Sunday, June 7, 2015

May-June Family Newsletter

Special report on our trip to the East Coast, plus other family news

Trip summary: (by Judith) You might think of this trip as an all-in-one American history/government field trip.  It was also strategically scheduled to snag Seth between his school and work commitments.  (He largely finished his course work for his civil engineering degree in early May.  This summer he’ll knock off his final two classes while also engaged in an internship.)

We flew to Washington, D.C. on May 16.  That evening we had a bit of the day left and took in the quaint old part of Alexandria.  (We mostly used subways, buses, and our legs to get around throughout the trip.)

On May 17 we attended Capitol Hill Baptist Church.  Our shared worship with the Christians there was a delight to our souls.  That afternoon we went over to the Air and Space Museum.  (Amazingly, son-in-law Ray was in D.C. that day finishing up a conference, so we shared most of the day with him.)

We made several stops on May 18: Supreme Court (allowed in to see most of the justices as they announced some decisions), Capitol (personal guided tour), Library of Congress, Bureau of Printing & Engraving (guided tour), House of Representatives.

We visited the Archives and the American History Museum on May 19.

On May 20 we took a boat to and from Mt. Vernon, George Washington’s home.  Later some of us rode a carousel beside the National Mall, then we all visited the National Art Gallery.

We had been waiting for months to learn whether or not our White House tour request had been accepted.  After we were already in D.C., we finally got the word that we were accepted!  We did that on May 21 along with a visit to the Museum of Natural History and an evening excursion to see the lighted memorials.

May 22 was the one day we split up, but just for the morning.  Becca and I went back to see more of the National Art Museum and catch a quick stop in at the American Portrait Museum.  The others took a bus out to Udvar-Hazy (an extension of the Air and Space Museum – the bigger displays).  This was our last day in D.C.  We finished up with a visit to my grandparents’ grave in Arlington National Cemetery.  We also watched the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

On May 23 we got on a train headed to Philadelphia.  The next day, Sunday, we attended a Reformed Baptist church in the morning, then began sightseeing in the Independence National Historic Park area.  That day and on Monday, we saw the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Congress Hall, Franklin Court, historic cemeteries, and the Betsy Ross house.

For the next three days we had a rental car.  We drove out to Mercer Museum (a very large amazing collection of items from America’s past), then to Valley Forge.  That day, May 26, also included a delightful visit with the Einwechter family in a rural area not too far from our travel path.  Our visit with them refreshed us in body and soul, particularly in sharing about our similar paths in the Christian life.  After leaving their home we went to our motel down the road in the direction of New York.

On May 27 we drove to the Staten Island Ferry, then ferried over to Manhattan to see the National September 11 Memorial.  By that evening we had made our way to Boston.

We spent the day, May 28, mostly at Plimoth Plantation (their spelling).  There we experienced a recreated 17th-century English village and Wampanoag home site.  Both had staff present in traditional clothing, but the village people were role-playing, not just interpreting.  Our admission tickets also included visits to the Mayflower II and the Plimoth Grist Mill.  After that we returned the car.

Our last day of sightseeing, May 29, was spent in Boston.  We visited the Boston Public Garden and tramped our way through the whole Freedom Trail.  We toured several historic buildings, churches, and cemeteries, climbed the 294 stairs in the Bunker Hill Monument, and saw the USS Constitution.

We flew home on May 30.

If you’re curious about how we handled our meals and lodging … Throughout the trip we bought groceries every few days in order to cover our lunch each day and breakfast when we weren’t at a motel that provided it.  One meal each day, usually at mid-day, was in a restaurant.  In D.C., New York, and Boston, we had motels.  In Philadelphia we had a small rented apartment with a washer and dryer which allowed us to do all our laundry at the halfway point in the trip.  The only drag was in Boston where the motel did not provide breakfast or a refrigerator, and the sinks were inside the bathrooms.  That motel did, however, provide great airport and subway shuttle service!

