Right now I’m waiting at a dirt airstrip 4 hours away from home. In a few minutes our mission’s helicopter will be landing to drop off some solar electric equipment that’s essential for us to stay in Konomala.
Two days ago, our solar electric system had a complete failure.
When we came home after spending the afternoon in the community, nothing in the house was working, and the batteries were reading at more than two times the voltage that they should have been.
(For all the tech-challenged people like me … that’s a really bad thing)
The first steps into the battery room upped the blood pressure a little bit. It smelled like burnt electrical wires, and two of our batteries were crackling, boiling, and leaking acid on the floor. Nearly all of the other major components in our system had black charring and some damage.
Outside of seeing our house on fire, this would be near the top of the list of catastrophic things that could happen while living out here in Konomala.
The thoughts going through my mind were:
Our entire system just blew up.
“Thank you, Lord, that our house isn’t on fire.”
“God, please help us figure this out.”
We probably have to leave tomorrow because we won’t be able to live out here with no electricity.
It could take upwards of a year to replace all of this equipment if we have to get anything from the states.
“Seriously, God?! Why did you let this happen?”
We can’t afford to replace all of this.
What in the world are we going to do in the meantime. We have to keep working to get this language.
We can’t let this keep us out of Konomala.
What kinds of extremes will we have to go to in order to stay out here?
“Okay, Lord. You’re big. I’m little. What should we do?”
So, the first thing that we did was to thoroughly check, clean, and fix everything that we could. Then we tested the system, and we were relieved to find that, aside from the batteries, almost all of the other critical components of the system were still functional. All of the surge suppression in the system had been overwhelmed by the battery failure and had turned to ash. That caused some collateral damage, but overall it could have been so much worse. If we hadn’t caught it when we did, our house could have very easily burned down.
We still aren’t totally sure what caused the failure, but we now have to replace the batteries as well as some of the other parts of the system that were damaged.
The cost of this whole ordeal is going to be around $8,000. That’s for the replacement batteries & components as well as the cost to fly them here.
I don’t know how we’d survive out here without good teammates.
Our co-worker, Luke, is the man when it comes to this type of situation (of which we’ve had way too many). He’s an electrician by trade, so he had no problem jumping right in and trying to work through the issues.
We were able to get a hold of some smart people within our organization that helped us start troubleshooting. Most of this stuff is way above our pay grade.
Then almost immediately we started following a couple leads on how we could get some replacement batteries and components. God quickly provided an opportunity to buy batteries from another missionary that won’t be needing them. And He provided the other components through the mission’s tech services department here in country. Our guy in the tech department went out of his way to get what we needed. He packed it and had it to the aviation wing (pun intended) within a day.
And like I mentioned earlier, right now I’m waiting on our mission’s helicopter to drop everything off. In Konomala, we’re almost as far as you can possibly be from our support center on the mainland.
[Of all the ministry locations here in PNG, we currently hold the record for being the furthest away … I’m not sure if we should be proud of that or not]
That being said, it is really hard to get stuff out here. Transportation is not an easy logistic. As we were trying to figure out our options for getting the electrical system out here, our flight department got creative. They shifted their entire schedule around at the very last minute in order to fly directly to an airport where the plane could meet up with the chopper. Both of the pilots are adding extra hours to their already busy schedule so that the chopper can meet me today.
The flight department bent over backwards so that we wouldn’t be stuck for weeks in Konomala without sufficient power. Can’t thank those guys enough. All they got was a thank you card and some cookies … they deserve way more.
We’ve got a great team out here.