18 June 15 – Billy Oram – Genesis 5:12 Ministries
As promised, I’m not coming back to the solar installations we’ve done recently to catch you up a bit and share the awesome stories of these missionaries we get to support through F1 Engineering.
Billy and Debbie Oram live and work in the Cote De Fer area of Haiti with their three boys. This area, only 30 miles west of Jacmel as the crow flies, is extremely remote. Since I don’t have 4×4 on my truck, we had to drive 120 miles to get to their house. The closest gas station is about an hour away from their place, as we tested on the way home.
Billy is there to share the Gospel, and the two means that I was able to observe are:
(1) “Farming God’s way” – Following instructions laid out in biblical principles, they are using low-tech methods to farm the land with greater efficiency. Additionally, as they teach these methods, they get the chance to discuss how these principles cross over from simply God’s instructions for the land, to actually showing a picture of God’s desires for people’s lives and how we can apply them to our own spiritual journeys.
(2) Partnership with local churches – I was privileged to join Billy on a trip to a local church one of the evenings we were there. On this evening, we took a small generator and a projector to show a movie created by Billy Graham’s organization to a very remote church. It was great to see how the local pastors chose the movie, and ran the whole evening, with Billy and I simply sitting in the back, enabling them to do the ministry God has called them to.
Billy and his family have been in Haiti for 3-4 years. They started life here by shipping down an old tour bus that they had renovated to be their family’s housing. That is where I stayed with Gayly and Waly when we came to work, and I must say, it was comfortable for 2 nights with the three of us, but I have to give a ton of credit to the Oram family to have persevered at living together in such a small space with 5 people for a long time. Now, they have been able to build a house, which is even still a work in progress, but provides more adequate space for the family, and for homeschooling their children.
Billy and I have crossed paths several times over the years, initially meeting at the ECHO conference in 2010, and getting reacquainted through Steve and Gina Concepcion about a year and a half ago. Up until last month, when we got the chance to go work with them, they have only had power from a small generator, which would last them several hours a day. Now, for the first time, they should have refrigeration available, and be much less dependent on gasoline.
But again, just to realize their hearts, the first thing they said they want to refrigerate is vaccines for the livestock in the area, as there have been a few diseases destroying the animals (and livelihood of the farmers) in their region.
We installed a system for them that will produce about 6 kWhrs/day. For comparison sake, you should look at your average kWhrs used on your next electric bill just to get an idea of what this means. Their system is about the same size Jamie and I would use if we were to expand our system at home to stop using our generator for a little bit each evening. The whole system probably cost about $6-7,000, but these are the systems I love installing the most, where there is a clear need for a more permanent solution, and where solar is about the only option around.
Another issue that was discussed while we were there is that water is a major problem. Despite having 7 wells drilled in their region and being along the coastline, non-salty water is scarce. So, while we did have fresh water to drink, we bathed each day in salt-water. This, while not ideal, isn’t a big problem, but the effects of using salt-water for irrigation and problematic. Therefore, this is a huge problem, when there isn’t enough water to sustain the farming or livestock in the region.
I’m looking at ideas for desalination (taking the salt out of the water), but so far, every system I have found that is for a “community” size system costs upwards of $10,000. Please let me know if you hear of any efficient ways to do saltwater desalination.
Finally, pray for Billy, Debbie, and the kids, that God would continue to bless them, and use them to touch the hearts of those they are ministering to and with in the Cote-De-Fer region.
Also, this trip was a great time to spend with Gayly and Waly. Gayly did most of the driving, but it wasn’t without some adventure. On the way home, we ran out of gas. Thankfully, we were within a mile of a gas station. We knew that gas would be low on our return trip, but it was surprising just how far it was from Billy’s house to the closest station. Then, as we were driving back on a good stretch of road, we blew out a tire like I’ve never seen before. Once again, I thank God for having dual wheels on the truck, as it makes issues like this much less dramatic.