It’s what I love most about this trip. A moment, an experience, a sentence spoken, a quote read and taken to heart … can change a whole day’s perspective and if we really let it sink it, it will change your whole life.
Yesterday was an amazing day at Arlington National Cemetery. (please forgive me… I literally fell asleep with the computer in my lap and didn’t write my blog after I uploaded the wreath laying ceremony) What an honor it was for our whole 11th grade class. The four that represented us had to go down to the guard office ahead of time and by chance they got to meet a guard getting off duty and visit with him. That was a first. Then in the visitor’s center there were two guards that were there to answer questions. That was another first.
The afternoon and evening we visited the Memorials on the mall. It is so sobering to think of all the lives the memorials represent. Lives lost, lives changed forever, countries changed forever. Each student has been assigned a place of interest or a memorial. Last night as we came to each memorial the students would share and then we would talk about that war or what some of the items or parts of the memorials would represent.
At the WWII memorial I asked the students to read all the quotes and take a picture of the one that really resonated with them.
We met Justin before breakfast. He works at the hotel and was excited to see our name on our breakfast room… Summit ‘Christian’ Academy. He had been trying to meet us for two days. Jeff and I had a nice visit with him before the kids got to the room and found he was a believer. He’s been reprimanded 2x for trying to share Jesus with others.
After breakfsast we headed to Mount Vernon. The tour of the grounds starts with watching a short movie about George Washington. I think it is very well done and gives you a picture into the kind of military leader he was. Determined, focused, empowering.
After the movie we had a guided tour with a ‘character interpreter’ who gives you a look into the life of the Washington family through a first-person narrative of one of the people that actually lived on the mansion grounds. Our guide was Frank Lee who had lived and served the Washington family over 30 years… His final position was Head Butler, which gave him many responsibilites tending to the family, their guests, overseeing the other endentured servants, the grounds, whatever was needed. We got to hear about the day to day life of the endentured servant; the food alotment, clothing alotment, days off, separation from family, 40 – 60 men in a small bunk house, etc. After he was done he introduced himself and told us this was his 3rd time to every ‘be in person’. We were amazed because he WAS AMAZING! Then we visited with him for about 30 more minutes, he shared why he wanted to do something like this… not to make his race issues recognized… but to help make a difference… for ALL races. He talked about all he had learned and was constantly learning. We asked what we could pray for him for tonight during our debrief, he aske, “You’re going to pray for me specifically?” “yes” He was noticeably moved and he gave us three things.
- He’s an actor and for his acting career to continue and to be productive
- For his well being
- For his family, they lived in Tennessee and he misses them, feels lonely
We had lunch, toured the mansion and then headed to the slave burial grounds. Sobering, no markers yet the excavation has shown it was the slave burial grounds. As we sat in the quiet of the area nestled in this beautiful cove of trees, we had prayer for the slavery that still goes on today. Human trafficking.
Next Aaron and Benton participated in the wreath laying ceremony at the Washington’s tomb. It was another sweet moment AND another First for Summit!
As we got back into the D.C. area we split into groups and headed to two museums… African American Museum and Air and Space.
One of the students said, “this morning with Reginald (actor portraying Frank) changed what I wanted to do this afternoon” It Changed My Whole Day … I want to know more about what he shared, now
he wanted to go to the African American Museum. We barely had time in both museums and will try for them tomorrow, but what we saw in the African A. M was riveting. You can’t see those things and it not go deep into your heart and change you… hopefully forever.
At dinner we met Blake (our waitress) and got prayer requests from her
Our discussions throughout today and debriefing tonight was really special. We discussed:
- Our favorite quotes on the WWII memorial and why.
- Frank (Reginal) and what we learned from him
- How Washington was a great leader but was quiet on slavery
- Through influence of close friends Washington before he died he was becoming an abolitionist but he would not use his voice to speak out against slavery. he set them free upon his wife’s death. George thought the people weren’t ready for a fight to end slavery .. To me… He missed the mark.
We closed the night with prayer for the people we met today.
Justin, Reginald and Blake.
It has been a good day.
Tomorrow we go to the Bible museum, then prayer walking the embassies and back to the Smithsonians. I know my group wants to head back to the African American Museum.
Please pray for courage for our students as we pray tomorrow… It doesn’t have to be perfect, just a willing sincere heart. We aren’t trying to make a spectacle, in fact, we’ve been practicing just standing… heads up, eyes open and me praying. We just want to practice this amazing tool God has given us… prayer as we become advocates for religious freedom, education, peace, children’s rights, women’s rights in various countries around the world.
Pray that God changes our perspective for the people he loves and the nations he has proclaimed that every tribe and every tongue shall praise his name, “Jesus is Lord” !!!