearly brings me to tears every time!
And then comes the BIG anticipated moment…..when the Semi- Finalists are announced!
As soon as their names are announced NOTHING could stop them getting to that stage:) They've worked SO hard, and yet they are conscious of the fact that they did not get on stage alone. It is all of God's mercy! That is always evident!
I always enjoy watching the Semi- Finalists after the opening ceremony as they're briefed on what will take place the next day! Abundant excitement is always evident:)
There's always disappointment, and contestants who we hope would have made it that didn't, but they know the contest is not about winning, it's about the journey!
And just to make sure the night ends on a good note, we make sure to play some games before bed! This was a gigantic game of spoons that I somehow got involved in:)
The next morning began early again with Semi- Finals for all the divisions. It was a blessing to see Olivia ……
……..and Le Anna D. from our Oregon group make it to top 15 again this year!
I ended up being asked to lead a tour of families to the Wycliffe Discovery Center during the Semi- Final rounds, so I missed part of the Junior, and Senior rounds. But it was a blessing to be able to lead the tour, and I enjoyed learning a lot at the Discovery Center. It was a new experience for me to be "in charge" of the tour bus, and make sure the right people got on and off:)
There was a spot in the center to dress up as people from different countries, which some of my Oregon friends did:)
It was fun to spend some time at the Museum with Hannah C. and her siblings.
Somehow having friends from Oregon there, didn't make me feel so far away from home.
I appreciated the mission of Wycliffe Bible Translators. What a great commission we have been given!
The gardens outside the Center were beautiful, and they had inscribed Scriptures in the rocks around this fountain. It was SO beautiful!
After the tour, I returned back to the contest just in time to see the final portion of the Senior Semi-Final round.
Dad was blessed to be able to judge Senior Semi- Finals, and Junior Finals this year!
He did a great job, and took his job very seriously!
After a very intense hour and a half of judging
The top five Seniors were decided upon! What a great group!
I was SO excited for my friends Daniel F. and Brittany S. who made it to top 5! It was the last year for both of them, and they did such a great job working hard to achieve such a great accomplishment!
And thus ended the second full day of intense competition. After dinner, everyone got a chance to relax and enjoy some great singing and performances in the Friday Night Party Night.
Before the performances there were some fun games for the audience to participate in. My favorite was this husband/wife neck tie race. Super hilarious!
And then there was another SPECIAL Bible dramatization from Tim Mckenzie. If you haven't heard any of his narrations, I encourage you to take a moment to watch one here. You won't regret it!
And then there was a wonderful concert from the GLAD singers.
They did a special performance of Leaning On the Everlasting Arms in 5 different musical styles.
This one was obviously the Barbershop Quartet style. If you'd like to hear the song click Here. It's amazing!
And next came my personal favorite part of the evening! Jesse Joyner performed an amazing juggling and comedic routine!
He was amazing juggling everything from Bowling pins to Cowboy Boots, to basket balls.
And then he told the Gospel message while juggling 6 colored rings. Simply amazing! Click Here to see a video of his performance. (this isn't at the Bible Bee:)
Here's Evan and I with Mr. Joyner after the concert!
I enjoyed helping out selling CDs at the GLAD singers table afterwards. It was fun to see SO many people that remembered the group from 30+ years ago.
After getting some sleep, we got up early to enjoy another full day of competition and volunteering! I was able to see the last part of the Junior round, as the finalists were awarded their prizes.
And I was SO excited to be able to watch the entire Senior Final round with these great contestants!
Apparently this is what we looked like while watching the round! Intense!
The contestants had 7 rounds of Recitation, and written Bible questions on iPads.
The room was packed for the Senior round, as this is always the major highlight of the competition!
After 7 rounds of steep competition, the awards were given out. My friend Brittany S. was overjoyed to get second place. What a wonderful way to finish her Bible Bee experiences.
