Wednesday, January 4, 2017
“Nature is the guardian of Africa. While the sun lights the African sky in day time, the moon begs the world to help her lighting Africa in the night” ― Munia Khan
A word about power. Ours is iffy, shaky, intermittent, and 240v instead of the American 110v. The picture at the right displays a Tanzanian (British) plug (white), a European plug (black), and a converter box that can take almost any plug from any country, but it must operate on 240v. Only America, Japan, and a few small countries use 110v exclusively. The rest of the world operates on 220v-240v as any traveler can tell you. Every Way-Mart in the U.S. carries travel converters so you can use your electric stuff in other countries. The American house outlet is un-switched (always on) and the result of Thomas Edison’s efforts. Almost every other wall outlet in the world has a switch to turn it on or off and is usually 240v. Of course, every quality electronic supplier of computers, smart phones, etc. have them made to run on any current from 110v to 240v just by plugging them in. However, a lot of appliances made in the U.S. will only run on 110v current. So, we have to have step-down transformers for those things so that our 240v system won’t simply fry the appliance as soon as we plug it in. We have the added disadvantage of most third-world countries in that our national electricity source is unreliable. Not only does it shut off almost every day more than once, it frequently surges so that instead of 240v, we are getting 300v or more which would fry everything plugged into it. This means we need voltage regulators (a separate instrument) for our refrigerator, and everything else that’s important or expensive. You know we’re having a surge when you hear the regulators start clicking away. Sometimes the surge is so long lasting, that we have to turn off the national grid and use our generator. Using our generator is a true blessing for us, but it costs about $30 a day to run it, so we try to keep it to a minimum. It isn’t powerful enough to run all the heat producing appliances like hair dryers and hot water heaters, so they are turned off when the generator is on. You can buy generators that can handle everything, but it costs almost $100 a day to run them not to mention their high cost for purchase. Living outside the United States calls for a lot of adjustments. John has changed the plugs on almost everything we brought with us and some stuff that we have purchased since. Electrical stuff sold here almost always comes with a Tanzanian (British) plug or a European one. Plugs come in many varieties depending on the country. France isn’t like England or Australia. Some have “Y” shaped plugs, some round, some—well it is just always interesting, but you know that if you travel much. And if you don't travel, you should. St. Augustine said, “The world is a book, and those who don't travel only read one page.”
We have to spend about $300 a month for the national grid electricity and about $150 a month for the petrol (gasoline) to run our generator. There are countries where the missionaries must use generators around the clock or run completely solar, so we don’t feel particularly put upon. For us to go completely solar, it would cost almost $20,000 for panels and equipment which is just impossible for us, since that $20,000 would feed so many orphans, buy Swahili Bibles, mosquito nets—well, you get the picture. We do have solar security lights so that if the power fails during the night (which is almost every night) the security lights stay on. John has also fitted our electronic entertainment system to solar so that it keeps going when the power fails. A power failure used to mean that we would have to reboot everything once the generator came back on and again when the national power came back and we would miss the end of movies, the exciting bits of sporting events, and so on. Now, thanks to John, we don’t miss anything.
Yes, living in another country and another culture means that we have to make a lot of adjustments (what’s a “microwave”?), but life is like that, and we knew that coming in. We’ve just gotten used to seeing solar batteries, inverters, step-down transformers, voltage regulators, and having to use an “isolation” switch to shift from the national grid to our generator, but we have survived and done well in spite of the obstacles. Everywhere has obstacles and everywhere has blessings other places don’t. You just take the good with the bad, roll with the punches, and come up smiling, forgiving, and ready to continue to serve God in the best way you can. Haven’t found too many problems that don’t have solutions (even aging has one, but I’m not thrilled by it). And like my grandmother (Mama Roebuck) used to always say, “No storm lasts forever, even the Ark got to land.” What’s important is not what life throws in your way, but your attitude towards those obstacles. Smiling, adjusting, changing—that’s what we all have to do. We do need to do all those things with love in our hearts, forgiveness always ready, and acts of kindness waiting to be done. We cook with propane, can’t adjust the temperature on our oven, but we can roast a turkey, and make almost everything else. When they make a crock pot that can handle power outages, we’ll get one of those, too. You guys keep smiling as you enter another year and remember Christ called on us to love others. Hard to go wrong if you follow Him.