The Bells of Mount Dora

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When you live in a small town, like I do, you are often challenged to change perspectives. After all, by now most of us are “plugged in.” We co-exist amid a tangled web of online communities forever pushing us into having global awareness. We have mass media feeding us nonstop information about the world and the multitude of problems facing every corner of our globe. Being thus inundated, we sometimes overlook the mundane, everyday challenges that can exist in our own backyard. In fact, they can seem downright minuscule when compared to the world and the mess to be found there.

Case in point:

Mount Dora’s First Congregational Church, which has faithfully served our local community for 135 years, has a bell tower badly in need of repair. They are trying to raise the funds to make the needed repairs so the bell can continue to ring out – calling its parishioners to worship or signifying to the community a special occasion or event.

Maybe it is because my family has been binge watching The Waltons (we’re up to season 3) but I find that there’s something refreshingly wholesome about a small town banding together to restore a historical landmark that serves as a spiritual center. Call me John-Boy but this is a cause I can rally around. I’m not a member of the congregation. I’m not affiliated with the church. But I am a resident of Mount Dora and I’d love to hear those church bells chime again.

I hope you will consider making a small contribution to the effort. The church leaders have started a gofundme page and have gotten a commitment from the Community Trust to match whatever funds are able to be raised, The link is listed below.

https://www.gofundme.com/save-the-1887-bell-tower

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

White Dove Of The Desert

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When married to a history buff, you kind of get used to making little unexpected side trips.  Yesterday, it was to the Tohono O’odham Indian reservation, located about 40 minutes from our hotel.  There, in the middle of nowhere, appeared an attractive, gleaming white multi-storied structure. Nicknamed “the White Dove of the Desert,” the Mission San Xavier del Bac is the oldest intact European structure in Arizona.

The Catholic mission was founded by Father Eusebio Kino in 1692, and the structure itself was built some 100 years later. It is still in operation, serving the local community, the village of Wa:k.

The history is kind of interesting. When the mission was built in the 1700s, Southern Arizona was actually part of New Spain. Following Mexican independence in 1821, San Xavier became part of Mexico. And it finally became part of the United States with the Gadsden Purchase of 1854.

Renovation and restoration efforts continue as the mission has survived an earthquake in 1887, a lightning strike in 1937 and years of neglect as changes in territorial rights and authority led to an absence of oversight.

Still, thanks largely to the local population, the mission continues to fulfill its purpose while attracting thousands of visitors to the area. If you happen to find yourself in the Tucson area, it is certainly worth a side trip.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Note: Michael & Kate remain in Tucson, Arizona while attending the 18th annual Home Video Studio Getaway. Our gala awards banquet is Saturday night. Our studio has been nominated in seven different categories. We’ll post the results once they are known.