October 18, 2013
Dear Linwood Friends,
This has to be a great sermon illustration – but where should I use it? Help me out.
Jan and I returned last Friday evening from our two week adventure in Brazil, touring the Pantanal – a wildlife district half the size of California. (Jet lag is my excuse for this being a Thursday e-mail instead of a Wednesday e-mail.) It was a great trip! It is an incredible environment with amazing wildlife. However, this is what happened to us 2/3 of the way through the trip.
Our little tour group was doing great. There were just 6 of us – from 3 different countries – and our Brazilian guide. We had spent two nights in rooms constructed on a barge, docked on the edge of a river about 300 yards wide. The nearest road was 30 minutes away – by speedboat. The shore was patrolled by jaguars (which we had come to see and did see), and the water was filled with caiman (alligators), piranha, and anacondas. We were isolated to say the least. The staff on the barge – except for the guide – spoke Portuguese only. And, we had no cellular service.
At breakfast after our second night on the barge our guide came into the dining room very grim-faced. “We have a serious problem,” he announced. “The owner of the barge (as well as the boats, and the next accommodations we were to stay at) says that he has not been paid for the last portion of the excursion, and that our trip is canceled as of now. He has tried to contact the company (our tour company) that made the arrangements and has had no response. He says it is as if they have ‘dropped off the face of the earth.’”
We asked the guide about our options and were told we could pay “$1,500-$2,000” more per person and finish the trip (!) or find a way back to Cuiaba, our entry city to the Pantanal, and find motel rooms until our flights returned to the States. We did not like either option. At this point our guide said he would take a boat back to Port Jofre (1/2 hour away) where there was cell service and try to get a hold of our agent in the States and see what he could do.
Alyson, our guide, headed off. As we watched him leave, we wondered among ourselves whether we would ever see him again – after all he was not likely to be paid for his services either!
So, there we were. Two Germans, a New Zealander, and three Americans on a barge in an extremely remote part of Brazil, jaguars on one side, alligators etc. on the other side, with a handful of people who spoke no English, and no phone or Internet service.
We waited. I usually don’t mind waiting. Yet, it is difficult waiting when you have no idea how long you will be waiting! And we waited. The six of us got to know each other much better. For all we knew we might barge together the rest of our lives.
Just over three hours later, a boat was spotted returning to the barge. Alyson disembarked and said, “Everything is fine; it was just a misunderstanding. We are taking a boat out looking for jaguars in 15 minutes.”
And the tour continued as planned.
Here is my question. What does this best illustrate?
1) Don’t panic even if you are trapped between jaguars and alligators. God will somehow find a way.
2) Facing common stress or dealing with a common enemy deepens relationships with one another.
3) It always pays to have travel insurance. Is there also “travel insurance” for life?
4) It pays to wait before you swim or hike.
5) If you are going to Brazil, learn Portuguese.
6) Sometimes – probably more often than we realize – grace intervenes in our lives turning messes into miracles.
What do you think? I would welcome your suggestions.
Park Pastor, Linwood Park
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