“Restoration always seems to bring joy.” Anon
The street on which we lived was made of cobblestone—of course many of the other streets in town were similar. Asphalt paving was scarce for Brazilians then imported most of their petroleum products. Fear of the foreign oil companies was palpable. The cry in the 50s and later years by leftist politicians and most newspapers was, “O Oleo e Nosso,” that is, “The Oil is Ours.” Now Brazil is energy independent. That explains why then, a street from our home to the edge of town was just red dirt.
Imagine us carrying our little daughter Monica and pushing a carriage with our baby Vernon up a street—yes it was up–to a rented hall where we held religious services in Rio Preto. The wheels of that carriage were mostly invisible in the soft dirt…sweating work in the constant hot weather. Of course the street was worse when it rained. Then the dirt turned to a sticky red gumbo,
Now a story about something that didn’t happen. The protestant churches in the city were organizing unity services with each congregation distributing invitations each day in their part of Rio Preto. Since we were beginning to plant a church, I alone had the job of daily dropping off flyers in the homes in our area. All went well all week as far as I knew. But one family was thoroughly upset at me for leaving propaganda every day at their gate. Two of the young men from that family decided to stay home from work, wait for me to come by and give me a good thrashing—something that would teach me a lesson.
Well, it never occurred because a friend of theirs from down the street had happened to drop in for a visit at the very time I was going by. What difference did that make? Well this lady, Dna. Zenaide was host every week to film strips that we showed in her yard. Those film strips drew a lot of attention for the area had no electricity, no TV and few radios. Those same film strips may have contributed to this family’s hostility. Anyway, the fellows who had decided to beat me up were embarrassed to administer this important lesson in front this “crente”. Translation—believer.
This “crente” later told Doris that the plan was not just to beat me up but to kill me. Whatever the purpose, I believe God had sent his angels to arrange circumstances so that it never happened. I am sure God’s angels were involved behind the scenes many time in our lives bringing safety and untold blessings.
You’ve gathered we had no vehicle at this time in Rio Preto. And since there was no bus service how did we get around? If we had suitcases added to our two children, we rented a charrete which is a two-wheeled horse-drawn open buggy. That may seem primitive but we did not mind too much for a person makes do with what they have. And happy about it.
Generally we got around using “shank’s horses.” Let me explain this Irish expression that I picked up from my dad. A shank is the part of the leg between the knee and the ankle. So our legs were the horses that took us where we wanted to go. That brings to mind the long hike—the four of us–down to the city market that took the place of grocery stores.
The most important of our memories are of the friends we made in Rio Preto. Many of them fashioned new lives based on a living faith in the love of the Eternal Father. We came to know a girl not quite a young teen when she came with her family to see the film strips I’ve mentioned. Her name is Vanilda and as she grew her beautiful voice matured along so that when she sang, a person would be enchanted. Nostalgia wells up in my mind clutching at my throat when I recall not only Vanilda but the wonderful people we came to know and love in Rio Preto.