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The Incredible Journey 4


Now that we were in Santos, it was time to start visiting the shipping companies. Most of these were situated in the Port and Dock area which was surrounded by a high wall and there were about three or four entrances which were guarded and one needed a pass to get in. On our first morning after early morning prayer and reading from our super spiritual book the Bible and then breakfast and a chat with Fernando the Owner, we set off for the Port. It was in walking distance as our Hotel which I can now remember is named the Avenida Palace and was very conveniently in the center of the sea front road. By looking as if we owned the place we smilingly walked past the guard into the busy port and no one stopped us.

3 years earlier I had managed to provision free passages on cargo vessels from Hamburg to Santos for Missionaries from our organization. It happened something like this. I had a reputation for having a special spiritual gift from God of Faith and so I was asked by our leadership to try and get free passages for about 4 to 6 single missionaries to leave from Lisbon where I was staying, to Brazil. The year was 1991 and at that time our group was making a push to go to Brazil. The company, Alianca, with offices in Hamburg, sailed to Brazil calling in at Porto and then Lisbon and so without anything prearranged I jumped on a night train from Lisbon to Hamburg. The train arrived at 8.30a.m. And without an appointment but after desperate prayer for Spiritual help, I was sitting in front of an amused Managing Director at 10 a.m. I explained our needs and he agreed to allow 2 passengers at a time to travel free as long as they did some work like painting and scrubbing. Of course I was delighted and was back in Lisbon with the good news the next morning. At least 4 to 6 missionaries used this facility to make it across the Atlantic without cost.

Now there was also a Passenger Liner which called frequently in at Lisbon on its way to Rio de Janeiro. This luxury Liner belonged to the well known Italian firm, Linea C, Costa Armatori with headquarters in Genoa and having succeeded so well with the German firm, I was then dispatched to work the same miracle for more missionaries including myself. Even though I had prayed and stormed heaven for a second similar miracle this time would be a different story. When I arrived in Genoa, I had no trouble getting to see the senior manager a Mr B who had only one arm. He was an extremely nice person and I spent a long time with him talking about spiritual matters which seemed to interest him a great deal. He poured out his heart but was unable to allow us to travel for free but he did make a big discount of 50% which was a help and he gave me his business card which I managed to hang on to for many years. This will become significant as our adventure unfurls.

Once inside the docks we were soon visiting every shipping company and shipping agent. The first three or four days we found nothing. It was a story of total disappointment. Giving up was out of the question but we continued to pray and hope and believe.

In the evenings we found a Seaman's club called "Missions to Seamen", organized by the Anglican Church. An old couple, I think he was a retired Anglican priest ran the place and were kind to us and gave us free beer and lots of complete and total discouragement. Hardly any one frequented this rather uninteresting place but it was fine for us to relax. They thought we were very presumptuous to expect a free trip East. They explained how there were many people all trying to go for free to Europe who had a much higher priority than us poor rather stupid looking missionaries. We learned to accept their free beer but not to listen to their doubts. We nicknamed them Mr and Mrs Doubtlet. It was rather tough having to tell Dear old Fernando about our failures but he put a brave face on it and continued to allow us to stay. I guess the Lord helped him to have faith in us.

On about the fourth or fifth day we were stopped going through our normal entrance and so we walked further down the road and went in another entrance successfully. In front of us was brand new firm that we had not seen before. This time everything seemed to go according to plan. They promised 2 free berths in a cabin in a ship that would arrive in three weeks. The destination was Northern Europe but in hitch hiking one has to be prepared to take any ride that is going somewhat in the right direction. We were overjoyed and triumphantly reported to Fernando and to the Doubtlets who put a brave face to cover up their previous remarks and they just said, "Well you guys are just lucky, plain lucky". They were not really spiritual people but were friendly with billiards and beer for lonely sailors and I think they had rooms which were rather expensive for short stay overs.

Now we had to wait for three weeks and after the dream about moving we decided to go on a hitch hiking trip around Brazil getting more addresses and trying to supplement our donations which were still very low. We have a little spiritual saying, "If you witness about Jesus and the spiritual world, you will always win."

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