Monday, December 29, 2008

Disguishing New Bikes in Foreign Missions/Mugging Missionaries

I was talking to my daughter who is leaving in January 2009 for the Taiwan Taipei Mission about her new bicycle that her mission president is requesting she buy. She told me that she was instructed that she would either have to dirty up her bike or spray paint it an ugly green so that no one would steal it. Most sister missionaries don't like riding dirty bikes so they deface them and choose hideous colors like green or orange. Elders on the other hand prefer to just scratch them up a little and dirty them. My daughter says she can't stand the idea of riding an ugly green bike. She was also told to carry about the equivalent of ten or twenty U.S. dollars in case she is mugged. She told me a friend serving in New York had to carry fifty dollars in NY and twenty when serving in Manhattan. My daughter's new husband said in Brazil it is common to be mugged.


S.Faux said...

Dr. B:

I suppose there is no way to avoid all dangers. And, I further suppose that we should not take counsel (tell your wife I spelled it correctly) from our fears. In any case, I do wonder why missionaries must work in areas that have a bad reputation for muggings, theft, etc. Of course, I do know that the stats show that LDS missionaries are exceptionally safe (in terms of mortality rate), but I would like to see the stats on being traumatized by muggings, etc.

To me, safety (physical and psychological) should be the #1 priority. I think it is, but ...

ESO said...

I wonder what kind of bike your daughter was advised to buy. In my experience (served in Japan 11 years ago), most missionaries bought foreign mountain bikes or brought their own with them. These are not like the bikes native people use, so of course they are a target for theft. Mine was never stolen and I was lucky enough to be able to give it to a sister missionary whose family could not afford one when I left.

It is nice to have the gears on mountain bikes, but it is much cheaper to buy what the natives use. Also, if mechanical repairs are needed, it will be much easier to find someone experienced if you use a bike more like what the native people use.

On the other hand, I have a brother and a sister who both served here in the US and were told they would have to buy bikes and did so (and not cheap ones, against my advise). They rarely served in areas that required bikes. It seems remarkably inefficient to ask ALL missionaries to buy and transport a bike if, in reality, he will only use it for a fraction of the mission. Why not keep mission bikes in the apartments of missionaries who need them and not tell everyone to buy them?