This month I am celebrating an important birthday; for my car! It has been eighteen years this month since we purchased the vehicle I drive here in Colombia. The short version of the Mitsubishi Montero (this is a shortened, two door version of the small station wagon sold in the states). Due to the very rough roads I need a four wheel drive vehicle here and the little Mitsubishi has been a very good car.
While I am beginning to have trouble getting parts for it, the car is still in fairly good shape and is a great car for here in Colombia. When I have been unable to get parts here in Colombia, some mechanic friend in the states has helped me find a part or search for a substitute. As a result, I have had inconveniences in getting it repaired, but I have always been able to get it back on the road.
Due to its age, I do not have to worry too much about theft, as the value is now so low that it is hardly worth stealing. And while it is fairly old, it does not have all that many miles on it. The distances I drive are typically short, in miles anyhow. While the time it takes to drive that distance is significantly greater than it would be in the States, the car is still a fairly low mileage car. Besides, during the time the violence was so bad here in Colombia, I did not dare take the car out of the cities.
Now, as conditions have improved, I am using it regularly to travel between cities here in Colombia. I am racking up the miles at a much faster rate now, but still, the four hour drive from here to Villavicencio is only about fifty miles in actual distance. I have tried to keep the car well maintained and have it checked out regularly. This has paid off, as I have only lost my brakes once on the mountainous roads I drive. It has broken down a few times, but that has been due to contaminated gasoline and not mechanical failure.
Cars are very expensive here in Colombia, costing at least double what the same car would cost in the United States. Any money I would put in a vehicle would be money I could not invest in the work. I far prefer to invest in people and in the Lord’s work rather than in a new car. So as long as I can continue to patch it up and get parts to keep it running, my eighteen year old car will continue to age, and it will continue to carry me around Colombia to preach the Gospel and to train leaders for the emerging churches.