Due to all the difficulties and unplanned delays, we had to finish the last 240ish miles on the Amazon by fastboat. The Amazon fastboat is like a cross between a Greyhound bus and a commuter airline flight.
We took a tiny flat bottom boat from our Amazon Vision boat to a dock a little way up river with luggage on one side and a life vest over the other shoulder. I have to admit that I was scared. So I just laughed the entire short trip. Standing on the floating peer from 4 – 6:30 a.m. waiting for the boat the conversation was easy and the laughter was plentiful! Relationships and friendships for life had been formed over this incredible trip. That is one of the benefits of trials and difficulties…they help to form bonds between people that might have never been connected before. I am so thankful for the new friends that I made from this mission team.
When we got on the fastboat there were already people stretched out across the seats sleeping. Obviously, some had already been aboard for a while. As daybreak came, some of the passengers began to take little bags and head back to the restrooms which were also, interestingly enough, showers. They came out all clean and ready for the day.
We settled in for the 12 hour trip. The fastboat experience is much different from our experience on the Amazon Vision. It’s a steady pace…25-30 miles per hour. Everyone is on a mission, has a destination, and the goal is to get there fast.
The scenery is still beautiful, but there is no connection with it. It is passing by so fast that I can’t really see any details. I occupied myself with other things like reading, sleeping, and writing because it had become impersonal. The birds were visible but there was no birdsong to be heard. I could see the occasional house but it passed by so quickly that there was not waving or smiling at the children…no thumbs up signs or eye contact. On the slow boat – the Amazon Vision – it was as if we had time to share a brief life moment…made a connection. It was easy to pray for those families. On the fastboat it was hard to pray them because I couldn’t really see them and they passed by so fast.
It is a wonderful, streamlined, efficient way to travel. But, because of our previous days on the Amazon Vision, I know what I am missing and I am sad. The fastboat is and amazing experience. But, I know that my choice would be the slow plodding along of our previous home on the river.
It makes me think about life. It seems that everyone these days wants to be on the fastboat. Set a goal, get there as fast as possible. There’s not time to really enjoy and soak in the experience. There is not time to share life moments, wave, laugh, make eye contact. Everything passes by too fast. Our homes are little cocoons..out to work – in to sleep. We don’t know our neighbors except for the occasional nod or brief conversation in passing. We stay focused, press on, and measure our success by how busy we have to be every day to get it all done – whatever “it” might be.
Some have never known any different. Their parents were on the fastboat and they started their childhood on the same boat. Every school activity, every sport, even academic club, UIL, every church activity, social event and the list goes on and on. The ticket for the fastboat is purchased for some at a very early age. The farther removed we get from the generations that had the slower pace of life, less technology and more conversation, less information and more life lessons the less the current generation even realizes what they are missing.
It wasn’t an easy life for sure but there was conversation. Neighbors knew each other and would show up to help if there was a need. There was time to sit on the porch and drink tea, time to listen to the birds and watch the sunrise and sunset. We experienced the aroma and the feel of newly turned soil and could smell a rain shower coming from miles away.
So my question is this… Why would God have created all this beauty if He did not intend for us to enjoy it? Why even give us 5 senses if we never take time to really see, smell, taste, hear, or feel? Why did God give us hearts to feel, hurt, empathize, etc. if we were going to be so busy reaching for our destination that we don’t have the time or energy to build relationships? When we pass by people and events so rapidly it becomes hard to pray about or for anything.
My answer to those questions is this. I think God chooses relationships over acquaintances, stillness over business, peace over chaos, quiet over nice, slow and steady over fast and furious. My friends, it is time to take a breath. It is time to stop and feel His presence. It is time to build relationships and to feel again, to laugh, to cry, to empathize, and to share joys. It is time to once again to value the journey, not just the destination.