Sunday, March 15, 2015

Getting to know north central Florida

Our days are busy with our responsibility to preserve records for Family Search. However, we have taken 2 Saturday's to explore and become a little more familiar with our home for the next 17 months.  One Saturday we visited Payne's Prairie Preserve south of  Gainesville. It is a 21,000 acres wildlife preserve/savanna that is home to 270 species of birds, alligators, wild bison, boar (wild pigs), armadillos, Florida Cracker wild horses (1st herded by the Seminole Indians) and countless other wildlife.  While we were visiting we were lucky enough to view a boar, an armadillo, many many exotic birds, and countless very LARGE alligators.  There are no cages, fences to keep people and wildlife separate, or paved trails.  It really was pretty surreal to be so close to those huge alligators, and by that I mean alligators that were 8-10+ feet long and probably 800-900 lbs., - but how does an alligator get weighed?! People tell us stories all the time about how common gators are around this area, and that we should anticipate seeing them-whenever and wherever. For us, this was as close as we ever want to be to an alligator and it was an incredible opportunity to see these fellows in all their glory.

Yesterday, Saturday, March 14th we drove to St. Augustine, the nations oldest city.  The city shows its history and age with the narrow cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages,and coquina bastions of the Spanish fort that guard the bay. St. Augustine was founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers. It is the site of the fabled Fountain of Youth and there are miles of beaches to enjoy along the Atlantic coast. There is more than can be enjoyed in a 1 day visit.  We opted for the fully narrated Old Town Trolley Tour, which highlighted 22 stops in this historic city, and was an on-and-off trolley, which allows you to explore in depth any of the interesting points. Unknown to us, St. Augustine was a hub of activity on this particular day, there was a big Celtic festival, a St. Patrick's Day parade, and a huge motorcycle rally in nearby Daytona, and hundreds of the cyclists had traveled to St. Augustine to enjoy the day. The streets were crowed with the usual share of Florida tourists, as well as all the extra visitors generated by those festivities.  There were many people walking around in their Celtic clothing, kilts and bagpipes galore, hundreds of people wearing green clothing to acknowledge the St. Patrick celebration and hundreds of mostly Harley-Davidson motorcycles-of all colors, shapes and sizes.  It was a city in full celebration mode!  

We enjoyed our visit and will return soon to explore even more of this historic and fascinating city.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Our Job

We are part of a pilot program that includes Family Search, Internet Archives, and the University of Florida. The University of Florida provides the facility and a large collection of books with genealogical significance as determined by Family Search. Internet Archives provides the scanning equipment, expertise, a part-time employee to help publish the materials we scan, and a means to distribute the end result.  Family Search provides the man power (missionaries) and an avenue for distribution.  Since everyone is a "winner", it is a model that they hope can be replicated in other locations.

This is part of our team.  Elizabeth is our trainer from Internet Archives.
Notice the dress!  A mission without ties, white shirts or dresses!

This is our scanner.  We basically take pictures of each page in a book.  

Our home in the mission.

When we arrived in Gainesville, on Monday, February 16th, 2015 it was dark and late and we were tired. Our trip from Utah to Florida had been 5 very long days of driving.  We were met by Elder and Sister Martin, who had been living in our apartment up to 2 days before, but wanted to move closer to the campus where they serve as Church Education System Missionaries, as well as to a larger apartment. Actually there is even more to this move to the Jacksonville Mission story.  When we received our mission call, the call said of course the Jacksonville Florida Mission, and that we would be working in the Public Library for our assignment.  Everyone from ourselves to our Mission President presumed that to mean, of course, just what it said, The Public Library in Jacksonville, Florida.  The mission had rented a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home for us about 15 minutes from the Public Library, had already cleaned and stocked the home, had purchased our new bed, etc.  However, when we were still in Utah and attended our general overview training in Orem with our trainer Rose of Sharon Gribble she mentioned a library in Gainesville at the University of Florida.
We told her we were being sent to Jacksonville, etc.  She was confused, but asked if we would like her to double check the location of the work we would be doing.  Well, to make a long story shorter, even though
there is no mention at all of Gainesville, or U of F, and only the Public Library in Jacksonville...Gainesville was where the actual work assignment was located.  So - the night before we left home to begin our journey we received a call from our Mission President Craig saying that he had received a call from "someone" and that we would be living in Gainesville.  Our car was packed to accommodate a 3 bdrm-2 bath home, as much as possible.  So-it was a last minute change of mindset, we headed to Florida, with really no knowledge about Gainesville at all. The Martins were happy to quickly move out of the apartment we are currently in, to their newer and larger apartment-though they only had 1 day to make the move, and we were happy to find a clean, furnished apartment waiting for us.  We are located in the southwest side of Gainesville.  We are in a large complex, and our apartment is a 1 bedroom, with den, 1 bathroom, ground level.  It's a little tight as far as space goes, but we are working on that-and there will be more on the subject later.....

This is a picture of our current apartment.  We're on the bottom floor.

This is our view from the front of our apartment-looking out into the parking area and our neighbors across the way.