Ping pong and the banana mechanic

I went to bed thinking I would wake up late, make pancakes and bacon for breakfast with some fresh pineapple, then head to church at the preaching point for a long sweaty service. When I woke up, my mind put my body in motion for a different plan. For some reason it seemed like this was the overcast morning I should troubleshoot why the solar lighting on both guard houses was no longer working. It probably felt like the right time because nobody but the security guards were around to interrupt my little project. I set off with my little tool bag, volt meter, and wiring diagram for the charge controller and began tracing wires and probing connections. At guard house #1, someone had replaced one of my components from the original configuration so I wasn’t familiar with the correct wiring. But, following the basics I found reversed wires and a loose connector right off the bat. I’m not sure if this has damaged the battery by being wired incorrectly.

I moved on to guard house #2 by the water tower which still had the original equipment, making it easier to evaluate since that was the wiring schematic I had. This set up had undergone a lot of tweaking by someone who clearly had no clue. Wires were spliced together in odd places, incorrectly connected, and not fed through the breakers. I opened the small breaker box and found a mud ball of an insect nest and the start of a wasp nest…luckily only one wasp. Most of this was wired wrong. With help from one of the curious guards who was now accompanying me, we climbed on the roof to trace the positive and negative solar wires. Yup, the polarity was reversed once they hooked it up in the controller. I pulled everything apart and started over, carefully matching the wiring diagram. Unfortunately, this battery is shot so I’ll have to get a new one in Gbarnga.

I returned to the guesthouse with hope for the repairs and a rumble in my stomach. I whipped up a scrambled egg with bacon and pineapple which came close enough to my earlier culinary vision, then off to church. Most of the congregation was missing because today was an inter-church event for an organization call UCF (United Christian Fellowship) being held at another church in Gbarnga. The small remaining contingent consisted of five children, three women, two men and me. A few of the children sang (the mini choir!) and Emmit led the worship, which was more Bible study than full blown service.

It was nice to have a short service for a change and I spent a little time visiting. I’m also trying to video mini interviews to capture recordings of how villagers feel about GLTC and education. I started with Gormah, mother of Joshua and grandmother of a couple of children attending GLTC. If I had decent internet I’d upload a portion but we’d be here till June. She spoke her answers primarily in Kpelle because she’s still trying to learn English while Matthew translated. She also attends the adult class and has learned to write her own name.

I decided to treat myself to a fried chicken lunch at the Passion Hotel and bumped into Sampson Varpilah, the owner and friend after receiving his assistance during my court experience back a couple of years ago when I received the writ of arrest in the land ownership dispute. He remembered our brief conversation in November about us starting a poultry farm…he had since started one, too! Mmmm, I thought he was going to buy some of our eggs for his hotel?!?!

I returned to the guesthouse with my band of boys and decided to introduce them to ping pong. At a Salvation Army store near home, I bought a retractable net that clamps to a table and brought a few balls/paddles. They had never heard of the game so it was fun letting them try it. One boy, Emmanuel (a new kid in the block) picked it up quickly and soon I was showing him how to put spin on the ball. After a number of rounds, I told them it was math time which is what they originally asked me to do. They all seem determined to learn, although English is really where they need the most support. After a bunch of problems, I told them it was time for my Sunday nap.

One of the benefits of being a “missionary ” here is that people love to give small gifts. How many of you can say that your mechanic drops off a fresh bunch of bananas at your house?! Kortuma called to let me know he had a present…2 pineapples, 6 cukes, and a hanging bunch of bananas later and I’m stocked for a while.

4 thoughts on “Ping pong and the banana mechanic

  1. Downside:your buddy started a poultry farm which decreases your sales.
    Upside: you’ve got them thinking like businessmen.


  2. Jon, I am really impressed with the work you are doing. I love reading all about it. I pray that God will continue to guide you in your work and keep you safe.


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