Boca Raton

Had trouble sending this. I hope you don’t all get it three times. Sorry!

Today (now yesterday) started slowly with breakfast in the Yard. The word Yard always conjours up the idea of a tiny concreted area in the UK, not the beautiful trees and garden which it means here. Of course, back at SLJ it means the whole area outside the church above the Roman amphitheatre. I wonder if there are any Roman remains under the garden here? Perhaps not!

Sandy was at Uni teaching first thing. Her last class of the semester, so I took the chance to do some prep for my first talk tomorrow. More on that in tomorrow’s blog.

Later Sandy got back and we went out for a ‘familiarisation’ drive. We drove around the campus of Florida Atlantic University. The site is impressive and has grown over the many years that she has been there teaching history. It currently has about 40,000 students. It is build on the site of an old WW2 airfield, and there are lots of green spaces and concrete strips. The airfield had been the breeding site of two rare animals; some tortoises and some owls. The University has carefully preserved these areas and acts as guardian and keeper of these rare breeds. A fascinating case of modern building, high academics and environmental awareness working in harmony.

We then drove over the barrier island – the long strip of land on the seaward side stretching hundreds of miles up the coast. At Boca Raton there is a turtle ‘hospital’ where injured animals are cared for and prepared for return to the wild. It is also an education centre showcasing the environmental gems of the area. Many people including hundreds of school children visit every year. The turtles breed on Boca beach. We have all seen the nature programmes showing turtles hatching on the beach and then racing into the sea. That is exactly what happens here. I took a few pictures of the place.

Then we went briefly to see the beach. We are apparently due to have dinner there later in the week. More pics. It is idyllic.

My greatest ‘impression so far is of the great sense of space everywhere. It is hot and it is beautiful, but it is also vast with lots of open areas.

While we had lunch we talked a lot about the work of the church here, St Paul’s Delray Beach. They do some amazing work with homeless families, Haitian children from a nearby housing area, and have also been working on language and education skills. All this alongside the churches inward facing programmes. We went this afternoon to visit the children’s project. Every afternoon 30 local children attend straight from school. They are mainly youngsters who would otherwise arrive at home alone. They are fed, helped with their homework, play games or do crafts and then given a full meal before they go home. The project often meets the children when they are first at school, and some are now college graduates, having been supported and encouraged right trough their schooling. They also run a garden for the children and the community. The garden manager is a former director of famous Botanical Gardens and is passionate about teaching the children to enjoy and value nature. The whole thing is very impressive indeed. Tomorrow I am speaking about Civic ministry in the City of London. A rather different way of being and doing. I had better have a glass of wine and re-do my talk!

Tonight: a BBQ in the Yard.

It was great