Sunday, January 31, 2010

Fun with the Bucklands

Colin and Lorna Buckland, seen at the middle right in the photo below, were recently with us for a week of inspirational and educational meetings. We also hit the road for lunch at Antriol Catering and Maikey Snack. (pictured above) I had Kabritu Stobá ku funchi. Yum!
We all also went bowling one evening. It turns out that we had the place to ourselves that night. Donna had the high score of the evening with a 160, as I recall.

TWR Bonaire Mission Statement

Colin and Lorna Buckland recently spent a week with us, here at TWR Bonaire. Besides serving as a roving pastor and counsellor to the worldwide TWR family, Colin and Lorna do training and consulting in the areas of leadership and team dynamics. Among other things, Colin (pictured above) and Lorna led us in creating a mission statement for TWR Bonaire. You can see the results of some of our brainstorming session on the white board below.
The new TWR Bonaire mission statement goes like this: TWR Bonaire exists to assist the church in evangelizing, teaching, training and fostering unity in the practical expression of faith, hope and love by broadcasting Bible-based programming to the Caribbean, Northern Latin America and Bonaire.

Here is a picture of team Bonaire. That's Donna Gassert at the back left. Ivan Statia at the back right. The middle row has me on the left and Benny Saragoza on the right. And Rhonda and Joe Barker down front.

Indoor Pool

Most people don't realize it, but we have two indoor pools here at TWR on Bonaire. We never swim in them though. It might have something to do with the fact that the water temperature is often below fifty degrees Fahrenheit.The tank, oops - pool, at the transmitter site is not longer used, but the approximately 7000 gallon one at the studios, pictured above, is still key part of our chilled water air-conditing system. This buffer tank, oops again - pool, evens out the load on the air-conditioning compressors. They cool down the water in the tank at night and then they don't have to work so hard in the daytime; when the building is in use, and the electricity costs more.
The tank had developed a leak, so we contracted with one of the pool companies (yes, there is more than one) here on Bonaire, to put in a new liner. Here is the new liner with just a teeny tiny bit of water in it. Check out those cool graphics. Makes you want to dive right in doesn't it.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sandra's Jan. 28 Dr. visit

Sandra, had her big doctor visit Thursday, and they went over all the test results from the last six weeks. Although they did see some slightly abnormal things, there wasn’t any clear evidence of classic epilepsy brainwaves. So, they are going to try a different medication, just in case… and she’s going to be going to some other doctors for some more tests, to check out other things that could cause her symptoms.

One appointment is in May. The first slot they could get with this other doctor is in June. So I’m hoping that they can get her blood work and other doctor visits taken care of quickly so that maybe she can come back to Bonaire for a few months. We had tentatively been planning a two month furlough in the fall, so we might just move that up to June and do doctor visits at the same time. We won’t know for sure until they finish contacting all the doctors involved

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Three Js visit Bonaire

From left to right, we see James, Jason, and Jimmy volunteering their vacation time to help with the construction on the new International Bible Church building. Below, Walt mixes the mud while Jason makes sure that every last drop makes it to the wheelbarrow.
We had a little much needed rain the other night, which settled the dust on the ground and cleared the sky, as you can see in the background below.

Bakers, Barkers, the More the Merrier

The Barker family returned to Bonaire from their short term Stateside assignment about a month ago. That was good news for the rest of us because they inject a lot of energy into the team. Kevin and Lynn Baker, who actually lived here on Bonaire back in the day, arrived here this week to help with the antenna tower rebuild project. The Bakers arrived at noon so the Barkers brought in food and we all had a fun lunch time. That's Benny at the far left and Ivan at the far right in the above picture.
Lynn Baker is at the far right in this picture and Kevin is seated on her right and facing the camera.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

IBC Floors Going In

My job, in this project, is to hose down the newly poured slabs on my way home from work each day. That's fun. We usually don't spray water around here on Bonaire because it is so expensive. Jimmy, on the left is from Nashville and James, on the right, is from Canada. They are volunteering their professional skills and their vacation time to help pour and finish the floors of the new church building.
The area pictured here will be a covered porch/patio on the east (upwind) side of the main auditorium. It will keep the rain out of the main room and also serve as a great place to hang out and to hold classes.

