Grabbing a breakfast served by the motel at Dalton we set off for the North. We took many memories with us, memories of the two weeks that stirred the memories that stretched back about 63 years. In 1950 the only churches in the Southeast were the Pinecraft Tourist and Bay Shore Mennonite Churches in Sarasota and Ida Street and Ybor City missions in Tampa. The Tuttle Ave Mennonite Church was under construction. There were no other Amish or Mennonite Churches in all of the Southeast.
In 1968 the ministers called a study conference that focused on the needs of the southeast. Thirty persons representing 18 congregations belonging to 5 conferences gathered in Tampa in what is considered the first session of the Southeast Mennonite Conference, now a conference of 30 congregations. Rachel and I visited only a few of them.
But memories often gave way to the present. We were traveling on Martin Luther King day and the inauguration of Barack Obama as president of the United States. Our rented car was equipped with a satellite radio so we heard the whole event while traveling through the mountain states of Tennessee and Kentucky.
The interstate sliced though the aged Appalachian Mountains revealing the crumbling layers of mountain crust. This fascinated me. If I were a scientist I would choose to geology as my major. Finally at 6:30 p.m. we arrived at our Goshen home ready to be welcomed by the hugs of Eldon and Khalid and the cries and wiggling tail of Crystal. The weather was frigid, but Eldon’s soup was warm, and satisfying.