11 April 2013


"Everything can be taken from a man except one thing: the last of human freedoms--to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."
                                                                                               Viktor Frankl

'Well,' I thought to myself, 'at least we made it through the night.' Our fancy-schmancy remote on the wall indicated that we had 69% left on our batteries, but I happened to know that our battery cutoff was fast approaching. In order to keep batteries in good condition, you have to keep them charged pretty well...and we haven't had any city power in three days. I sighed. Pete was happily kicking his feet, lying on a quilt on my cracked kitchen tile, oblivious to our power situation.

"Honey?" I called up the stairs to David.


"If I make toast, will it kill our batteries?"

There was a pause. "Probably not..."

I'm more cautious since earlier in the week, when I flushed a toiled, which activated the water pump, and everything went dead. Today, however, I decided to chance it. I've been sick, and I didn't think that oatmeal was really a good idea given my current digestive situation. Cold cereal was out because when I eat dairy, it makes Peter incredibly gassy. Seriously, Al Gore would be complaining to Congress.

We enacted our new system--David checks the oil level, fuels the generator, turns it on and flips the switch to charge our batteries. All I have to do is check the remote and remember to turn it off. It's a pretty sweet deal for me...but not cheap. A five-gallon container of diesel usually costs me around 1,000 goud or $25 USD. I ran the generator for 2.4 hours today and only got the batteries up to 91%...so that adds up fast.

But I'm feeling thankful this week, because our generator doesn't run on gasoline. On Facebook yesterday, I read a semi-desperate plea from a fellow Haiti blan who was out of gas for their generator and hadn't had city power in about 5 days. Say goodbye to your refrigerated goods, friend. (As this article from Haiti Libre explained, "There's no shortage of gas in Haiti; it's just that we don't have any right now." Not sure I understand the distinction, but maybe it makes more sense in its original language. Maybe.)

When I'm sick, I like to lay on the couch, drink ginger ale, and watch Back to the Future. But today, I limit my TV watching, I use the propane stove instead of the microwave. I delay a nap to do laundry while the generator's running. And in a strange way, in this powerless state, I have even more power to bless my family than usual. Peter and I read more books. We go outside to enjoy the breeze instead of using fans. And although David teases me about using the kerosene lamp while we watch TV at night, I know he appreciates that I'm trying to make the most of our power.

Funny how what's been "taken from us" can't compare with what we gain in spite of that. I'm sure that's the lesson the city power employees are trying to teach us. Now that we've learned it, maybe they'll have mercy on us...maybe.

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