The Challenge I Faced- FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN 1968

It is surprising how quickly it gets dark in Belo Horizonte. Brazil.  Not surprising for those who’ve lived there for years. But a big surprise for this 36 year old woman, newly from the USA. It is only 8 pm (that is 20 hours – the way we count time in Brazil.) It is black as midnight, no long twilight here.

My husband just told me he will have to come home later with a friend who lives close to us in the suburbs (We live in a somewhat isolated neighborhood about 12 kilometers (8 miles) from where we are visiting on the other side of the city of 2.5 million inhabitants.

My obvious question is: “So, how will the kids and I get home?”
He reaches, pulls out his car keys and drops them into my hand, then turns to answer a question.   Problem solved in his book.

My mind’s book starts flashing red warning signs
“You don’t know how to drive the Kombi that well: can your feet reach the pedals?
You’ve never driven home after dark across this city- not even in daylight!
You do NOT know the streets that well, and most of them are not marked with their names.
You have five kids you have to drive home.
How could my husband do this to me>?”

My feet dragging, I cheerfully called our children: (at least I hoped it was cheerful.)
I was almost petrified with fear.
We all got into the 3 seated Volkswagen Kombi.  My eldest son sits beside me to help me see where we are; my two daughters in the second seat stationed by the windows on each side, our two youngest (3and 5) in the last seat, me hoping they were tired enough to fall asleep. 

I turn the key, and thank God.
The Kombi sputters then then settles into a loud purr, and we are on our way

First challenge-getting to and going through – the CENTER of the city: a large plaza where 8 main streets cross.
We get there! I shift to a slower gear, with my three eldest directing me, we work our way within the traffic pattern and turn right onto a main avenue leaving the plaza.  Thanking God

Now we follow a large two-lane avenue, heading several miles out to our suburb. Challenges: few street lights, BRIGHT headlights, drivers insisting there is one more lane when there isn’t.

How far before we have to turn off this busy street onto a side street that runs alongside the avenue, where we then angle off to the right. ?  (If that sounds complicated, it’s because it was!) We know there won’t be streetlights, only our headlights to pick out the path through the cobbled streets and darkened buildings, before we turn off onto the dirt and sand street where our house is located about three blocks up a slight hill.

We all keep our eyes strained to find that side street. Suddenly, my eldest yells:
“Hey, Mom!  The side street is coming up.  We need to change lanes, or we’ll miss it.”
Praying like mad, I gear down to get behind some cars, then onto that all-important side street.
We make it!  The car would have been full of high fives… but we didn’t know about those in 1968. 

Shifting down one more gear, we creep through the darkened streets; I jump when a cat suddenly runs across the cobblestones in front of us.
We turn onto our dirt and sand street, trying to keep out of the ruts.
It is dark!  NO STREET LIGHTS. One doesn’t realize what a difference they make.

We pull up in front of our gated garage.  My oldest son jumps out of the car to unlock the gate, I gingerly drive the Kombi into the garage, turn off the key and, with a sigh of relief, slump down for a moment.
Then, gathering all of our things we climb the steps, unlock the front door, and lights start flashing on in all the rooms. 
We are home – and safely!  Thank You, God!

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying “This is the way; walk in it.”  Isaiah 30:21

Did you feel the tension I was under?
The fear of the unknown. Could I do this?
Does this remind you of something you’ve gone through?
What can we learn when we have to deal with fear?


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