Martin: After Rachel’s breakfast on the Hess patio and my breakfast on pastor Rick Lee’s patio we were ready to head North . We stopped at the Princeton Auto Shop where Dick Hess is the owner, Mary Hess is the office manager, and Ryan Martin is a partner. This stop was suggested by Raymond Martin, former pastor of Homestead and Minister the Conference. Ryan is Raymond and Alice Martin’s son. So we stopped and were glad we did.
Rachel: When we left the shop our poor navigation instincts kicked in and we wasted some time looking for US 41, which we wanted to take through the everglades. Our GPS lady wanted us to take I-75 and refused to guide us to US 41. But the delay did not much frustrate us and certainly we did not have a deadline to meet so “no problem.”
Martin: US 41, Tamiami Trail, was a major highway in pre-interstate Florida. In Urban areas it has many stops and is more traveled by locals than by travelers. However, it is a wonderfully scenic route through the everglades. We passed Miccosukee Indian villages, saw cormorants and anhinga along the way and stopped at a travelers oasis where we could safely view alligators. We also saw the wood stork there standing just a few feet away from the head of a big (evidently well-fed) alligator.
Rachel: After traveling a couple hours we saw a sign to route 29 to Immokalee and Dad announced we would take it. He was fairly firm about this and I knew why. There was another church there for many years that we both remember well. And it wasn’t out of our way. In fact our GPS lady sighed with relief when we finally followed her guidance. So we drove up 29 and when we came to Immokalee we drove into town and eventually stopped at a small building that used to be the home of the Mennonite pastor and now is a Haitian church. The pastor and his wife were in their vehicle and got out and received us and our curiosity with warmth and hospitality, showing us around their church.
Martin: This visit to Immokalee was a special delight for me. The Haitian pastor we met has an excellent command of the English Language and has fond memories of Ben Hershey, the Mennonite Pastor who sold the building to him. I talked to him about “good will for all” as being the heart of the Gospel. He agreed. Both Rachel and I received fervent invitations to return soon and preach for him. The big disappointment was being unable to find “Peoples Chapel,” the center of Mennonite witness for many years. I think it will be difficult for me to explain this to Harold Shearer. The only excuse I have is that I usually approached Immokalee from the north, not the south.
Rachel: We decided o visit Uncle John and Aunt Sally Lehman in Port Charlotte on our way. We had a good visit with them. John is gruff in his affection and sometimes the affection for Dad is hard to see, though it’s there. His language is deliberately sprinkled with “salt.” Sally has some mild dementia but is happy in her forgetfulness. More about them in my next letter.
We got back to Sarasota in time to get ready to go to a Bahia Vista concert intended as a fundraiser for Haiti ministries and projects. The music group was gospel bluegrass for the most part and I found myself yawning and Dad was tempted to doze, so after about 45 minutes we opted to leave and get back to where we could relax in the comfort of our house. The end of another good day!