The Day I Discovered Psalms 139 0r When I Almost Fell Off the Bus

Belo Horizonte, MG Brazil 
1980 

The packed bus unexpectedly swerved.  I am standing on the bottom step outside the open door: the last passenger to board.  The bodies of other passengers block me from getting into the bus.  As I hang on for dear life with a bag of books slung over one shoulder, I’m worried.  Maybe I shouldn’t be here?  As the bus lurched again, I know I shouldn’t be here!  But there’s no way to get off, unless I’m thrown off by accident? 
There is a shift in the packed bodies of the passengers, I am able to go up one step. 
Still not inside so the door can close… but closer to my goa of safetye. 

Why is this 48 year old woman crammed into this busload of passengers? of living bodies. 

Has anyone heard the word missionary?  Well, I’m a living (at least now) breathing example of one.  Only I don’t live in the Amazon jungle.  Rather I live in a simple house in a city of over 3 million people with a jungle of skyscrapers, and catching a bus to get me to the other side of this jungle so I can teach an English class to a student who is a businessman and needs to be more fluent in my native language.  
Why am I doing this?  Two reasons: we need to earn money for food and rent for our family AND my classes of conversational English always include learning more about the Brazilian culture and sharing things I’m learning from God.  
I love these classes – and evidently my students do also, for I teach business owners, medical leadersand some of the governmental elite. 
 
The bus lurches again, there is a shift of bodies (perhaps someone got off?) I manage to get one step higher, pulling my bag of books with me, and the door snaps shut – with me inside!  What a relief!  
 
This busload of “friendly Brazilians” isn’t so friendly as my bag of books gouges into bodies around me. People wonder why this obviously estrangeira  woman is even on this bus?  Eventually a man stands up and motions me to his seat. I sink onto the seat gratefully  putting the bag of books onto my lap so no one else feels those gouges. 
One I’m seated, those around me breathe a breath of relief, then forget me. I am happy to be forgotten! 
Almost an hour later, we arrive in the neighborhood where my student lives.  I clamber down the exit steps, relieved I can move again, then walk 
 
As usual, the maid opens the door for me with a smile.  We like each other. 
She tells me my student is running late (as usual) and asks that I sit down at the table and have some steaming hot ecafé com leite, fresh rolls, slices of ham and cheese, some fresh fruit from the street market. ( as I write this, my mouth waters. I love the traditional Brazilian breakfast!) 

As I sip my coffee (hot and strong), I pull my Bible out of that bag, and start to read Psalms 139.  I’ve read it many times – but todayknowing how close I came to falling off that bus, David’s words take on a new meaning. 

 
O Lord, you have examined my heart 
    and know everything about me. 
2 You know when I sit down or stand up. 
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. 
3 You see me when I travel 
    and when I rest at home. 
    You know everything I do. 
4 You know what I am going to say 
    even before I say it, Lord. 
5 You go before me and follow me. 
    You place your hand of blessing on my head. 
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, 
    too great for me to understand! 
verses 1-6 

If I ride the wings of the morning, 
    if I dwell by the farthest oceans, 
10 even there your hand will guide me, 
    and your strength will support me. 
verses 9-10 

I savor the words as I read them. Truly, God was with me this morning!M 
 
My student enters the room. 
“Bom dia, Da Voni”. 
“Bom dia Sr Eduardo  

He sits down at the table, as the maid serves him. 
“Shall we begin?” 
He reaches for his coffee as I reach for my Bible. 
 
I know what the conversation will be about this morning. 

I wonder what things have happened to him that were “close calls” 
That’s the first expression I’m going to teach him today. 
And how much will he understand of David’s words? 
Today, this English conversation class is going to challenge us both.