This year's School Unit Study has been a challenging one for us. Usually the children pick what they want to study and do the program about at the end of the year, but this year I chose it based on what I thought the children needed to be aware of in this world. We are studying African Americans, Native Americans, Special Needs, Less Fortunate, and Jews. What do all these have to do with each other, you might ask. They either have been or still are mistreated in some way. We are studying why and how they were mistreated, and then what we can do to treat others better. I was hoping it would broaden their minds on people and that what we might see with our eyes, isn't a true depiction of what that person goes through. They might look like a popular person, but as an African American still deal with some racism. They might look dirty like a farmers child, but really they don't have enough clothes to wear clean ones every day and are beaten at home. We want them to be aware of others in a different light, so that they can be a help to this world and not contribute to the judging and mistreatment that goes on.
So, with that said, Jonathon had planned a trip to Tennessee for work and let us plan on going along. The work part didn't work out, but we decided to continue on with our plans and were excited that now he would get to join us. We also were able to enjoy the trip with our besties, The Brothers. What do you get when you go into a weekend that is supposed to snow storm back home and you're in a warm climate and don't want to go back? You get an extended trip with flexibility and memories, memories, memories.
Time to get rolling!
We really had great travelers! (That's clay on Diella's nose.)
The Brothers headed out Thursday evening and we waited til Friday morning. We planned in our trip to swing by way of the National Underground Railroad Museum in Cincinnatti, Ohio. We aren't much of big city folk, but it's always fun to take the children into one for a short bit and this was short and sweet and back out again.
It was nice having the museum to ourselves for the most part. A few people but not bad at all.
The quilt wall.
This was a slave pen. The museum had an app that you could get more info about different areas, so the children learned all about slave pens.
At this station, the children could tap the screen to make the choice of how they would travel as a slave escaping. I was glad to know that they would take their family with them rather than leave them behind so they could escape easier.
Henry who escaped being shipped in a box all the way to freedom.
The many faces of those who escaped to freedom and those who were conductors along the underground railroad. Amazing stories of bravery and love.
This was a sample of a house and the different places the slaved could hide. Some areas became well known for where slaves would hide. Rugs were good cover ups for hide aways in the floor. That was the first place the children picked to hide, but they got caught (on the app it had you choose different things.)
The children loved this view from the museum.
We finished up at the museum and had some good conversation about was learned as we left. The museum had some great theater areas with real life depictions of what slaves went through to escape. There was also an area that covered invisible slavery such as children who are made to work at such young ages and sex trafficking. We are so blessed to have both been raised in homes where these things were never a worry to us. I'm thankful that my children won't experience these things as well.
Onward forward! We then headed for Cookeville, TN. With the time change, it getting late, and horrible driving conditions in the dark, we were all very thankful when we arrived at our hotel. Our friends were already there and greeted us with hands ready to help carry bags in, in the rain and pizza had been ordered. We got settled in our room, pizza came, and we enjoyed some visiting before the children changed their clothes to hit the pool.
Some fears were faced and drowned at this pool. Some weren't hesitant to try out that amazing slide, but others of the children just weren't too excited about trying it out. They each tried it at least once. For some of them, it was a time of truly overcoming a fear.
We spent Sabbath relaxing by the pool. The night before it was so busy with people, but the next morning, it was all cleared out. What a blessed time for the children to swim and play and the adult to sit in the hot tub and chat. We enjoyed every minute of it! Time to clear out and head to the room to get ready for fellowship. That afternoon we headed to Lamb Fellowship for some wonderful worship and fellowship. The people there are so loving and welcoming! It was so great to see friends that we made a few years ago when we spent Sukkot with them and some friends that we see more often.
This is our bunch plus the Blackford's bunch who also joined us for a night at the hotel. Fun with friends!
After breakfast, one last swim, and saying our good byes to friends, we headed south a little more to Chattanooga. The Trail of Tears runs through many of these areas, and since we are studying the Native Americans and the mistreatment they went through, we found a park (Audubon Acres) that had a little museum area inside and some trails to walk on. Again time got away from us, and we weren't able to see the whole park, but we did enjoy the hike and made some great memories here.
This bridge allowed some more fears to be conquered. The children may have been a little hesitant, but all crossed it twice.
Thanks to the guys for truly making this a swinging bridge. :)
Along the path were signs by different trees that explained what the Cherokees would use it for. Very interesting how every plant and tree could be used in some way. Jonathon also gave the children a lesson in how they used bamboo for blow guns, which we found growing along the path.
They don't call this the trail of tears for nothing. He wiped out and hurt his hand pretty bad. Was still complaining of it 3 days later. These tears were for real! Don't worry, I did show him some sympathy, but I couldn't resist taking the picture.
We had to cross some train tracks to get to the trails. This proved to be a highlight of our trip. Just as we were all ready to cross at the tracks, and I was trying to get some pictures of the children on the tracks, what do we hear? A TRAIN IS COMING!!! You should have seen everybody scurry off the tracks!
Train is gone, now let's enjoy some pics.
We found it!
This pool was freezing and the hot tub was quite hot. One pic of everybody in it, then out you go!
Monday came around. We had some other friends not far from where we were staying who just had a new baby. We all decided that we should definitely make a stop to see the new one and the parents, of course. :) When we got there, we had an invitation to Song's parent's house, so we couldn't resist and decided to take more time to visit them. Such an enjoyable family to fellowship with. The children had a ball playing, we got to be there when they sold one of their golden retriever puppies, we loved the story of the raccoon on their porch which the children also enjoyed seeing, loved catching up and learning of how this big family makes things work in their home, and lastly enjoyed some worship with guitar, violin, and voices.
We are growing more and more to love the families that live far away that we've come to know and enjoy fellowship with. We'd love if they all lived closer, but visiting them makes trips more of a surprise.
We really didn't have too much planned in this trip, so most of it was just playing by ear. At supper 2 of the night was when we figured out where we were going to stay for the night. I'm so used to being prepared for everything, but we all went with the flow and enjoyed the moments together with each other and with those we were able to visit.
The last hotel was in Seymour, IN. We arrived quite late and all went straight to bed. The next morning we had an enjoyable breakfast and visited with a couple from Grand Rapids, MI who were headed home after being in Florida for a month. They were telling us how much they miss their grandchildren back home and how it all goes so quickly. Hmmm, that's funny, that's not the first time we've heard that on this trip...or the second...or the third actually. That's one reason I enjoyed this vacation so much. We were able to not have a set schedule, we could let the children enjoy the pool, we could sit and visit, we could just enjoy being together and not be in such a hurry that those special moments passed us by without realizing they were there. Hoping I can slow down more and truly enjoy my little ones. They won't be that for long and will be having their own babies. Trying to relish the times, continue teaching them to look at people through the Father's eyes and not their human eyes, and enjoying watching them as they show more and more signs of growth, love, and sensitivity towards others. I pray that we are an example of all those things and that our lives reflect God's goodness, love, and mercy.