I should have known better than to take a cheap airline flight from Columbus to Miami, but like many I tried to save on a self funded mission trip. As fate would have it the plane was detoured at Orlando via Fort Lauderdale instead of direct to Miami causing me to miss my plane for Brazil.
When I finally arrived at Miami the connecting plane had been gone for over four hours, but my chief worry was my friends in Brazil were to pick me up, and they had been on the road for more that seven hours to meet me. Since there was no way to contact them, I was hoping they would check on other planes coming from the states.
To farther complicate things my Varig airline tickets would not be accepted by Pan Am airlines so I had to pay dearly to get a roundtrip on the next flight which was about five hours later. Thank goodness for trip interruption insurance which later repaid me.
Finally, I was in the air and trusting nothing else would mess up this trip since I was scheduled to speak for a week at a missionary’s conclave about six hours north of Rio. My prayers were answered because my friends had checked with Pan Am and knew I was on their coming flight. Being a seasoned traveler I knew customs awaited me immediately on deplaning and hoped it would not be a problem. I was glad when I got a green light and was able to proceed without stopping to open all my luggage, etc.
Since this was a night flight my friends asked if I had ever been to the Rio (River of January) and I said no. My friends had known me for nearly 25 years and knew I was a scenery lover and suggested a few places before we headed north.
Rio de Janeiro is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, justly bearing the nickname Cidade Maravilhosa - "the wonderful city". It was not long until we were high above the beautiful bay viewing the most familiar statue of Christ the Redeemer which stands on top of Corcovado Mountain. The statue stands 30 meters tall and is one of the worlds largest and most photographed. Then we hastened on to take the cable car up Sugarloaf Mountain for a most grand view of the bay and city of Rio.
From here we could see the famous beaches of Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon and Barra da Tijuca and even the Maracana Stadium which is the largest football (soccer) stadium in the world. On our return we noticed an open café across the street from the base of the cable car. Here we had my first Brazilian meal which was a large steak prepared for all of us and cut later into the size we wanted. The favor was outstanding and cooked to perfection.
Before leaving Rio I was advised that Brazil has the largest population in Latin America and ranks sixth in the world with most living in urban cities like Rio that has a population between seven to ten million. Brazil is the only Portuguese-speaking nation in the Americas. It was a surprise to me that Brazil has the world's fourth largest television broadcasting system.
With the morning spent and we had to leave this spectacular area. Reaching our destination late in the afternoon, we checked into the hotel where missionary families from Brazil and Uruguay had assembled. The beautiful hotel was set on the top of a hill overlooking the city of Barbacena known as the world’s largest producer of roses. You could see field after field of roses as far as you could see. From the hotel height it was breath taking. Not only did the beauty abound but the hotel is a training hotel from people who come from around the country to be trained the hotel trade in every area. Not only did we get the best treatment but the food was great and beautifully designed for our delight.
Following this week of teaching and training, I was able to stay for three more weeks speaking in many churches and visiting some of the most beautiful areas as we moved from state to state in the interior of the country. The beauty of this country is only exceeded by the wonderful people I met.
Rio is a beautiful city and so is the country, but one is yet to come that will exceed it.
“And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, “-- Revelation. 21:10