We celebrated our weekend by touring around the area. There is so much more to Florida than the beaches and the theme parks and sadly that’s all so many people ever see. Friday we started our weekend by dropping by the Florida’s Natural visitors center. Of course, we enjoyed the juice samples, but they also had lots of great displays, a very good movie on the industry, the citrus business and horticulture. We learned a lot.
After making a few gift shop purchases, we left the visitors center in route to the Bok Tower Gardens located in Lake Wales, about 10 miles south of Dundee. The Bok Tower Gardens is a bird sanctuary, gorgeous gardens, and 205 foot tall carillon tower with beautiful bells. The Singing Tower is built of beautiful pink and gray Georgia marble and coquina stone from St. Augustine. It stands on the highest point in the state of Florida. The pink marble was amazing in the bright sunlight. We made sure we were there for the carillon concert at 1:00. They have 205 acres of gardens and we kept thinking of our mothers and how much they would have enjoyed visiting here. We got lots of steps in the gardens.
Saturday we did some additional exploring in the area. We went to Lake Wailes park, located in the town of Lake Wales, and did our walking there. There is a nice, paved path around the lake. There are so many lakes and so many beautiful parks in this area. Max always says if there is a puddle in Florida you better look for an alligator. We saw a big gator in Lake Wailes, at least six feet long.
We have had beautiful weather while here in Dundee. Today was another beautiful day. After church and lunch, we found another park in Dundee to do our walking. Maybe if Alabama put more money in walking paths and places to get exercise we wouldn’t rank so high in cardiovascular disease and stroke. Of course, I suppose our diet has something to do with it too.
We are feeling so blessed to have our health. Please continue to pray for everyone continuing to struggle with COVID.
The first week of our project at Dundee UMC was very productive. We got off to a great start on Monday and the rest of the week just kept getting better. Of course we began each day with devotion. It’s a great way to start the day, worshiping with our teammates. It’s also a joy to be working only 5 minutes from the RVs. We have worked so many disaster rebuilds lately that we are really appreciating the short commute. We are back at the campground no later than 4:15 most days. Nice.
Max and Anne continued working in the office, completing the installation of the laminate flooring and quarter-round late Thursday afternoon. We also had to remove doors, shorten one of them and re-hang after completing the flooring. We still have to finish repairing the drywall and painting the wall section where we removed the cabinet but the room is looking much better. The flooring looks nice. The team working in the nursery completed all that work – two coats of paint on the walls, striping, cleaning, waxing and buffing the floors, and reinstalling the wire closet shelves. The walls and floor look so much more inviting, clean and fresh. The door in the sanctuary, hand rail, outside door of the house all have been repaired. The new fence in front of the office was installed Wednesday and Thursday. It looks really good! The garage needed a lot of work when we arrived. Evidently the team last year cleaned it out and the ones here this year that worked on it last year were determined to get it organized and cleaned out again. They did amazing work! You can park a small car in there now. Nell and others also spent a lot of time pressure washing sidewalks and driveways. Really makes the outside of the church look better. There is still some work to be done but we have completed most of our tasks. It was a great week!
On one of our afternoon walks we met a sandhill crane down by the lake. We guessed a bird this size doesn’t need to worry about us puny humans.
We started the day with a heavy fog, but by mid-morning the sun was out and we had a beautiful spring-like day. It is just about 2 months earlier than we usually have spring in north Alabama. It was 81 this afternoon. We of course started the day with devotion, and today enjoyed meeting outside at our campsites. Mary Ann reminded us of the different gifts God has given each of us. We are all different, and should encourage each other, rather than criticize when others do things differently from us. We should do everything in love – love of God and each other.
After devotion, we drove the 5 minutes to the church and began the day with Gene and Mary Ann showing us around the property and discussing the various items of work. We all began by moving everything out of the nursery getting it ready for painting. Gene and Bill took down a light pole in front of the office and Anne and Max began working in the office, removing the dishwasher and a peninsula from the kitchen. Becky, Randy, Mary Ann and Nell began the wall patching and painting in the nursery. Gene and Bill also did some landscaping work and work on a door that was sticking. A lot was accomplished on our first day! While we all work socially distanced and wearing our masks, we still laugh, and enjoy our work. We are so blessed to be able to spend this time of our lives in this work.
Friday was moving day for the entire ECHO team, either to the next project or for a little R&R. We waited to say goodbye to everyone and then headed to the grocery store to resupply. We left Riverside Retreat Center after lunch. We stopped at a Harvest Hosts site Friday afternoon. Our HH site was a beekeeper. We arrived there mid-afternoon and went to the gift shop for a visit. One of the owners was there and spent time explaining to us a little about the bee business. They take almost all their bees to California about this time every year for the almond pollination. We learned that almond trees require the bees and the quality of the bees impacts the almond production. After the almond blooms are gone the bees are shipped to other areas of the country and end up back at their home in Florida for the winter and then the cycle resumes the end of January or early February each year when they again return to California. It’s a huge business. We love to visit Harvest Hosts sites and learn new things.
We had a very quiet, peaceful night and Saturday morning drove on to our next project in Dundee, FL. We are parked at Camp Endeavor and will be working for the next two weeks about 5 minutes away at Dundee UMC. The third week we will be doing some work at the camp. The weather is beautiful, the camp has nice flat sites with full hookups and is next to an orange grove. Life is good. Hope everyone had a great weekend. Praying for all those who are ill and all those taking care of them. Please stay safe and healthy!