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In the blink of an eye, things change pretty fast, don’t they?  For years now, the property just north of the church has sat empty with the retention pond in the middle and a mound of dirt overgrown with grass and a tree here and there.  I come back from vacation in early May and there are two large banner signs promoting new home sales on the property.  A couple of weeks later, a sales trailer has been moved to the property, fronting 14th Street and signs posted on each of the lots.  Scattered among the lots are portable potties.  What is going on?

A couple of weeks ago, while driving by, I noticed that several lots had been cleared by a bulldozer, leaving nothing but exposed dirt.  And then yesterday,  crews were out trenching for the foundation and plumbing for three houses.  At this rate, it won’t be long for the houses to be framed and occupied.  Suddenly we are going to have new neighbors!  Add the additional dozen or so unsold lots being sold over the next few months and families moving in and the complexion of our neighborhood has changed dramatically.

We sometimes forget that we are within walking distance to be Haines City High School, Boone Middle School, and Lake Eva Park and so location makes these homes desirable.  Although I would not want a retention pond to be the first thing I see out my front window, maybe the location is the drawing card.  Granted, we are no longer a neighborhood church, if we ever were one in our one hundred year history.  But the opportunities for ministry and witness as we welcome these new families is limited only by our imagination.  In “Our Future Story” we envisioned a time in the near future when we would welcome a second Disciples congregation that would offer a bi-lingual service.  Little did we know that the future is upon us!

In all likelihood, those moving into the new homes being constructed will be Hispanic, as the Haines City area continues to see an influx of families from Puerto Rico.  But we are also seeing a number of families moving in from Central and South America.  In keeping with “Our Future Story” we will need to start offering “English as a Second Language” for our neighbors and “Conversational Spanish” for ourselves within the next year.  Instead of fearing the change that is happening before us, we can embrace it and offer the same spirit of hospitality that one would expect from the Body of Christ.  I know the Table of God’s grace is large enough for all of us.  And all means all!

See you Sunday!