Rachel’s thoughts and words are used to help develop this blog. This morning we had breakfast from 8-10 with Eve and Richard MacMasters in Gainesville, FL. Eve is the pastor of Emmanuel Mennonite Church there. Her husband Richard is retired and supports his wife’s ministry through many community contacts available to a retired historian.
Eve is an activist pastor in this university town, which is the home of “pastor” Terry Jones who gained notoriety by burning a copy of the Koran sometime in the last years. This congregation is very involved in Muslim-Christian dialogue and immigration justice as well as fair trade issues. Eve and some of her parishioners have demonstrated about a number of these issues. They began meeting with Muslims to listen and learn from them about their experience since 9/11.
One interesting story is that several of their Muslim friends who had other Christian friends recommended Emmanuel to those Christian friends, and these people are now very involved in the church.
After seeing their meeting house (literally a renovated house), we set off going south on I-75. Our next stop was to see Jurdon Talkington, a man who considers himself my son and therefore is Rachel’s brother. He lives in the Spring Hill area. It happened that I was sleeping and holding the GPS and Rachel passed the exit we were to take to Jurdon’s. Realizing the error she woke me. We took the next exit which happened to be the exit that would take us to Lakewood Retreat.
Since we had the time we headed to Dan Brown Hill Road and Lakewood Retreat. I had been involved in the purchase of the land by Mennonites, and Rachel and Eldon had been married there so we each had reasons for the side trip. (You can read some of this and the development of the camp ministry in my books.) Talking of old times Rachel and I drove the sandy, citrus tree-lined roads and took a few photos to remember the familiar Spanish moss-covered live oaks, and the lake.
Interestingly, we met a couple who, when they heard that Rachel had been married at Lakewood, told her they were checking it out for their daughter’s wedding. Soon we drove back out and on our way to Jurdon’s.
As we left Jurdon’s we decided to call Emmett Mixon, Conrad’s birth brother who lives in Zephyrhills and has just completed chemo treatment for cancer in preparation for surgery. This was a “cold” call since we had not given him any news of our trip except for what Conrad told him by phone. However, he said it would suit for us to visit him and in about 45 minutes we pulled up to his place. I walked to the door and was greeted not only by Emmett but by Glen, his oldest brother who lives close by. In about five minutes their sister Beth was there too.
It was time to head for Sarasota and we were glad to get on the road again. Our GPS predicted we would get to our destination at about 6:15 or so. We decided that having only snacked a little since breakfast we would stop for supper first. We stopped at Moe’s Southwest Grill and each had a burrito of our own design. Then we drove on to the house we have on loan which will be our base for these two weeks.
It was already dark when we arrived about 7:30 and it took a while to move our stuff into the house and check it out. It is fully furnished, and a very comfortable ranch style “Florida house” composed of three bedrooms and baths, large open living dining room and kitchen. We feel very privileged to be able to use it!