Sarasota, Florida


Dinner with my nephew Lynn and Anna-Blanche in Pennsylvania.

For many years I wanted to buy a home in Sarasota, Florida so Janet and I could come for a few weeks in the winter. Janet would never agree. She said, “you have too much energy, you will come for a few days and then fly away to some where in the world with your work. I don’t want to be stuck alone in Florida without my children and grandchildren.”

She was right of course. Her vision was what I am now doing. She would say,”when we are ready we can rent a home in Florida. Our family can join us for the time they have available and we can enjoy visiting our friends.”

Janet died too soon to enjoy Florida winter vacations. She had done the research and talked to some properly owners. I feel her presence as I am here this winter for 3 weeks.

Visiting The Billy Graham Museum and Library

I enjoyed driving to Florida by way of Pennsylvania, bringing my step-mother Anna Blanche Martin and her friend Betsy Waldo with me.

We had a wonderful drive. The first night we visited Janet and my dear friends Don and Eunice Warfel in Waxhaw, North Carolina. They have been long times workers with JAARS and Wycliffe Bible Society. Janet and I have long admired their commitment, listening to them and supporting them as we had opportunity. Betsy and Anna Blanche said that our visit with the Warfel’s was a highlight of our drive to Florida.

We also stopped and visited the Billy Graham Museum and Library. This visit was too short and will require a future visit to fully appreciate the impact The Billy Graham ministry has made globally.

Our Sarasota home for the next few weeks

Our first full day in Sarasota has allowed meeting friends this morning and Evening at The Sarasota Community Church (Baha Vista Mennonite). Dinner and Visiting with Lyle and Jenny my Brother and Sister in law. Swimming in the Pool with Daryl Zook and his grandchildren.

As Pastor Shenk said this morning, ” Live for God’s Kingdom, Long for the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Being in Sarasota and seeing so many friends who have traveled  with me to many countries of the world gives me energy and encouragement. As we reflect it also allows us to share how God continues to direct and bless our lives.

Watch for future up dates.

I’m looking forward to daily swims in this pool.
With my brother Lyle and his wife Jenny at their home.
Lyle’s house is for sale – here are the details if you know someone who’s looking for a lovely home in Florida.

Today we visited the Ringling Circus Museum.  We really enjoyed learning about the Circus and John and Mable Ringling. Their contribution to communities across the US and in Sarasota is remarkable. It is important to recognize the gifts of leadership.

Anna-Blanche, Lyle, Betsy and Wilmer at the Ringling Circus museum.
On tour at Spanish Point. We learned a lot about Bertha Palmer the first rancher and developer in Sarasota County.
Anna-Blanche with Gary’s daughter Tessa – another Great-Granddaughter to cuddle.
Welcome to the Martin family Tessa!
Lunch with my niece Jolene and her husband Joe.
My nephew Gary and his family came for a visit and the children enjoyed time in the pool with their dad.
Four generations of family! So special.
Tessa giggles when I hold her. This makes me smile.
Lunch on the patio at Jolene and Joe’s home at Apollo Beach. I’m really enjoying the multi-generational family time.
After lunch Jolene and Joe took us for a ride on their boat. Such great hospitality.
Relaxing in the sun on the water.
We had such a wonderful day – thank you Joe and Jolene for wonderful memories.
Betsy and Anna Blanche finished a 1,000 piece puzzle in 3 days! I’m not sure how they do it.
Louise & Gary Ervin and Ray & Wilma Wadel joined me for lunch one day this week. Louise and Wilma are from the Lehman family. Growing up they lived on the other side of our house. It was fun reliving memories of growing up like siblings.
My first spring training game. Unfortunately the Yankees beat the Blue Jays in the ninth 9 to 8.
Ran into some friends at Der Dutchman – great to see you Nancy Steinman, Lynn Yantzi and Ruth & Dwight Steinman.
Golfing at Bobby Jones Golf course in Sarasota with Steve from St. Louis, MO and Miles from Oshawa, ON.
Earl Kennel from Roanoake, IL is pretty sure we’re related. We’ll have to do some digging into our genealogies.
Second spring training game – Toronto Blue Jays vs the Pittsburgh Pirates. I met Cliff and Mary Bauman at the game.
Breakfast with Jim and Elaine Weicker.
Visiting Don and Betty Heatwole
Visiting the Ark

While I was in Florida several of my friends encouraged me to drive home by way of Indiana so that I could visit my good friend Leroy Troyer in South Bend as he has had some major health issues.

The drive to Indiana has been very interesting.  My first stop was in South Carolina to visit my friends Don and Betty Heatwole.  In Kentucky I stopped at the Ark Encounter, a life-size Noah’s Ark built to the dimensions given in the Bible.

Visiting with Leroy

Today I had a good visit with Leroy and his wife Phyllis. Leroy has always been such an encouragement to me.  He stood by me during my years is served as President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Canada and later he served with me on the Nazareth Village Board in Israel.

We’ve always talked and discussed the work of the Mennonite Church, which we both loved.  Leroy and Phyllis traveled with Janet and me on TourMagination tours. Today’s visit was no exception; however, it was shorter and we ended with both of us praying.

This was a good way to end my three-week vacation.  Tomorrow I arrive home.  I can’t wait to see my family.  Matthew and Miriam told me on the phone they cannot wait for my arrival home.

Wilmer Martin