Sunday, February 16, 2014

February Haiti Trip Follow-up

I realize that it has been a week since we returned from our trip to Haiti. We had very limited internet access while there and were also wiped out at the end of each day which didn't make for a good environment to keep everyone updated beyond our occasional calls and emails with family. We have also been busy after our return to our "day jobs." Nonetheless, lots of people have asked about updates so I will try to provide a couple more overview posts to capture some of the things we were able to accomplish and perhaps include a few photos. Once we gather photos from everyone who went, I also hope to upload a slideshow for you to see.

Wednesday, Feb. 5

On Wednesday, we continued the work on the trench and started mounting brackets on the roof for the solar panels that we had sent in the crate last year. Kim was on the roof (thankfully, it was morning so the sun wasn't on broil yet) and Tom and I constructed a makeshift scaffolding to mount the bolts on the underside of the roof. As you can tell from the photo OSHA would have been proud. Don't worry. It was only about 10 feet off the ground (yes, those are plastic crates under one end of the collapsable ladder that I am trying ever-so-gently to move around on and reach the bolts above me).

We were also able to install the pump and drop it into the well. However, making it operational required another ride in to Port au Prince since the generator on site wasn't working any longer despite Ralph's efforts to diagnose and reset it and we didn't yet have the solar panels installed). So, Pastor Riccardo, Ralph, and I drove in to PAP and picked up a larger generator that we had originally sent down in 2011 along with a dedicated power inverter for the new solar panels (we found out that day that the existing inverter just wouldn't handle the load that the pump would require in order to operate). Pastor Riccardo now asks me to drive whenever we are traveling (I found out later that it has as much to do with how the local police interact with blancs rather than Haitians, but more on that later). We left the property late so we ended up driving back from PAP after dark. Not a fun time, particularly since we had lost one of the headlights on the prior trip due to extremely bumpy roads. To make matters worse, the other headlight wasn't adjusted properly and was pointed off to the right so it wasn't much help seeing the road. Ralph even held a flashlight out the passenger window. Needless to say, returning back was a harrowing experience, particularly when you consider that many Haitian drivers use their bright lights all of the time and some cars don't have any tail lights. Fortunately, we didn't run into anything or anyone!

We returned and it was Kim Halstead's opportunity to speak in the evening and he did a great job. You can see from the photo that we have more people gathering each evening to listen and be encouraged by God's Word. Glad he was able to speak since both Ralph and I were wiped out for the day.

Thursday, Feb. 6
New day with the sun up. Time to test out the pump! We cranked up the generator, created a makeshift extension cord for the well pump, plugged it in and Nothing. The pump was drawing about 5 times as many amps as it should. Something was wrong. Back to diagnostic mode again. We pulled the pump from the well (that we had just installed the day before), and found that the pump motor was seized. That means that the motor was dropped somewhere in transport which "dents" the otherwise flat bearings in the motor and causes it to run less smoothly. We were able to free it and get it working again but the motor won't operate as efficiently (after testing later, it is running about 7/8 HP instead of 1/2 HP as designed). However, we put it all back together, satisfied that we had resolved the problem and dropped the pump and water line back into the well again.

This time, we cranked up the generator and water flowed! It was murky and had lots of sediment in it but it was still water! We were able to run it for about 15-20 minutes and fill the cistern about 20% and then another issue cropped up. Someone noticed that the pump controller box was smoking (not supposed to happen in case you were wondering). We shut down the pump and found out that the motor start capacitor was leaking fluid which means it was fried (confirmed when we tried to start the pump again).

Looks like the power surge that happened from the bad wiring on the former pump fried the relay and it didn't shut off current to the capacitor after initial motor start as it is supposed to do. Now what? Well, looks like another trip to town was needed, this time for a new pump controller. Let's hope they have them for 120V pumps somewhere in the country! In the meantime, Tom installed a new ground rod for the old generator in case that was the problem preventing it from operating correctly but no go (we only had small hammers so the last bit was him doing it the old fashioned way as shown in the photo).

Oh well, that's how things go, particularly in a third world country. The rest of the day was still very productive. We installed the rest of the solar panel brackets (using our non-OSHA scaffolding) and actually got all of the solar panels installed on the roof! The workers were also able to finish the rest of the trench up to the property where we were planning to setup the reservoir (an 18' diameter x 4' tall vinyl swimming pool). They were able to dig almost 800' of trench around 3' deep (so no one could damage the pipe in the future when farming. We installed all of the pipe and wires for the float switch to tell the booster pump when to operate. We even installed yard hydrants (faucets) at various places along the line for the farmers whose property we traversed with the trench (that was their desire for allowing us to go across their land and that was something that we had planned for when we sent materials in the crate last year. The picture is of Pastor Bernarde who was also helping with the digging and is a wonderful man who also serves many of his pastoral colleagues as a lawyer (he was the one who helped with the deed to the property and is working on the paperwork to establish the foundation in Haiti).

After such a productive day, Ralph was able to speak to the gathered crowd from his heart about God's character and how we are called to be servants just as Jesus was a servant, a message you may have heard him communicate in the past as it is something that is dear to his heart. The original plan was to distribute the clothing that evening after the message and worship time. However, it was a bit chaotic, particularly because of a major rainstorm that hit right about the same time (if you have lived in the South or Midwest US, you know the kind). Our Haitian leaders decided it would be better to do the distribution the following day and Tom (our resident security expert) had some pertinent advice on crowd control. :) Another full, yet good day.

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