And then there were 4...

And then there were 4...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Stroll Through Gettysburg

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Our drive through Gettysburg, though long, was one of the best ways to spend Memorial Day.  Being able to honor and pay tribute to all those who suffered and died while in the service of our country shed new light for me on the whole concept of Memorial Day.  Heavenly Father consecrated this land to be a promised land; a land of many freedoms where all men are created equal and therefore treated as equals.  Without all these brave men, Heavenly Fathers great and eternal purpose could not come to pass. 

I absolutely love the part in President Lincolns Gettysburg Address where he stated "that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave that last full measure of devotion."  Because of all those who so diligently fought for their country we are able to live in a nation that is of the, people, by the people, and for the people...all people no matter their color of skin, or gender.

The drive in and of itself, while very long, was quite sobering.  I'm so grateful for the opportunity that Memorial day gives us to take a moment and remember all those who sacrificed so much.  Day to day life makes it easy to forget lose sight of how we got to the great place we are at here in America.  Memorial Day is the perfect way to take a step back and pay the much needed respect to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice!

The weekend mini-cruiser...the thing was a champ!!

This kid is AMAZING in the car!!  Barely a peep!!

All things Chocolate

Memorial Day this year was spent in two different "chunks." The first being our visit to Chocolate World in Hershey, PA...and the second paying tribute to all the soldiers who sacrificed their lives throughout the battlefield at Gettysburg. 

The Hershey Chocolate Factory was pretty incredible!  A factory dedicated to chocolate is A-Okay in my book!  We did the complete chocolate tasting "how-to" course, followed by a how chocolate is made tour, and then rounded out the day making our own chocolate bar.  Dominik loved getting to package his own Hershey Kisses and I loved going to the chocolate store and looking (and buying) at all the different types of candy that Hershey makes...We were all literally kids in a candy store.  A giant factory sized store.

After we left the factory we took a stroll down Chocolate Ave.  All the street lights are in the shape of Hershey Kisses, and the whole street has the permeating fume of chocolate...that's my kind of town!!!  We all left pretty satisfied...tummies full of chocolate and bags of chocolate in hand to be consumed during our 4 hour drive home :)  I definitely gained 4 very worth it pounds this weekend!!!

Niagara Falls

Since our trip was only 2 days in length and we had a TON of stuff we wanted to do, we had to cram as much stuff into each day that we possibly could.  After going to Palmyra and the Hill Cumorah, we headed straight over to Niagara Falls.  TJ, Jana, and Linda had all been here before...but for Andy, Dominik, Mike, and I we were all first timers.  The falls were simply spectacular! 

I'm so grateful that Jana talked me into the waiting in the 1 1/2 hour long line for the Maid of the Mist boat tour that goes down into the falls.  For all those who visit the is TOTALLY worth the $$ and the wait!!!  And when you do get on the boat, go straight to the top.  You will get absolutely soaked (they give you a poncho) but the views are unbeatable!

I do have to say thought that going from the Sacred Grove straight into a worldly place was not the smoothest of transitions...although getting to admire one of Heavenly Fathers beautiful creations left me in complete awe.  It just reminds me of how much our Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to find beauty in all aspects of the life he has created for us!

Hill Cumorah

The Hill Cumorah is where the Mormon buried the plates for Joseph Smith Jr. to find.  After the Angel Moroni appeared to Joseph and told him of the plates location, Joseph went to the Hill Cumorah uncovered the plates and then went on to translate them into what we know today as the Book of Mormon.  It is a sacred place that today holds a memorial to this sacred event. 

Trying to roll down the Hill Cumorah

Next time we come here it will be to attend the Hill Cumorah Pageant that goes on every July!!

Cradle of the Restoration

This past weekend was Memorial Day Weekend, and lucky for us, TJ had a 4 day weekend.  Instead of continuing to explore DC (thank goodness!) we decided to rent a minivan, hit the road, and explore some good ol' upstate NY.  On  our drive we did a ton of church history and lastly on the list was Palmyra...otherwise known as the "Cradle of the Restoration."  It is where the restored church began to take form...where the Book of Mormon was translated and published...and where Joseph Smith saw God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.  Pretty powerful place if you ask me.

