Florida Churches

We visited about 25 churches the two months we spent in Florida. While we have ten gazillion pictures of the beaches, we somehow forget to take pictures of the churches and the people we met along the way. What is wrong with us?!

Here is a hodge podge of a few shots we did manage to remember from our concerts and services in Florida, as well as some shots of life in between beaches and concerts, pictures that didn’t really fit anywhere else, but that give you a small glimpse into our everyday lives.

Let the hodge podge begin!

Emily helping Becca with her hair before services at Open Bible in The Villages:


Eliana walking the dog to a nearby Walmart in “sunny” Florida.


Fence hoppers.


Dog walkers in front of Open Bible in The Villages.


The concert at Open Bible.


Pastor Schulz was vicar at Christy’s home church when she was a little nipper. He brought his sleek golden retriever over to play with Jedi and inspire our hairy beast to get back into shape. It worked.


Remember Vicar Heyn from Petaluma, California back in the first weeks of our music mission? Now he is Pastor Heyn at Peace Lutheran in Lakeland, Florida.


He and Steve played a couple songs together at the concert at Peace—it was a good time! Pastor Heyn still looks like Steve Baldwin, don’t you think?

The sunset over Peace:


Getting ready for bed in the church bathroom:


A new look:


The kids got a workout at Pastor Nuss’s church, Christ the Lord in Clearwater.


Jedi hanging out in the grass at Pastor Schwartz’s church, Peace in Holiday.


The kids played with the preschool’s worms…


and the Pastor’s kids.




Fun outside in winter!


A little schoolwork while waiting for Steve’s “roadie call”” to set up for the concert at Pastor Mielke’s church, Ascension in Sarasota.


Concert time. Steve and Marissa sing a duet.


It’s okay to pass notes during concerts. Momy likes this kind of note.


Little Ellie can’t figure out her wardrobe malfunction at Pastor Zak’s church, Bethany in North Fort Myers.


Rebecca is not a morning person, and it shows in this shot where she is waiting for the early service to start.


Listening to Daddy play pre-service music.


At some churches, people talk through the pre-service music. I tell ya, they miss a mighty message by not paying attention. God doesn’t only speak through the sermon.

Fun with the pastor’s wonderful son…


and daughter…


and baby.


Mud pies!


Hooray, our new CD shipment arrived! Where to put 1000 CDs…


Pastor Pankow was the first vicar Christy remembers from her childhood. Her family named a foal after him. Ha! He is pastor at Abiding Love in Cape Coral.


When we commute, we usually arrive at churches two hours before the first service, so the kids are a little tired, especially by the end of the second service.

Here Marissa continues reading Alice in Wonderland to the littles while waiting for the first service to start.




The whole crew is listening in on the read-aloud.


Two of Stephen Bautista’s biggest fans:


She missed her big brother who went to children’s church during second service at Pastor Pankow’s church. Big hug!


Break time at the trailer. Hannah and Eliana reading, reading, always reading.


Because the free version of Alice in Wonderland on the Kindle does not have any illustrations, Marissa drew some for her listeners, who were very adamant about what Alice should look like.


It’s their turn to be in the spotlight.


Steve sang for these school children in Orlando.


Pastor Zessin, whom we knew from Christy’s home church in Wisconsin, was at Our Savior’s in Port Orange, the church of his son-in-law, Pastor Dobberstein, for what we suspect was the express purpose of teaching Elijah the broken thumb trick and playing a few practical jokes on Steve.


Here’s something you don’t see every tour. Steve timed his concert at Pastor Rosenbaum’s church, Redeemer on Merritt Island, to end in time for us to see this rocket launch from Cape Canaveral.


Bad picture, good experience! The kids were really impressed that Pastor Rosenbaum remembered all their names. That happens almost never. It really made them feel special, so thanks, Pastor! Plus, Redeemer had an excellent buffet, and it was healthy too!

That reminds us of Pastor Blumer’s church, Risen Savior in Orlando, which had an amazing buffet also, complete with our first introduction to empanadas. Normally we would have taken pictures of that experience, but we were too enamored.

This is Christ the King in Palm Coast.


“My daddy rocks!”


Mine does, too!


Normally Steve sings on his own…


but Pastor Huebner joined him on a couple hymns…


and other musicians joined in also, which was fun.


And that brings us to Pastor Hoyer’s church, Victory in Jacksonville, Florida.


When we first walked into this church, the light was shining through the windows in the front of the church. It was breathtaking. In this picture it is not as bright, and the colors and design of the windows, altar, seats, and floor aren’t visible. Still, there’s something beautiful about a quiet, empty church, with the final echoes of forgiveness, grace, and praise resting on the walls and seats, don’t you agree?


Yes, Ma, I agree.

Good boy, Jedi.

This is our last Florida church. It’s been a great run and we truly enjoyed our two months here in the sunshine state. We didn’t see much of the alleged sunshine, but we also didn’t see any snow, so it’s all good.

Snow birds, we love ya. You can relate to us. Non-birds, we love you, too! Thanks for a great run in Florida, for opening your churches and your hearts to us, and most especially for your encouragement, prayers, and brotherly love in Christ! We couldn’t keep this mission moving to enlighten the lost and encourage the found if it weren’t for your support and encouragement.

Off to Georgia! We’ll see you Floridians again soon, God willing, and you snow birds even sooner!


  1. Karla Westerfield

    Hello Travel Bags,
    the Lutheran Women’s Missionary Society (LWMS) is planning a weekend retreat in Tallahassee FL in March 2015. The retreat or “super rally” will be for the North Florida District, but we may open the invitation to our sister circuits in the South Atlantic area.Do you think you might be able to be in that area and be our “headliner”? The actual dates are March 13-15 with a concert the evening of the 13th.

    If you think you might be able to be here, please let me know and I can get the ball rolling!

    1. Thank you for the invitation, Karla! I forwarded this to our “booking agent,” which is Steve. We’re our own agents. 😉 He’ll get back to you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.