Christian Church of God sponsors Feast in Alamo city

The writer is the 15-year-old daughter of Dixon and Linda Cartwright of Big Sandy, Texas.

By Jamie Cartwright

SAN ANTONIO, Texas--Ah, the date was Oct. 4, 1998, and our heroes (that's me, Mom and Dad) were headed for San Antonio. Why? To go to the Feast of Tabernacles, of course!

My brother, Trey, had deserted us and gone to Destin, Fla., instead. He said the Feast there was really good, but I'm sure I had just as much fun in San Antonio. For one thing, there were about a zillion teens my age, give or take a few years (whom I must now figure out the best way to embarrass in this article), and the Feast is always naturally fun anyway.

Whoa, I'm leaving out some stuff.

For one thing, getting there is half the fun (till the air conditioner in our van conked out). After a five- or six-hour-long drive we stopped in this adorable town called Wimberley and attended our first service that evening with Wade Cox and the Christian Churches of God and had potluck there afterwards. I met a couple of nice girls, one I had attended Pinecrest Summer Camp with last year in Missouri.

I was getting antsy, eager to get to our hotel in San Antonio and see our old friends. We were going to attend with Jeff Booth's congregation (the Christian Church of God), same as we did last year in Colorado.

Our hotel on the River Walk

However, when we finally did leave and get to the Sumner Suites hotel, everybody had gone off to bed (can't think why), and we made our way up to our room on the top floor. Boy, those elevators: slowest things on earth. A lot of times they would stop at floors and open up and nobody would be there; the poor people probably had run off after waiting two hours to scream in frustration and tumble wearily down the stairs.

The night passed (usually does), and our first official Feast day had come! The service lasted a couple of hours, and then it was time to get reacquainted with everybody. I got to see my uncle, Wayne Earl Cartwright, who lives in San Antonio, and to meet the famous Mr. Bill Stough, whom I'd talked to over the phone a couple of times.

Then we went out to eat with the Kirkpatricks (their son ordered me not to mention his name in this article or, if I had to, to call him simply Bubba).

That evening Bubba and I and the Wertz girls from Pennsylvania (Chelsea and Emily) and lots of other people all met down in the lobby to talk till midnight. Just like last year, it was. I felt right at home.

Dad got sick that night, and whatever he had I got the next morning and stayed in my couch bed most of the day, fizzling my brains out watching HBO (had to drag the TV in someplace).

By evening I was better, and my family and I and Mr. and Mrs. Ken Westby all took a walk down San Antonio's famous River Walk to find something to eat. That was what was really nice about our hotel; it was right on the river (which is actually more like a creek), and from our room you could look right down on it.

Have you ever been on the River Walk? It's an amazing place. In sections of it restaurants line both sides of the water, and though it's crowded in some places it's a really fun place to hang out. We spent a lot of time there during the Feast.

Bubba plays Garth

The next day Bubba played special music on his trombone (for all you Garth Brooks fans, he played "The River"), and after church the teens had a pool party in the hotel's pool (well, duh).

I'm not a very good swimmer, but when I got down there (I was late; probably the elevator's fault) nobody was really swimming anyway. They were all socking each other with numerous beach balls the hotel had apparently donated, and I joined right in. After a while a few pizzas appeared, and everybody hopped out of the water and ate. Eventually we made our way back to the pool.

Now, I had never been actually sunburned in all my life (my dad says I have a built-in suntan), but for some reason that one day I practically fried. Maybe it was because we were closer to the equator.

It still turned out a real cool day; that evening most of the Feastians, including myself, went out on the river and ate. And, when I say on the river, I mean it. Everybody piled into about five or six tour boats that each had a long table down its middle instead of several rows of chairs.

There are some really interesting sites to see on those tours (and my boat's wacky tour guide pointed them all out to us), such as an optical illusion of a building that looks maybe a foot wide and appears to be leaning over the water. The Feast was going wonderfully.

The next day was quieter for me. After services the activity was "toobing" down the Guadalupe River, and I really, really wanted to go (I had done something kind of like that at camp before), but Mom wouldn't let me because of my sunburn. Rats! But we heard from the Roger Bryants that it was a really wonderful experience.

For supper we ate at an outdoor steak place on the River Walk with those same Bryants. (Mr. Bryant sang for special music a couple of days.)

Then, of course, it was time for us teens to meet back down in the lobby till midnight again.

The next morning I got up early and went down to help with the Circle of Friends Ranch (a Sabbath school for preteens). I'd done this once or twice before.

The man who gave the sermon that day--Phillip Arnold--talked about a young naked man in Mark 14 (funny the things that stick with you).

Also, one of the men who gave sermons was named Brian Knowles. His particular talent was drawing caricatures of people at the Feast and posting them all over the wall in the back of the room.

Golf balls don't float

Afterwards the major teen activity was going to Malibu Castle. Now, that is a cool place. There were bumper boats, batting cages, race karts, miniature golf and a zillion arcade games in a building shaped fancifully like a castle. I did just about everything there except the batting cages and went on the karts several times. Some of my friends and I played a rather silly game of miniature golf, but the only thing we got out of it was learning that golf balls cannot float.

The next day Mom and I went to Sea World together (what Dad did I do not know; probably interviewed something). It was an interesting place, and I was relieved to finally see the famous Shamu. Those whales surprised me. Why they would do major tricks (including purposely drenching the audience) for measly bits of fish is beyond me; they could have had a bigger snack by simply opening their mouths while their grinning trainers perched on their noses.

Sea World also had a rather neat penguin place. I expected to enter a room full of penguins, but what I got was something like a fairly warped haunted house (probably because Halloween is coming up) with all kinds of lasers and black lights and fairy people tossing glitter in your hair-and then a room full of penguins.

Now, no one in my family cares for roller-coaster rides, so why we went to Six Flags Fiesta Texas the next day is beyond me. We had heard from Uncle Wayne and Mr. Kirkpatrick that there were some good shows there, including a fantastic laser-light extravaganza as soon as evening hit, but we found out after we had been there for a while that almost all the shows had been canceled, including the lasers.

The day wasn't a total loss; my dad and I went down this sweet water ride, and it's really something to hear Mr. Big Cheese Journal Editor himself squeal like a pig when he gets drenched.

Till next time

The last night I stayed down in the lobby a long time with Bubba Kirkpatrick and Tom Vines (till about 2 o'clock, I think it was) and made my way to bed after an exciting episode of Being Locked Out of the Room and My Parents Can't Hear Me Knocking.

And then--

Then the Feast ended. It seemed so impossible. I can distinctly recall anticipating San Antonio and all that went with it. Then suddenly it went by and we were home. I don't even remember the car ride back.

So good-bye for now, all my friends and acquaintances I shared 10 days of my life with. I wonder if we'll get to see each other next year.

Editor's note: A comic strip written and drawn by Journal staff member Jamie Cartwright was voted "Featured Comic" on Nov. 7 by the youthful frequenters of the Blackberry Creek section of America Online.

If you are an AOL subscriber, you can go to keyword "Blackberry," click on "Enter the Club," click on "Comics by Kids," click on the folder "Chubby Chipmunk by Alien Haf," then click on any of the eight names of individual strips. ( is Jamie's AOL screen name and E-mail address.)

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