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Not So Powerful

January 31, 2017

Living in a large city, we get a lot of perks.  One of them is electricity.  I talk to my missionary friends across Africa who are essentially responsible for their own power systems, whether it’s solar, generator, or a semi-powered 12v system, and I realize that electricity is definitely a privilege.

But we have talked in the past about frequent outages.  This is still true.  We do have regular outages, sometimes lasting up to 12 hours.  But, at our present house, we are completely spoiled by fairly consistent power, two different lines to choose from (often one is on when the other is off), and a landlord with friends in high places enough to get quick repairs done at reasonable prices.

Last week, though, our inverter suddenly called it quits.  Matthew, with all of his expertise, cannot figure out what happened, nothing burned or seems broken.  It just stopped.  Our inverter is responsible for operating our lights, wireless router, fridge and freezer, gas oven (the thermostat is electric) and the coffee maker (!!!) when the power is out.  Basically, the only things that aren’t on it are the air conditioners and the washing machine.  It’s a perfect set up, really.  The inverter is still under warranty, not that we’re exactly near to any warranty repair centers.  They have been quick to respond to emails and the back-and-forth diagnostics continue.

So, of course, the inverter died and suddenly our power decided to get finicky.  The main line that we use suddenly dropped to coming in at about 100v.  Normally, it should be between 210v and 240v.  100v and the lights were dim, the compressors on our freezer and fridge were struggling and given the right circumstances, things could have started to die.

We called our landlord’s engineer who is responsible for our house maintenance and he called his friends at the power company.  Not only were they all here the very next morning (after two days at low voltage), but they asked only for a very reasonable amount of money and within a few hours BOTH lines were fixed (the other, lesser-used line had had low voltage issues for months, even before we left on our trip).  The lines now had  larger capacity and have been operating normally ever since.

We still power share occasionally or the line breaks before our house/cabine (like a transformer station) and we wait in the heat, but mostly, we are very grateful for good, steady power and the peace of mind that comes with it.  We remember living here in previous houses where the power was unreliable and life rotated around activities for when the power was on and activities when the power was off.

So while we are grateful for good power, we still are a bit incapacitated without our inverter.  The parts and repairs are probably not going to come from within Congo’s borders.  Matthew will be back in Idaho for a bit of training in the spring, but it might mean more reliance on our generator, which is fine, just expensive and inefficient.  Please pray for a good resolution to the inverter issue and, in the meantime, that we will continue to be blessed with reliable power.

These things are, really, just perks and not always required, but internet, a functional fridge and freezer, and lights in the darkness (6pm-6am, year round) make for a life with more margin, more freedom to tackle other tasks and needs.

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