Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Return to Plymouth...

Well, after "Day Two" of the Faith & Freedom Tour we sort of left our blog hanging there in Plymouth. Before we have to go too far back to remember it all, let's return to Plymouth now and finish up the trip:

Day Three
As the the third full day of our trip dawned, we realized that today would be the day for hats and umbrellas! A real New England "nor'easter" had blown in overnight. The rain poured down torrentially and the winds were incredibly strong. But the poor weather didn't succeed in dampening anyone's spirits that memorable Thanksgiving Day! Although it delayed our morning a little, our crowd was at Burial Hill at the end of Leyden Street on time for the event of the morning - witnessing the "Pilgrim's Progress."

The Pilgrim's Progress is an annual event where a number of Pilgrim reenactors march up Leyden Street and reenact an authentic Pilgrim worship service. In true Pilgrim spirit, they were not deterred by the storm.

Following the service, we headed indoors and enjoyed the hospitality of the Church of the Pilgrimage. They offered snacks, desserts, and drinks throughout the morning to all who came by. After a brief respite, we headed back out through the rain over to the Pilgrim Hall Museum.

This museum holds many artifacts of great significance to any student of American history, including many original pieces of furniture, dishes, books, and such, owned by the Pilgrims. They also have the original copy of the Pierce Patent (the document that gave the Pilgrims the legal right to the land they settled).

After browsing the museum and library and learning some about the historical research that they have done to confirm what we know today about the Pilgrims, we headed back to the hotel to prepare for our Thanksgiving dinner.

First thing to be done was to find dry clothes! BUT, some decided they weren't quite wet enough and enjoyed some time in the hotel pool before the dinner hour called them away. What a dinner it was! With southern tradition (Peanut Soup) at the beginning of the buffet, and classic New England (fresh cod in a lobster sauce) at the end, and a bountiful selection of breads, salads, and side dishes in between, and a separate table full of various meats, and another piled with desserts, we had much to give thanks over! The Potter family joined ours over dinner and we enjoyed pleasurable discourse during the meal.

After dinner Mr. Doug Phillips interspersed quotes from "Of Plymouth Plantation" by William Bradford, with comments and thanksgivings shared by others as the mic was passed around the room. Through the late afternoon hours and into the early evening, our dinner extended as we rejoiced together over the abundant blessings granted us by our Lord.

After dinner, our family and various others chose to soak ourselves once again, and stop in at the Thain family's open house. Their home carries historic import in Plimouth and they were gracious in inviting us all over! Although the structure has been rebuilt in comparatively recent years, their home marks the place where the Pilgrims and Wampanoags signed the peace treaty that stood for over 50 years! The story of their relationship over those 50 years is an incredible, but too often untold, tale in American History. (More on this topic can be learned from this resource.)

After visiting the Thains, it was time to get back to work! As we headed up to the "Food Room" we were joined by the 4 young men who comprise Vision Forum's 2006 Intern Class. With their assistance we worked to quickly prepare and pack the lunches for the following day. Thanks guys!

Day Four
The day following Thanksgiving Day we had something else for which to give thanks: during the night the storm blew past and the sun was out! It was a beautiful day to spend in Boston. Our first stop was the Massachusetts State House.

Led by Dr. Paul Jehle, we learned more of the early history of colonial America (specifically in Massachusetts) as we toured the state capitol building. In nearly every hall and chamber we found murals and statues with tales to tell and providences to recall. As we sat in the legislative chamber - in the actually seats in which the Massachusetts state representatives sit when in session - Dr. Jehle lectured on the establishment of the rule of law on America's shores.

It is difficult to describe what Dr. Jehle presented as a lecture, but for lack of a better word, we must. Five paintings cover the front wall of the legislative chamber representing five historic events that all - and especially lawmakers - would do well to keep in mind. We learned of Governor Winthrop's arrival with the Massachusetts charter, the just arrest of colonial Governor Andros, the repentance of Judge Sewall (of the Salem Witch trials), the writing of the Massachusetts constitution, and John Hancock proposing a Bill of Rights at the Constitutional Convention.

While in the Senate chamber we got to view this American treasure: the rifle used by Capt. John Parker during the skirmish on the Lexington Green - an event we would learn more of later during our visit.

In the State House's Nurses Hall, we were shown a few more murals and heard a condensed version of Dr. Jehle's presentation regarding five elements necessary to change a nation (which he delivered in Illinois last year during our Liberty Day celebration).

