My Joyce and I have had wonderful times together such as described in the most recent AARP magazine’s article: “The Power of Touch.” It tells of nonsexual but touching encounters for all ages, but especially for those who are 45+. We recommend the article. But Joyce and I do have different personalities. This morning she asked me about my plan for the day. She had a plan, but I didn’t. She is enjoying her planned day, and I am enjoying my unplanned day. The temperature was up to 50 today so I am sure her plan included a walk out of doors.
First, I turned to memories. Only Sixty-six years ago Rhoda, Rachel and I were ready to leave Pennsylvania to enter pastoral/missionary service in Tampa, Florida. We were prepared for this venture by our past life and six weeks of intensive missionary training in the city of Philadelphia. We left behind our families, house and land, and a dog.
The trunk of our 1931 chevrolet coupe was filled to capacity with our meager belongings. A suitcase, Rhoda, Rachel and I occupied the front seat. We were ready to leave when Jonas Hege’s car blocked our way. He had a slab of bacon to give us which we slid under the front seat.
Raymond Rotz, the Marion mechanic, assured us the coupe would take us to Florida, but on the first day the distributor (or something) stopped working. This limited our travel to day-light hours. On our third day of travel we arrived at Citra, Florida. Large citrus trees were in bloom on both sides of highway 301. The exotic fragrance was powerful. The forenoon of February 4 was spent at Silver Springs the oldest tourist attraction in Florida. That afternoon we arrived at 1409 E. Ida St, Tampa, the parsonage that was to be our home for ten years.
We didn’t know that Florida would be our home for 56 years. In my unplanned day I discovered that the Southeast Mennonite Conference was meeting this very weekend at the Bay Shore Mennonite Church in Sarasota. I was one of the many who planted and watered the conference in its beginning. I rejoice in the conference’s vitality today under the leadership of Conference Minister Marco Guete.
I was pleased to learn today that more than 100 Mennonite church planters, coaches and leaders involved in planting the seeds of God’s reign across the United States will gather for a national church planting summit March 31 – April 2, 2016, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Dreamers, risk-takers and testifiers are invited. I wonder who will be there from the Southeast. Coould I go? I’ll only be 90 years old. What could keep me from dreaming, taking risks and testifying? I was prepared for the next encounter for my unplanned day.
The Bay Shore Mennonite church was the only fully organized congregation in Florida under the leadership of Timothy Brenneman when we arrived in Tampa. I had heard little recently about this historic church. But my unplanned day led me to Bay Shore Mennonite website.