Our first picture with Rocky who is named after the body builder in Toy Story
Before moving to Africa, we had to raise what seemed to us a ridiculous amount of money for a vehicle. Little did we know what sorts of adventures we would get ourselves into with these 4-wheels…. wading rivers, climbing rocks, bumping along gravel roads for hours. While living in the US, we drove a Toyota Avalon which served us well. We paid cash for it, it didn’t give us any trouble and it was comfortable. At this point, with two carseats, it would have been tight but we could have made do. On many occasions we were asked, “Why don’t you just ship your car?” Especially when we were initially way under funded for our vehicle project, it seemed like a somewhat reasonable idea. Of course, shipping a car internationally isn’t exactly a walk in the park we hear and it is also quite costly. So we stuck with the advice of our organization and fellow missionaries and charged forward trying to raise the money for a 4-wheel-drive tanker. We didn’t really have to do much for the money for him; in the end two large donations made up the majority of the necessary funding to buy our Land Rover, although many friends and family contributed to purchasing him.
Looking at vehicles that might fit the bill, I specifically said I didn’t want to drive or ride around in something that looked like an army tanker. Rocky could hardly look more like one unless we got him a custom camo paint coat. Dark green, boxy, powerful and tough, he basically belongs on the front lines. We believe he is on the front lines. While he isn’t the most comfortable vehicle to take a trip in, he’s spacious, reliable and strong. He takes the “roads” (glorified cow paths) up here like it’s his job. Well it is his job. We feed him expensive (and I mean expensive!) food, get him a number of gizmos and gadgets and replace his (expensive!) tires and he does the rest.
About once a month, we drive him down this road……..
……to buy our groceries and anything else we’ve realized we need while up here. Jono, the car packing king, can stuff him full from top to bottom if necessary. On any given trip, he carries the four of us, along with a suitcase, a pack & play, Ellee’s stroller, Kyle’s bike, 3 coolers, 5 reusable shopping bags full of food, a few pillows and blankets and goodness knows what else. Once he had 4 suitcases, the coolers, the stroller, the pack & play, a toaster oven, pillows, blankets and a rocking chair and who knows what else He loved it.
We use the back-a-Rocky (as it’s affectionately known to Kyle) for loads of other functions. It can be a picnic table and a port-a-loo (not at the same time), a napping spot, a play gym, or a truck bed. While he cruises along nicely on paved, smooth roads in the lowlands, he seems to prefer the challenge of climbing rocks and crossing rivers. Sometimes we can’t help but laugh at how easily he takes on those things, like it’s nothing to drive through or over anything we put in his path. It’s during those moments, when our heads are hitting the ceiling every five seconds as we bump along, that Jono and I will jokingly look at each other and ask “Why don’t you just ship your car?"
Picnic on the top-a-Rocky
This weekend we took him out on some rough roads and through a few rivers to a village for an evangelistic meeting. It didn't even faze him. Truly, we couldn’t make it like we do without this guy. I think he deserves way more credit than we give him. He’s practically part of the family and we’re glad we decided against shipping our car. We’re hoping to get many more years out of Rocky.
Just imagine that's us because we were following right behind.....
....Not a boat or a canoe but a beast!