Saturday was our “sleep in” day. I was sick. I finally found the strength to get up at about 9 in the morning. I was ready, however, when the breakfast van came by, which some of us hadn’t taken showers yet, or were in the middle of one. (yikes)
I find it amazing. Almost all of us girls came with some measure of trepidation about “perfect ATI girls” or just “girls” in particular. I was not looking forward to having to explain being an MK to a bunch of “wow, I care SOOO much” homeschoolers....who would all have wonderful Gothard families and look like all-American-girl dolls.
Yet, each of us eventually let down our barriers, and we realized that we all had the same fear of eachother....and IT WASN’T TRUE!!
Good is just amazing!!
Well, Saturday we finished up a “personality test” DVD that we had begun watching during the week, and did some tests to determine “love language” and then we went to Bond Falls. Bond Falls is not as amazing as some waterfalls I have been to, but it is lovely to be sure. However, it has some nasty terrain!! My knee worked through it slowly, and by the grace of God I did not die from drinking stream water (thank you Dearest for the pain pills) or from falling/slipping/etc which was a dire possibility.
Got some lovely pictures!
That night we asked if any of the other teams had experienced the same as we did, and we were told some of the info I wrote above, and other things. We all felt very burdened for the other teams, and decided to wake up early to pray for them.
Sunday we woke up around 4:30 in the morning. Yes, 4 AM. We cleaned the gatehouse from cellar to dome (neither of which it had, but the thought counts), and prayed for the other teams, and spent some last moments in our lovely home before rushing to eat and rushing to leave. We drove back to Hinsdale, and I slept most of the time...at least that is how it felt. I honestly don’t remember...so I must have been asleep. Most of the time I was awake I was ruminating over what to share as a testimony (Mr. Gothard loves testimonies) and praying for the other teams. Our visionary sister was given a dream/vision (burden) for (a) girl or girls who had still not confessed or dealt with things. She saw them halfway between the platform (to give their testimony) and the door (to leave without changing) and it really weighed on her. We all prayed right outside the door to the Staff Meeting room, and Libby asked Mr. Gothard if we could recite I Cor which we had memorized. We had planned on being the first ones to give testimonies, but two other girls stood up almost right away and said a few short words. We arranged ourselves in verse order and gave testimonies in reverse-verse order because we got mixed up. It was interesting how we were (I think) the only group to all give testimonies. I had written out a slew of ideas and things to say, and had written out 5 pages of thoughts. I ended up sharing very little of any of that. What I did say I felt (afterwards) could have been better, or more of this-or-that, or more moving, or more about specific things that helped me....but everyone said that I said what was “me” and that it had been really good. In fact, most of the girls felt that they did not say what they had planned, or felt that their testimonies were lacking....but we all agreed that they had been very good, very helpful and right on the mark. That is when amazing visionary said “Hey, girls, remember we were praying that the Spirit would speak through us...His words and not our own? That is what happened....” We did not give or say what we had wanted/thought with our feeble intellects was the best, or most holy or most hard-hitting thing, but we were His vessels, and we spoke His words. When we all finished, and we recited our 3 verses, the line for testimonies had tripled, and four girls had come up to our visionary and said “Was it me? Because I felt you were talking to me.” She said that she did not know who it was, but that God was the one working and God had given her the burden. She prayed with each of them, and she said that once she had given her testimony, she felt the burden lifted. Not that there was no need for those 4 girls, but that it was not her burden anymore, but God’s. God had given it to her, and she had used it, and now it was up to Him again.
Testimonies continued until lunch break on Monday. Mr. Gothard said (at least a half-dozen times) that he had never heard a Journey with such powerful testimonies. Libby told us a couple times that he was being truthful about it too. She said some Journeys came and went with only a couple testimonies, or testimonies about water-tubing instead of sin-confessing. Nearly every team had two or three girls speak, and about 3 teams had most (or all?) of their girls say something.
