When we left our house in the village last spring, we knew that something had to be done about our power situation when we returned to the island. At the time we were running four thirty year old solar panels into two large truck batteries to supply power to our DC lights & small bed fans in the house. Also, we needed to run the battery power through an inverter at times, just to power an AC fridge we had borrowed from someone to be able to preserve food in some way. Most of the time were were unable to run the fridge for more than two hours on the inverter. Other times we ran a generator to get the fridge/freezer cold and run the one AC fan we had. On many occasions, we lost food due to spoilage. This made for some pretty stressful living at times.
Needless to day, something needed to change for our return back to the island. We determined that this issue was the most pressing thing that we needed to put before the Lord and get resolved before we came back. When we got back to the States we started praying about our solar electric system. It seemed like we had two options: either buy a new solar electric system, or purchase one used from someone in country transitioning out of a village and desiring to sell. To buy new was a lot of money and we didn’t have nearly enough to even begin seriously considering it. On the other hand, it didn’t seem like there was anyone in country selling anytime soon. So, we just started praying about it and communicating our needs to our churches, supporters, friends & family.
In response our home church mission team communicated with us that they would provide $2,000 of the needed funds towards the electric system. This was a huge blessing, and even though there would still be a lot more needed it was a great start to our fundraising for this particular project.
Sometime during the beginning of summer I got an email from one of our co-workers saying that a used system that we had previously heard was not being sold was now up for sale. Immediately, I contacted the guy who was selling, a former missionary in PNG from Germany. After several email exchanges with him, we finally told him we would like to buy the system. We didn’t know how much it would be, but we knew we needed to jump on the opportunity before someone else did. We knew it wouldn’t be really high because the solar panels and batteries (which are the most expensive pieces of the system) were donated to him and he wasn’t going to charge for them.
He sent us a parts list and asked us to send it to our NTM tech center for pricing, and because it was a used system, he was only asking 50% of the full price from us. We sent the parts list to the tech center, and after calculating the 50% of the full prices given, the total came to $2,100! When I sent the figure to our German missionary friend, he got back to us and said we could make it an even $2,000!
This isn’t the end of the story, though. The Lord not only provided the system, and the money for the system, but also a group of guys from our regional support center went out to the village where the system was at, took it apart, packaged it up and shipped it to our island, so that when we would return it would be there waiting for us!
When I heard that the system had made it out to the island, I was shocked. I thought it was sitting in a crate at our support center in another province. This meant that I now needed to figure out how it would be set up, since I know nothing about how to install solar electric systems. I hadn’t had a chance to think that far ahead in the plan.
I quick emailed our regional support center and asked if there was anyone out there who knew anything about installing solar electric systems. When they got back to me they gave me the name of the guy in another region (because the guy in our region was on home assignment), which was the same guy who had come out to hook up our co-worker Aimee’s system, one of our classmates from our missionary training.
We first met Kevin when we were students at New Tribes Bible Institute. We were seniors and he was a freshman. Then at New Tribes Mission’s Missionary Training Center we were in the same class, along with Aimee. I contacted Kevin and asked him if he would be willing to come out and set up our system if we got his plane ticket. Thankfully, he was willing to come out, and even available to come out right after our return so we could get set up as soon as possible.
Everything seemed to be falling into place… except for one minor detail. As we finalized packing for our return back to PNG, we learned that batteries had not been shipped with the rest of the system. They were still sitting in a crate back at our regional support system. As soon as I heard this I emailed our supply guy in the area and he had them shipped that week. This meant it was unlikely that the batteries would arrive before Kevin got out here to set up the system, but there was nothing we could do. Kevin’s ticket was already purchased to come out and the rest of the system would have to be put together much as possible without the batteries. Whether this would work or not was questionable.
We arrived to our island on a Friday and Kevin was out here the following Thursday. Our co-worker Linn kept checking with our local supply buyer/guesthouse manager to see if he had heard any word about a ship coming in; the ship that might have our batteries on it. I don’t know that we had much hope, but we prayed that the Lord would make it happen, since He’s the one who pulled everything else together.
You can imagine our thrill when, half way through Kevin’s time with us, we got word that our batteries were in! I went with our-coworker Ned to the wharf to pick them up the next morning, and by the time Kevin left us, our solar system was completely installed!
We are praising the Lord for His provision in this area, at every step of the process!
We still had a few needs by way of of appliances. The used batteries we are currently running are not functioning as well as we had hoped and for that reason we have ordered new ones. But for now they are providing enough energy to get us by and we are very thankful! We also needed to order a DC refrigerator because the AC one we are borrowing is an energy hog and is creating some inefficiency in the use of our system. We also were in need of a new oven since the one here has partially rusted out in the bottom and when lit sends shooting flames all the way up one side of the oven and the flames do not go back down! Yikes. So an oven was another thing we ordered. Last but not least, our DC water pump seems to be on its last leg. Because of this we made a last minute decision to purchase these items to have shipped soon. It will still take a few months to get here, but it needed to happen. We made these purchases thanks to some last minute gifts we received from individuals before we came back. However, the full price of all of these appliances exceeds those gifts, so we are trusting the Lord for the funds to cover those extra costs.
This solar electric system will help us in so many ways be able to function more efficiently as we seek to learn the Tigak language & culture, love the Tigak people and introduce them to the person and work of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ; which is our real goal in being here in Papua New Guinea.