Monday, December 20, 2010

Last Days in Florida

There will probably only be one more posting from Florida. We are headed north today to spend Christmas in Atlanta with family. Maybe it is just as well that we had a cool cloudy day yesterday, as it does not now seem too horrible to leave the warmth of Florida. We have been told by locals, however, that a cooler climate makes for sweeter tasting oranges.  Yesterday we visited a small town located on the outskirts of Tampa, Ybor City. The town at the turn of the twentieth century was a magnet for many immigrants from Cuba, Spain, Italy and Germany because of  the presence of the Ybor cigar factory. At that time it was the largest cigar company in the world, employing 4,000 workers. In the late 1800s Ybor City became a support system for the Cuban Revolution. In fact, messages for the revolutionaries in Cuba were wrapped in cigars and sent to Cuba! We toured the older section of  Ybor via a trolley.
  Sunday we had a wonderful worship experience at Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church. The choirs of the church sang many Advent and Christmas Songs. We also were treated to a very different liturgy written by the pastor of the church, Rev.Dr. Waldemar Meyer. The words were sung to the tune of familiar Christmas carols. Pastor Meyer's message was also meaningful.  He sermon was on "the gift and the wrapping". He spoke on the imagery of the infant Christ as a gift whose wrappings were torn apart by our sins. But God's gift to us was not destroyed because of his resurrection, giving us the certainty of eternal life. What a beautiful message for Christmas! After church we walked around one of Florida's largest flea markets, the Big Top. That is a great place for last minute Christmas shopping, everything imaginable is sold there, from boa constrictors to computers. On the way home we stopped and hiked around Hillsborough River State Park. John had read that there were rapids in the river there. The water was amazingly quite clear and had an area of rapids, I guess for Florida they are impressive. Canoeing can be done on this river, but some portaging is necessary. Fort Foster historic site is also in this park.

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