Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Florida - Saying Good Bye to Warmth

Family, Computer and Book Time

My visit in Florida gave me the opportunity to catch up on “Sister Time.”  We have thirty years to make up because my sister Donna was away as a missionary for thirty years during out adult lives.

The SIM Village where Donna lives is residential community of 90+ retired missionaries.  
It is a VERY special place! 

 Donna and I enjoyed the beauty of Butterfly World near Ft Lauderdale. 

Seeing so many butterflies struggling to leave their cocoons to become what God created them to be. caused me to wonder how our spiritual struggles and messes look to God  as we make every effort to add to our faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection and love, 2 Peter 1:5.

Butterflies like bananas.

I enjoyed watching the tugboat help our cruise ship into the Bahama harbor.
 It reminded me of the story and song about Little Toot.  Do you remember Little Toot?  It was stories like Little Toot that instilled a strong work ethic into our little hearts. 

Church Family in Florida:

In Sebring, Florida, I attended St. John United Methodist Church.  The Snowbirds from many states fill the services.  Coffee after church is served outside! 

My Sunday school class was wonderful. We did a series on Wesley’s three rules, Do No Harm, Do Good, and Stay in Love with God was studied. 

Laura, my teacher offered the book, Praying with John Wesley by David A. deSilva.  I recommend this book because it blessed my soul. 

Through class discussions, I came to love and appreciate the members.  

Together we used the book, Give It Up! A Lenten Study for Adults by Dottie Escobedo-Frank.  This book asks us to give up various things each week of lent; I was a failure the week we were to give up talking.


I shared about a book I was reading,Tell It Slant by Eugene Peterson.  .  A recent email let me know that the class has decided their next book series will be using this book, 

These books are available at

You might know my teacher, Laura, and her husband Bill.  They serve at Henderson Settlement during the summer,


As I warmed up in Florida, thoughts of getting to be a part of United Methodist Women in West Michigan Conference warmed my heart.  I used computer time to expand my understanding of issues pertinent to my new volunteer position as social action coordinator.

I attended a weekend conference of the United Methodist Women at a retreat center in Florida. 

Some things are different, like moss from the trees. 

As you might expect, I found the same warm hearts and kindnesses fill the hearts of the women at this conference. I even found another snowbird from Michigan who was also there by herself.

Racial Justice

Racial justice is still needed in our communities, country and world.  In a prior blog, I reported on the Martin Luther King Junior Parade in Sebring, Florida.  I also viewed the movie Selma while I was in Sebring.  I am glad to be a part of continuing the push for racial justice. It is a United Methodist Women’s focus. 

My heart grieved when I read the report about injustice in Ferguson, Missouri. 

Please take time to read the article: Because We Believe: A Wesleyan Response to Ferguson, Missouri,

St Augustine: 

The Oldest City in the United States

I was glad that my sister in law, Janet, was able to join us for a couple weeks in Florida to be a tourist with us as we visited the old sites in St Augustine.

A familiar name in Saint Augustin-Yes we bought some chocolate!

My visit to a National Monument, Castillo-De-San-Marcos caused me to ponder. 

 The brochure reads,”…symbolizes the clash between cultures… Still resonates with the struggles of an earlier time, these original walls provide tangible evidence of America’s grim but remarkable history.”

Our grim, remarkable history begs the question, “grim and remarkable” to who, in what ways and at whose expense?  Guns, violence land grabbing, displacement of indigenous people, home demolition, and colonization name just a few of the problems suffered in the process.  It caused me to think of the similar problems my friends in Palestine and Israel are experiencing.

I felt blessed to see the 1964 effort for racial equality memorializes at the park in St. Augustine. 

Florida’s Space Coast

We had the fun of visiting the John F Kennedy Space Center, NASA’s launch site. 

Getting to view the actual spacecraft helped clarify the sizes, power and amazing technology that allowed it all to happen.

 I watched to my first 3D movie, the repair of the Hubble Telescope.  Wow, I was impressed with the amazing courage of astronauts and scientists.  
My awe of God expanded exponentially as I ponder the universe and the God that created it!

We live in one of the arms of a large spiral galaxy called the Milky Way.  The sun and its planets, including earth, lie in the quiet part of the galaxy, about half way out from the center.  According to the best estimates of astronomers, there are at least one hundred billion galaxies in the observable universe.  Scientists come to this estimated number by counting the galaxies in a particular region, and multiplying to estimate the number for the whole universe.

O Lord, how great are thy works, Psalms 92:5.
My soul is singing the hymn, “How Great Thou Art.

Ah-tah-thi-ki seminole Mesuem 

After gaining some knowledge about the suffering of the indigenous people groups in St Augustine, we visited the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Seminole Museum,  The name means a place to learn, a place to remember.  It is located in Big Cypress, just north of the Everglades.  It was interesting learning about the tribal customs.  

My heart grieves over the historic injustices.


The history of this region is intertwined with the dilemmas of the indigenous people, the extreme heat and hurricanes.

A two-hour tram ride through the everglade park was an opportunity to hear about the changes in climate.  We learned how weather conditions are affecting the animals. 

Did you know alligators have to lie around in the sun in order to have their temperature high enough to digest their food?  Some summer lying around sounds good to me.

One of the highlights was our Everglades National Park boat trip in the area of the Ten Thousand Island National Wildlife Refuge.  
Good company, many birds, and the sightings of dolphins made for a wonderful experience. 

God blessed us with the beauty of sunset as we watch the sun go down over many islands while we sped back to port. 


Not to be outdone, the full moon made an appearance when we were almost to shore.

The evening was finished off with a wonderful fish dinner. 

The little town of Everglade City does not have any of the usual type chain motels. 

How thankful I was to hear my sister-in-law say, “I’ll take the top bunk.” 

Trip Home

Praise God with me for the safety of the trip home.  What a joy it was to have Janet share the driving. 

Janet and I shared the fun of having lunch in Tennessee with Mary. We both met Mary in Sierra Leone.  Janet met her on a VIM Trip and I met her on an Ubuntu Journey. 


We serve a God of justice.  God uses the circumstances of our lives getting our attention and shaping us for action.  What an adventure is ours as we allow God to reign in our hearts. As we work together to bring God’s reign into our homes, church, community, nation and world.

Back Home!  Praising God for the Circumstances of My Life.