Sunday, March 1, 2009

Trip to Texas

Written Feb. 22:

My trip so far has been excellent!

The night I arrived, we looked at some old (and not quite so old) photos of Joel & our family, which I'd brought for them on CD. We looked through quite a few of them. Then we had a little Bible study. Then we watched a TV show on the computer.

Yesterday we listened to and discussed a John Piper sermon. It was on the baptism/filling of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts, like speaking in tongues. Quite interesting.

A little while after our pizza lunch, we started out for the college where the Van Cliburn auditions were being held. I had called my friend, Ginger, before we left, confirming with her we'd be going and when, etc. She wanted to meet us there and go out to eat with us (I invited her).

We found the building and hurried in. I noticed the back of the head of my friend, Ginger (she has a distinctive hairstyle :)) and said, "There she is!" I went around to greet her. She pretty much towered over me, since I'm quite short. :) We went into the auditorium and made our way to the front, where there were quite a few empty seats. That was after we almost sat in the jurors' seats, which were more toward the middle. ;) Ginger sat to my right, Joel and Charity on my left. A woman in a long purple dress came out. She was from Kazakhstan, and was 29 years old. She played very well, loud and complex. I couldn't see her hands on the keys from where I sat (probably the others couldn't either), so we moved to a seat farther back and to the left after the lady finished her four pieces, which took about 40 minutes.

I chatted a bit with Ginger during the 10-minute break between auditions.

The second man to play (from Ukraine, age 27) was also excellent, playing some even faster pieces than the lady had. He played Bach, Chopin, Liszt, etc.

The last man to play for the afternoon (from Columbia, age 29) was also very impressive--we couldn't decide who was the best.

We decided to go to Chick-Fil-A with Ginger and wait to eat. While we waited we played Huggermugger, a word game that was in Joel & Charity's car. It was fun. :) Around 6:15 we got some food to eat and chatted. I was more focused on eating, as usual, but I enjoyed listening to them. We went back to our game, and Ginger won. Charity had been in the lead for a long time. We talked about vintage clothing, since Ginger loves them and was wearing some. She's a very friendly and quite talkative person, and I really enjoyed meeting her and got along with her well. She and Charity even discovered they knew a few of the same people.

When Ginger got outside, she remembered the CDs in the car that I had wanted to buy from her. I followed behind her and paid for the CDs. They're a talented homeschool choir group called "Reflections," and they sing a lot of great Christian songs & hymns. Ginger's brother is in that choir. She had to leave, then.

Joel, Charity, and I went back to the auditions. We had missed one person, but that's okay. We ran into some people from Joel & Charity's church and talked for a little while before the auditions began.

The young man who played next (from USA, age 27) was extremely good, though I didn't really like his one or two modern pieces. The Rzewski ("Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues"), especially, was anti-melodic. But it was interesting and impressive, anyway. Some parts he used his fist to play the keys, and others with his elbow. One part of the piece did have a melody, so it was better. This was a huge contrast from the previous piece he had played by Haydn! We all agreed afterward that he might be the best out of all the people we had listened to, though.
Next was the one we had been anticipating with great interest. He was a blind (nearly--he can only see light) pianist! Tamas Erdi from Hungary, age 29. He wore sunglasses, and a lady led him onto the stage. At first, when he played Mozart and such, I could see how he could do it blindly, because it doesn't skip around a lot. But later he played Chopin and Liszt, which were fast and skipped around a lot....We were just amazed. He played extremely well, too, though probably not quite the same difficulty as some of the pieces others had played. But I was smiling all through the Chopin piece, because it's a favorite, so bright and lovely.

We skipped the last person to play, as it was getting kind of late.

It was cold outside, and none of us had very thick jackets, so we walked along in a "hug sandwich," with the three of us in a row with our arms around each other, laughing as we crossed the road this way.

At home (Joel & Charity's, but it's my home away from home, lol), we looked through a bunch of old school papers that Joel had written. There were a few drawings in there, too, which were good. We all were laughing hard over some of the things Joel had written, little stories with birds mentioned in most of them, and things put very logically and obviously. Though some of it wouldn't have been very funny to me by myself, it seemed quite funny with them, and I laughed until I cried. :)

Today we went to church, which was another great experience. I enjoyed the music (the trumpet adds a lot, but the words to the songs were great) and the preaching. The preaching was very thought-provoking and straight to the point. I saw anew my pride and sin, at first somewhat doubting, but then realizing I did have a sorrow for that sin and want to follow God, and that it is indeed an awesome salvation.

I was introduced to a few people, and Charity and I talked with Trinity for a while. Then Joel, in great surprise, spotted a friend of his (Mark Stubblefield) from back in his days in San Antonio. He went over to say Hi, and Charity and I followed after a while.

We ate out at La Playa Maya's with Trinity and her husband and son. It was nice, and the food was really good.

(R-L: Trinity, Charity, and me, at La Playa Maya's)

So...that's about it. This evening we plan to go to a seminar on finances, and then to play games with Trinity and Zane. Tomorrow we may be going to some more of the auditions. Charity's been inviting her family, but I don't know if any of them will come.


Written today (March 1):

To continue where I left off...the seminar was really just a little group of Christians meeting and watching a DVD by Dave Ramsey on finances. Some of the DVD was funny and some informative, but some of it went over my head. He talked fast and I had a headache, so that was part of the problem, but still...I have so much to learn on the subject of finances. After the DVD, we split into two groups to talk about it. A young man led our group--maybe his wife led the other one, but I'm not sure. He asked questions and was generally encouraging. Most in the room (besides us) were older people. There were two cute older couples who talked about the olden days and smiled a lot. :)

Joel explained to Charity and I in the car afterward what one of those finance term means. Took a while for us to understand, but it was interesting. :)

After going home and staying there a while, we headed off to Zane and Trinity's house. I liked their cat, Midnight. They treated us to coffee. We talked a bit, then started playing Acquire, a business-type game sort of like a mix between Monopoly and Scrabble. I had played it once before and was basically clueless throughout the whole game, so I didn't enjoy it. But this time I got the concept quite well, though I still didn't get the hang of the strategy (some of it is "chance"). I came in last, of course. But it was quite fun. :)

The next day (Monday), Charity took Joel to work so she could have the car. I believe that's the day we watched part of Rose Hill, a movie I had brought, and then hurried to get to the Van Cliburn auditions at 2:00. We were just on time, so we parked where we weren't really supposed to, and later realized I had left the car door unlocked. We were a bit worried about this at first. The music was not to our taste (one or two more modern, strange pieces). Then we went shopping at Central Market, a nice large store with all sorts of things. Charity bought some Indian sauce for our chicken and rice dinner, and I bought some chocolate to share.

That night, after supper, we went to the auditions again around 8:20. Charity spotted her sister, Melody, and brother-in-law, Michael, in the audience and walked up near the front to greet them and sit near them (we sat in the row right in front of them).

A young man played several pieces, one by Rachmaninoff, one of Michael's very favorite composers.

Melody was craving ice cream afterwards, specifically Banana Nut ice cream, but we invited them over, since Joel & Charity had several kinds of ice cream and some bananas.

We ate ice cream and some of the yummy Belgian chocolate/coffee truffles and talked about church, etc., then they left. We had a Bible study from Ephesians about working out your salvation with fear and trembling, which Joel thinks matches up with John Gill's view about going about your work with reverence, not fear of eternal judgment or doubting your salvation. I think that makes sense, too. We got onto my doubting of salvation, some of which was encouraging, some of which was not. In the end I was mostly encouraged, though.

Part 3 is still to come.

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