Thank God we got a car! It's a Toyota Prado, which is a scaled down version of a Landcruiser that they sell in Japan. Ours was directly imported from there. It's a 1996 4-wheel drive, has a medium-strong engine with decent gas-mileage, and seats 8 people. It's a good fit for us.
It’s great to be mobile again. It’s nice to know that life without a car is possible, but it’s even nicer to be free to drive anywhere we need! Sincere thanks to God, and all His people who gave so we could have experiences like this one:
A few weeks ago the car was filled with people on a 90 km trip. We arrived at a town that has no church and really wants one. The people received us and took us for a tour around the valley. Standing on a nearby hill, we could see its great beauty. On one side was the meandering river, with good sized fish visible from the bridge. On the other side yesteryear’s combines were harvesting golden grain on a mid-September afternoon.
We drove through those fields and over 10 kilometers of dirt roads and back to the home of the man acting as tour guide. We went in and ate a meal his wife had prepared. We said goodbyes and thank you, walked out the gate of the yard, grabbed the keys, and glanced down to see a flat left front tire. Thank God we had a spare! But then to change a tire, you need tools. And we didn’t have the right ones. Some theft-resistant lug nut wouldn't let us get the wheel off!
That was 6pm exactly. Out came the Mongolian men carrying axes, and other metal implements in various shapes and sizes; all instruments of assistance, I hoped.
At 9pm the car hasn’t moved, but the sun has. The sky that was bright red a few minutes before is now lit only by a massive display of stars. Bright as they were, they couldn't light the work going on in the dark next to our car. The blown tire is finally off the car now. The new problem is that the spare won’t go on the hub, wrong bolt pattern.
Out come the men with the ax and metal instruments, this time adding a tiny keychain flashlight to their set of tools. By this tiny light, they break the good tire off the spare rim, break the bad tire off its rim, and put the good tire on the original rim. I’ve never seen car tires put on or off rims by hand before. But this quiet dark night, in the countryside, I saw it three times!
Now air is needed to fill the good tire on right rim. Where do you get air when the one gas station in town is closed? You go to a truck driver’s house of course. Tripping over hidden obstacles on unlit dirt roads, we walked around the sounds of strange barking dogs, and wandered our way to the other side of town to the truck driver’s house.
He’s out of gas, and can’t bring his truck (which has a compressor) to fill up our tire with air. But curiously he gives us the last of his gasoline, about one cup of it. Why? The truck driver's friend drives up to show us how to use the gasoline to solve our dilemma. This guy lays the rim and tire on its side and pours the cup of gas on the sidewall so that it drips in between to rim and tire. Someone lights a match and POOF, the tire has air inside.
Though the tire is sealed with air in it, it’s turns out to be too little pressure. The guy who almost pulled off this pyrotechnic feat said there wasn’t enough gas. He came through in the end though, be giving us his spare rim and tire, which amazingly fit well enough. Because of the Mongolian method of taking the theft-proof lug nuts off, we only had 4 working bolts to secure this oversized tire. We couldn’t turn real sharp or go too fast, but we finally got moving just before midnight, and made it home just before 2am.
Was I ever glad Renee and the kids weren’t in on this trip! The whole experience seemed amusing pretty much all along to my traveling party. They came to see this town that is known among our church people as wanting a church but doesn’t have one. All of us got to see more of the town than any of us expected. They kept assuring me that this is how things are done in the countryside: Mongolian style. Now I see another reason why Mongolian people have such a “can-do” attitude. It’s a necessary attitude for survival.
My efforts to locate the right tools and or parts by phone were fruitless. And so the education about life in Mongolia continues…And I think in what seemed to be a comedy of mishaps, along with a memorable story, some key friendships were made for God’s purposes.
It was a screw in the sidewall that caused the blowout and made it all possible.
How we were able to purchase this car without completely raising its full purchase price of $13,300 is another story. Suffice to say, we still welcome contributions to this important tool.
And Thanks again to all who already gave!
Bergevin Vehicle Fund
Christian and Missionary Alliance
PO Box 35000
Colorado Springs, CO 80935-3500