Now, here are some personal highlights from the trip …

From Laura, 16 … It was an incredible thing for me, seeing so many things I’d heard and read so much about over the past 16 years.  So many times throughout the trip I thought something like this, “There’s no way I can be standing here next to THE CONSTITUTION – not a copy, not a picture of it, not even a replica.  This is the real document and that penned signature was actually put there by George Washington’s own hand!”  The same sort of thing happened with the Declaration of Independence, the Gutenberg Bible, the Bill of Rights, Independence Hall, and what seemed like a hundred other things (which isn’t an exaggeration, considering the number of significant items at the Smithsonian Museums).  None of this would have been possible without the generosity of our parents in gifting us this wonderful trip!

From Becca, 18 … My three favorite things about the trip: 
1. Seeing where history happened.  We saw the place where the Pilgrims landed!  We walked the streets of Boston, where the war for independence was born!  We stood in the building where fifty-five remarkable men hammered out the constitution, changing world history forever!  
2. Seeing the government in action.  We saw the Supreme Court announce decisions and the House of Representatives take a vote.  We felt, in a small way, that we were part of history in the making.  And even though we didn’t actually see the president, we went to his house, and he could have been just upstairs (the Secret Service guy wouldn’t tell me).
3. Going on an adventure.  We flew on an airplane!  We rode on a train!  We rode on subways and buses and boats!  Oh, the sights, the sounds, the smells of the big city!  The hustle and bustle—all those people.  I loved every minute.

From Gerald … It was very special to share the experiences of our vacation with the four younger children.  The last time we had seen most of these sites was in 1999, so Becca and Laura were really seeing them for the first time.  We had a good variety of historic sites, museums, and outdoor places that were either restorations or living history type settings.  It was fun to travel together using mass transit.  All of us appreciated the times of worship we shared with the believers at the churches we visited each Sunday. 

Other family news …

From Seth, 22 … I started a new job this week working as an intern helping to design wastewater pumping stations.  It’s kind of weird working in a cubicle and wearing fancy clothes every day, but the work is fun, the company has good systems in place, and the people are nice.

 From Anna, 25 … In April I had the opportunity to spend a week in Ecuador with Compassion International.  It was mostly a visiting trip.  We went to church, spent time at two different Compassion centers, and toured the main Compassion headquarters in Ecuador.  Along the way we met pastors and staff members, families who are currently being helped by the program, and graduates from the program.  The final day was set aside for everyone in the group to spend time with their own sponsored children.  Meeting the girl I sponsor was an amazing and emotional experience.  It took the relationship we have to a whole new level!

It was such a delight to get a first-hand look at the work that God is doing there in Ecuador and be reminded how broad and diverse, yet unified the body of Christ is.  I felt like I was meeting long-lost family members all week long!  I’ve written more about my trip here: https://safeinthehaven.wordpress.com/category/ecuador-2015/

From John, Megan, James (3), Ezra (1), and Joy Constancy (due in August) … (by John) Pregnancy is going well.  We're working on our master bathroom remodel, hoping to be finished, or at least functional, before baby Joy is born in August.  Work-wise, I'm in the middle of a kitchen/dining/living room remodel while keeping up with smaller jobs.  I've looked at some work recently resulting from the Houston flooding.

From Ray, Katie, Peter (5), Samuel (4),  Andrew (2), and Grace (1) … (by Katie) We celebrated two birthdays in May.  Samuel turned four and Grace turned one.  We had a fun family day on Samuel’s birthday with an outing to the mall, where we enjoyed the children’s play area, the carousel, some yummy cookies, and especially, the escalators.  We also had dinner at the park.  The next week, we had a cake for Grace’s birthday, and she seemed amused and intrigued by the singing and the candle.  She has started walking recently, and is very delighted with herself.  It’s much easier for her to carry things with her now, and to play outside.  Peter is doing well with his reading lessons.  He gets so excited when he sounds out letters and it turns into a word!  His other excitement lately was losing two teeth.  Andrew is starting to talk a little bit more, and continues to show signs of being a gymnast or circus performer someday (yikes!).

From Judith … Though technically a summer, 2015, graduate, Seth was lumped in with the spring graduation activities at UH.  He opted out of the big all-school ceremony, though he did elect to participate in the smaller College of Engineering ceremony.  It was much more personal and meaningful.  Each graduate was allowed to invite two guests.  The downside was that the siblings were left out.  Gerald and I were glad to meet and visit with the teachers and students with whom Seth had worked.
  
With love from the Pedersen clan

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