Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Well, this isn't good

We've hit a snag with our solar power system. Basically, our batteries are dying. This isn't good.

We knew we might have some problems, for various reasons, with this set of batteries. For one thing, the batteries (purchased in the US) were brought down here too early, because we thought we would be moving onto our property sooner than we did. So, they sat around for too long, before they were connected to our system. Additionally, some of the batteries were used to provide temporary power before the solar power system was installed, and that use wasn't the very best thing for long battery life. Finally, these batteries weren't really the best type for us to have purchased in the first place. That, unfortunately, is one of those things where there's lots of conflicting information out there, good and bad advice, and our choice turned out to be a trial-and-error experience.

At the time we started running on solar power, we had sixteen batteries (each similar in size to a car battery) running. In the two months we've been using the system, we've had three batteries burn out on us. At this rate, we're in trouble. The stress on the remaining batteries increases as we run the system on fewer batteries, so we expect more, and possibly quicker, battery failures coming along soon. Yikes.

We have a plan, of course. Allen researched the type of battery that will work better, and last longer, for our system, and we intend to purchase the new battery (it will be one big one this time) and have it shipped down in our container this Christmas. The new type of battery can be expected to have something more like an 8 year lifespan, instead of the 2 year lifespan expected of the type we are currently using. Of course, with the better battery comes a big price tag, but we don't have much of a choice on this.

Meanwhile - and this is where things tend to get fun - we're making plans to live without access to electric power, possibly for a few months. We figure that the current batteries will not likely last until the new battery arrives. If that is indeed the case, we will use our generator to create power for a few hours each day - just enough to wash laundry, run the freezer a bit (we'll use the chest freezer like a cooler), check on the internet for emails and the news, and possibly watch a movie.

Now, some of you are thinking to yourselves, "Oh this is awful. I wish I could do something to help them out." GOOD NEWS - I'm going to tell you how you can help!

We're going to ship the Christmas gift container, filled with donated used clothing, household items, shoebox gifts for the Gifts for Gracias Project, and our new battery, as early as we can this year. The sooner we have a containerload of goods to ship, the sooner we can get our new battery down here, and have electric power again. So, if you are planning to participate in the gift project this year, it is time to start making gifts and collecting donations. I'll be working on setting up the collection points (almost certainly one in Maryland and at least one in Florida, like previous years), mailing addresses, and mailing deadlines over the next week or so. We're hoping to ship the container sometime in November. Can you be ready?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Hurrah - a four year residency!

Some of you may remember, back in December, when our family had to run to Tegucigalpa and then to Belize, to straighten out some problems with our residency. I started writing out the story in detail on the blog, and it got so long that I only ended up posting about the first few days of the adventure. (If anyone still cares, let me know, and I'll post the rest of that story - I got distracted at the time because we were moving, and then we lost internet for a bit, etc.)

Anyway, we just got word that our new residency has been approved! It will be good for four years, which is wonderful. Thanks so much, to those of you who pray for us about things like this - we appreciate it!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Nature lends a hand!

As I've mentioned before, I'm such a beginning gardener. This year, I wanted to have a small garden, as I was certain I would encounter lots of difficulties, and I didn't want to be overwhelmed. Of course, with my being sick through all of May and most of June not much gardening has been going on, so I guess I got my wish! I'll probably go ahead and start a few more vegetable seeds, even though it is almost July. I'm not exactly sure how our growing season works here, so everything is experimental for me.

I did make a fun discovery yesterday. I found another hornworm on my pepper plants. Normally this wouldn't have been a good thing, but I recently saw a picture on the internet of a hornworm being devoured by wasp larvae - and then I saw these very larvae on my hornworm! Hurrah! Nature comes to the rescue!

Here's a picture of our defunct worm, with the heroic larvae attached:

I wouldn't normally be cheering on a wasp infestation, but this time, I am! I love the interworkings of creation!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Yeah, I hit the wall, but I'm bouncing back now

I was sick. I'm getting better.

I don't think you want the messy details, but I'm now recuperated to the point where my only remaining symptom is exhaustion, and finally that is starting to ease up. Basically, I've been mostly sick since the last week of April - and boy have I lost a lot of weight. Happily, I had the weight to lose. Some local people, who live on the edge of malnutrition all the time, have had to be hospitalized with what I assume is the same thing I've had.

You want to hear a funny story from my sick leave time? Of course, I knew you would want to! Here it is:

The earliest phase of my sickness involved a good bit of spewing, if you know what I mean. In the wee hours one night, when the household was asleep, I awoke with the need to run to the bathroom, in a hurry. Because we use solar energy, we turn off our system at night, to conserve power until sunrise. It's not a big deal to turn the power back on, but I was in a hurry, so I grabbed my cellphone and repeatedly punched buttons on that for light, as I stumbled to the bathroom.

I was successful in my attempt to reach a receptacle before chucking, for which I am always grateful. As I was just completing this task, my phone rang. As soon as I was able to answer, I heard my oldest son's voice, both through the phone and through the window - he was calling me from the front porch. He said, "Mom - are you all right?"

Now, we have two buildings on our property, and the older kids sleep in the other building from where the rest of the family sleep, so I was amazed, thinking he had heard me throwing up all the way at the other house! When I asked him about this, he replied, "No, Mom, my phone rang, and when I answered I heard all of these awful noises. So I came running to see what was wrong."

So, you see, I called my son (by accidentally hitting the "redial" button), and sent him the sound of me throwing up, over the cell phone. It is nice to know that if I ever have a real need for emergency help, he's ready and willing to run to my aid!