Monday, December 4, 2017

Weekend in DC

Chris and I went to D.C. for the weekend. It was very reminiscent of our airline traveling weekend trip days, when it was just us, free airfare, and the energy of people almost a decade younger than we are now. 

The primary purpose was to see the Museum of the Bible, which just opened last month. Chris had wanted to see it and with the help of a voucher and some reduced hotel rates (stayed 2 blocks from the White House!!), and kind and willing grandparents (and friends to watch Wonderdog) we were able to make it there for a short trip. 

Our first evening included getting to our hotel room, eating at PJ Clarkes, and collapsing to sleep. The next morning we had planned a breakfast at a place called Founding Farmers (let's be honest, I half wanted to eat there because of the name) but because of over an hour wait we went to a small coffee-and-pastry type of place to get a bite before the museum. And I am glad we did; it was about a 30-45 minute wait just to get in, even though we had a "reserved" entrance time.  

After an extensive security search, we were there! The first exhibit we saw was an Amazing Grace exhibit, speaking of the history of the song and John Newton. I did not realize that John Newton had been part of the slave trade, leading ships. After his conversion, he struggled with slavery and treated those aboard his ship humanely, so that none of them died (an accomplishment for those ships). He eventually helped William Wilberforce and others to bring an end to the slave trade. It was a fascinating history.

Another exhibit spoke to the deep influence of the Bible in American History. Perhaps the most insulting and backwards use of the Bible was that there was a special version written to slaves, with certain parts left out of it. Also, many slave owners used the Bible to justify slave ownership. Mortifying. I cannot help but connect that to abortion today. Abortionists, and those on the pro-abortion side of the debate, have twisted and coerced the Bible to fit into their worldview and have used it to back-up their position. This is a disgusting misuse of God's word, and it has been done in the past. God is the creator of life, and every life has equal value. Slavery was wrong, just as abortion is. The parallels are alarming.  There was a beautiful Bible on exhibit that was presented to Abraham Lincoln by a group of African Americans after the end of the Civil War; funds were raised for it, and in today's dollars the cost was about $8,000.

There were many examples of primers that have been used in education historically that have a Biblical worldview. It was amazing to see all of these. The impact of the Bible on American History can't be overstated. So much of our culture, our beginnings, our foundations, can be traced back to the impact of the Bible.

We had an incredible lunch at their cafe (you can see the menu below: I had Amazing Grace, Chris had the Scholar's Initiative). I need to figure out how to make shaved fennel with cured lemons at home, because it was amazing. After lunch it was time for a docent tour, which took us through a history of the Bible from its early origins. We saw portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls. I didn't realize that prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest documents we had on the Bible were from about 950 A.D. What is so incredible is that the Scrolls are dated starting around 250 B.C., so the earliest scrolls were more than 1000 years older than the last earliest version of the Bible. Even more amazing is how purely the Bible had been preserved; it lined up almost word-for-word with what was seen on the Dead Sea Scrolls. They were up in caves that had been occupied in the area by a group of the Essenes, a Jewish sect that isolated themselves from the rest of the community for preservation of their beliefs.

The Bible has preserved in many different ways. There are specially trained that hand-wrote with excruciating detail each copy of the Bible prior to the printing press in the 1500s. The Bible was preserved on parchment (sheep skin), vellum (cow skin), and various versions of papyrus or paper, smashed or pulped together in various ways. I didn't realize that books were not around until around the time of Christ. Prior to that, everything had been scrolls. I knew books had to start at some point, but it is amazing to think that they were a "new technology" at that time, and now how we just take books for granted. Scriptures used to be on massive, hardly-movable scrolls that were eventually worn out from use and had to be hand copied again. Books are AMAZING! I am so glad for the idea that someone had to print on small pages from and back and bind them together. THANK YOU.

One of the things that left a great impression on me was the room full of Bibles. They had just about every language of the Bible that has been printed (some missing). For the languages that have not had a Bible translation yet, they had a blank yellow book as a placeholder, and for languages that have a translation in progress, they had a blank orange book. See pictures below. This room was so cool. You could look at all of the various languages of the Bible that have been translated. Hundreds and hundreds of languages, and still so many people are unreached with God's word in their own language.

We stopped by a nice fast-serve Middle Eastern restaurant on the way home that night, tired and worn out after 8 hours at the Museum of the Bible.

The next morning started bright and early. We walked by the White House (just casually, you know) on our way to the Founding Farmers for breakfast which did not disappoint. We had beignets, which I had never had before, but were amazing fluffy french donut balls with delicious dipping sauces. Best. Ever. And after a nice hearty breakfast we headed out, first stop: The White House. And, my favorite, The White House Christmas Tree. We barely missed the lighting ceremony, which is tonight, but around the tree they had some cool trains set up, and a tree representing each state and territory of the U.S.

