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J. Daniel Ashton

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Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, —Ecclesiastes 9:10a NIV
The LORD God has told us what is right and what he demands:
"See that justice is done,
let mercy be your first concern,
and humbly obey your God." —Micah 6:8, CEV
With all your heart you must trust the LORD and not your own judgment.
Always let Him lead you, and He will clear the road for you to follow. —Proverbs 3:5,6 CEV

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Name: Daniel Ashton
Location: Germantown, Maryland, United States

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

PBA Begins

We're sitting in the church, and listening as Elder Dodge organizes this mammoth event. The numbers this year are staggering: it looks like 45 teams made it to the finals this year! This doesn't reach the proportions I had hoped for: see the opening paragraph at PBAWiki.org. But it is very easily the largest group in the four years that the Triadalphia Sparks have been here.

About half of the pews in the church have been allocated to the 45 teams. Each team comprises six (typically) Pathfinders, and is assigned an adult local judge and scorekeeper. Each team also has a runner, usually an Adventurer or similarly-aged youngster, and the runners were assigned this year by calling all eligible kids to the front, and then directing them to each go find one of the local judges, who were standing until they connected with a runner.

This is the first year that the local judges have been asked to check the uniforms for completeness. According to the rules any participants who are lacking parts of the official uniform are to be disqualified, but this is the first year that the inspection has occurred during the orientation.

A little more rigor this year with respect to who may walk around and take pictures during the event. Official photos are to be posted on the PathfinderBibleAchievement.org website within three weeks.

As always, the scoring is based on the highest-achieving team. Any team that reaches 90% of that score is considered to have a first-place finish, 80% second place, and the remainder third place. My personal prayer as we go into this event is for 45 first-place finishes. God is able to grant this if it brings glory to His name.

Because of the way these events are conducted, we will not have an accurate picture of how the kids are doing until the end, when the scores are announced. At the half-way point, we'll get a few minutes to chat with the players, and we can get a feel then for how they think they are doing.

Opening prayer . . . and they're off. :-)

If you've been following along, it will be 45 questions (I expect) before I have much more to report. Take the time to shoot me an e-mail, please, so I can tell the kids at half-time about all the people who are praying for them.

Note to the organizers for next year: take steps to ensure that the cameras and cranes are removed from the sanctuary before the event next year, so that all the teams have a good view of the screens.

This year our team wound up on the opposite side of the sanctuary from where we chose to sit. We could have tried to move closer, but it didn't seem worthwhile at the time. But I'm finding it even more difficult than usual to get a sense of how our team is doing or feeling.

The yellow sign in the center is for our team.

45 questions, time for the half-way point stretch.

Well, the news is not the unburnished enthusiasm we have been praying for. Because the team is short by one player, there are five chapters that have had less polish than the others, and one eight-point question came from those chapters.

One of the astonishing features of this year's event is that the judges (we assume) have selected questions to remove preemptively. So far five of the questions, now six questions, now seven, now eight, have been removed from the event. This significantly reduced the potential score and the opportunity for teams from behind to make up their scores. Now nine. We are told this is for the sake of time.

We're waiting for the teams to finish writing the 90th (last) question, which was the list of generations between the captivity and Jesus.

According to our record keeping, there should be a total of either 191 points or 198 points.

Uncle Dan from Your Story Hour is here to say a few words.

I gave an announcement about PBAWiki.org.

There's announcement that Battle Creek will be hosting a Pathfinder museum.

I haven't forgotten about you. The score tallying is taking a very long team, and our emcee is continuing to discourse on many topics as we wait for the score to be returned.

The scores have been returned. We should be hearing something momentarily.

We have the scores now. This is not official, but my count as they were handed out was that 40 of the 45 teams scored a first-place finish, and the remaining five were all second place. This is a very close finish, and an amazing number of very high scores. The Triadelphia Sparks suffered from the missing member, and wound up with one of those 2nd-place finishes.

Closing song and benediction, and we hurry for supper and the train.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Pathfinder Bible Achievement '08

It's been a month and 4 days since my last post: sorry to be so incommunicative, but that's really representative of my emotional state, I suppose. But in some areas I'm feeling like life is getting back to normal, and some schedules just refuse to wait for me, so I have to catch up and handle them as they come.

One of those is Pathfinder Bible Achievement, sometimes known by the older term Bible Bowl. This is the fourth year that my kids have made it to the national event, and we're here in Michigan now, resting up in our hotel and studying the gospel according to Matthew.

In years past I have tried to post to my weblog during the event itself, so that you can stay up to date as events happen. I'm not sure if I'll do that again this year, but if not, I plan to at least update my Twitter status. So keep an eye on that if you're not seeing new data here.

Thank you for all your prayers and warm wishes. The kids are excited, and even though their team is short one player, I believe they have a good chance of scoring in the top 10%, i.e. a first place finish.

As you may know, this years material is the gospel according to Matthew, and you can visit Matthewpedia.com and download the study questions there to get an idea of what these kids are facing. I've also registered the domain name PBAWiki.org to point to the same site, as a more all-encompassing term for future years.