The Journey’s End
After a lengthy ocean voyage, weeks in port and in Libreville (Gabon’s capital city) to pass customs and then obtain the required title, insurance documents, and license plates—the final leg of the 10-ton truck’s journey began Saturday, May 19.
Former fireman and ministry friend Jon Cassel—regional director for the Christian Broadcast Network’s ministry activities in French-speaking Africa—arrived in Libreville earlier in the week from Senegal. He had volunteered to drive the truck to Bongolo and train the men there on how to use the truck and fight fires.
Paul Davis, Bongolo Hospital’s maintenance director, and Josh Curry, who attends the same church as the Conquests and has been assisting Paul at the hospital for several months, joined Jon in Libreville.
On Saturday morning, the three set out on the 320-mile journey by road to Lebamba where the hospital is located. Jon drove the truck, and Paul led the way in his Nissan Patrol SUV.
Being a bit “older,” the 10-ton vehicle runs a little hot (it overheats when it goes faster than 33 MPH). Its top speed is 43–44 MPH.
About half way through the journey, the truck encountered its first challenge. A log jam had damaged the main bridge over the Komo, a tidal river, so only cars were allowed to cross. “The bridge would be immediately taken out of service in the West,” says Jon. “Here they are allowing cars over it but not trucks.” So the team waited several hours for the brief high tide in order to cross the river on a barge.
About 17 miles outside of the small town of Lambaréné (where Dr. Albert Schweitzer opened his hospital), the first big challenge occurred—the truck’s transmission fluid began leaking. The hold-up required the team to spend the night there.
“In the morning we found the issue,” Paul observes, “pretty minor really, a gasket on the metal canister that held the transmission filter had blown. Not too many Mack dealerships in Gabon, let alone Africa, so we had to think outside the box, which is the norm for us here!”
“We spent hours under the truck correcting the leak,” Jon adds. “All for a 14-cent rubber gasket that got crimped when the oil filter was installed.” Isn’t that how life can be? Everything good, but one little flaw and everything falls apart!
Eight more hours of driving, and things were good until—Boom!—the gasket started leaking again. This time, Paul figured out that he could put the original gasket, which was cracked, in backwards. The team added a bunch more transmission fluid, and they were on their way.
Finally, at about 8:30 p.m. Sunday, the team arrived in Bongolo with many loud honks and lots of commotion! Most of the mission station families came out to greet them.
“With the engine running at 230 degrees or so, sitting on top of it in a cab-over truck made for some really
intense heat. But other than the excessive heat and transmission leak, the truck ran great!” Jon observes.
Thanks to all who have been praying for this, our most recent hospital ministry tool.
We are all excited to see how God will use this truck, not only to offer fire protection to the hospital and the community around us, but also to serve as a bridge to the people of Lebamba and those who will become part of the “Bongolo Fire Truck Brigade.” God is good!
What You Can Do
A news report recounting the first leg of the fire truck’s journey to Africa, including an interview with Dave and Diann Conquest, who purchased the vehicle.
- Discover how many Alliance workers are enabled through the Great Commission Fund to provide life-giving care to the lost in Gabon—and the world—because they aren’t required to raise their own support.
- Learn more about our work in Gabon
- Visit the Bongolo Hospital Web site and read more about its life-giving witness
- Please prayerfully consider making a donation to the Bonogolo Hospital Fire Truck Fund, today.
- Give Now
Updated: July 17, 2012. This article is adapted from a recent update by Dr. Keir and Joanna Thelander, who serve at Bongolo Hospital in Gabon, West Africa.