From the State House, we followed Boston's red brick "Freedom Trail" over to the Granary Burial Grounds and saw the graves of James Otis, Paul Revere, John Hancock, Sam Adams, and Ben Franklin's parents. Mr. Phillips gave us much to consider while we were there, as he built on Dr. Jehle's presentation and spoke further on how God used these men - and others - to influence the fate of the nation. Mr. Phillips also pointed out the incredible work that was done for the cause of independence from American pulpits, reminding us of King George III quote calling the American war for independence a "Presbyterian Parson's Rebellion." Not a bad title!

Here we split paths with the rest of the group for a few minutes. While Mr. Phillips and Mr. Potter led everyone over to the King's Chapel Burying Ground we headed back to the Boston Commons to get lunch ready to be served. For the record, the cemetery at King's Chapel is of note as the final resting place of the first Pilgrim to touch Plymouth Rock (Mary Chilton), as well as famous early Bostonians John Cotton, John Winthrop, and William Dawes (who made that famous midnight ride along with Paul Revere, though he got home free while Revere was captured by the British...). Also buried there is a British officer who died during the battle of Bunker Hill, James Abercrombie.

It was a beautiful day to picnic on the Boston Commons - a picturesque little place in the midst of a busy city.

Following lunch we boarded our buses once again and headed over to the waterfront to visit the USS Constitution!

This famous old boat is still under active commission of the US Navy, and thus it is maintained, and the tours are led by, Navy personnel. We enjoyed a portion of the afternoon standing in line chatting with those around us as we waited to pass through the security area to board the boat. Once on board, we made it in time for the final guided tour of the afternoon.

A visit to the USS Constitution Museum finished the day for our family as we parted ways with the rest of our tour group in order to do some shopping for the remaining meals of our trip. The rest of everyone lingered at the museum and then headed out to restaurants in the area of historic Fanueil Hall.

Our day ended peacefully after our shopping was done, by taking care of some of the food preparation for the following day. Those back in Boston boarded the buses late in the evening to head back to the hotel in Plymouth, but their arrival was delayed by their witnessing a near-fatal car accident. But that is a tale for others to tell as they were there and we were not!

Day Five
Ah, this day we will attempt to summarize quickly as we somehow managed to leave our camera back in our hotel room. Alas for faithful documentation of our adventure! The morning began back in Plymouth on Burial Hill, picking up on what the rain canceled for us on Thanksgiving Day. We spent our whole morning there listening to more stories about the Pilgrims, learning more of the vision, more of their theology, more on their perspective of life, death, and the resurrection, more of who they were and what they did. Much indeed, can be learned reading the eulogies, the epitaphs, they left for us on the gravestones of their loved ones.

Upon boarding the buses, we served everyone their lunches (remember, that detail is important to us, while it may seem irrelevant to others!), and then headed back north to spend the rest of the day in Boston. Arriving in Boston's north side, we disembarked and breaking into three smaller groups set out to explore the wealth of the area. Much was found as - once again following the red brick Freedom Trail - we walked through Paul Revere's small home, the famous Old North Church (where were hung the lanterns of Revere's famous ride), and the Copps Hill Burying Ground. The Bunker Hill Monument was closed, and thus we learned about that engagement from the standpoint of Copps Hill - which in itself was a neat historical experience as on June 17, 1775 Abigail Adams and her son, John Q. Adams, stood on Copps Hill to watch the battle of Bunker Hill as it took place!

(Josh both recorded all the lectures, and faithfully carried around the speaker to broadcast whatever our guide was saying at a volume that all 165 of us could hear.)

Copps Hill is also the place where the Mather family is buried. Called by George Washington, "The true spiritual founding fathers of America," the Mathers today are largely forgotten, misunderstood, or misrepresented. On Copps Hill we learned of the impact of Puritanism on early America and the truth of the Mather legacy. We learned of their incredible contributions to Christian society - theologically, practically, philosophically, politically, medically and scientifically - for Richard, Increase, and Cotton Mather were men of diverse talents and interests!

By the time our touring was done for the day, Boston's "Little Italy" beckoned us to stay for dinner. And we did. Mr. Turley had made reservations at a certain restaurant in the area and invited us to join their crowd. We did, and soon found ourselves seated in a quiet room at the restaurant, which did not stay quiet long as in addition to our family and the Turleys, there were also the Zeses, the Weathers, and the Harts in our party! For the next couple of hours we enjoyed food, fellowship and the simple pleasure of sitting down, before returning to our buses for the ride back to Plymouth.

