Because of the sun; it rises in the east and south, and that is where Mennonites go in January. I have just given you the very least of several reasons for the direction we take.
A much greater reason is that Rhoda and I lived for 53 years in the Southeast. We raised our children in the sunshine and on goat’s milk. Our first 30 years were in Tampa. When we lived in Sarasota and headed for Pennsylvania or Indiana, it did not feel like we had left home till we were north of Tampa.
This will be a sentimental journey. We will visit the columbarium that holds Rhoda’s cremains. The Tampa-Sarasota area is home to us. The parts of Georgia, South Carolina and Peninsular Florida around the Tampa Sarasota area might be called our neighborhood.
For the months of December and January Rachel is on sabbatical from her work as senior executive for human resources for the Mennonite Mission Network. The trip serves several purposes for her. She grew up in Tampa and lived in Sarasota also with her family from ’87-’91. She still has friends in the churches there. Since then she has lived and worked only in an area strongly saturated with Mennonite churches. One of her goals is to be in touch with people in churches located away from a “Mennonite center” such as Goshen, Elkhart or Sarasota. It seemed appropriate to her and her advisers for her to renew friendships in the Southeast, learn more about the churches there, and to take me with her to share in the homecoming experience.
Any one wondering why I am attached to the Southeast should take the two volume series titled “Roots and Branches, a Narrative Hostory of the Amish and Mennonites in Southeast United States, 1892-1992 off the shelf and take the time to become acquainted with the two books. Or you may find the books in a church library. If they are not available by those means, you could click on a page describing my books on this website.
As Rachel and I travel I will have a laptop with me and expect to keep my blog up-to-date. I hope the books and this travelogue will supplement each other and that the Southeast which many of you drive through and visit will become alive with its churches and their missions.
If you have a friend who has a connection with the churches in Atlanta you may subscribe for them as we will visit there first. It is easy for them to unsubscribe if the website doesn’t interest them.