Our first impression of Gainesville is that the football stadium is accurately named the Swamp. The moss and plethora of overhanging trees truly provoke the feeling that we are in a swampy place. I have never been anywhere that I considered a match for the PNW in the level of greenery, either. As we drove around town, we couldn’t help but feel a form of claustrophobia. The campus, however, is beautiful. And the people are so warm and friendly.
Daniel and I spent the next few days hanging out with the pastor, his wife, and the leadership team of Aletheia Church. They planted the church over 5 years ago and have done an excellent job pouring into the lives of those on campus. The community has been blessed by their presence, along with that of many other churches and campus ministries. We had a couple lunches with local ministry leaders to hear what God is doing in the lives of students at the University of Florida and how we could possibly get involved.
Gainesville really does have a great, eclectic feel to it. I love that it has a similar feel to that back in WA – a “crunchy” feel with access to organic foods, yet surrounded by rural communities of good folks. We went to the farmers’ market and I was so excited to see & taste the local fare. Surprisingly, most people we met were only vaguely familiar with Young Living, or essential oils in general. I can for sure say that these people need oils.
I’ll admit that living among alligators is not the most favorable choice, if it were just up to me. I’m pretty sure that I’m all about supporting the leather industry if it’s stuff made from alligator skin, because other than leather and fried alligator, I really cannot imagine a useful purpose for them. Obviously the Lord thought otherwise since these creatures have lived since basically the beginning of time. Maybe that’s a great question to ask Him someday when I meet Him face to face. But for now, I’ll just settle on the fact that if the Lord does lead us here to Gainesville, it’ll be a great opportunity for me to grow in my faith as I release control to where it belongs.
After a fun few days of checking out the city and ministry opportunities, we headed off north to the beach, to the city of Charleston. Daniel and I were looking forward to a break from all the focused and intentional exploration and the option for some fun.