Day Six
Sunday, the Lord's Day. Our morning began as we gathered in the Hotel's "Mayflower" room for a Sabbath service: hymns of praise, prayers, scriptures, and a sermon. Following the church meeting, we walked a few blocks over to our only stop of the day: The Forefather's Monument.

Due to lack of funds, the monument is only half the size that was intended, but it is nonetheless an impressive and significant monument. The main figure is a statue of "Faith." Supporting it are the four smaller figures of Morality, Law, Education, and Liberty. Each of those four smaller figures are in turn supported by other statuettes, engravings, and quotes. The symbolism incorporated into even the tiniest details of each figure was carefully noted by the architect and was explained to us by Dr. Jehle.

The remainder of the day was spent in rest, fellowship, and - well, yes - food preparation for the following day!

Day Last
The final morning of our New England excursion woke us as our anticipation for what the day held mingled with regret that this was our last day together. But we still had that one day to enjoy, and enjoy it we did.

Monday morning saw us setting foot on the historic Lexington Green.

Now here, friends, is an exciting place to stand. The town square, the green, still remains much as it was back in April of 1775. The changes are few. The church that stood at one end burnt down and upon its now empty lot stands a monument to the church leaders who inspired the men of their town to stand for what was right.

As they did then, so also now, houses face the town green - and one can easily imagine the scenes of that day: The wives and children in their homes, yet watching the small group of loved ones out on that green as the dawn broke and the redcoats arrived, the thick silence that must have pressed upon them all during those few short moments, the shouts of the British officer, the lone musket fired, the echoing shots that followed, the fatally wounded Jonathan Harrington dragging himself to his doorstep to die in the arms of his wife, the minutemen dispersing for the moment and hastening to Concord...

Courage, resolve, faithfulness.
Duty, principle, truth.

As Mr. Potter told us about the short engagement of the Lexington men with the British regulars, he called up about 40 of the young patriots amongst us to stand and recreate the line which the patriots of old had formed to greet the lobsterbacks. He then sent one young man out forty paces to stand where the redcoated soldiery had formed their line and fired.

After eating lunch (chicken salad on croissants) on the Lexington Green, we followed the day's battle to the bridge at Concord. Here was the site of the major altercation of that day in April of 1775. The minutemen defending their homes, ammunition, and principles from the abuse of the tories. Here is the site memorialized in Emerson's Concord Hymn.

"By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled;
Here once the embattled farmers stood;
And fired the shot heard round the world."

Of course, we know the story - after the battle at the bridge, the minutemen chased those tyrant tories back to Boston, shooting at them from behind stonewalls...

But we couldn't spend all day there! By mid-afternoon we were shooed back to the buses and taken to our final stop of the week. Harvard University.

Harvard University may sound like an odd place to stop on a Vision Forum Faith & Freedom Tour, but as it is the oldest college in America, it has been around awhile and has some history and lessons of its own to share.

Mr. Botkin, Mr. Potter, and Mr. Phillips shared with us both the Christian history of the college - it was established as a place of learning and evangelism for the native population - and how it got to where it is today.

And then the 2006 New England Faith & Freedom Tour was over. Well, almost. We still have the closing dinner!

We always like to extend our visits as long as possible and a meal together is a good way to do that.

Over dinner we enjoyed our final hours of fellowship and an inspiring recap of the week - plus, of course, a slide show of pictures from our time together!

After dinner, came the traditional signature gathering as various of the young people passed papers, catalogs, and notebooks around collecting as many autographs of their fellow tourers as possible.

As a number of us were still loathe to part, and not quite tired enough as it was, we stayed up until well past 2:00am enjoying games and chatter on the fourth floor lobby.

And, that, dear friends (those of you who made it thus far), is a faithful recounting of what we did during our New England Adventure... But what of our quest? Did we find the priceless treasure we sought, that legacy we wished to pass on? Aye, friends, we did. But time does not permit me to reveal much of that story to you at present. However, time will be made, and hopefully our next post will tell that tale.


Stinnett Family said...

Great job, Erbers! We really enjoyed your account of the F&F Tour!
Thank you once again for the wonderful tour lunches!:)

Bryce said...


Yes, Thank you for providing sustenence! The lunches were great. It was a pleasure meeting you on the tour, and reading your blog report.

Ortega Recorder said...

Very nice account - really makes one want to go along next time! Thank you for taking the time to share such a lengthly review.