After that we walked over to the Washington Monument, which I did not realize was constructed in the late 1800s. At the time it was constructed, it was the tallest structure in the world. I was particularly excited that the reflection pool was full, because the last time we went to D.C. it was under repair. We then saw the WWII memorial, which is beautifully crafted, before seeing the Lincoln Memorial and then walking to the Vietnam Memorial. What a sobering experience that was, to see all the names of the men who gave all in the name of freedom.

After that, since it was several miles of walking to the museum portion of the mall and since we had our heavy backpacks with us, we rented some bikes and rode down to the Air and Space Museum. The bikes were really quite fun. And the Air and Space museum, also very cool. We had seen it before but it is really amazing to see some of the aircraft in there, and the trace the history of human flight.

After the Air and Space Museum, we went to the Museum of American History, our last stop. By this point, we were fairly exhausted since we had to carry our stuff around with us all day and had been going all over the national mall. We maybe spent an hour at this last museum before heading to the metro for the airport.

Next time: I want to see the Library of Congress. We didn't think they would be closed on Sunday, but they were, so we missed out on that one. I am really excited to see it on our next D.C. trip.

It was a great weekend trip, and I loved spending the time with Chris. It was interesting to me, that I was eager to get home to the girls after the weekend. I missed my babies! Interestingly, I missed them less when I was gone over the summer. I realize it sounds terrible, but I was trying to figure out why. The difference this summer was that I was visiting Chris, so I had been without my "better half" for the last several weeks. And, this summer I knew that going home to the girls meant leaving Chris again, so it was tough either way. On this trip, I left with Chris and was going home with Chris, reuniting the whole family. So, while I missed the girls this summer, it was different this time. We had a great getaway, and I am looking forward to our next trip when it's just the two of us (probably a weekend away for our 10th (wow!!) anniversary next summer)!

Edit: Another (minor) reason I am glad to be home: good coffee. I have borderline PTSD from the terrible coffee at the hotel (ICK). It was just hard to find good drip coffee. There were Starbucks all over the place, which have terrible drip coffee. Glad to have my good coffee back. 

On the metro
Loved this row of buildings
Old Baptist church
More metro waiting
In line at the Museum of the Bible - quite the wait!
Front of the building

Psalm 119:105 engraved inside the building
Moving ceiling
Change in process
New ceiling
Bible from the 11th century
Depicting Paul and Timothy
Amazing Grace exhibit - discussing John Newton, and some of William Wilberforce
Bible with a poem by John Newton in the front
Pitts Theology Library! Where is this place?
Bible written in English and Native American language
Native American Bible
Not all positive history. Disgusting distortion of God's word given to black slaves
Lesson page from Bible primer
Same here

George Whitefield's collapsible and movable preaching stand
American Bible Society - printed and distributed low cost Bibles
Old cartoon depicting the danger of reducing the Bible to a moral book
Bible presented to Abraham Lincoln by African Americans after the Civil War; $8000 in today's dollars
Soldier's Bible - made small enough to fit into pockets
Headdress given to Billy Graham
Bible ABCs, WWII era
Lunch menu :)
Our tour, focusing on the Bible's preservation through history

Page of a Bible that was written on in an older language, had the original inking scraped off, and new inking written over it. A way that many used to write, given limited resources. 
Jewish scrolls that have been decommissioned.

Bible of Martin Luther's Pastor
Left - Bible signed/inscribed by Martin Luther; Right - Bible of Martin Luther's Pastor
Orange: translation in process; Yellow: no work begun yet. 
Many languages left without a Bible (see above). Some of these language with a Bible did not have a written language until the Bible was published in their language. 
Japanese Bible
Pottery, prior to Christ's time

Area of museum designed to look like Nazareth in Christ's time

Kid's arcade area
Outside the museum
Capitol building as seen on the way back from the Bible museum
Washington Monument at night
View of White House from the street - on our way to breakfast
Beignets, with caramel, raspberry, and chocolate dipping sauce. Perhaps a favorite part of the trip.
Other side of the White House, by the Presidential Park and Christmas trees
The sun was blinding me. Can you tell?

Christmas tree!
The saguaro ornament on Arizona's tree

Washington Monument
Lincoln Memorial
Cute ducklings in the reflection pool
Washington Monument with reflection pool

Vietnam Veteran names

Vietnam Memorial
Vietnam Memorial
Vietnam Memorial
Riding bikes from Vietnam Memorial to the Air and Space Museum
Comfort ride :)
Really this was very fun
Air and Space Museum
Yup. I touched the Moon. Have you?
My star that Sophia sent with me, by a rocket