Sunday, January 10, 2016

Our Mission Provides Opportunities to Explore While Serving

As Family Search missionaries, we have a regular schedule that includes working from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.  The facility that we work at follows the calendar established for the regular employees of the University of Florida and thus there are times when the facility is shut down.  One such time was over Christmas.  We enjoyed a break that started December 25 and continued through January 3.  We took advantage of the break to continue our exploration of the sites within our mission's boundaries.

St. Marys and Cumberland Island
Cumberland Island National Seashore is a national park located on a barrier island in southern Georgia.  There is a daily limit to the number of visitors who may travel to the island.  The only access by visitors is by ferry.  It is a wildlife and historical preserve.
At one point in time, the Carnegie family owned most of the island.  Some of their mansions are still standing, while some are not.

Part of the attraction to the island is the presence of wild horses that were first brought here by the Carnegie family.

There are several points of interest on the island although it is highly suggested that one take advantage of the guided van tour that is available.  We had an opportunity to see the small church that John F. Kennedy's son (John Kennedy Jr.) was married in.

President Jimmy Carter also visited an old friend that lived on the island.  They would sit on the front porch of this house and discuss life in Georgia.

On the ferry ride on the way back from Cumberland Island we were able to enjoy a beautiful sunset.

We also enjoyed our stay in St. Marys, especially the bed and breakfast where we spent the night.

Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island
We also spent some time on Amelia Island where one of the attractions is a fort that was constructed by the Union Army during the Civil War.
There are also many attractions in the Gainesville area that we enjoy on Saturdays.  In December, we visited the Dudley Farm.
Sugar Cane Festival at the Dudley Farm

At one time, sugar cane was an important crop in some parts of Florida including the Dudley Farm in Gainesville.  They celebrate each year by having a festival where the sugar cane is harvested and then processed using the same methods that were used many years ago.  Other displays depict the culture and lifestyle of the people in earlier times.
Dudley farm house

Grinding corn to make meal for chicken feed.
Music from that time period.
We enjoy the opportunities we have to visit the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens in Gainesville.
Kanapaha Orchard and Camellia Shows
In October, we enjoyed Kanapaha's annual orchard show.  In January, we enjoyed their annual camellia show.  Both are examples of the beauty in God's creation.


Our calling as Family History Missionaries is providing us with the opportunity to do meaningful work for those on both sides of the veil, while giving us ample opportunity to explore the many attractions within our mission while enjoying life in Florida.  We are thankful for this opportunity.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

A Sample of Flora and Fauna

We have wanted to include a sampling of some of the flora and fauna we've enjoyed as we've traveled
about in our mission in central and northern Florida.

Azaleas and  roses blooming and a garden full of flowers greeting us Christmas week.

Lemon and Orange trees loaded with fruit during the month of December.

We have no idea what this particular specimen is, but it was a huge blossom hanging from a very long stem from a very tall tree!

It seems that nearly half of the trees in this part of Florida has Spanish Moss hanging from them, which no doubt gives the whole area a spooky eerie atmosphere-especially on days when there is also fog.

There is an abundance of life in our wonderful mission. Here are some of the ones we have encountered that crawl, swim, and fly.

These little guys are everywhere!  We just call them lizards, but technically they are anoles and are the fastest moving critters around. They only grow to maybe 3-4 inches long (the baby ones are so tiny and cute). It took a couple weeks of living here before Sister Wolff wasn't jumping, hollering and shuddering every time she saw one. (especially when they managed to sneak into the apartment!!)

This adorable little frog turned up one day on our patio sitting on one of our planters. It was only about 1 1/2 inches long and spent an entire day with us before disappearing the following morning.

These fellows are enough to make you pause for a second look!  They are about 6-8 inchs long and if you look really close you'll see a baby piggybacking on the bottom half of the adult.

Yep-that's a spider!  The biggest ugliest one we've ever seen.  And we've seen more than one of them!

Turtles, and alligators about anyplace there's fresh water.

Not surprising, there are unlimited amounts of birds everywhere! We really aren't familiar with the names of most of them, but they are beautiful and different and enjoyable to watch.

These 2 need no description, Aren't they lovely?

And then there is the beach and ocean, which we love to visit and there is no limit to the beauty we find every time we go.

What a wonderful world we live in.