Monthly Archives: December 2016

Air Travel back in 1955

“ Change is difficult but often essential to survival.” Anon

Friends told us the story of a DC-3 that landed in a coffee field not far from them in the state of Paraná. This Douglas two-engine plane was “old faithful” itself; in the 50’s it was used in much of the interior of Brazil. Still an engine failure forced a landing among the coffee bushes. I’m told that mechanics with the proper parts got it running so it could leave the coffee bushes behind.

If you were used to travel in jet planes and were forced to take off in a DC-3 you’d wonder if it would ever get airborne. They require long runways for the prop engines don’t have the power of jets. As well, their engines are noisy and not nearly as dependable as jets. While we lived in the interior of the state of São Paulo, we seldom took a plane but when we did it was always the DC-3. This picture is of one of them sitting at the Rio Preto airport after we’d disembarked.

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In the fifties, hijackings and terrorists were uncommon. Were they the good old days? In any case it was often possible then to visit the cockpit of a plane and chat a bit with the pilots. Air travel was more relaxed but passengers  put up with planes being slow and often uncomfortable.

My beautiful picture

 

Monica, our baby, was just a few months old when we left for Brazil; so what were we to do about the formula for her during the long flight? We made arrangements so that on board the Super Constellation, the stewardess placed the formula in the plane’s frig. When I think of a plane’s frig, I recall taking off from an airport in Jamaica when the frig door banged open and the contents spilled down the alley. The stewardess was upset; she apparently forgot to lock the frig door shut. Other came to help her clean up the mess. Somehow they still served us a good meal.

The first time we flew on a more modern plane, a turbo-prop, was on a family holiday trip from São Paulo to the Iguassu falls. Even at that time, during the sixties, it was a dirt runway that we landed on at Iguassu. That flight was the first leg of our trip to Assuncion, Paraguay to visit missionary friends, the Hustons.

This nothing to do with plane travel but I must pass this on to you. The dirt highway from Iguassu to Assuncion was closed down if and when it rained. Would you believe it, a light rain had the police stop all traffic when we were halfway there. We had no idea if the rain might last for days, in which case we’d be sitting on a bus till the road dried. By God’s grace and good fortune, the rain let up after a few hours and we continued on our way.

Another plane trip comes to mind, the Vôo de Amizade that we were taking as we ended our time in Brazil. Better planes existed then, but the cheapest was this “Friendship Flight” to Portugal on a four engine plane—if I remember it was a DC-7b. Before any takeoff the pilots always revved up the motors to make sure they functioned. In this case a generator on one of the engines failed. We waited and waited till another generator was flown in and the mechanics installed it. O.K. I know what you are thinking—you get what you pay for.

And another amazing memory about that flight. We had our tickets for the previous week but on the morning of the flight I was nauseated and had abdominal cramps. We missed the plane for I was in a hospital recovering from appendix surgery. That delay is just one of the many times when I am sure God’s angels intervened in our lives. What if that attack had occurred on the train from Madrid to Hendayia that is little more than a wide spot on the border with France? Or what if it had happened on the train as we travelled to Marseille? Or on the train from Cairo to Assiut where we were to meet my sister Velma and family?

My beautiful picture

One of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen was looking out the window of a plane as we crossed the U.S. heading for Toronto. It was evening and as we travelled westward for a couple of hours the mist in the air all around the plane was coloured with reds, orange and yellows. Absolutely incredible!

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What a contrast–what will the next world be like?

 

And I wonder if it was a foretaste, a small foretaste of what heaven will be like. The old Gospel folk song says it so well: “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through…” That thought sticks with me these days for on the 29th of December I’ll be 86. One of these days the special angels that have watched over our footsteps will be reassigned.

Brazilian Expressions Tell a Story

“The dewdrop fulfills the Lord’s will as much as the thunderstorm.” Anon

Recently I used the Brazilian expression, “If you don’t have a dog, you hunt with a cat.” I referred to watering my garden with a hose when it needed a big rain. This Brazilian expression and many others are full of “spice and emotion” for they communicate so vividly. They picture a people with quick minds and a good bit of humour.

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You’ll hear the expressions in a work group–this one building a church in Minas Gerais.

We might respond to a far-out story with “You’re kidding” while Brazilians might say, “Fala sério” which means, “You’ve got to be joking.” Those words have a funny tone to them while “I can’t believe it” is more factual.

There are hundreds of saying but I’ll mention a few that I have used.“A grama é sempre mais verde do lado do vizinho-The grass is always greener on your neighbor’s yard.”

“Cada macaco no seu galho—Each monkey has its own branch.”                                “Um gato escaldado tem medo de agua fria—A scalded cat is afraid of cold water.”                                                                                                                                   “Deus escreve por linhas tortas—God writes straight with twisted lines.”           “Esmola demais, o santo desconfia—Too many alms and the saint is suspicious.

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Children pick up the sayings and love to have fun with each other as in this foto.

I thought this one was really good, “Não cutuque a onça com vara curta—Never poke a jaguar with a short stick.” That saying has meaning for me for I’ve poked a few jaguars in my day—and I still do.

And here are a few we ought to have in English: “Jogar o verde para colher maduro—Throw out (or offer) the green fruit and pick the ripe.” The real meaning is to say something you think is half-true so that another person tells you a secret.” Now an interesting one: a Brazilian does not die but he “buttons his jacket—abotoa o seu paletó 

Or “Descascar o abacaxí—Peel the pineapple.” It means “To solve a tough problem.” That really makes sense for in Brazil when they say, “È um abacaxí” it means something is really a bad deal or a lemon.

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Children pick up sayings so easily and they love choirs and putting on plays.

