Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Multiple Bicycle Purchases for LDS Missionaries

Yesterday I addressed disguising your bicycle to lessen the chance of theft. Today I want to address another bicycle-related issue the likelihood of buying more than one bike on a mission.

I found this instructional gem on the Italy Rome Mission blog:
A few cities of the mission use bicycles. The expense of procuring a bicycle is personally borne by the missionary – the church does not provide the funds. In most cases, missionaries transferring into a city may be invited to purchase the bicycle of a departing missionary. If a missionary purchases a bicycle, we have learned that many homeowners’ insurance policies can insure the full value of the bicycle if they have the value, brand, model, and serial number of the bicycle. Please check with your insurance agent about this. Most missionaries have their bicycles stolen at least once during their mission.
I am glad that my daughter never served in a bike area while on her mission to Italy Rome Mission. I couldn't have afforded to buy more than one bike when I had two daughters simultaneously on a mission and two others in college. I hope they consider parents' financial ability when assigning missionaries to bike areas. You don't need to worry if you win the lottery as a missionary and have a car area if they steal it the mission has to cover it. Usually they just operate with one less car.


Ardis Parshall said...

You seem to be really hung up on the subject of bicycles for missionaries.

When I served in the Switzerland Geneva Mission, 25 years ago before any kind of equalization, I not only had to purchase a bicycle, which I had to pay to transport by train from city to city because I was transferred nearly every month, but I also had to buy bus/subway passes in each city. The bus was far more efficient within city centers, but we needed bikes to get to places outside the city. Our Toulouse chapel, for instance, was more than one hour's bike ride out into the countryside. Bus passes were good for one month, beginning on the 1st of the month, but mission transfers came in the middle of the month. Bus passes had our photographs riveted to them so they could not be sold to an incoming missionary for the proportional value remaining when I left a city. In effect, that meant that I purchased TWO bus passes every month, one for the first half of the month in my old city, and another for the last half of the month in my new city (but paying for the full month in each case, even when I had the use of it for only two weeks).

The mission was so large that some transfers took 8 hours by train. I was so far from the mission home when I was released that I had to buy a plane ticket to get back to Geneva, or else I would have been a full day behind others going home that month.

All of those transportation expenses came directly out of my pocket. I spent more on transportation than I did on EVERYTHING ELSE (rent, food, clothing, propane for the heaters, police registration, shampoo, postage, books, bike repairs, souvenirs, stationery, developing photographs, everything) COMBINED.

In other words, I'm sorry that the purchase of a bicycle for your daughter is such a struggle. But it could be -- and sometimes is -- much, much, much, much, much worse. Count your blessings.

Dr. B said...


I am not hung up at all. I just wanted to pass along this topic so that others realize that they will have to pay multiple times for bicycles.

I do have a problem with the fact that missionaries are to expect to be robbed and mugged on their missions. I never experienced a problem nor do most missionaries. Unfortunately my daughter tells me she was informed that should she be mugged she should surrender her money or bike willingly. I guess this comes under safety.

My daughter's safety is more important than a three hundred dollar bike. I frankly think it would be better to ride cheap bikes if you need multiple ones.

I am sorry if my bike information offends you. I have spent thousands of dollars sending my children on missions. I have eight of them and don't take lightly the expense of sending them to college and on missions as well as having to foot seven prospective weddings. Being a faithful LDS member is expensive. As to getting the rewards in the next life that is debatable as in this life I get grief from even the supposedly faithful types like you for informing others of issues.

I am glad you sacrificed to go on a mission. I and my wife both converts did the same. I appreciate your comments however and I am glad to see you occasionally read my posts.

I cover every aspect of missionary work. The good, the bad and all things in between. My goal is to prepare people to know the reality of what a mission is about. I wish I had a clue thirty years ago. It might have made my mission a better experience.

My daughter has been sharing with me her letter from her mission president who has some useful tips about money, bikes etc.

Some of my readers including current and former missionaries don't all agree with every nuance to various missions and their expectations including a few who serve in them.

I never questioned anything as a missionary under M. Russell Ballard when I served. I don't think mindless obedience is a safe way to go either. I would rather discuss all angles of the matter.

I am sure reading your historical stuff that your interpretations vary also. Thanks for sharing.

Ardis Parshall said...

I'm not offended by your multiple bicycle posts, Dr. B, nor did I say I was! I referred solely to the number of posts you have made recently about bicycles, especially their expense.

You talk about your daughter's safety and wellbeing as of paramount importance. Everyone will, I think, agree about that. I offer one more thought -- not to argue with you, or to cause grief, or anything else unpleasant, but merely as something you may not have thought about:

Your daughter's safety may very well depend sometime upon a brake cable not snapping as she descends a steep hill. Her safety may depend upon her bicycle chain staying where it belongs and not suddenly flying loose, tangling in the gears and tossing her headfirst into traffic. Her safety in the more distant future may depend on having knees that haven't been damaged by peddling hundreds or even thousands of miles on a crappy, ill-fitting, badly designed bicycle.

If she were to be injured or killed because her too-cheaply-made bicycle failed at a critical moment, I bet you'd be willing to pay far more than $300 to save her from those consequences.

I hope her bike is never stolen (neither mine, nor those of any of my many companions, were stolen). But if you can possibly swing the extra dollars to buy her a reliable, SAFE bicycle (which in reality does cost far more than the equivalent of a Wal*Mart special), try to think of it as an extra shield protecting your daughter when you can't be there. That's cheap protection at $300. Or at $600. Or even at $900.

But I'm not telling you you're wrong at all -- of course she shouldn't have to expect to be robbed (but she has little control over that), and of course you shouldn't have to plan on buying multiple bikes (but again, you have little control). No offense intended. Just a proposal to make the expense easier to handle by recognizing what it represents.

Anonymous said...

I so believe that those bikes need to be purchased by the Church and maintained after being in the mission field and watching what goes on 'inside'. They buy cars without question AND maintain all upkeep of them. Bikes are dangerous and personally, I do not think any 19 year old should go into a mission with the mindset that he WILL be robbed and mugged. The Church has so much money it is scary. Bikes for missionaries are not going to break it.