And I think after Brittany was awarded it finally hit my friend Daniel F. that he had won First Place in the National Bible Bee. I had wishing he would all along, so it was amazing when he actually did! He was excited to say the least:)
Daniel receiving his award! Everyone was SO proud of his accomplishment!
And now I present the National Bible Bee 2014 Senior Division Finalists!
As the contestants left the stage I could sense the excitement in the air as the audience rushed to the stage exit to congratulate the Finalists. It was a moment to remember!
And next came the "famous" Bible Bee Book signature exchanges!
And of course lots of pictures with the finalists! Jordan S. was SO happy to be able to witness Daniel take first place. They were in Semi- Finals together last year, and Jordan (too old to compete) really encouraged Daniel during the competition this year!
Here's Daniel with the Founders of the Bible Bee- Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy! The Bible Bee was started after their daughter Shelby died of cancer. It had been her desire to help young people engraft God's Word into their hearts. I wish she could see what has come of her desire now!
After talking and celebrating with the finalists, we helped setup for the closing ceremony and desert reception.
It is always an amazing time of fellowship, encouragement, and collecting signatures from dear Bible Bee friends!
I enjoyed talking with lots of my friends, and celebrating with them!
And we were all VERY excited when the D. family from our local Oregon group won the Hosts of the Year award! They certainly deserved it!
And then there was a sweet song performed by this dear family and their daughter was awarded the Shelby Kennedy Award for enduring significant health challenges while competing in the Bible Bee. Her testimony was amazing!
It was a blessing to be able to share the entire Bible Bee experience with numerous friends form Oregon this year! I was especially excited that Amanda D. could come along to volunteer!
It was also a blessing to meet many new friends this year including Rachel C. She has been an encouragement to me through her blog, and it was wonderful to finally meet her in person!
What better way to close off the 2014 National Bible Bee than to sing hymns of thanksgiving to God? It was Such a wonderful experience!
After the Celebration Ceremony there was a Square Dance for all the families. It's always a time of joy and fun for everyone.
We finished helping cleanup from the weekend, and then came over to watch some of the remaining dances. It was fun to see everyone enjoying themselves SO much!
And of course there was plenty of questions and talking for everyone to do! It's always hard to say goodbye to friends from Bible Bee!
And then came the "famous" "I found the Winner "photo!
And then after far too little sleep, we enjoyed the last few hours of fellowship with Bible Bee friends at the church service the next morning!
After the sermon, some of us gathered around the piano to sing hymns together for a few hours.
Then we talked for quite a while, and then said goodbye. It was a blessing to be able to spend time with Janelle, and Jessica G. (fellow volunteers) this year! I appreciated their examples of humility, and serving God without distraction.
We ended up going out to eat with a couple families to finish off the afternoon. It was hard to say goodbye. Philip A. managed to balance these two forks on a toothpick. And then he used the attraction as a lead in to write the gospel message on a napkin at the restaurant. What a great example of using what He'd learned through Bible Bee for God's glory!
After dinner, we came back to the hotel and found some remaining contestants and volunteers to play games with until early morning! We enjoyed playing games and fellowshipping together. It was a lot of fun! I especially enjoyed being able to play Dutch Blitz, and teach Daniel F. how to play for the first time! It was a blast! And then we ended up talking until 2am, when we finally decided we better go to bed! It was a great end to the most exciting week of the year!
If you attended, what was your favorite part of the Bible Bee this year?
If you didn't attend, what was your favorite part of the Bible that you studied this year?
Do you hope to memorize any part of the Bible this year?
Be sure to check out the National Bible Bee and consider starting your lifelong journey studying the Bible this year! I guarantee you won't regret it, and it will make an impact on you in ways you could have never imagined!
And just for fun, I wanted to include this video my friends did to commemorate the Bible Bee this year! Enjoy!
Special thanks to Evan Smythe for letting me use most of the pictures in this post! He recently discovered that he had never seen the pictures he took at Nationals, so he downloaded them to the computer, and we had a great time reviewing and reliving the fun memories we made that weekend!