The pastor rows a boat

Likely the first picture after our arrival in Tampa. We are standing in front of the church

The building surrounded by water

News from Houston reminded me that I lived for 56 years on the other side of the Gulf of Mexico. My family and I arrived in Tampa, Florida on February 4, 1950.  Our daughter had her second birthday about a week after our arrival so her earliest memories are of Tampa memories.  The reason for our move from Pennsylvania to Florida was my assignment as the pastor of the church that met in the building on 1907 E. Ida St.

Perhaps the builders from Pennsylvania in 1928 were not aware that they were building on the edge of a pond that reappeared during torrential rains.  The most rain that I remember was of 21 inches in a 20 hour time period.  (Perhaps 20 inches in  21 hours.) That night I watched as water filled the driveway between the parsonage and the church building that led to the garage. I watched our wooden ladder float out the driveway.  Our daughter remembers that we had a flat bottomed row boat.  Neither she nor I remember how I came to have a boat, but we remember its use in this emergency.  Our neighbors from Puerto Rico were surrounded by water.  Rachel and their daughter spent hours playing in and out of our home.  It seemed normal and right that I should use our boat to take the little girl’s mother to higher ground to get food for her family.  I was reminded of my neighborly gesture by seeing on TV the use of fleets of boats to rescue endangered residents of Houston and cities in Texas.

The building under my tenure

As for our experiences with hurricanes,  we were told that when Native Americans sensed  a coming storm they clustered in the Tampa Bay Area because it was generally storm free.  During our years in the area, threatening hurricanes moved North on either side of the Tampa Bay area. But our daughter would add a foot note to say that she was in Tampa during a hurricane.

A google image of the church now

Though not well located, the meeting place itself was well built. It was eventually sold to a congregation of Black Baptists, still stands and is used to benefit neighbors.  It is now known as A Lighthouse for Jesus Christ, Inc. Three years ago an observer noted that “This is an awesome, Holy Spirit-filled church. Come worship with us and experience the awesome love of Jesus Christ. Sundays at 11:00 a.m., Wednesday evening Bible study at 7:00 p.m.” To listen to a youtube message from the Lighthouse click here

Our Puerto Rican neighbors still live in the house on Ida St.  Rachel and I visited them a few years ago and when we drove into the driveway I heard someone shout, “Brother Lehman is here.”

many memories
wakened by currant events
flood my mind today

About Martin Lehman

I was born 91 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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