How about this, “Quem não chora, não mama. The one who doesn’t cry, doesn’t suckle.” A Brazilian does not let his hair down but he “Solta a franga” releases the chicken. If a Brazilian is wasting time, he “Ensaca a fumaça” meaning he puts smoke in a sack.

The Brazilians have an endless number of expressions that give a quick insight to a situation. The same goes for the Christian faith. Some scripture verses summarize so well the salvation that Jesus offers. As a teen, when I was sensing the great weight of sin in my life, at a church camp hope came to me through this verse, “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37. I suppose I was no worse than most teens but I felt the wrath of God for my failure to live for Him. That verse gave me hope.

Then in Brazil there was a key verse that I am sure often came up in my preaching, “There is no other name under heaven by which we might be saved…” Acts 4:12. In Brazil as in other places around the world, faith often focused on other things and persons than Jesus, the Saviour. That verse provides hope that goes beyond this life.

Then there is the verse in John 3:16 that says so much. I don’t need to write it down for I suppose you may know it by heart. But here it is, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” That truth offers insight and hope beyond any saying no matter the country or culture.

Taking a Chance on Inspiration

 

“If you want to change the world, fire up your faith.” Anon

They wanted to change the world in which they lived; they wanted to make it a better place. Since they had seen the influence of the Gospel through churches in Brazil, planting a church became their hope. But there was no reason to imagine that a church could be built or flourish in this section of Santo André in São Paulo. Yet it happened when a professor at a university and a lady who lived in a slum, along with a few others saw the need with faith. Professor Josué became the pastor ministering in a rented hall.

A missionary friend in Brazil encouraged us to put our energy and money into helping them put up a building. Dna. Francisca threw her energies into helping by ministering to the children in the slum at the foot of the land this small congregation had purchased. In this picture Dna. Francisca hugs the pastor’s wife in the favela where Dna Francisca ministers to children. Her dress tells the story of her faith. It reads, “Jesus, eu te adoro.” You can pretty well guess what it says, “Jesus, I adore you.” Can you imagine the message the dress declared? And can you imagine the reaction to a similar dress in Canada?

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Dna Francisca hugs Sra Rute, pastor Josué’s wife

The city of São Paulo is built on hills and the land the congregation was typical—but worse there were some old cement block buildings that needed to be torn down. That is where our VISA (volunteers) came into the picture. Our modest help sparked the inspiration that it could happen. The folks there brought their families and friends and the work began with picks and shovels.  100_2568

The lot purchased on this hillside had buildings to be demolished with one falling into the ravine and stream at the lower end.

Doris and I were so inspired by their enthusiasm for the work that we too sacrificed to help, but notwith pick and shovel. We were invited to be the dedication speaker when the lovely church was finished.

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Once in a while a bit of faith will spark inspiration all round. And then wonderful things happen. Is that kind of a project worthwhile? Absolutely! A few years ago O CRUZEIRO, a national magazine featured the evangelical protestant movement and the huge positive influence it is having in Brazil. Wow!                100_0248

Here pastor Josué and I rejoice at the huge work that was accomplished. Now they have a fine church sanctuary. Sorry I could not find a picture of it.

Pink dogs are not as rare as you might think

 

“If you don’t have a destination, any road will do.” Ano

The best soil in Brazil is the terra roxa, a red soil that is found in the South-East part of Brazil and includes the states of São Paulo and Paraná. Our family got to know this land well for we travelled on those red dirt roads and even spent one night with our vehicle stuck in its wet red gumbo.

That red soil had a special influence on the people in our area for they made a living from growing coffee in those red fields. But, mind you, it marked everyone. You see, when the dirt was dry, its dust collected on clothing and left a pink tinge. My white shirts were only white in my imagination for the soil had left a bit of pink. There were times when a person could not avoid some contact with the red mud—and of course that left a stain.brazil-july-07-238

So that is how I came to have a picture of pink dogs. The problem is not the film in this case though with time old slides often shift color to the red. No, these dogs would normally be white but with years of contact with the red soil they changed color. Now I don’t imagine the dogs much cared or even their owners. In any case little could be done to make them white—a chlorine bleach would be out of the question and even then it might not make them any whiter than my shirts.

As I write terra roxa, I wonder if you might like to know how to pronounce itso here we go. The double rr can be trilled (I shall not explain that for it took us a long time to get it). But it is easily pronounced instead as an “h”. Roxa is like row-shah. We lived with dogs and white shirts with the ingredient of terra roxa added on. But a bit of pink was no big deal out in Neves Paulista. Everyone in that area lived with its influence. So there you have it. In any case, we all adapted to the red soil and that was fine for that particular culture.

But pink dogs and pink shirts would have been out of place when we lived in Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo. And that comes to a point I now want to make; we all are pushed and coerced to take on the color of the culture where we live. Right this moment I’m listening to lovely Brazilian caipira music. I love this folk music with great harmony and instruments. Caipira music fits well to the culture of the interior; the big cities are something else.

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A youth group that through the church learns how to resist the pressures exerted by the culture.

 

Many of the pressures to conform these days demand changes that do not fit in with the Christian faith as set down by Jesus and the apostles. It makes no difference what country we live in. The pressure is always there to make us into “pink dogs.”

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A good time for training is during childhood. These children are part of a S..S.. class.

 

There are a few things we might do so that we are aware of the pressure to conform. Read the New Testament preferably every day. Then add to that recipe a good dollop of time to think about how it applies to life. More important yet is the experience of committing one’s life to Jesus Christ. I’m not going to tell you the story of the dramatic turnaround in my life the hour I gave it over to Jesus. Just this—I started out in a completely different direction. The apostle Paul describes it as becoming a “new creature.”

So don’t let the terra roxa of our culture in the world today make you into a pink dog or a pink anything else!