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  • Writer's pictureShelly Bandelman

Prado to Dodge in 10 Years

When Brian and I moved to Uganda we had enough money to set up our house and live sparingly for the first few years. We did not have enough money to purchase a vehicle. A missionary family left Uganda a few months after we arrived, and they left behind a “mission van” that was available for us to use. We were grateful for the freedom that van brought, but it also brought a few bumps and bruises. It had been totaled and put back together twice. The ride was bumpy, the only things working on the dash was the speedometer, and it was a bit rough on the eyes.

Each time we loaded our family into it, opened the windows, and took to the open roads we thanked God for His provision, and prayed for a more reliable and comfortable mode of transportation. God’s answer to those prayers can be found in Chapters 2 &3 of Go, Love and the In Between. He blessed us with a blue 1992 Toyota Prado that was exactly what our family needed and I had prayed for! We had many adventures in that trusty Prado, and were continually thanking God for such a blessing! In the last few days of our time in Uganda we sold it to new missionary, turned over the keys, and put the money in savings to begin searching for the perfect American vehicle for our family.

COVID, missing parts from China, and a slowdown in new car production resulted in an inflated used car price bubble and a decrease in the buying power of my savings account. I began praying for a Dodge or Chrysler minivan, low miles, 2014 or newer, and not black, white, or red. As the months passed it began to look hopeless. My sister, Sally, had loaned us her Kia, given us an older Buick, and we had Brian’s 1992 Dodge Ram Diesel 4 Wheel Drive pickup. Our family was mobile so there was no pressure to compromise.

Then it happened! A deer hit the Kia, the Buick died in the parking lot at Dollar Tree, and we were left squishing our family of four into the extend cab while trying to juggle our busy schedules with only one vehicle. After months of scouring Facebook Messenger, Craig’s List, checking car lots, and being offered a variety of older, higher mileage, wrong color vehicles the right one popped up at just the right time! It fulfilled all the criteria! We contacted the seller and arranged a meeting two hours from home to see it.

We drove to Salem with a cashier’s check in my purse; hope in our hearts, and a bit of skepticism. The seller, a dark little man hailing from Mexico some years ago, met us at Wal-Mart with the van. It was everything he had promised, and just what I wanted. Then the adventure began. He couldn’t accept the check. He had no way to cash it without a several days hold, and he was unwilling to wait. The day had gotten away from us, so we agreed to stay in Salem for the night, cash the check in the morning, and finish the transaction.

After a night sleeping on my niece’s hide-a-bed, unsuccessfully trying to cash the check in Salem, and a 40 minute round trip drive to the credit union in Albany, we reconnected at the North Salem DMV. A few minutes late we were the proud owners of silver, 2017 Dodge Grand Caravan with only 40,000 miles! God had fulfilled everything on my list!

I checked my Facebook Memories while waiting my turn at DMV. The first one to come up was a photo taken exactly 10 years to the day earlier. Four children posing with a beautiful blue Prado! I just love when all the pieces fall into place in His time. Still praising God for His faithfulness, provision, and blessings!

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