Mud, sand and punctured tires won’t stop the Iyansi translation team now! The Yansi people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) recently received the vehicles and training that people like YOU helped fund. Now the team can use their new 4WD vehicle and two motorcycles to travel to villages where they can share and test the translated Scriptures.
But a 4×4 vehicle or motorcycle is only useful if they know how to drive it on the regions’ rough roads, patch a tire, and winch the vehicle out of mud. That’s why JAARS staff Dan Hudson and Ken Williams traveled to Kinshasa, the capital city of DRC, several months ago.
They were greeted at the airport by members from the Yansi, Bobangi, and Yaka language teams. Although the vehicles are for the Yansi team, teams from the Bobangi and Yaka language projects attended the motorcycle and 4WD courses because they anticipate receiving vehicles to meet their own transportation needs in the future.
During the four-day motorcycle course, Dan and Ken focused on safety and teaching how to take care of the bikes so they’ll last as long as possible. The classroom videos depicting driving disasters was a big hit! When asked what the driver could have done differently to avoid a collision, many of the students said, “There’s nothing that could have been done to prevent this.” So Dan and Ken would back up the video and explain, “Here’s where he made his wrong decision and this is what he could have done differently…” These explanations helped the students realize there is almost always a way to avoid an accident.
Dan and Ken hauled a motorcycle right up the stairs and into the hotel conference room to better show the students basic maintenance skills, like how to change the oil, service the air filter, and adjust the bike to the rider’s size. They also set up a little track outside the hotel by painting lines of flour on the road where the men could practice their driving.
“They’re good at teaching each other how to drive,” Dan said. One of the men, Kota, didn’t even know how to ride a bicycle. Another man, Patience, already knew how to ride proficiently as well as perform maintenance work. Patience sat behind Kota on the motorcycle, helping him get used to the throttle and the clutch with a few pointers from the instructors.
Once Kota reached the point where he could ride by himself, Patience ran beside him in a nearby soccer field and told him what to do next. Patience lived up to his name!
While Patience took a break and cooled down, Kota rode around the field by himself for a few hours. “He was all smiles,” Ken remembers. “He’s the one I think is going to use [the motorcycle] the most to get out to the villages where Bible translation is happening.”
Patience shocked Dan and Ken when, despite his proficiency with the motorcycles, he was the one who thanked them afterward and said, “I learned so much.”
After the motorcycle training, Ken and Dan trained three students how to drive and maintain the 4WD vehicle on the coarse country DRC roads. Ken and Dan took the students and vehicle outside the city to a place down by the Congo River. They scoped out sand and mud deep enough to get stuck in, but actually had a difficult time getting the vehicle stuck, since it excelled at moving over rough terrain—a good problem to have!
When they finally succeeded in getting the vehicle stuck, they taught the men how to use the winch and drive over the rough terrain.
One thing that excites Dan and Ken is knowing “all these young guys are going to be, or are currently involved in Bible translation in some way in their language groups. So getting transportation out there [to] help get their Bible translation done is a really big deal. There are 1.1 million people in these three language groups combined, and many of them don’t have the Scriptures yet.”
The Bobangi and Yaka teams have now completed their training alongside the Yansi and are ready to conquer sand, mud, and punctured tires to complete their Bible translation projects. Their only obstacle? Possessing the necessary vehicles.