Imagine trying to care for the needs of 35 people in one city and the needs of 16 more in a city 200 miles away. Every trip you needed to take you had to either walk or take a taxi. Imagine trying to do this while being a pastor, church planter, Bible school teacher and father. Hard to imagine isn’t it?
Now try to imagine it without a vehicle.
This is and has been the reality of Pastor Naing Thang for many years. It was only recently, just last year, we were able to help them get three motorcycles for use deep in-country in Myanmar. These motorcycles have been an incredible blessing for them, however, Pastor Naing Thang, their leader, is not able to use a motorcycle in the city of Yangon due to strict regulations. He could however have a car or truck if he was able to afford one. When I traveled to Yangon the first time I thought it would be one of the first things we could help him with. This was based on what getting a car is like back here in the United States. I was surprised to learn that getting a car in Myanmar is not at all like what most of us are used to.
Something we have here at home we take for granted is a “used car market.” There is virtually no used car market in Myanmar and the new car market is so expensive it is hard to believe. People use cars until they are useless and fixing cars there is not what it is here either.
In fact, I didn’t believe what he told me and asked if I could visit car dealerships to verify this. What I learned was even more unbelievable. Cars that sell in the US for $15,000 were selling for $45,000. It was all about supply and demand and buying a brand new car was only for the rich. New cars were always more than $100,000 everywhere I looked.
Since my visit I have been keeping a close in on news out of Myanmar and before my return trip January 2014 I read an article about Ford opening up a dealership in Yangon. On the last couple of days of my trip I visited a ford dealership and discovered things were changing for the good. Ford is now offering a 4 Wheel drive truck for even less that we could buy in the US. I even gave it a test drive. For $24,000 we can buy a really nice Ford Ranger 4X4. They emailed me later telling me the price dropped to $21,500. You can watch the video I made while I was in Yangon buy clicking here. http://youtu.be/CjuIk6T-3YU