Freeing our Car from Lockup

“Daily duties are daily joys, because they are something which God gives us to offer unto Him, to do our very best, in acknowledgement of His love.” Pusey

It was a mistake back in 1955 to have taken our car to Brazil. At that time Brazil had put up huge barriers to the importation of durable goods. They were attempting to grow their own industry especially wanting to build their automobile manufacturing. So our ’55 Plymouth was stuck in a customs warehouse in the port of Santos.

Shortly after the car was impounded we contacted a despachante in São Paulo to work on getting it loose. You see. almost nothing can be accomplished in government offices without a despachante , that is a special agent. They are only a step down from being a lawyer. Their job was to fill out the forms and to contact the right people in government. I even needed such an agent to get a driver’s license and an identity card.

We could not get the car released that year while we were in language school. No success either during our next years in the interior of São Paulo State. To get money exchanged, every month I would take the train the 600 Kilometers to São Paulo. While there I would go down to Santos to see how our agent was doing to get the car free. I was hoping, always hoping but was stalled at every visit. That situation continued during our four years in Brazil. Even after our year long furlough and our move to Rio de Janeiro, the car was still locked up in Santos.

Our move to Rio was now under the auspices of the Free Methodist Church. Immediately we found out that the F.M. mission had a car—I think it was it a 57 Chev. It was impounded and stored on a wharf in Rio. Since I had some experience trying to get my own car through customs, I began to work with a lawyer in Rio. He thought he might unravel the complicated laws and paperwork.

Wow! About year later the lawyer had his case accepted before a judge. The lawyer used a plea of Habeas Corpus. Actually that law had its usefulness years ago in England to get an improperly imprisoned person out of jail. Now the lawyer used it to get that car off the wharf and into the mission’s hands. With that behind us the next step was to get our Plymouth out of the Santos lockup.

Within a few months I had the proper documents and drove the Plymouth out of the warehouse. It did not run well but I was tickled pink after the car sat in storage for over five years. At least it was not sitting out on a Rio dock in the ocean’s salt air as the other car did. It was a day’s drive to Rio–but we arrived safely. However the next day gasoline from the carburetor had flooded over the engine. Cleaning the carb was not a big job. But the source was old gas in the tank. Over time a layer of solids had separated out of the gasoline. Some of that junk did not stay on the tank bottom but dissolved into the fresh gas.

There were no gas tanks to be bought so in desperation I removed it, chiselled open the top of it and cleaned it out. Then I soldered the top back in place. What a job but it did work well.

But none of us used those big cars for long but bought into the VWs that were being produced in Brazil. The mission bought VW vans and the VW bug. But they did not call it the “Bug” but the “Fusca.” For a while Doris and I drove a VW van. That was handy for we could load our apartment-sized piano into and go with our own music wherever we wished to hold services. I never learned to play the piano or the accordion. But with Doris along, we had lots of music.

As I wrote about getting those cars out of lockup, I could not but think of the freedom that comes with owning Jesus as Saviour and Lord. Saint Paul states, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Every follower of Jesus is able to tell the story of how Jesus gave them freedom. The writ of “habeus corpus” was proclaimed at the cross. Now with that writ imprinted on hearts the followers of Jesus walks free.

There is an old Gospel song I haven’t heard in years titled, “Glorious Freedom.” The first verse begins with, “Once I was bound by sins galling fetters…” That freedom is so much more important than getting a car out of a padlocked warehouse.


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