Tuesday, November 22, 2016

2016 National Bible Bee!

This past week was the 2016 National Bible Bee. This was my sixth year and final year as a contestant in the National Bible Bee. I have now joined the ranks of the Alumni. This post will hopefully be the first in a series about the Bible Bee. This post will be about my experience at Nationals this year. I'm unsure how many posts will be in this series, but I hope to have several where I post about lessons that I have learned from participating/studying, pictures from nationals, tips for other Bible Bee Contestants, thoughts for Alumni, as well as thoughts for those who have not participated in the National Bible Bee.

On November 14 + 15 we drove the 12 hours down to San Antonio, TX. On the evening of the 15th we had pizza with some friends and a study time with several other contestants. On Wednesday, the 16th, the National Bible Bee Competition officially started with Registration and family photos. It was so wonderful seeing the hotel filling with Bible Bee families. As we walked through the hotel we were able to connect once again with many Bible Bee friends from previous years. 

We registered early on, and at 3:00 several of us contestants had a prayer time. It was a small group of people, but such an encouragement. We cried out to the Lord for an hour about many different things - peace while testing the next day, praising Him no matter the results, that Christ would be glorified in the competition, that we would live out what we had learned, revival, our government, etc... It was a very special time. The rest of the day was spent studying and meeting up with friends again. 

Early Thursday morning we all met in the convention center, where testing would take place. First came the written computer based test. While it was harder than the local test, it was still a great test. While the seniors were taking the computer test, the primaries and juniors were doing their testing (computer and oral). There was a large several hour long break in between the seniors' computer and oral tests, so several of us played ultimate frisbee, talked, and reviewed our passages. We then completed the oral round and awaited the opening ceremony that evening. 

Thursday evening was the Opening Ceremony where everyone was welcomed to the event and there were a couple speakers. We, the contestants, then spent a very long time training for the next morning - Awards Presentation Ceremony. Friday morning - the Awards Presentation Ceremony - was where all the contestants went on stage, received their medals, and the semi-finalists were announced. By God's grace, Ellia + Faith were called as Primary semi-finalists, and I was called as a Senior semi-finalists. 

Late that morning the juniors had their semi-final round, followed by the primaries. Ellia advanced to the next round as a Primary finalist. Following the Primary round, was the senior semi-final round. It was such a wonderful and humbling experience being part of the semi round. The other contestants and the commanders were so encouraging and such a blessing to be with as I participated in the semis. There was lots of prayer, fun conversations, and encouragement. There were 4 rounds in the semi-finals, and in the 3rd round I was eliminated for leaving out a verse in my passage. While it was a disappointment not to make finals, it was so wonderful to see five others advance. It was a lessons I needed to learn, but more about that in an upcoming post. After the semi round was over, David came to see me back stage and told me to come out on stage again. I had no clue why, but I followed him out. A group of friends were standing there and started cheering for me. They gave me a letter that they had all signed. It was so wonderful and made me start crying because I have such awesome friends! I found out that they were the ones who cheered really loudly every time that I walked out on stage. =)

Because I did not advance I was able to spend the rest of the week spending time with friends. Friday evening several of us stayed up late, talked, and played games. Saturday morning was the junior finals, and then the Primary finals where Ellia won 2nd place! Let me just say right here, my little sisters did an amazing job! Ellia, being 10, was in her final year of primaries and did a wonderful job of memorizing and studying all the different passages. She did an amazing job in finals, and I'm so happy that she won 2nd place! Faith, having just turned 7, was probably one of the youngest in the Primary competition. I didn't think she would even make nationals, but she went on, not only to qualify for nationals, but also to advance to the semi-final round! 

That afternoon was the Senior final round followed by the Closing Ceremony. After the Closing Ceremony was such a special time, in which I was able to spend time fellowshipping, playing games, and singing with friends. A group of us stayed up really late and had a really good conversation. 

Sunday morning was the service and afterwards we all said goodbye. It was so hard saying goodbye and seeing people leave. Sunday afternoon and Monday we spent some extra time with a couple other families from Bible Bee and then drove home on Monday night/Tuesday morning. 

Every year I have been so blessed by being at Nationals. This year, in regards to fellowshipping and people there, was the best yet. It was a very humbling, encouraging, and challenging experience. Seeing other people who are devoted to following Christ was so uplifting. It encouraged me to continue pressing on, and challenged me to continue serving Christ completely with my whole life. 

This year I joined the ranks of the Alumni. I took my last computer test for the National Bible Bee. I completed my last oral round. I competed for the last time in semis. I studied for the last time as a Bible Bee Contestant. While this is being very bitter, it is yet wonderful. I'm looking forward to seeing what God has for me in the future. I've closed this chapter of my life, and I am now beginning another chapter. While I am no longer a contestant, Lord willing, I will still be at Nationals in coming years. While I am no longer a contestants, I have memories that I will have for the rest of my life. I will have life-long friends. I have so much Scripture hidden in my heart. It has been a wonderful experience, and I wouldn't change it. 

How was your Bible Bee experience at Nationals?
Are you still a contestant or are you an alumni? 
What is one of the highlights from your time at Bible Bee?
Would you like to participate in the Bible Bee, if you never have?

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