Sunday, April 21, 2013

MACHE 2013

It is illegal to homeschool in Germany and Sweden.  A recent news story covered the Romeike's, a German family who came to America so they could legally homeschool their children, and the possibility of their deportation back to Germany.  This is just one story among thousands about families around the world who are persecuted because they don't want the public school system (cough-cough-the government-cough-cough) to educate their children on academics and morality.  Which is why I am filled with gratitude that I live in a country that legalizes homeschooling - not only that, but is beginning to take notice of in a more positive light.  In addition I am grateful to my parents for the financial sacrifices they made so my siblings and I could be homeschooled.

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending MACHE convention for the second time in my life. MACHE is a non-profit organization that exists to, and I quote, "to encourage and support Christ-centered home education."  The MACHE convention is where homeschoolers from all over midwestern United States can come and meet each other as well as attend sessions hosted by various speakers, writers, people in the ministry, and even lawyers and entrepreneurs.  Many small companies, most of which are family owned, also come to set up booths in the exhibit hall and sell their curriculum.  Finally, there is a huge sale for used books, and if you can imagine a room literally filled with books of all kinds - schoolbooks, picture books, classic literature, biographies, and yes, even Star Wars books - you can imagine how thrilling it was to be there.

My adventure started on Wednesday afternoon when we drove with another homeschool family to the city hosting the convention.  Thursday was our hangout day so I mostly had nothing to do but take a walk downtown in the drizzling rain and lounge around the hotel room sketching and watching television.  However we did go to the bookstore and stayed there for three hours.  I spent one hour looking at history books, one at art books, and one at a Star Wars book (priorities, man...)  Otherwise the day was uneventful.

Friday, however, was amazing.  I went to three sessions and enjoyed all of them.  In-between the sessions my mom, sister and I roamed the exhibit hall.  It was great fun trying out the activities at the science booth, looking at all the history books, and shaking hands with the people who wrote my school curriculum.  My favorite place was the Miller Pads and Paper booth where I bought new art pens, coloring pencils, and a sketchbook.  After the last session we had a couple hours left so we headed to the used books sale, and my goodness.  I think I found every book I read up until I was twelve years old!  I have never seen so many copies of Chronicles of Narnia and Little House on the Prairie as I did in there.  You walk in and you just know there's a special book out there you have to buy.  While I was browsing the children's section the title "Star Wars" caught my eye and I had to take a look; it turned out to be a picture book with Cad Bane as a major character, so I bought it.  I also found my favorite edition of Little Women.

But here's my favorite part.  As I was heading towards the back of the room a book cover caught my eye.  I instantly recognized it as the cover of Jonathan Friesen's latest novel.  Back in 2008 or 2009, Jonathan Friesen was my online writing tutor and helped me tremendously with my writing.  About a month ago I shot him a quick email expressing my gratitude for his help and that I would not have self-published Resistance without him.  He replied asking for a link to the book!  (Of course I gave it to him!)  But back to Friday - I recognized the cover and looked up at the guy who was selling them.  Sure enough, his name tag read Jonathan Friesen.  I ran up to him and introduced myself as the girl who wrote Resistance, and he was so happy to meet me for the first time.  We struck up a conversation about books and writing, but the best part was when he commended my book and said I am a great writer.

It is hard to describe how it feels when a professional author says your writing is that good.  It feels like every hour of painstaking editing, wringing out the end of a chapter, and telling yourself you'll never see the end result, is instantly worth its weight in diamonds.  Because you realize, all along, you were that good and you could do it, and you see how far you've come and where you can be.  I walked away with two of his books and tears in my eyes.  It was by far my favorite MACHE moment.

Saturday, the 20th, was my seventeenth birthday.  Once again we went to a couple sessions, explored the exhibit hall, and headed back to the used books.  (Mr. Friesen was only there on Friday so I didn't get to see him again, though).  While there were so many good books to choose from I was frugal enough to only buy one more, one of the Moffat books.  So in total, I bought five: Little Women, two Jonathan Friesen books, the Moffat's, and a Star Wars book for kids.  My sister, well, ended up with thirteen by the end of the day.  However, in the midst of darting around the civic center and flipping through Charles Dickens and The Hardy Boys, I kept forgetting it was my birthday, so the day scarcely felt like a birthday.  Nevertheless, I started to feel a bit like a birthday girl after we left MACHE and went out for ice cream, and everyone sang "Happy Birthday".  The ride home was long but safe.  At eleven PM my family insisted we open presents, so I consented.  This year I got two presents instead of the usual one: a new cover for my tablet and a Cad Bane plushie from Etsy.  I was so happy for the gifts especially considering that one of them cost almost a whopping $50!  (When a birthday gift puts a sibling in debt it doesn't take long to find out, lemme tell you.)  I also got a hand-made card and hand-made banner, treasures I will never throw away.

Anyway, that was my experience this week...finishing high school, turning seventeen, and MACHE.  I am very blessed to have been able to go to this convention and I hope I can go next year.  I'm also blessed that our trip was safe and full of great sister-sister and mother-daughter bonding time.  Being surrounded by other homeschoolers after constantly feeling like our family is alone in our homeschool-related struggles uplifts the spirit more than I can put in words.  It's like sharpening the sword, drinking ice-cold water in the desert.  If I wasn't fully convinced I was going to homeschool my own children someday, I am now.

Now, more books to read!  New art pens to try out!  And an adorable plushie to squeeze! (I'll get a picture up in due time; hold me to that...)  Thanks for reading about my adventure!

-Stilwater <><

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