|L to R. Lois, John, Larry, Michele on the alter, clapping and singing.|
Thus, I was trepadatious being in Florida this holiday, missing my home, closest friends, family, and rituals. After lunch with my parents at the rehab in
Ft. Myers, FL on New Year's Eve, we headed for my cousin Lois's house in Myakka City, FL., a few hours closer to home at least. Symbolically, I was heading in the right direction. John and I had no idea how we would spend the evening -- we felt tired, disconnected, out of sorts. We agreed to stay open to possibilities, however, and ended up attending a bonfire/fireworks/pot luck dinner at the Sandy Baptist Church which Lois's husband pastors, and though we're not church goers, we went back to attend Larry's church service on New Years Day.
Larry describes his preaching as Pentecostal. He believes every word in the Bible as written, preaches from the heart (no script), people in attendance sometimes speak in tongues, and there is hands on healing. There are only about 20 members, all country folks, and most of them are related (from grandparents to grandchildren) -- all of them jovial and welcoming to us outsiders. Throughout his talk, the 30 or so people in the pews raised their voices to embellish Larry's points or stories, many offering Amens, Praise Jesus, and That's Right. It was a conversation more than a sermon. Anyone could join in. I'd never seen anything like that in church, so it turned out to be an interesting adventure. And I was getting to know my family!
The wee tiny Sandy Baptist Church, circa 1904, located in Sandy, is the only building still standing from that ghost town, hidden deep in the heart of Florida's cattle country, down a long winding country road amidst huge expanses of cattle ranches and scrub trees on sandy soil.
Larry invited me to take all the photos and videos I desired, so I did what I could to capture the essence of the place. The hand-painted sign attached to a cow fence on the turnoff to the church is quaint and telling. Cousin Lois painted it herself!
I was allowed to run my camera during the service, too, but that felt so odd and my camera makes such a tinkling noise when I start it, that I mostly chickened out. I'm kicking myself for that now, but when I get home I'll do my best to put together a composite of what little I got.
I asked Lois if the church had a website . . . . . and she invited me to build them one! The Lord provides! We spent New Years evening searching the web for any history of the town or the church -- and found nothing except a photo of the old outhouse, since removed. We also discussed how to get the church recognized by the Manatee County Historical Society, have it declared an historical site, and apply for grant money to repair and refurbish it. The structure is sagging and needs paint, pew cushions are threadbare, and they barely take in enough offerings on their own to pay the electric bill. It should be on a list of old historical churches, open for tourists to attend a genuine "old time religious" service and the folksy, friendly, chatty down-home cookin' afterwards. It's a totally authentic one-of-a-kind rural American experience! Lois wants me to write the grant!
Today, Dec 2, Lois, John and I went looking at Motor Homes. I found my perfect floor plan for my taste, a 31' Jayco Granite, 2003, in very good condition, with only 16,000 miles on it, for only $39,900, recently reduced to $29,900. It has been on the lot 6 months, so I made an offer of $23,000 with the requirement they would have to repair some things so I could leave with it by tomorrow. I was pretty sure they'd turn it down, and mighty relieved when they did, but if they had accepted it would have been a steal of a deal. Knowing that what I want is out there puts me one step closer to getting one.
Departing tomorrow, I'm also coming home with a Papillon puppy to sell, compliments of Cousin Lois and Merry Christmas. More on that later.
Considering some of my New Year's Resolutions, I think I kicked some of them off to a good start:
- to steel my nerves to travelling farther from home (I'm such a hermit) so I can take Maxie to more trials and attain our MACH in 18 months or less (can't do that attending only local trials).
- to strengthen family bonds.
- to identify and acquire the perfect motor home for me
- to raise money to pay for my agility trials this year