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Motorcycle Missionary

Pacific Region

Motorcycle Missionary

Motorcycle collectors stood in awe as retired Pastor Rus Aldridge, of Umatilla, featured his 1966 Honda 90 Japanese motorcycle at the Vintage Bike Show in Eustis recently.

He calls it the “missionary bike” from his time in the countries of Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia.

“The guys that put on the show ask me to bring back the bike each year,” Aldridge said. “I usually don’t take it out much, but it’s nice to be able to share my story.”

Aldridge bought the motorcycle new in 1966 on the island of Koror, Palau, where he worked as a missionary school principal and teacher at Palau Academy, the only 12-grade school in the country.

“Transportation was hard to find in some of the areas I would visit, so I needed a way to get around,” he said. “We had a Jeep on the main island, but we really needed the motorcycle when we visited Yap (in Micronesia).”

Transporting the bike was the first problem he had to solve. He thought he read that the bike weighed 85 pounds, so he figured that the plane would be able to put it with the luggage. But, it turned out to be 85 kilos, which is about 180 pounds.

“The men on our DC-4 Pan Am airplane agreed to help us out,” he said. “So we lifted it over our heads and carried it to the front of the plane, right behind the pilots. However, they were worried about the gas tank so I had to empty it and fill it with water while we were in the air, then empty the water and fill it back up with gas after we landed.”

After reaching its destination in Yap, the U.S. Public Works Department agreed to keep it while he was away and make it available when he visited.

“It rains a lot in Yap, so the roads are not the best,” Aldridge said. “You get into a rut and then hang on for dear life! In order to stop, you have to get off and lift the bike out of the rut. It was nerve-racking just trying to keep my balance.”

In 1967, Aldridge and his wife, Marilyn, were called to mission work in Taiwan. Since the bike was still in Yap, the U.S. Coast Guard offered to pick it up and deliver it to Palau for Aldridge to take with him.

After carrying it on another plane, the couple reached their destination and the motorcycle received an upgrade.

“I had to put two horns on the bike,” Aldridge said. “There are a lot of motorcycles in Taiwan, so if I wanted to get anywhere, I had to get a louder horn than everyone else.”

Unfortunately, Aldridge suffered some health issues while home visiting the States and had to retire early from his missionary work. “I was disappointed I couldn’t return, but everything worked out for the best,” he said. “The mission staff shipped all my luggage home for me and when it arrived, there was my bike.”

Since then, Aldridge has returned to Palau and Yap several times with his family and has served as a temporary pastor on one of the islands. He has collected many authentic pieces of art from Palau and Yap stone money that he shows around the country as he tells his story.

“God has always provided a way,” he said. “The bike is just one of the ways I can continue telling people what He has done for me.”

[Original post at Daily Commercial:]

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