It is always a blessing to have your supporting church highly involved in your mission work. We love our relationship with Cedar Lane and were excited when they contacted us over a year ago with a desire to put their talents to use here in Arequipa. Since the Cedar Lane church is blessed with an abundance of engineers (even some rocket scientists!) we began to think of ways for them to put their technical skills to use. What came of our planning/praying was the idea to build and install solar panels in a poor community. The team that Cedar Lane put together rose to the challenge and arrived this month ready to get to work.
The process of choosing a community to receive the panels was long, frustrating, and God-led. Due to some early mistakes and assumptions we found ourselves a month-out from the arrival of the solar team with no community committed to working with us. We eventually decided to stick with Naranjal, Manuela’s community where we installed water tanks and built latrines, after a few weeks of praying and looking for an open door. After the community-chosen directors of Naranjal asked for our assistance in resolving some in-community issues we felt like we were being told to stay in Naranjal, to put the solar panels there. After a few weeks’ discussion we have decided to install panels in the seven homes that are currently occupied and one or two panels for the community building.
God certainly blessed our week with the group as we were able to get more work done than we had originally planned on. Thanks to our interns we were able to get all ten of the panels constructed! Even better we were able to install five panels when originally we had hoped to get one installed. As of now five of the seven families that live in Naranjal can turn on their lights at night and the other two should have their panels installed soon. It was a sweet moment when Manuela conveyed their gratitude to the group from Cedar Lane with lots of hugs and even a few tears.
While here the three engineers from Cedar Lane (Joel, Brian, and Mark) 1) held a press conference, 2) gave various radio/tv interviews, and 3) presented at two universities. Abraham really outdid himself in creating these opportunities to let Arequipa know about CUDA and our programs/businesses. During these interviews they were able to not only talk about solar energy as a viable power source but they also had many opportunities to share their faith as what motivated them to come to Arequipa.
Our hope is that we can continue this program using the simple design created by the engineering team without the need for repeat trips by American engineers. We will be looking for Peruvian partners to help make this a reality. Already we have had a community send their president to talk with us about acquiring panels for their homes. Join us in praying for God to lead us in this, and every other, project.