“Choice, not chance, determine destiny.” Anon
To-day we leave the city of Sao Paulo and wind through the towering hills to a fertile valley and the town of Mairipora. It’s so strange but the Mairipora church for a few years had a bar operating on their property. Here’s how it happened. The congregation bought a fine corner lot planning to build a church, but the lot had a bar and it took a while for the bar’s lease to expire. So the church owned the bar but of course did not operate it.
Senhor Luiz Roberto is our guide to this town in the hills—in fact we are staying in his home. He has arranged that we go to Mairipora with our arms loaded—would you believe—with diapers. There the pastor takes us across town to a senior’s residence where we deliver the diapers. We sang for them in their residence—English of course. How intriguing when one of the older gentlemen dug out his guitar and played along. A special privilege was a visit with the town’s mayor. He served us cafezinhos and the visit went on and on. The mayor was open to meet us for the local church was involved in a number of social programs in his town.
When I came to this Mairipora with a group some years previously, a lady I did not know met me at the church door. Did I remembered her? No way. So she recounted the story of how as a child I had visited their home on a coffee farm way off the beaten track in the interior of the state. That day all of this large family made faith commitments to Christ. That event changed the life of this one little girl; she grew up to be this lady and had married the pastor of this church.
There needed to be a break in the tight schedule so one day we travelled down to the port area of Santos. As we leave the plateau of Sao Paulo we descend through the mountains on a highway where the jungle rises up on each side. At times we get a glimpse through the trees of the other two lanes that take traffic up to Sao Paulo. We are fortunate to-day for there is no fog; on such an occasion a vehicle from the DOH would lead us slowly down to sea level. Sometimes during bad weather or when there is an accident the flow of traffic can be reversed or two lanes can accommodate vehicles in both directions. Or the highway is completely closed
Father Anchieta years ago travelled these mountains ministering in churches and homes. Later the highway took his name. To-day as we come down to sea level we pass by the city of Cubatao with its two dozen heavy industries. We take note of the huge flumes that bring water down through the mountains from the plateau above us to a generation station. Now the water provides power for the millions in Sao Paulo city and the area’s huge industries.
To-day our interest takes us past the beaches of Santos to the island of Guaruja. There we dip our toes in the Atlantic Ocean on a beach that is kilometres long. Guaruja lives off its tourism with many from the city above us owning condos constructed just city blocks from the lovely sand beaches. But if you look in another direction you see slums creeping up the side of the hills—hills so steep they appear to be mountains. How sad for the people who live there.
There is so much more we checked out; an aquarium and then later a lookout on a mountain high above the beaches. Instead of returning the way we came, we take a ferry across to the highway that leads us back up through the mountains. We are travelling as dusk approaches but we still can see the flowering bushes that border Via Achieta. Since we have our own transportation we stop and get some close-up pictures.
As the dusk deepens into night we suddenly feel tired. A few of our group are sleeping slumped in their seats. We are glad to return to our lodging and a hot dinner. We’ve been in Brazil less than the two weeks we’ve planned but I imagine that most of the group is beginning to long for home. Tired yes. A busy schedule, a different culture and so much to see and to do! All the while we’ve been working to understand English with a Brazilian accent. It is remarkable what Senhor Luiz and many others are doing to meet the needs of the people we have met. We’ve done the same and we’re happy with all we’ve accomplished so far. I know something you may not know yet. Such a trip is tiring but if you have been there, you’d go back in a minute.