Adding Tools to the Toolbox

By Karissa Uhlig

After Kjerstin Lifto heard about her uncle and close friends dying in a motorcycle accident, she claimed she would never ride a motorcycle. God, however, had other plans. 

Kjerstin’s husband, Chris, is the training consultant for the Land Transportation Department at JAARS. Part of his job is to help provide motorcycle and four-wheel drive courses on the JAARS campus. Chris and Kjerstin have taken several short-term mission trips overseas and have seen firsthand the need for reliable transportation like motorcycles and four-wheel drive vehicles and training that JAARS provides translators. Craig Russell, the vice president of Transportation, suggested that Chris take the courses in order to be more effective in his role in the Transportation department.

Chris Lifto and two of the women in the motorcycle course

Neither Brant Lane, the director of Land Transportation, nor Chris was surprised when Kjerstin decided to take the four-wheel drive course. She knows how to drive a manual transmission and is always up for an adventure. The motorcycle course was a different story, since she had no intention of ever riding a motorcycle. 

But both Brant and Chris almost had a heart attack when Kjerstin volunteered to participate in the motorcycle course. They couldn’t figure out why she had changed her mind from adamantly refusing to go near a motorcycle to volunteering to ride one.

Kjerstin realizes that people serving overseas often need a motorcycle in a medical emergency. So she wants to be able to provide that help if her husband is not around or is injured. If God calls them overseas, she wants to be ready if such an emergency occurs. “Do I need to own a motorcycle?” Kjerstin said. “No. But I believe the Holy Spirit said to me, ‘What if [an accident] were to happen, and the only reason [an injured person] couldn’t rely on you was because of your own stubbornness or fear?’”

Kjerstin’s family highly values learning new skills. One of their family philosophies is to add as many “tools to their toolbox” as possible. “If you have a toolbox,” Kjerstin explained, “and you have two tools in there, what good are you going to be? The more experience and training you can get, [the more tools] you’re adding to your toolbox, so that later on you have those tools to utilize. We never want [our lack of skills] to be our own greatest limiting factor.” 

Brant Lane and other motorcycle instructors at JAARS provided Kjerstin with this valuable experience. But learning how to ride was not easy for someone like Kjerstin, who didn’t even know how to turn a motorcycle on before she took the course. The first day Kjerstin rode, she fell off the motorcycle three times. But the patient instructors guided her until she was able to ride the motorcycle all the way around the wooded course without falling! Kjerstin continues to ride occasionally to practice her skills and to help the bikes run smoothly.

JAARS provides mission workers with vital tools for their toolbox by offering four-wheel drive and motorcycle training so they can remain safe and efficient while serving the Lord.


Kjerstin conquers her fear.

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