We went to the BMMB Family Conference expecting to be blessed by the preaching, the fellowship, and the change of pace. We were not disappointed. But for me there was one feature that added immense value to the week, like the caramel covering that takes vanilla ice cream to a whole new level.
There was a train!
First, a little background. Our conference was located at the Solar das Andorinhas hotel. This lovely facility is home to many scenes of natural beauty…
And amazing wildlife…
But for me the most fascinating aspect of the visit stems from the fact that the hotel began life almost two centuries ago as a coffee plantation. Thus we were surrounded by ancient buildings, like this old mill with a water wheel…
…or the “big house”, where the office is now.
The sign above the office door is original, as evidenced by the fact that it uses the archaic escriptrorio instead of the modern escritório.
But the coolest thing about this place is that the original owner had his own private railroad line! It connected his plantation to the main lines, thus allowing him to ship coffee to the national and international markets. So, while I dream of someday having space to set up a model railroad, this guy had his own, full-sized train!
And, to make things even better, there is a Brazilian Society for the Preservation of Railroads, and it has made this spur into a working rail museum.
On the second day of the conference we all went down to the train station (pictured above–it apparently now doubles as an Assembly of God church)…
…and boarded the beautifully preserved cars.
As the ride began and the conductor began to give us the history of this particular train, I looked at the beautiful furnishings around me. I really felt under-dressed. This particular car was manufactured in 1923.
Upon our arrival at the next station the train stopped and we were treated to an explanation of how a steam engine works. This time also afforded me the opportunity to climb into the cabin. I must admit, I was like a little boy at Christmas.
I don’t want to give the impression that the conference was all about the train. Indeed, if you were to ask how the conference went, I would have to say that the messages were “on track”, the fellowship was “tender”, and now I feel refreshed and ready to go “full steam ahead”.
Talk back to the missionary: Did I miss any train puns in that last paragraph? If so, make a “whistle-stop” in the comments section and complete the list.
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