Friday, January 22, 2016

It's just a vehicle...

I feel like I spend quite a bit of time fretting over the vehicles here.  To be sure, the vehicles we use get treated a bit rougher here than they would say, in the flat areas of the USA where interstates abound.  Needing ground clearance and 4x4 makes more expensive vehicles required, and getting those that are reliable, easy to fix when something does go wrong, and fits our needs carrying people and supplies is not always easy.  We have been blessed more often than not with the choices made, and as well learning a few tough lessons along the way.  Sounds like life in general I suppose.

Just as I sat down to write, Justin calls me to tell me the Ford he is using has the shifter broken, which in that automatic car makes it quite difficult...or impossible, to put it into gear.  Reminds me of the time I was driving a GMC Jimmy here we inherited in the mission...and the steering wheel broke off in my hand as I was going around a corner.  That was quite exciting, as you can imagine.

Knowing which is the right vehicle, what gets the most bang per buck, what to keep and when to unload a money pit, are tough calls.  The vehicles we use are not just to get around...the mission currently owns eight trucks, a motorcycle...and a horse.  This does not include our personal vehciles, as well as Oscar's, which are called into more than just commuter service on a regular basis.  (I saw Oscar giving a ride to pastor Edwin from Danli in his Land Cruiser today...along with all the clothing he was needing to transport.)  

Two of the eight the mission uses are in great or good shape...the rest, it varies from ok to "that thing runs?"   This includes the vehicles for the pastors to use as well as the Fords we use to get groups and supplies around.  (The two that are in great/good shape...those would be the Fords we use for the groups)

We bought the two Santanas at auction last year for the mission.  They are great trucks, but since buying, we found out that part availability, even in the capital city can mean quite the search.  Putting them out into the rural pastures long term when they will need more service seemed a dubious proposition.  Unfortunately that means selling them both and finding something else.

We sold the first already to another missionary family who were very excited to get it.  Turn around, and found another Land Cruiser ambulance style like we already have in Sampedrana.  This will be great for Talanga.  Now we need to sell the other to free up the cash to seek out a single cab pickup for use in Las Botijas on the coffee farm.  That will be a harder proposition, but we have faith, and patience.

The Musso we personally bought at auction was working well, but just have had to put in over $500 to fix something with it, and parts are not as plentiful as they once were...not impossible, just takes time, and time to wait for repairs is not usually something that meshes well with our schedules.  We are going to look to sell both our beloved Mussos soon.  Not sure what we will do then.  Most of my driving is related to mission work, so the board may let me borrow a Ford for some time, not sure.  That could be a good intermediate solution, as driving the big Ford around town generally is not too much of a problem for me (especially since I do not mind walking from long distance available parking in some areas.)  Ideally getting another SUV like the Land Cruiser that Valerie is currently using would be great...but since the Peace Corps auction where we bought that one, we have not seen another for sale, and if we did, it would likely be out of our range (especially since the Peace Corps pulled out several years ago.)  Having that dependable arrow in the quiver for personal use and to transport several groups a year has been great.  At least we have that one for her to use!  We might see if we can fund raise to that end, just not sure at this point how that will work.  Our green Musso is now 18 years old, and the other is 15.  It seems now would be the right time to get out of them before they deteriorate more or become money pits, and so even without knowing where we are going from here, that is the plan.

Speaking of money pits, the old trusty Blue Ford we have had for over 10 years (it is 16 years old) has now reached the point of reliability and parts needs that we are seeing it is time for it to find a new home.  One of our original Hill Climbers (#2 in this case) will no longer be with us...the end of an era.  It served very well over the years, a feather in the Ford quality cap, but all good things come to an end.  It is not ready for the scrap heap...but not reliable enough to depend on for groups, and thus we will look to sell it soon.

And that brings us to looking to buy another Ford for the groups and supplies, etc.  The good news there is that from the groups that have come over the years, we have enough money saved up to buy that straight is just a matter of finding the right vehicle that meets our demands, and will last us a good 15 years or more.  Will we be able to find another great deal in a wrecked vehicle in the US?  Will we have to buy an uncrumpled model there?  Will we find a double cab, eight foot bed, 4x4, 6.7L diesel Ford F-250 in Honduras?  Only time will tell.

I could go on...but you get a good glimpse at the overall picture.  The pastors do their part in doing regular maintenance and upkeep on the vehicles they use...but of course with time comes more problems.  The motorcyle in Sampedrana...if it were a horse we would probably be ready to shoot it to put it out of its misery, but that is not an option yet since we have nothing to replace it. (if we get a pickup for Las Botijas...the very old Montero with only two seats will likely move to Sampedrana to see how long it can last there before giving up the ghost.)

Other than the 2012 Ford we bought a couple years ago wrecked and fixed up, the newest vehicle in the fleet is at least 13 years old.  (The oldest...27 years old)  We try to be thrifty, to get the most out of every vehicle and dollar given us.  It is a challenge sometimes to know the right way to go...all this I share just to ask for prayer in this year, which depending on the finances for some of these, could be our biggest investment year in vehicles to date, especially considering our family potential purchase.  I certainly do not want to screw it up!  

I am continually amazed when I think about the stress that is involved in such big purchases...and then can put that thought down and be in the moment sometimes at the places we get to go, the things we get to do, see, and change because of these vehicles we are blessed to have.  It can be stressful, but what we can do is limited sometimes to the transportation we have to get to the places to do it.  When I think of where we started almost sixteen years ago, to where we are now...the sheer number of people, materials, supplies, and the greater safety and reliability of what we are blessed to is overwhelming.

So just pray that the vehicles we have would be blessed with long life, with safety and security, no lemony or other citric natures, and that the decisions surrounding them would be wise and responsible in keeping with God's will, especially for us personally this year, and the purchase of the new Ford we are seeking.  I would enjoy a few years or more if possible without any major vehicle decisions...while we are at it, we can pray that for the future as well.

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