Visitors from the South

Joel and Autonio stopped by the TWR studios yesterday while their tanker was docked at the BOPEC oil terminal. They are from Venezuela and have been listening to RTM (the Spanish version of TWR) for many years.

Joel, on the left, was here 16 years ago and remembers Dorcas, from the Spanish language department. If you know Dorcas, you won't be surprised by that. :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Two Views from Washington Park

Here is a nice view looking back from a hill near Yuwa Pass towards the new Bonaire wind turbines in the Playa Grandi - Morotin area.I've spent most of my Saturday mornings during the last two months helping a Joost, a young Dutch intern, map out and clear new mountain biking trails in Washington Park. Even if I never get to ride the trails, ha-ha, being in the park for sunrise each week has been ample payback for all my work.

Broadcasting to Haiti

We used to have programming for Haiti on our TWR - Bonaire station, but in recent years, we have been working with local Haitian stations 4VEH and Radio Lumiere, who have good coverage there. The recent earthquake knocked Radio Lumiere off the air. Some of their personnel were killed in the quake as well.

So we have been picking up Creole programming from 4VEH in the north of Haiti, and transmitting from Bonaire to Port-au-Prince. These Creole broadcasts follow our Spanish programming to Cuba and begin at 10:15pm Haiti time. I've had some late night sessions in the studio making sure this programming goes out ok.

Last night we aired a special greeting/message to both the relief workers and the people of Haiti, from Wess Stafford, the President of Compassion International. Wess did aid work in Haiti back in the day and still speaks a little Creole, and Compassion already had volunteers in Haiti when the earthquake struck. You can read more about this and hear some audio on TWR's web site.

Our TWR partner in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, is mobilizing and providing special training to university psychology majors, so they can head to Haiti to begin to help the people there who have been traumatized by this disaster. The new Executive Director of RTM-DR, the Rev. César Vargas Corporan, is a psychology professor and some of the board members are also health care professionals, so they are well connected to organize both immediate and long term help. TWR has extensive materials that proved very effective in the months and years following the Tsunami in Indonesia. These will be adapted to the situation and disseminated when the time is right.

Our TWR partner in the DR is also trying to find a way to get fuel to 4VEH and to Radio Lumiere so they can keep their generators running to stay on the air. 4VEH sent two trucks to the DR to buy fuel and they were never heard from again! Getting relief supplies to those who need them is very difficult indeed.

YWAM, another agency that was already active in Haiti before the quake, received a report from a field team that visited Port-au-Prince. The assessment: "The situation is worse than it has appeared on TV!" So the people of Haiti need our prayers and all the immediate and long term assistance we can muster.

Monday, January 18, 2010

jIBC Ready to Pour

We (that's an editorial we) plan to pour the floor of the new International Bible Church building tomorrow. The kitchen and nursery are in the front and the main auditorium is in the back. There will be a large covered porch along the right side of the auditorium.
The building looks larger from inside, away from the monster structures in the neighborhood.

Good things come to those who wait

Two years ago, my astronomy friend, Pierre, and I caught a glimpse of the Large Magellanic Cloud from our roadside astronomy center way at the south end of Bonaire. Pierre had previously seen the LMC while observing in Chile and Namibia, but he'd never spotted it from Bonaire. I had never seen the Large Magellanic Cloud before, period.

The LMC is only visible for a short time, here on Bonaire, because it is in the far southern sky and never gets very high above the horizon. The LMC is a nearby (160,000 light years away) galaxy and appears, here on Bonaire, as a barely detectable, light-ish patch in the sky. Big binoculars reveal some interesting details.

I didn't get to observe the LMC last year, although I watched for it. We never had crystal clear skies down by the horizon during the moonless periods of Jan. and Feb. By March it was too late.
So I've been watching the skies like a hawk this year. Last Wednesday dawned cold and rainy, but cleared nicely in the afternoon. Visiting New Jersey friend, Bill Heatley, and I trekked out to the south end, and lo and behold, the sky was awesome for a couple of hours. With the 20x80 binoculars, I observed things, like the running man nebula and the flame nebula in Orion, that I had only seen in pictures before that night.