Monday was a mixture of speakers and sessions about different things. It was definitely a trying day for me as I struggled with dashed hopes in an area, and disappointment, and my expectations of certain people (I thought they promised something, but they never fulfilled what they said) made me hold a grudge. Tuesday I was hit by such an attack that I could not move from the couch. I said some rather angry and depressing and hurt things. In fact, I was powerless until two girls finally got down beside me and prayed. Then I suddenly realized what I was doing (holding a grudge of expectations, being depressed). I was able (after they prayed) to see what was going on. I rebuked Satan for poisoning my mind, and I prayed and forgave the people for not following through, and I gave God my expectations. Afterwards I was my cheerful self again, and I was definitely scared again by what was going on. This spiritual-warfare stuff is freaky, guys!!
Tuesday right after lunch I was driven to the train station, where after a few hugs and a prayer, I boarded the Metra and headed away to Chicago. Once there, I got my tickets paid for (staying an extra day was a blessing, although an expensive one), I was able to check in my big bag, and I headed out into the Windy City to see some sights before 6pm.
As I was meandering outside Union Station, I was once again accosted (not in a bad sense) by a “black angel” as I had begun calling them. Seriously. Random black guys with a degree of ragged clothing who know directions to everywhere and are more than willing to help you. Anyway, this one was selling newspapers and I didn’t have any spare change, so we just traded information. (Note: in Chicago, people who are used to walking tend to underestimate distances) He told me that Pacific Garden Mission (home of “Unshackled” Radio programs) was about 4 blocks down from the station. I had wanted to go there/visit/have a tour, so I headed off and walked four blocks. I had to ask a lady in a store then, because I was told “you can’t miss it”. She said it was down four MORE blocks....which was more like 6 and a half. BUT ANYWAY, I got there and a very active and cheerful lady (I believe the only white lady in the entire building) gave me a personal and interesting tour. She loved the fact that I used to listen to “Unshackled” in the Philippines, and even walked me to the bus stop two and a half blocks away. Then, a very trendily dressed white lady helped me get directions to Chicago and LaSalle street by the subway, and I then (with directions from another black angel) headed down about 4 blocks to Moody Bible Institute Campus, where I spent about an hour with a friend. Yes, my knee was not very happy, but I was able to sit down for a part of that time. Interesting thing, though, was that my shoulder actually hurt a LOT more than my knee. Lugging around books and all the extra weight over 50lbs from your big suitcase is NOT something I would suggest to any compadres on a walking tour.
SO, I got back to Union Station right around 6pm when the sun was setting, and I wandered around the food court for some time trying to find a cheap, yet tasteful sustenance besides the water and chips that I had stashed in my bag. The Pitts station sure doesn’t have any available food, and I would need something before my 19 hour trip was over. I finally picked up some bread sticks from the little Pizza Hut, and boarded the train just as it was announced for boarding. While the train from Pitts to Chicago was mostly empty, the train from Chicago to Pitts (to Washington DC, actually) was reserved seating only. I had a seatmate, but I was so tired that I fell asleep almost right away. It was a little less cold with a packed train, and I had on extra layers, but sleeping in a small seat is always uncomfortable. My neck was all cramped up when we got to Pitts at 5 in the morning. I then wrote in my Journey Journal until 7am when the train to Harrisburg came ready. I was able to get a row of seats, but my things also cramped me...and I slept there again (Note: Dear readers—never set good intentions when you travel). I woke up about 30 minutes away and my shoulder finally stopped being numb from carrying my huge bag and sleeping in a twisted up position....ouch.
It was good to get pushed and pulled in every direction my silly siblings when I got out to the car, and to hear their chatter and find out about all the new scrapes and bumps and bruises they had received since I was gone. I had intended to sleep and unpack, but as life in this family would go—my grandparents on my mothers side were driving up from Virginia the next day and food and a room had to be prepared for them...as well as all the chores that had fallen by the wayside when I was not there to do them....
That night I stayed up until 1:30 in the morning trying to figure out whether I wanted to be involved in a drama camp in the area, and figuring out details to a TeenPact alumni event.
Thursday we all went out (missing the first Square Dance Practice of the season) to audition, chess class and a Constitution Class. We got home about 10 minutes before the Grandparents walked in the door. I was then up until about 12:30 typing out the beginnings of this whole thingymabobber.