Brazil Unravelled

A First Ride in a Police Vehicle

A while ago I wrote a few notes of our time in Brazil under the title, “Doris and Interesting Incidents.” Perhaps now it fits to give you in detail one such story. It is about the birth of our 2nd child, our son Vernon.

I want you first to have some of the setting in mind for this story. After a year in language school we moved to the interior of the State of Sao Paulo, the city of Sao Jose do Rio Preto. Our home was a small two bedroom house about three yards from the busy street of Jorge Tibirica. You’ve noted that many towns and streets I’ve mentioned are named after men of political fame or were Christian saints. At night a guard would walk that street and others of the neighborhood all the while blowing his whistle to scare off would-be robbers. You’ve probably concluded as we did that his whistle allowed thieves to lay low till he passed on. Still we paid, for who knows who he might link up with if we didn’t. Right behind us on what might be called an over-sized alley lived the Menzies family. We became really good friends.

Doris was pregnant when we moved from Campinas and language school to Rio Preto. There the weather was always warm with winter coming on an August weekend. The heat was difficult for Doris; then add on becoming fluent in Portuguese. Doris also taught Ross, a missionary’s son, the course outlined for a Canadian of six grade level. And of course there were responsibilities related to the planting of a new church. On top of this was the inconvenience of not having a vehicle—one that might be necessary to get my wife to the hospital on time.

It happened that our friends the Menzies had a vehicle for he was a travelling salesman. And they kindly offered the use of their car when Doris was ready to give birth. So in the wee small hours of the night she suggested to me that we must get going. Since Doris is a nurse, she didn’t want to get to the hospital one minute earlier than needed. So I was out of bed, dressed quickly, climbed over the back wall of our yard and clapped at the door of the Menzies. Clapped yes for clapping in Brazil takes the place of knocking at a door. Mr. Menzies gave me the key and went with me to the car. There we discovered not just one flat tire but two. I’m feeling quite desperate by then and I could only imagine how Doris felt. No telephones and no taxis. The only thing to do was to try to flag down some wanderer on the street at four in the morning.

I was only minutes waiting anxiously at the gate when I saw a vehicle coming up the street. When I understand it was a police paddy wagon I didn’t know if that was good or bad. I flagged it down, explained the situation and they opened up the door to put Doris and me in the back. They were more than glad to take us to the hospital. What did we do with our daughter? We left her with our friends, the Menzies.

Just 2 hours later Vernon was born—a ten pound lad. He was way bigger than any other baby in the nursery and he could be heard way down the hall. He had a husky build with a chest deeper than it was wide–a good start on being able to care for himself out in coffee-country. But what sticks in Doris’ mind is that during the birth, they did not even give her an aspirin.

We took our boy home wrapped in a baby blanket for Doris had no clothes for him except what Monica had outgrown. So right away she had to get sewing. Our son grew quickly and soon people thought he and our daughter were twins. We named him Vernon after a good friend from seminary days. That Vernon was a medical doctor who decided he was going to be a missionary and went to seminary for he thought he ought to know something about the Christ he represented.

As I chatted with Doris about this blog she said something I’ve always believed, “That police wagon was a miracle wasn’t it?” Yes, I certainly believe the Eternal One had his angels working overtime that night to provide Doris a ride to hospital.  There are more details that I might share with you over coffee some day. That would be a more appropriate place and time than this blog.


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