The LMC was visible too, and easier to see than it had been two years ago. We could just barely hold it with direct vision, and could pick it out pretty readily with averted vision. As soon as I was able to observe the LMC, I wanted to get a picture of it. But alas, I had left the cameras at home. So we had a wonderful time simply cruising the sky with the binoculars and left with only great memories of a stellar evening.

But, when the evening skies looked pretty clear last night, I zoomed down south with my trusty camera, 85mm lens, and tripod. I shot more than 150 six second long exposures at F1.8 and ISO 1600; and had Deep Sky Stacker combine the best 60% of them. Clouds and haze kept popping up in the individual images, so DSS was the fastest way to select the better ones. I'm happy with the results, but I'll no doubt keep fooling around with the image from time to time.

The LMC isn't centered in this full frame image, but in a way that is good, because it shows that the large diffuse light-ish region surrounding the center of the galaxy is not the result of vignetting in the lens. The LMC is really that big.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Hospital Fun

As I mentioned back on Dec. 25, Sandra is visiting our Son, Richard, and our Daughter in law, Nancy. She is having lots of medical tests to try to get a handle on the flare up of her Epilepsy. She was in the hospital for 7 days last week for a long term EEG test. She had a MRI test yesterday.
Sandra is fortunate to have a daughter in law who is a RN to care for her in her weakened state. Ha ha.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

On the Right Foot(ing)

We continue to move forward with the new International Bible Church building. The main auditorium appears almost toy-like compared to some of the massive structures that are going up in the area. But when I stand inside under the roof of what will be the main auditorium, it feels just right. Here we see some of the guys pouring the footings for the kitchen and nursery area.
In a couple weeks, two guys from Canada and one from the States are going to come and contribute their vacation time to lay block and finish the slabs for the floors. Hopefully they'll also have a chance to get in the water while they are here.

This is a great time of the year for being outdoors here on Bonaire, whether for work or for pleasure. The sun can still burn you but the heat is not as intense as it is during the summer and fall. The thermometer at our house read 75 degrees F on Wednesday morning. brrr...

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Moo Cows

I think that is what we called them back when I was a kid. I occasionally see cattle in Washington Park. I mentioned them back in Dec. 2007 and once prior to that I think. Well they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so this shot should save me lots of typing.
I guess I've seen too many Chick-fil-A adds on TV, but those cows look for all the world to me like they should be sporting a signs that say something on the order of "Eat Mor Gote"

Friday, January 01, 2010

New Bonaire FM TX is on the Air

When our new Crown FM transmitter arrived here on Bonaire back on Dec. 10, it didn't work. Needless to say, we were very disappointed. Our visiting volunteer engineer, Dave Olson, talked to the HCJB tech. team in Elkhart Indiana, and to Crown.

After investigation and testing, they decided that the main amplifier board was bad. So a replacement one was sent to us. We got the board out of customs on Monday and about an hour later we were on the air! The new TX is the green unit in the rack to the right.

Because of the good response to our appeal, we were able to buy the 600 watt TX rather than the 300 watt one we had originally decided on. We're operating it at 500 watts, so it should run cool and long for us. Programming sounds great on the new TX.

Thank you for your your prayers for and contributions to this project. A big thank you also, to the local FedEx agent, Rocargo, and to the Bonaire Customs office for helping to cut through the red tape and getting the replacement TX part to us during the holidays. It was in the nick of time because about 36 hours later, Dave and Patti Olson were on a plane heading home to Pensylvania.

Happy 2010 from Bonaire

Happy New Year everyone. It is 9 minutes after midnight and the fireworks are still exploding all over the place. I'm watching TV with the dogs, who are doing quite well with all the big booms this year.

The moon was full at 3:30 this past afternoon, Bonaire time. I took a picture tonight at around 10:30 or so from our driveway. I took it with a 400 mm lens and then cropped our all the sky leaving the moon at 100% in size.