December 24, 2008
What God Did--The Final Chapter (we hope) of the Montes Claros Adventure
We know that many of you have been praying faithfully for us as we have dealt with the issues surrounding our vehicle. We have posted several updates along the way, but I think it is time for a general update, showcasing the faithfulness of God in this situation.
In case you have forgotten (or just missed that part), we took a trip to São Paulo in October to attend a conference. We made it as far as the state of Minas Gerais (roughly 800 miles from home) before the truck began to show signs of trouble. The upshot of it was that we missed the conference, and ended up leaving the truck at a repair shop in the city of Montes Claros while we returned home by bus.
On Monday, December 8, my friend Cicero and I set off by bus for Montes Claros, Minas Gerais. It is a long trip, involving one connection and several stretches of road where assaults are common. There is much opportunity for things to go wrong. Nothing did. We arrived safely at our destination on Tuesday afternoon.
God's protection can also be seen in the fact that nothing happened to us while we were in Montes Claros. Upon our arrival there we discovered that the city is in the throes of a minor drug war. From the stories we were told (and from the look of the neighborhood where we stayed) we expected to hear gunfire at any moment.
At one point what sounded like a volley of shots broke out very close by. Further investigation revealed that it was fireworks from the grand opening of a nearby store.
Several times we were required to be out at night (including one midnight taxi run to meet a tractor trailer at a gas station on the outskirts of town to pick up our crankshaft), and never were we accosted, assaulted, mugged, or otherwise molested.
The first news we received upon our arrival was bad: the crankshaft we had lugged from Crato to Montes Claros was the wrong one. This was the second time the supplier had sent the wrong piece. This was discouraging, as it meant that we would have to order the right piece and wait for it to arrive.
As we were waiting, God began to show me some things. I began to see that my plans (A. Selling the truck and getting something comparable or, B. Waiting until the truck was fixed and driving it back to Crato to be sold) were not viable. The poor Toyota was too far gone for either of those options. With no solution in sight, I began to think that I would be spending Christmas in Montes Claros. After all, who was going to buy my truck in the condition it was in?
The correct crankshaft arrived on Monday evening. The next day, Cicero and I came to a decision: if there was no resolution by Wednesday he would take the next bus back to Crato and I would remain in Montes Claros alone to resolve the situation.
As we were riding with the mechanic to the machine shop were the engine was being put back together I mentioned to him how it looked like I would be spending Christmas away from my family.
"If you could find someone who would trade you a car for your Toyota the way it is, would you be interested?" he asked.
Of course I was. With that he pulled into the parking lot of a small auto dealership. He explained our situation to the owner, and together we went back to the garage to look at the truck. After giving it a good examination he offered me R$35,000 for it, on a trade with another vehicle. We went back to his dealership to look at what he had to offer.
After a day of deliberation we settled on a 2005 Volkswagen Gol (kind of like the VW Fox known in the US). This was being offered for R$25,000, and so we had the rare experience of a car dealer paying us money. It is hybrid, which means economy on gas. The leftover money almost completely covered the repairs and parts for the Toyota.
I cannot talk about God's provision without mentioning how grateful we are that God provided a special offering so that Cicero could accompany me on this trip. I dislike traveling alone, and Cicero's experience in dealing with Brazilian mechanics and car salesmen, as well as his company, was invaluable.
Beyond What We Could Ask or Think
So I went to Montes Claros the owner of a large Toyota pickup which did not run. I came back with a small Volkswagen hybrid which runs beautifully. I don't think there is any way that I would have made that trade if the Toyota had been problem-free, but on this side of it, in this economy, it seems the perfectly logical thing to do.
We will face some challenges this school year when it comes to transporting the puppet team and involvement in other activities where the truck played a key role. We are, however, quite content with how God worked things out, and we are sure he will work these details out as well.
December 22, 2008
The Crankshaft Chronicle Documentary
What do two guys who are bored out of their skulls and tired of waiting around for auto parts to arrive do to pass the time? Why, make a video documentary, of course.
As you can see, I opted for the unshaven, baseball-cap-sporting look. It worked for Michael Moore...
Lean, "Green", Missionary Machine
Here is the new missionary-mobile.
The "green" in the title is because it is a hybrid, running on both alcohol and gasoline. That's right, we are now saving souls* and saving the planet at the same time.
The guy standing next to the car is Cicero, who was my long suffering companion on this wild adventure.
Still to come: More pictures and video of our Minas Gerais excursion.
*Of course I understand that it is not we who do the saving of souls, but God. I just couldn't make that sentence work any other way.
December 16, 2008
An Impassioned Plea
December 15, 2008
The Wait Continues
I just got off the phone with the mechanic. It seems the much-awaited crankshaft is on its way. It should be arriving shortly.
Of course, it should have arrived last week. Then I was told it would be arriving Sunday morning. Then Sunday evening. Then early this morning.
Personally, I blame it on the samba.
Note: Be sure to catch the amazing organ solo version of Apanhei-te Cavalquinho at about 2:30