Richard and Nina DeVreese will begin serving in Guatemala with our partner Paradise Bound Ministries this year. Richard will be a pilot, and Nina will work with mission teams when they come down to build houses, install clean-water systems, and lead Vacation Bible Schools for kids.
Several years ago, when Richard and Nina first went to check out the ministry in Guatemala, they traveled to some remote villages. According to Nina, “The roads were very intense and deteriorated, and they were just carved out of the dirt, [and have] rocks and huge divots and grooves everywhere, so it took hours to travel a few miles.”
Richard and Nina will have a 4WD vehicle and motorcycles when they arrive in the country, and Nina will have to drive out to villages to put on the VBS workshops. So when they heard that JAARS was offering a four-wheel drive and motorcycle course, they signed up. Nina had never ridden a motorcycle, and Richard was interested in the recovery aspect of the 4WD course so that they could learn to get themselves out of difficult situations.
The motorcycle course was only two days, but even in that short time, Nina’s skills grew exponentially: “I could see myself improving very quickly.” On the first day, Brant Lane, the director of JAARS Land Transportation, and the other instructors set the students up for success by teaching them skills such as gaining control of the bikes, how to start and stop on hills, and how to make a hard stop if something moved into their path.
The next day, the instructors took the students and the bikes into the woods. The week that Richard and Nina took the two courses, it rained so much that the entire track was a muddy mess. While surveying the mire, Nina thought, “When we’re actually in Guatemala and its rainy season, it’s going to be pouring rain constantly on the dirt roads, so this is a likely scenario that we may find ourselves in at some point.”
Nina enjoyed taking her bike over bumps, winding between trees and through mud pits, and stopping and starting on hills as they had learned the previous day. “It wasn’t bad; it was very manageable.” She felt confident at the end of the two days of motorcycle training, as if she could take a bike off-road and get from one village to another just fine.
And the mud? Just another layer of fun. “That whole week, I got so muddy,” Nina said, laughing. “But it ended up becoming part of the fun.”
The four-wheel drive course wasn’t any less muddy. Brant directed the students to a particular area on the track where they would get stuck in a mud pit, allowing them to practice winching the vehicles out. This practice made Nina and Richard aware of the need for safety and what equipment they should pack so they’re prepared for whatever challenges they might encounter while serving overseas.
Initially, though, Nina had thought the 4WD course was going to be easy because she had driven cars on hills and rough terrain before. “The challenge of [the course] at first rocked my confidence because I thought I was going to pick up on it faster and do things easier, but it was hard.” So after the first day of training, Nina went home and prayed, asking the Lord to give her the mindset of a learner. She let go of her expectation that she would get everything perfect the first time and knew she would get stuck, which was fine. “That’s actually part of the journey.”
The next day was much better, and the challenges of the courses built Nina’s confidence so that she’s now ready for the mud pits she might encounter in Guatemala!