Dear Supporting Pastor and Supporting Church,
Seven years ago the Lord gave us a ne Ford Aerostar cargo van to ship to Chile. The Lord also provided the freight. For three years we used that vehicle here in Chile and three years ago we were able to sell it here and take the money and buy for one of our worthy national pastors here a used station wagon, and a brand new diesel 12 passenger van for ourselves. That new van was a Korean KIA 12 passenger diesel van that cost us new here $15,000. Before buying it we carefully read all the sales information and because of what was said and the fact that KIA is a subsidiary company of Ford in the States, we felt that it would be a wise investment and a long-lasting acquisition. And it was a relatively inexpensive, considering what vehicles cost here. It seemed to meet our basic needs of traveling and hauling people to Church and Sunday School and summer Family Campo, until last year, when the engine overheated on a trip to Santiago and the head was ruined.
When that happened last year, we were over 200 miles from home. We had to go to a garage to a mechanic we had never know before. I spent $800 and waited six weeks for it to be fixed. When we got it back it seemed to run fine, and then we left Chile to come home on our last furlough.
When we got back to Chile this past January (1996), it started acting up again. I limped it into the closest authorized KIA service center some 50 miles away and they told me the head was gone again. The charged me $1,200. A couple of months later it died again and this time there was more damage done and when the pistons, valves, and rings were added. I had to give them $2,200 and wait six more weeks for them to finish their repairs. Two months later it's broke again with the same problem. The fixed it and this time, no charge. It was under warranty. Two months later it happened again. They fixed it again, no charge. A month later, I paid $260 to replace the water pump. Now it's been two months later it's happened again the same head problem. This time, it again needs a new head, new valves, new pistons, and rings, plus all the labor. Right now, they're fixing it again. No charge, but I've had it.
That van has been in the shop for 5 out of the 11 months of this year with the same problem. All in all, counting last year's fiasco, I've spent out of my own pocket close to $4,000 to repair a vehicle I bought brand new less than three years ago.
Brother, enough is enough. I didn't want to write this letter. I wanted to wait two or three years more and present this need to our supporting Churches on our next furlough, but today we're at a complete stand-still. I have to walk. We have to ride public buses to the nearest big city. We're severely hampered with our visitation work. Some missionaries have two vehicles. We have only one and ours is broken down again. We live in the country a mile and a half away from Church and our new mission work is in the next town 12 miles away. On Sundays we literally have to "hitch-hike" with our kids in their cars, all jammed up to the rafters with people and equipment to take to the meetings (J.C. Joiner was with us three weeks ago and was an eye witness to our situation).
I don't mind having to make-shift and do without and all that, but what hurts is that less than three years ago I spent $15,000 cash for that van new, and have had to pay out in the last year and a half close to $4,000 out of my pocket on repairs. Think enough is enough.
We must sell our van or somehow get rid of it! To get the value out of our van, we need to sell it. Bit if we advertise it, put signs on it, etc., it could take six months to a year to sell it and then we don't really know how much we could get for it. Terry Fattig just sold his 1989 Ford van and was only able to get about half what he wanted for it. He wasn't happy with what he got, but was in a bind to liquidate it as quickly as possible. And if we well our van ourselves, we are running the risk of it breaking down again and having to go through all the hassle of getting it fixed again. I don't believe that selling it outright is the best solution for us.
After we get our van back from the shop, we probably can trade it in towards the purchase of a new truck and get credit for $7,000. I'm guessing that because that's the low figure for our van in the classifieds as a used vehicle.
So, under the circumstances, we feel led to communicate with all of our supporting churches to do our best to raise by faith the money we need to get rid of our headache and buy a vehicle that will serve us well and not bleed us to death with repairs and time down in the garage.
So I've done some homework on what's available here. First, most used vehicles are on the used car lot because they've been abused or wrecked and like us, the first owners just wanted to get rid ot them. They're highly overpriced, but worst, when you buy on a used car lot you don't really know what you're buying or what it's been through.
Second, if we were to buy a vehicle on credit here, out interest would be 35% a year, or in ohter words, if we bought a car on a three year note, at the end of the three years the interest we would pay would have bought another vehicle! Brother, that's crazy. It's not good stewardship to enter in that kind of load situation.
Third, new vehicles here are ourtageously overpriced compared to stateside prices. Here's a listing of several new models and their prices:
Chevy Astro Mini-Van -- $36,500 and up
Chevy Silverado Pickup -- $28,000 and up to the turbo diesel at $67,000
Dodge Dakota Pickup -- $19,980 simple cab up to $35,000
Dodge Ram Pickup -- $39,000 up to $65,000
Ford Ranger Super Cab -- $24,800 and up
Ford Aerostar Van -- $32,000 and up
Nissan double cab pickup -- around $17,000 and up
Toyota double cab pickup -- $18,300
We feel that if we are going to have just one vehicle, it would be wiser work-wise and more efficient to have a fuel-efficient double cab pickup (unleaded gas here is around $2.40 per gallon). And we have read that Toyotas, of all the import makes, is by consensus the most durable "cheap" import vehicle. We've heard that they've been built to last 10-20 years depending upon how it's used.
So, if we were to have our choice, we would opt to buy a new Toyota double-cab pickup, which would be the best of both worlds, i.e., like a car in one sense, with a bed in the back to carry cargo and bulk things. So then, thinking about a trade-in and purchase of a new Ttoyota double-cab pickup, we feel the basic numbers would be:
....Purchase price: $18,000
.....................Less:...7,000 from the trade-in
which leaves.........$11,000 needed to make up the diffrence of what we need to make the purchase.
Brother, I know things are tight there in the States financially. It's not easy pastoring in these last days. And I understand that you too have problems that are difficult for you to solve. But way down here, the problems seem much darker and much more difficult to resolve.
I'm not asking you or your people to give it all, but I know that if all our Churches would just do what the could, we would have exactly what we need to get on with our lives and put this nightmare behind us.
Pray with us. Call us, write us. Let us know what you're thinking. Give us your solution or idea on how to help us get out of this mess. We're open to anything. If you can help us with a very special offering, we would be most grateful to you and to the Lord. And if the Lord leads you to help we will be in contact with you to let you know how much came in and what happens in the end.
Thank you so much for you faithful support in dollars and in prayers. We thank the Lord for you, your family, your miinstry, and your love for us and our people. Thanks for taking the time to listen to this missionary share his heart with you.
Your co-laborer in the Harvest
Bro Ron Ray
Ron & Jody Ray.....................................................................Central Missionary Clearinghouse
Cailla 54..................................................................................PO Box 12964
Loncoche, CHILE...................................................................Houston, TX 77217-2964
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