I have to be honest, at this point, I wasn't very excited for nationals. I was missing Lithuania more than anything, and although it was nice to see my friends from back home, I didn't want to be back home. Orientation that evening seemed to drag on. Then we got some bad news.
I was on a team of five, and our usual team captain who is our best quizzer, was also on her way back from Europe, was sick and missed her connecting flight in New Orleans. She would not be there the next day for our first quiz.
So Sunday morning, we went in to our quizzing session, prayed, and began. We lost pretty badly. I felt like I couldn't process the quiz master's questions as he was speaking. I felt like I didn't know how to make my thumb hit the buzzer. It was incredibly frustrating, because I know I could've beat the other team to the questions, but I was out of practice, and so we basically handed the other team the quiz.
Luckily it was double elimination, and by the time we quizzed our second quiz, which would be on Monday, Lauren, our usual captain, would be there. It didn't really matter though. It so happened that the Texas team that took first place at nationals last year lost a quiz this year, moved down to what we affectionately call "the losers' bracket," and fell into place on the matrix to quiz against us next. Needless to say, my less-than-fully-prepared team lost, thereby completing my Bible quiz career.
On Tuesday evening, we gathered for "Prayer and Share" when last year Bible quizzers give speeches, and the quizzing community prays together. I have to say, I think this year's Prayer and Share was the best I've ever been to. Even though we had 30 last year quizzers giving 5 minute speeches each, and it went on for quite a while, every speech was great. Every single one of the quizzers shared unique experiences, and every word was from the heart.
Afterward, Bro. Faubert, our national quiz master for the experienced division, spoke on "The Donkey and the Titanic." Although brief, that was a great message to hear at Prayer and Share my last year. He spoke about how we can't be content with being "one and done" and how we have to equip ourselves to make sure we're not. It was a great night overall.
Wednesday was finals. The Texas team that beat us got second place this year, and Columbus, Ohio won first. That night we had our Bible quizzing banquet where awards for teams and individuals were given.
I have to give a huge shout out to our Colorado 1 team from Abundant Life Tabernacle in Johnstown, Colorado. Michael and Elise Schroeder are the best Bible quizzers I know. Not only did they master their material, preparing themselves to be competitive at a national level, and thereby earning 4th place in the country, the highest Colorado has ever gotten, but they are also great examples of what Bible quizzers should be, dedicated to the Word of God, genuine and compassionate people. Michael also got second highest scoring quizzer on the all tournament team and quizzer of the year, an honor he deserved more than anyone.
Although my last year was bittersweet, I'm glad to be done with my years as a Bible quizzer. The five years I had were great ones, filled with memories I'll never forget, but more importantly, they grounded me in what I believe and allowed me to get to know more about the amazing God I serve.