Missionary to Bolivia
Every Missionary will tell you of the importance of having good, reliable transportation on the field. It is critical not only for the safety of the family, but is becoming more and more essential in church building on the field because of the price of gasoline.
For most non US countries gas ranges from $4.00 to $9.00 per gallon. In Bolivia right now the price of gasoline is over $4.00 per gallon. This makes it more difficult for the people of the country to drive their cars to church,so many take public transportation and the missionary picks them up and transports as many as he can to church.
For this reason, a van becomes the best vehicle for the family and ministry. Bro. Steve Johnson, a veteran missionary of Bolivia has just such a need. Here are pictures of the desired vehicle. He only needs to raise $7,000.00 to get this vehicle.
Why personal vehicles are needed.
Cost of Taxis:
For the entire family to be transported, two taxis are required. We are spending more than $250-$300 per month on transport, 150% more than was projected.
Access to transportation:
One cannot simply hail a taxi at home as we would downtown. Wait times are often 30-45 minutes from calling for a taxi and the taxi arriving. Even when an appointment is made the day before, taxis may arrive quite late. For example, on a Sunday that I was to teach Sunday School and preach at a local church, the appointment was made for the taxi to pick me up at 9:00. He arrived at 9:55 and delivered me at 10:20. Political unrest in the form of strikes and blockades frequently cause the taxis to not operate on any given day. The simple fact that one must plan even the simplest outing hours in advance is a real inconvenience.
Taxis are reportedly used for crime. The method is the vehicle is driven to a remote site where the passenger is robbed. We have been blessed to find a reliable driver who works with missionaries. However, he is more expensive and often in demand, therefore sometimes unavailable.
Availability of Vehicles:
Bolivia is unique in that vehicles are not generally available year round. The primary period of imports is late July- August. During this period fleet vehicles are imported from Japan through Chile. Last year, the vehicles imported were small cars, primarily Toyota Ceres and Marinos (Corolla equivalents). This year it was Toyota mini-vans, exactly what we need! We were not prepared to purchase a vehicle in August, and therefore will pay $500-$700 more due to purchasing in October. The longer the purchased is delayed, the higher the prices will go, as fewer vehicles are available. For example, last June a 1992 Toyota Ceres was considered a good buy at $3,500! We’ve priced a 1999 Ford Explorer (2WD) at $10,000 and a 1995 Mitsubishi Montegro (4WD) at $9,500.
We will have to eventually obtain a 6-8 passenger vehicle to transport the family. This will cost between $6-11,000 for a reliable 8-11 year old vehicle. This will remove our reliance on public transportation.
We have taken a loan for $6,000 from the Missions Office and purchased a 1998 Toyota Estima (sold as the Previa in the US). We need $9,000 to cover the repayment of the loan, the additional cost of the vehicle, taxes, registration, basic repairs and preparation of the vehicle for use.