Some of you may find the story I'm about to tell slightly hard to believe. But I assure you this is completely true. Nothing has been fabricated; nothing has been embellished. It is simply an indication of how personal and amazing our heavenly father truly is!
Our friends, Phil and Sue, have arrived from England. We picked them up at Tampa International late yesterday. Then the four of us traveled on toward Venice, FL to enjoy a couple of days at a "mission house" that had been made available to us.
We rose early this morning and shared a leisurely breakfast. Then it was off to the beach for a couple of hours before the heat became too much. We found a particular spot we had visited before. Kind of off the beaten path near a jetty where dolphins and manatee can be spotted at certain times of the year.
The water was absolutely fabulous. A clear green-blue near the shore and a rich sapphire deeper out. This beach is on the gulf side of FL so the water is extremely calm; almost like a lake at times. We got our chairs and umbrellas all situated then decided the water was calling so we headed out for a swim.
It was really lovely because the seaweed is minimal and you are able to see straight to the bottom quite clearly. We spent about twenty minutes playing in the water, swimming, floating, threatening to splash each other (but not following through on the threat because we're over fifty! Smile.)
We turned to go back to the shore when a lady about twenty feet from us called out, "Look! There's a manatee right there!" She was pointing just in front of herself and her friend. We excitedly headed over to where she was and could clearly see the huge mammal swimming directly in front of us.
As we got closer, we were able to see that it was not one manatee but four, all gliding silently through the water. We couldn't believe our eyes! They were now within five feet of us and acting as though we were simply another form of aquatic life. What happened next is the unbelievable part.
Frank (always fearless) eased up to one of the gentle giants and reached out to touch it! The manatee didn't seem alarmed in any way. So the lady who initially alerted us to them also reached out to touch one. It was then that the magic really started.
All six of us (Frank, Phil, Sue, Molly, Grace, and myself) began easing up to these mammoth creatures and slowly allowing them to glide under our hands. It soon became evident that the manatee were just as curious about us as we were about them. All four continued to "swim" around our little group allowing us to touch or rub them gently.
We spoke rather quietly to one another; no one wanted to startle the visitors. But Molly shared with us that she had lived on this beach since the 70's and had never seen anything like this. I couldn't help but exclaim, "Oh, what a marvelous kiss from heaven!" The other lady (Grace) softly clapped her hands and said several times, "Oh thank you, God!" It was indeed a moment of divine grace.
The highlight came after about fifteen minutes. One of the monsters had come back by Frank several times. (They were identifiable because of scars on their backs from propellers that had gotten too close at various times.) The manatee hesitated near Frank for a moment then effortlessly rolled over on its back for Frank to rub its belly. We couldn't believe what we were seeing!
Of course, Frank obliged the silent request of our new friend! He rubbed the manatee until the giant casually rolled back over and appeared to be studying Frank. It was incredible, truly incredible. The tummy rub was repeated several times and the pod even allowed us to touch the "baby" which was only about seven feet long. The others were all ten to twelve feet in length and we learned that most adults weigh a thousand pounds on average.
We could never have justified paying for such an experience but the Lord graciously provided the delight for us free of charge. The foursome finally tired of us and silently glided on to search for easy feeding ground.
This morning I lived the literal truth of the scripture which says, "No one can imagine the joys He has in store for those who love Him."
That's the story - in full! We did get a few pictures which I will endeavor with all diligence to post for you at some point next week. This you gotta see! Smile.