Rachel: Today we once again paid attention to some intuitive senses of what to do and found much fulfillment in doing that.
Martin: First, in the morning my brother John called and asked what we were doing. It was clear that he would like to see us and it fit into our day just fine to see them in late afternoon. Rachel told him to count on us.
Rachel: The thing I had previously scheduled was a Monday lunch with John and Shirley Powell, who are in Englewood for two months this winter. John is in the first flush of retirement and their simple and comfortable apartment faces west and opens out on a cove where they can revel in amazing Florida sunsets. Dad shared with them the idea of our Lehman family tradition of singing the sun down with “Day Is Dying in the West.”
Martin: John and I traded website addresses. Someone had asked me if the John Powell we planned to visit was the one who had written the SS Series on “Jesus is Lord.” Indeed it was. He said that he was currently writing a series on the Holy Spirit. He confided that some of what he is writing now contradicts what he had written before. That did not surprise me, for it seems to me that the Bible sometimes conveys its truth through its contradictions.
Rachel: We tried out the Good Times Diner and we four pronounced it good. The time with the Powells covered many topics that have stirred our passions and faith: we reflected on past experience and current projects, and our views of our church, our nation, and our world. Although John and I both worked for Mission Network for many years and partnered in anti-racism strategies, for the most part we steered clear of work topics. It was good!
Martin: We left Powell’s around 3 pm. In looking at the map Rachel had become fascinated with the beach roads on the keys that parallel the coast. So since we had a little time she drove up to the Manasota Beach Road and drove back south on this beautiful drive with water on both sides of us. Long stretches of the road were canopied. So pretty!
Rachel: John had also supplied me with Madeline Maldonado’s correct phone number so I decided to call her and see whether we could stop in Fort Myers briefly that evening since we were already half way there. Mady gave me the green light so we put that in the plan for the day.
Martin: By 4 pm we were with John and Sally ready for a light salad and soup supper with them in the home where they live. John seemed happy with his day. They had had a good time with Ruth and had a birthday balloon decorating his walker. It was clear to us that the serving staff enjoy John and Sally. They treated John especially with affection. He knew all their names and praised them for their work. They brought us a small square cake, decorated with strawberries and icing by one of them, and insisted that John eat a generous piece. They sang “Happy Birthday” enthusiastically and all completely on their own out of key notes. John kept smiling and Rachel and I tried to figure out how to add our voices to the happy discord. We are very glad to have spent the time with them!
Rachel: We left Port Charlotte and headed toward Fort Myers arriving there around 6:30. We drove up to the building at dusk. It is a beautiful building. David Maldonado was the first to meet us and soon Mady arrived with Samuel Lopez and Gilberto Flores, who were there in preparation for a meeting on Tuesday. We all walked through the building. David, who combines pastor with being a licensed contractor, has an eye for any piece he can pick up free or at a bargain price. Among the great bargain additions to the project are large mirrors for the bathrooms, cabinets for their work room, speed bumps for the parking lot and more than 400 chairs for their sanctuary. All will be appropriated to work well in the building.
Martin: Mady and David also shared with us about their ministry with people in Fort Myers, including undocumented immigrants, who live with many uncertainties and fears and find faith and fellowship in this church.
Rachel: We left glad that we had driven the extra miles to have yet another experience with the pastors of a church in this Southeast Conference, to learn just a snapshot view of their vision and mission.
Martin: My own heartfelt memories were stirred for I remembered when this church began in a storefront in Fort Myers. Another very good day!!
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