Based on a true story.
The Yarra River twists and turns for 242 kilometers through the eastern half of Victoria before it empties into Port Philip Bay. Its tranquil waters provide the perfect setting for the bustling city of Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city.
Early spring is the best time to catch the river ferry for the thirty minute journey to Yarra Bend Park. The bush setting is a favorite destination for clubs and churches alike to hold their annual picnics.
The old timers still talk about the great mix up of 1974. That was the year Calvary Baptist shared their booking with the Werribee Magpies, our local football team. No one knows how it happened but somehow Miss Mary Bragg, our Sunday School superintendent, ended up on the wrong boat. Likewise, Billy Goodacre, the six foot ruck-rover was forced to make the return journey with us.
“Did everyone have a great time?”
Pastor James beamed with genuine affection. At the back of the boat Billy Goodacre looked a picture of misery.
“Let’s have a sing-a-long.” Somewhere in the crowd a guitar started playing as the congregation sang, “With Christ in your vessel you can smile at the storm.” Billy Goodacre looked longingly at the other boat before burying his face in his hands.
As the wharf came into view an Elder led the congregation in prayer.
“Father, thank you for a lovely day. Thank you for keeping us safe. Watch over us as we make our way home and keep us close until we meet again. Amen.”
Ten minutes later the second boat docked and an ashen faced Mary Bragg stepped onto land.
“Are you OK, sister?” Pastor James took the elderly lady’s arm and led her toward the church bus.
“The Lord gave me the strength to endure, Pastor,” she replied humbly.
“You’re a brave soul, Mary.”
Suddenly a loud cheer arose from the car park as Billy Goodacre greeted his team mates.
“It was terrible,” he wailed.
The captain thumped him cheerfully on the back.
“You’re with friends now, mate,” he said reassuringly.
“They didn’t have any beer,” Billy Goodacre continued.
The team bus pulled alongside and the players began to board.
“Come on, Billy,” the driver called. “Sit up front with me. You’ve suffered enough.”
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