What a great gathering! This was the first CPNC organized gathering in the Northeast/Midwest region. God saw fit to change our original camp reservation plan into a more homely gathering, and we are grateful for it.
October 1st, Wednesday:
Thursday was the official start of the great VA Cathering (more on that title later), but due to some logistical shifting, people arrived the day before. Carrie and Amber Thompson picked up Faith Burnside and I in their truck. College Plus road trip! The only incident we had with the trip was picking me up, there were some construction going on which confused Garmin, our GPS. Everything else was smooth sailing to the McFarlands. We had a surprise on arrival. With God working behind the scenes, He directed the Stotts' planes from Florida after some airport shenanigans. Previously, they were supposed to arrive at the Charlotte-Abermale airport hours away, but instead they arrived at the nearby Dulles airport a day early, as well.
Our host location was one of the most inviting places I have ever been in, to say the least. You could see that this wasn't just a quick backup location alternate the camp, this was meticulously planned and prepared for us. We even had personal questionnaires that we hung on the wall when we were done.
We had a devotional where the ground rules were set, a time of prayer, and all of us headed to a good night's sleep. The girls were up talking - we boys could hear them.
October 2nd, Thursday:
The official start of the gathering was supposed to be only a laid-back planning day. It was more of a random game playing time. Games of Apples to Apples, Settlers of Catan, pool, and whatnot. We also had a bit of dancing in the basement and the culdesac. We learned the Virginia Reel, the Electric Slide, the Golden Slipper, the Broom Dance, and the California Waltz.
Evan Strite and Elyssa Ranck arrived during dinner. We were expecting them much later, so it was a very nice surprise.
October 3rd, Friday:
Time to head to DC! After we were dropped off at the Fraconia-Springfield station of the DC Metro, we got our tickets and boarded the subway.
The security at the attractions are overbearing, but understandably so. We shed our belts, devices, wallets, etc. into TSA-like conveyor belts... to get into a library! (Well, it was the Library of Congress, but still.)
In the Library was a Civil Rights exhibit, and Thomas Jefferson's personal library exhibit. In the center of Jefferson's library was the best echo/amplification chamber under the dome, and we started lowly humming, and the hum got louder and louder. Needless to say, we entertained ourselves quite a bit.
I've always wanted to see the inside of the Capitol. One must usually make a reservation to do so, but luckily, Faith had her Congressman Todd Rokita on call, and we got a staff-led tour! Highlights were the Magna Carta, the Rotunda, and various statues of the Presidents and patriot heroes. Our tour guide, a staffer from Congressman Rokita's office, guided us through the underground tunnel and all the rooms.
The Holocaust Museum was a sobering experience. No photography was allowed inside the exhibit, which lent to its pensive atmosphere. The very next day was Yom Kippur, the only time the Holocaust Museum closes in the year, so to have gotten in was a treat. To see and hear the horrible stories of God's chosen people, it truly put our lives in perspective.
October 4th, Saturday:
Another day traveling to the Capital. Carrie proceeded to teach us the "signs" game. Basically, it uses hand gestures in a subtle manner to pass signs around, as in code.
Right after we came to the entrance of the National Air and Space Museum, Carrie notified us that she has lost her phone in the subway. After some panic, her phone was texted just in case someone may find it. We gathered in a street corner to pray so we could find it. Right after praying, someone texted back. Our group split off so that Carrie could retrieve her phone, and we stayed at the museum. And a couple hours later, they come back, phone in hand.
The National Air and Space Museum was definitely filled with aviation and airplanes and things. One of the CPers in the group, Bailey, is going to be a helicopter pilot, so he was the focal point of the trip. We didn't get to see much of the space part, because by then, it was time for lunch!
After the museum, we walked the National Mall of monuments towards the Lincoln Memorial. We passed along the Washington Monument, some of the World War (I and II) memorials, and the Vietnam War memorial. Since apparently there was no love for Lincoln in our group (bunch of Southerners, I tell you), we just posted for our group picture facing the Washington Monument.
October 5th, Sunday:
All things must end, even gatherings, even the great VA Cathering. Evan proceeded to cook us one last breakfast. Packing our things, we gave our goodbyes and hugs, and we rolled out. The others headed out throughout the day .
There were so many stories and inside jokes and mannerisms and conversations and little things that only those that attended could understand and cherish, like all gatherings do. The Kiss & Ride, the Aaron Theme, Mommy Cat, monkeys in the brain, slap happy theology, the cube of Rubik.... Things that wouldn't make sense. But that's okay.
I want to thank the McFarlands, and especially Catherine, for hosting the gathering. If you didn't notice, the Cathering title is a reference to her. I want to also thank fellow CPNC organizers Faith Burnside, Evan Strite, Cassie Porath, Bridget Proffitt, and especially Jillian Heersink, who sadly couldn't make it, but was instrumental in everything. I also want to thank the Thompsons for the transportation and going out of their way to pick some CPers up, including myself. A thanks to everyone that came, and most of all, to our Father in Heaven for guiding us and making this a reality.