March 29, 2012
By Keir Thelander, MD, serving at Bongolo Hospital, Gabon, Central Africa
After a long voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, the 1975 Mack Fire Truck—purchased on eBay® to serve Bongolo Hospital and the surrounding areas—finally arrived in Gabon’s capital city, Libreville, this month.
As expected, the customs process began with some confusion, since the shippers had not procured authorization numbers. Also, the idea of a fire truck purchased on eBay® for such a reasonable price ($3,175!) confused port officials, leading to unexpected fees and penalties.
After learning that the fire truck will serve Bongolo Hospital, customs officers reduced the taxes on the vehicle to approximately $10,000, including a minimum of $4,000 in penalties.
We are thankful that God moved in the hearts of these officials to grant a reduction in fees. Yet we are disappointed in the penalties that could have been avoided.
After more than two years, the truck appears to be in the last stages of its journey out of retirement (from the New York Fire Department). What’s next? Well, the paperwork.
Once the required title, license plates, and insurance documents are obtained, the next hurdle will be getting the truck down country to the hospital.
Initially, a flatbed truck was planned to transport the vehicle, but damage to a main bridge on the road to Bongolo makes this prohibitive. Transporting it by ferry doesn’t seem like a good idea either—the truck weighs 10 tons.
Please pray for a quick completion of the paperwork and the bridge repairs and a viable means to transport the fire truck to Bongolo Hospital.
We believe this final leg of the truck’s passage to Bongolo is just the beginning of its, what we hope will be, many years of service in the jungles of Gabon.
Our God works in mighty and mysterious ways. He is now working through a 1975 Mack Pumper—yet another “vehicle” through which to reach the lost for Jesus.
You Can Do
Learn more about Bongolo Hospital’s powerful witness in Gabon.
Watch a YouTube video about the first leg of the fire truck’s journey to Africa, including an interview with Dave and Diann Conquest, the parents of Keir’s wife, Joanna, who purchased the vehicle. Note: Clicking on this link will take you off of the C&MA Web site.