The morning of Saturday, July 14 2007 I left to drive the first leg of my trip to Brazil. I left around 11:00 AM. The original plan was 10 AM but you know how it goes. I had a few last minute things to do. I was a rainy drive. The weather here in Charleston was fine but by the time I got on 17 heading toward Hilton Headthe rain began. Twice it was raining so hard that I had to pull over. On 95 in Georgia it was also raining very hard for a time as well. You could not see anything at all and with all those big 18 wheelers whizzing by and throwing up water, there simply was no visibility. Once I got to the Georgia/Florida border there was no more rain. It was smooth sailing after that. Onward to Orlando!
The First Presyterian Church of Orlando is one of the partnership churches with World Hope Mission Ministries and the Presbyterian Church of Manaus. Most of the mission team was leaving from Orlando and I was driving to meet up with that group and then travel to Miami and on to Brazil. I arrived in Florida around 7-ish. I would be staying with the Burkette family for that Saturday night. Emily Burkette is one of the local trip coordinators for the Amazon trips and I would be staying with her parents. The entire Burkette family was very welcoming and made me feel right at home, even though I was a total stranger. They have been on this trip before and it was good to see some of their pictures and talk with them that evening.
The plan was to go to church Sunday morning and and at 1:00 PM we would all be meeting at the First Presbyterian Church of Orlando to travel by motorcoach to Miami. I enjoyed the church service on Sunday. The First Presbyterian Church of Orlando has a very large congregation and they have an expansive ministry that spreads out in all directions to capture just about every niche of the population. After church we went back to the Burkette home and donned our mission shirts and went back to connect with the others who would be going on the trip as well.
Here is the Florida group from the First Presbyterian Church of Orlando
Once at the church I finally had a chance to meet a person whose voice I had only hear over the phone, Dr. Jonathas Moreira. He is a retired, Brazilian, Presbyterian minister who is the leader of all the mission teams to the Amazon. He is 75 and is such an amazing man. The work he does is incredible, now that I have seen it first hand. God really does work through him and I believe that he has been chosen by God for these missions. I also finally got to see and meet the others who would be going on the trip. It was a varied group. Those leaving from Orlando included Emily, Stephanie, Lee and his son William, Talita and her husband Ben, Michelle, Virginia, Bethany, Jonathas and myself. We would be meeting up on the way to Miami with others coming in from another part of the US. We would be meeting up with Sue, Maureen and Nancy. Finally at the airport we would meet up with Mike and Miguel who are father and son. That was the entire American team.
The drive to Miami was uneventful. That is a good thing when you are traveling…no mishaps. Everytime I drive in Florida it brings back fond memories of Miami Vice. I loved that show and watched it religiously each week. Everything was pastels and pink and flamingos on that show. I saw some of those same pastels and pinks on the buildings of Miami as we traveled through to get to the Miami airport. Yep…Don Johnson…he was the man! Miami Vice was the show!