2018 Big Sandy Family Conference

We just returned from the ATI Family Conference in Big Sandy, Texas!  For us, it is the highlight of our year!

First of all, I have a little explaining to do.  A young man named Juan David Palomino all the way from Bogota, Columbia, submitted some of his piano music to Abiding Radio a while back, and we loved it!  As the time of the Conference was approaching, my dad had the idea of inviting Juan to play some specials at the conference this year!   So arrangements were made, and Juan was able to join us this year to play!

Ok, now that I’ve explained, I’ll back up to day one.  We left Saturday morning and made our way to Big Sandy!  As soon as we got there, it was so great to see old friends and catch up.  We signed in, unpacked, and anticipated the Sing-spiration that was going to be held that night.  We, and a bunch of others families, assembled in the ALERT auditorium and sang hymns and listened to very talented people play some incredible specials!

The next day, Dad went to pick up Katey and Juan from the Dallas Fort Worth airport!  I was so thrilled to see Katey again after a few months, and we were all looking forward to meeting Juan.  We greeted each other and headed to the dorms so they could settle in. 

The rest of the day, I enjoyed walking about 6½ miles chatting with a great friend from Sahuarita, AZ.  It really blessed both of us being able to have that time to talk and pray together!

Monday night, the Conference started and we were so excited to see what the week would hold. 🙂  This year, Katey taught a COMMIT group for the first time, and I attended COMMIT for the last time! 🙁 I have enjoyed each and every time I’ve been in COMMIT, and definitely recommend it for any girl!  Tuesday, all the classes started, and that evening was the Cookie Fellowship.  (In past years, they’ve done ice cream, 🙂 but this time they switched to cookies!  They were actually pretty good!)  We chatted with other families from AZ and refreshed each other with good conversations. 

The week carried on and it was fun meeting new friends and visiting old ones too!  There were A LOT of families from AZ who came this year!  Five, I think.  For a couple of them, it was their first time!

Thursday was great because everyone had a break in the morning from all their classes to just attend sessions and fellowship, so we used this time to take pictures with some friends and slow down a little bit as the busy week was already closing. 

Juan did great playing the piano!  He played hymns like Abide With Me and Whiter Than Snow.  He made it look so easy. 🙂 It was so fun to have a person from another country visit with us!  Juan (of course) speaks Spanish, but he also spoke English very well.  I asked him if it he thought we sounded different or talked too fast.  He said that he understood 80-90% of what we were saying and that we did speak kind of fast, especially when Katey and I would talk to each other!  Yeah, Katey and I do talk kind of fast, you know, sisters have a special language! 🙂

Friday, all of the Pre-Embassy, COMMIT, Children’s Institute, and ALERT cadets did their presentations.  It was incredible!  COMMIT sang Oh, the Deep Deep Love of Jesus to the tune of Morning Has Broken.  It was beautiful!  I love that song.

Of course, a highlight was the ALERT cadets!  It’s always so cool seeing them march like a bunch of little green ants in one huge colony!  After presentations, the choir sang three songs:  Oh Love That Will Not Let Me Go, How Marvelous, and When We See Christ (the first two were medleys).  It’s hard not to get emotional while on stage, as the words of the songs are so powerful!

The conference officially ended Friday night, but the fellowship did not!  After dinner, we headed to the campsites and caught up with some good friends like the Ciampis, the Guglers, and the Thomases.  We were able to fit in our 3rd Annual Spoons Championship with the Ciampis and Thomases at the Thomas’s campsite!  The girls and boys play separately, then the winners from each group play each other.  Turns out, for the third time, a girl won, and for the second time, an Arizonan!!!  It was so fun!

The next day, Dad took Katey and Juan to DFW and came back to pick us up to head home.  Goodbyes are so hard; however, we can’t help but be so grateful for all that God has done for us! 

This year at the conference, the theme was God’s love.  I was reminded that it is just not in me to love anyone, and when I struggle with loving someone, I need to say, “Jesus, please love this person through me right now, because I, in myself, do not love.”

I’m so grateful for how God showered immense blessing on this year’s conference, and I look back on that week with the fondest of memories!

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

3 Comments

  1. avatar
    Kami Crisanti
    May 15, 2018

    Great update and photos. It was great to see you all.
    Love, The Crisanti’s

  2. avatar
    Katey Nakatsu
    May 15, 2018

    Great job on the post, Lauren! I had a wonderful time with all of you! Love, Katey

  3. avatar
    Lauren Nakatsu
    May 15, 2018

    I had a fun time with you too, sis! <3

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