Monday, February 27, 2012

And that's how we travelled...Part 2

After a great week and a half in Brazil, it came time for our return trip.

If you've read any of my previous Brazil posts, you'll know that we had an amazing time! We would gladly go back tomorrow.

And before I get into our return trip, I must say that God is in control. On our trip down to Brazil, we had Dave and Sarah with us - veterans to international travel. And they also spoke Portuguese. Along the way home, God provided English speaking people at the exact moment we needed it.  It was also amazing to see that ABWE missionaries played a major role in helping us get home.

When our visit came to an end, we were sad to pack up. With heavy hearts, we purchased our boat tickets to take us back to Tobatinga. The night before our boat trip, two girls showed up at the house to return our money. The boat had broken down earlier in the week and had still not returned. I didn't start to panic yet - I was having a great time and would not have minded staying longer. There would be another boat in a few days. I would just email my boss and let her know I was stuck in the Amazon.

We decided to call the airline office to see if we could move our flights. They were going to charge us a pretty penny to postpone our flights for a couple days. It would have cost us more to get home than we had originally paid for our round trip. So, we began to pray - we needed to find a way home and not miss our flights. We had all day Friday and all day Saturday to get 12 hours up river.

Another ABWE missionary who lived in Dave and Sarah's town is a doctor. He happened to get us a ride with a group of 50 teachers to a city half way. They spoke no English. We spoke no Portuguese. But it was a blessing to  be able to ride on their chartered boat for free to San Paulo.

We said goodbye to Sarah and Evelyn at their house. Evelyn saw the suitcases and kept saying, "Jeremiah and Cindy not leaving!! Jeremiah and Cindy not leaving!!" Then, she saw Dave pick up our bags and she really freaked out. She was glad to hear that her daddy wasn't leaving. (And no, their house isn't foggy. It was my camera being dumb.)

Dave drove us down to the dock.

He waited on the dock until the boat left. We were sad to say goodbye.

The boat stopped at lunch time - but Sarah had packed us a huge lunch! We decided to stay on the boat. We had found a ride half way and were not about to get off the boat!

Later that afternoon, we docked in San Paulo. We were told to look for a tall, white man with a beard. There, waiting on the shore was our "contact." There, we met up with another ABWE missionary - Al Yoder. Al is a missionary pilot. He and his wife Kim had just returned from the States that day. They graciously fed us dinner and allowed us to stay with them for the night. We had never met them before. But we had Christ in common. In all the chaos, I didn't take a picture of their house. You can, however, see it in this video at the 1:47 marker.

They live in an amazing house ON the Amazon River. It is an actual floating house/airplane hanger. After reassembling some things from his plane, Al told us he would try to fly us the rest of the way as long as the weather was ok the next morning. There was also a Brazilian man that had told someone to tell someone else to tell someone else that he would take us up river in his boat. I went to bed, someone at peace, knowing that Al would fly us or this other man would take us by boat.

Through our screened windows, it sounded as if we were going to sleep while listening to one of those rain forest CD's. You could hear the frogs chirping and the water moving.

 It was so nice...However, around midnight, we were awakened to a violent thunderstorm. This is when I began to panic. It's not safe to fly in this weather and I was afraid the boat driver would not show up because of the storm. I maybe slept for an hour total that night. I prayed and prayed and prayed. A verse I had memorized as a child played over and over in my head. "What time I am afraid I will trust in Him."

The next morning, we packed our belongings and decided to wait to see if the boat showed up. It was only lightly raining at this point. Al told us that he could fly in this weather, but last night's storm had moved in the direction that we needed to fly. I kept praying. I was starting to think we were stuck on the Amazon.

Right on time, we heard the boat's horn. I apologize for the horrid picture, but here's the little boat.

Tears began streaming down my face. I'm sure the Yoders think I am an emotional person - but I was just so relieved that we had a way to travel. And I was so relieved that it looked like a decent boat. A nice man and his son was going to take us to the town where the airport was located. Once I got control of my tears, I told Jeremiah why I was so estatic to see this boat - Along the river, I had seen so many Brazilians in their little fishing boats with a small motor off the back of it. They call these boats "Pecky Peckies" due to the noise they make.

 I told Jeremiah, "I just thought we were going to have to ride the whole way in a little boat with a weed eater on the back of it."

We successfully arrived at the port quicker than we'd expected - 3 hours and 45 minutes later. We successfully navigated the Federal Police and taxi drivers. I think our taxi driver thought we were late for a flight - because he drove faster than I thought possible around all those potholes. Once we arrived at the airport, we were finally able to take a deep breath.

We were 9 hours early for our flight, but we were glad to be there! When we arrived, one flight had just arrived. Taxi drivers were lined up outside, hoping to find a customer.

The airport eventually emptied out. At one point, we were the only people in the small terminal.

This was also the same day that the Italian cruise ship wrecked - not the greatest travel day for many people.

At the airport, we ran into another ABWE missionary who helped translate for us when it came time to check our luggage. The Lord continued to plant people along our journey whom we had never met. I am amazed at the bond of Christ - it transcends all cultures and countries.

We had a layover in Panama City -It had now been 3 days since we left Dave and Sarah's - We were ready to get out of the airport. Since we had a 12 hour layover, we found a tour to see the Panama Canal and different parts of the city.

We were fortunate enough to visit the Panama Canal.

It was incredible to watch such a large boat move through the canal.

We loved seeing the American influence around the city. They use American currency as well.

But I was also intrigued by the European influence in the old portion of the city.

Overall it was a great break from the airport.

After 65 hours of adventurous travel, we arrived in Chicago, safe and sound late Sunday night. We were praising the Lord for His provision. He had us in the palm of His hand the entire time. He was in control of our travel plans. He even arranged for there to be English speaking people at the exact moments that we needed it.

Check out our other Brazil adventures here, here, here, here, here and here.
And read about our trip down to Brazil here.


  1. What an adventure. Auntie M, who you call Mae (Grandma) spoke of your adventure to Brazil, however I never saw nor read your blog concerning it (I don't know how I missed it).

    I love how you and Jeremiah going by faith. I love how you have shared your thoughts and prayers and I look forward to reading more.


  2. I was reading this and all I could think about was "hearing" you guys tell it to us when we were over there... :)

    1. We should have just set up a video camera :) You know ALL the details!