We left on Saturday night around 10:30pm and didn't arrive in Bath, NY (about 1 1/2 hours south of Palmyra) around 3:30am.  We checked into our 1 star hotel (only thing available) and all pretty much crashed as soon as our head hit the pillow.  Everyone only slept about 3 hours before we had to get up, get ready for church and drive the last 1 1/2 hour let to the Palmyra church building.  Sacrament meeting was absolutely great.  Ironically enough, former Oregon State Senator who lives in Bethesda Ward (in our DC stake) is the area 70 for the Palmyra region, and was visiting the Palmyra ward.  He spoke to us a wonderful message about memorial day and the importance of honoring those who served our country and for the opportunity for the gospel to move forth. 

After Sacrament we had the honor of walking through the Sacred Grove and the Smith homestead.  While in the Sacred Grove we listened to the words of The First Prayer.  Such a powerful message!

Oh, how lovely was the morning!
Radiant beamed the sun above.
Bees were humming, sweet birds singing,
Music ringing thru the grove,
When within the shady woodland
Joseph sought the God of love. …
Humbly kneeling, sweet appealing—
’Twas the boy’s first uttered prayer—
When the pow’rs of sin assailing
Filled his soul with deep despair;
But undaunted still he trusted
In his Heav’nly Father’s care. …
Suddenly a light descended,
Brighter far than noonday sun,
And a shining glorious pillar
O’er him fell, around him shone,
While appeared two heav’nly beings,
God the Father and the Son. …
“Joseph, this is my Beloved;
Hear him!” Oh, how sweet the word!
Joseph’s humble prayer was answered,
And he listened to the Lord.
Oh, what rapture filled his bosom,
For he saw the living God.
(Hymns, 1985, no. 26)

I am so grateful for Joseph Smith and all that he sacrificed so we could have the one true church upon the earth today.  I know that he saw God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ in the grove that day and that they told him not to join any church.  I know that through divine revelation he found the plates upon the Hill Cumorah and that he translated them into what we now know as the Book of Mormon.  I know that the Book of Mormon tells us of an ancient people who resided on this the promised land knows as the Americas.  I know that through their experiences we can learn a clear and direct path back to our Heavenly Father.  I know that by living the gospel we can not only find unending joy and happiness, but that the joy and happiness can extend through the eternities with our families.  I'm so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who knows me, loves me, and was willing to send his only begotten son to earth to atone for my sins so that I could be forgiven of my many shortcomings and live with him again.  I know that this is in fact the one true church upon the face of the earth and I thank my Heavenly Father EVERYDAY that I was born into a family that was sealed under the covenant.  I hope that I can live a life that is pleasing unto my heavenly Father and is worthy of all that he has and continues to do for me. 

Capitol Touring

So the last time that I tried to tour the Capitol, my parents and I ended up waiting two hours before I had to leave with Dominik to go get the car (expired parking) and their tour guide was unable to get any tickets for them. Luckily another tour guide felt so sorry for them she let them bandwagon on with her tour. 

I was so happy to hear that Jana, Andy, Mike, and Linda wanted to tour the Capitol during their trip, and even happier that 1. I didn't have to reserve the tickets, and 2. TJ would be able to come with us! 

We got to the Capitol in just the nick of time.  When I went with my parents we went through the House of Representatives side (underground tunnels), and this time we went through the Senate side (opposite side of the Capitol underground tunnels).  It was interesting to be able to compare the two sides and see all the ornate features of both. 

The Capitol tour ended up being about 2 hours and had some of our nations fascinating history.  There was a lot of culture and facts that you would only get during the tour.  There was statues that represent each of the 50 states and at one point our tour guide said "here's an interesting fact, Utah only sends Mormon figures."  He didn't seem to be one way or the other on the fact, he just thought it was interesting and wanted to share.  Little did he know that half of his group was Mormon...lucky for him, he wasn't Anti or anything :)  that would have made for an interesting discussion!

The overall tour was great, and definitely a must see/do when you are in DC.  Sadly, both the White House and the Pentagon no longer give tours (unless you know someone of course) due to the sequestration, and I would imagine that the Capitol might follow suit.  Get them while they still offer em!! 

After the Capitol we ate at the most delicious pizza place EVER!!  "We, the Pizza" is absolutely DELICIOUS!! A perfect way to end your tour of the Capitol and it's only a 3 block walk! 

After the Capitol was a few more tours of the Bureau of Printing and Engraving$$$  and then off to the Holocaust museum.  I am so grateful for the opportunities we have had to explore all the history this town has to offer.  The Northwest is definitely lacking in this department (one of the few downsides to the great NW).