Scroll down to the bottom for archived articles
Posted August 9, 2019
THE ARK ENCOUNTER
I hope everyone's been having a great summer--mine's been busy. One of the trips I took with my grandies this year was to the Ark Encounter in Kentucky. The best time to go is during a weekday, after 4:00 p.m., and preferably after school has started. Some reviews say not to take kids until they are high school age, however, I discovered even a two-year-old enjoys this incredible place. Seeing the mammoth-size boat is a great visual for kids and adults alike, and what a great way to teach about Noah and the catastrophic flood. You won't be disappointed.
On the walkway before entering the Ark, there is a replica of the stone remembrance built when the Israelites crossed the Jordan River. For a refresher of Joshua Chapter Three and Four, the Israelites were carrying the Ark of the Covenant (different ark that housed the Ten Commandments and was carried by poles that rested on the priests' shoulders) across the Jordan River which was at flood stage during harvest. I'm paraphrasing here, but as soon as the priests' feet touched the water's edge, God held back the waters flowing downriver in "a heap" until all of the Israelite nation crossed over. Once on the other side, the Lord said to Joshua, "Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan from right where the priests stood and to carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight." They were to stack up the stones as a memorial to the people of Israel forever.
Now, I don't know if those stones from the Jordan River were round stones or flat stones but the stones stacked up at the Ark Encounter in KY happened to be flat stones and this will be important later on in the story. What matters is that all three grandies ages seven, five, and two, had a good look at the stones as their Mama read the plaque explaining this story. What was important is there was a visual. And I'd never before even once wondered about whether or not the stones in the book of Joshua were flat stones or round.
Once inside the replica of Noah's ark, there were more surprises. In many of the cages, we found several replicas of prehistoric animals that might have lived during Noah's time. There were also loads of pots covered and tied with burlap to house reptiles. Water could be poured through the burlap so the reptiles could drink, not sure how they were fed because it was "On to the next exhibit!" The kids were so excited and frankly, I was amazed. The belly of the ark was cavernous and it was easy to see how all of the juvenile creatures could have fit inside. Clay pots were used to store water and on the third level were the living quarters of Noah and his family. It was here they grew vegetables in raised beds. There were explanations and examples of how the light entering the ark could be controlled after the first forty days and nights of rain.
There were even drawings to show how Noah's sons could have gotten the urine and manure from the animal's stalls out of the boat without opening hatches or doors--done with clay pots and a pulley system…I wish I'd had time to study the system in more depth. But it was on to a movie to watch part of a Noah reenactment. With children, it's difficult to read every single plaque and I missed out on a lot but that was okay, I just wanted the kids to get an overall picture of how awesome this ark was before we ventured on to riding a camel near the petting zoo. It had been a couple of years since I'd straddled a camel...yikes!
There were times the two-year-old wouldn't cooperate--par for the course. And when she ripped out her big hair bow, I said, "Fine, if you won't wear it, Lovie will," and not to be outdone, I clipped the hair bow into my hair next to my sun visor. Later, when looking at the photos of the big girls with me atop a camel, my daughter said, "Mom, did you forget you were wearing a hair bow?" We could not stop laughing. At least the kids would have a priceless photo of their crazy grandmother when they got older.
Later that night while tucked under the covers, I reread the Genesis story from a hotel Gideon Bible to the big girls. Then I asked each grandie to share her favorite part of the Ark Encounter. I thought they would both say the outside petting zoo and playground. Surprisingly, both girls loved the third level living quarters where Noah and his family slept, worked, and grew food. They were totally infatuated with the animated Noah sitting at his desk.
After the girls had fallen asleep, I pondered over the ark's waste situation. I'd never thought about that problem. Then I recalled Daddy telling me that when he was young and helped with the farm's livestock, they deep-bedded over winter months--meaning they didn't muck out stalls every day, but added fresh straw daily or when needed. This made for a toasty warm barn. When spring arrived, they mucked out the soiled straw and after decomposition, had rich fertilizer. So, I tried deep bedding one winter in my horse barn. And yes, the barn stayed toasty warm. And it was so easy to throw in fresh straw giving me more time to keep tack clean and oiled and horses groomed.
What Daddy had forgotten to tell me was this: When the barn was mucked out in the spring, it was like digging out concrete. Noah, however, wouldn't have minded. He simply walked away from the boat on Mount Ararat in present day Turkey and with his sons' help, constructed new living quarters.
Back to the waste problem, what if God put the animals into hibernation once they entered their cages? What if there weren't loads of poop to muck out because everyone rested in a sleepy state for most of the year and more they were on the ark? So many questions I'd never thought of before! So, the next day while driving through McDonald's food line, I brought up all of these questions in the car and we discussed them. After everyone had their chicken nuggets in hand, I asked the five-year-old (I'd dubbed her the goat whisperer), "The goats always love you. What do you say to those goats when you're whispering in their ears?" She replied, "I was just saying, 'I'm sorry you have to listen to those chickens bwaucking all the time."
Suddenly we heard the two-year-old interrupting with an, "I did it! I did it!" When her apprehensive mother and I turned around to check to see what she'd done, instead of her eating her nuggets, she'd piled them high like stacked stones to replicate what she'd witnessed the day before. There before her was an Israelite memorial (though made of chicken) as a call of remembrance that God had performed a miracle by holding back the flood waters of the Jordan River so His people could cross over to the Promised Land--the second time he'd held back the waters; the first time took place when they crossed the Red Sea and a memorial was left on today's Jordanian side.
Takeaway: 1) young children can definitely learn lots at the Ark Encounter and it's a learning experience for all, no matter how many times you've read the Noah story. For instance, I hadn't realized that Noah had a birthday while floating on the Ark--he entered at 600 and turned 601 and 2) if you're going to ride a camel, remember to return the two-year-old's hair bow unless, of course, you want a hearty belly laugh into perpetuity.
If you would like to comment or have questions about this article, email me email@example.com