May 31, 2010

On Angels and God's Protection

This story sent chills up my spine and gave Tony goosebumps! The following excerpt is from my latest $0.75 find at the local Library Book Sale. Well worth the read.

Light in the Jungle by Leo B. Halliwell, pp 10-13
setting: Amazon River, Brazil, 1930s

"It was our first trip up the river in our own boat, heading west from Belém. I was new to navigation, unused to the river, and unaware of the location of shoals and dangerous rock that could destroy us. A river guide could have guided us safely through, but a pilot is a professional man and earns a good deal more than we or any missionary could afford to pay. As neophytes on the river, we had no choice but to feel our way along and trust we would be guided.

In some areas the river is fairly well populated along the banks. This is particularly so in the tidal areas within a few hundred miles of the mouth.  There canoes come and go frequently, and at times we could see dozens of them going upstream close to the banks or downstream farther out in the river. Often the occupants would ask us to tow them along behind our boat; but because there were frequently so many and we couldn't take them all, we established from the start a policy of no hitchhiking.

Yet on this very first trip we broke our rule. We had reached a desolate area where the jungle closed in deep and green along the banks and there was no sign at all of habitation, only a kind of forlorn tropic hush, when suddenly we noticed, not too far from our boat, three men in a canoe. They were respectably dressed and when they called to us and asked us if we could tow them along behind us upstream, something impressed me. Something I did not understand led me almost involuntarily to reach out to the throttle and stop the boat.

"Jack," I called to my son, who was then about fifteen years old, "throw them a line." They came alongside and we made the canoe fast. One of them stayed in the canoe. The other two came aboard our boat and stood with Jessie and Jack and me near the wheel while we talked about the jute crop and the weather and the hazards of the shifting currents. They were friendly and we were having a pleasant chat when suddenly one of them said, "Which side of the rocks are you going on?"

I saw no rocks at all - only the green bank with its lovely Pan Rosa trees off the port side and the gray-yellow water of the Amazon. "What rocks?" I asked.

Without answering, the man grabbed the steering wheel out of my hands and turned it completely around. Our boat wheeled giddily and shot out away from the bank into the river. Then I looked back and saw, not twenty feet in front of where we had been heading, the jagged points of hundreds of rocks just beneath the surface of the water. One second more and we would have plowed into them and ripped our boat to shreds. We had no idea that these rocks were there and without our hitchhiking friends we would have lost our boat and, in all likelihood, our lives.

Our visitors seemed to take our expressions of gratitude almost casually, however; and a few moments after we had passed this dangerous section of the river, one of them said, "Sir, thank you for the ride. If you don't mind stopping here, we'll get out."

It seemed strange, for there were still no houses or any other sign of human habitation to be seen along the banks. But I stopped, and the men climbed into the canoe and pushed off into the current.

"Look out and see where those men go," I said to Jack. "There's no house around here."

It had been only a moment since they had left us. There were no bends in the river. But after scanning the river in all directions, my boy turned to me. "Dad, they've disappeared."

I turned from the wheel in amazement. There were no rocks, no debris, no sign of struggle or overturned canoe, no cry for help. Only the emptiness of the river and the mute green banks a hundred yards away - too far for them to have reached in that time. Yet the three men and their boat were nowhere to be seen.

We have always believed, Jessie and I, that these men, whoever and whatever they were, were sent to us, the protecting angels of Providence. Man's extremity - and sometimes even his ignorance - is God's opportunity."

*photo credit to my friend Leti, on our trip to the Amazon, 1998*

...more pics from the boat...

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