Thursday, November 25, 2010

Learning About the Pilgrims

Part of the first grade curriculum in public schools where we live is learning about the history of the pilgrims at Plymouth Plantation (or Plimouth - I'm not sure if this is the original spelling, or if it is the creative spelling employed by first graders). In any case my daughter wished to tell us all about the things she has learned about the pilgrims and the Native Americans who helped them during their first year in the New World. According to my daughter's new-found knowledge:
  • There were 102 pilgrims who embarked on the Mayflower along with the few belongings they were able to bring with them.
  • They lived on-board the Mayflower for sixty days and sixty nights before reaching Plymouth.
  • More than half died from illness, and only 50 remained to settle the new land. My daughter says they died of sea-sickness, but I imagine there were many ailments that affected them.
  • Their first village burned down.
  • They lived in one room homes and nearly starved their first winter.
  • The Native Americans (Wapanogs, I think that is the correct spelling...) taught the pilgrims how to plant food, corn in particular, and how to hunt and fish.
  • To express their thanks to God for bringing them through one hard winter and for providing adequate food for their second winter they prepared a great feast with the Wapanogs, which we commemorate with our own feasts to this day, though I'm sure the foods are quite different.
There was one final point which we wanted to be sure our daughter understood. We asked her why the pilgrims had to get on the Mayflower in the first place. She told us that "The queen would not let them worship God the way they wanted to, so they got on the Mayflower to find a new land where they could worship God the way they wanted to." We are still thankful today for this wonderful freedom to worship God as we choose. Imagine the hardships that our forefathers endured to secure this freedom for us. The short list above is just what a child has been able to learn and keep in mind for the last few weeks. I'm sure there are innumerable other burdens they bore - difficulties in child birth, in leaving behind family and friends, in nursing their sick little ones in vain, and burying them on a distant cruel shore. They bore all of these costs for the freedom to worship. May we remember this high price and worship God today and every day, not just for what He  has given us, but for Himself and all that He is.


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