Challenges – Aug. 16, 2012

Today was the most challenging day at work so far.  My guess is that we are making progress for the Lord’s kingdom, and the devil has taken note.

I am reminded of the opposition Nehemiah faced when the wall was about halfway completed. In Nehemiah 3 you read about all the amazing progress the Jews had made restoring the wall around Jerusalem. In my first two weeks here, we have made great progress building our website. Today I discovered that the staff here actually had a website at twrbonaire.com in 2002, but it was taken down about 6-7 years ago.  Only now have they had available staff to once again entertain the idea of maintaining a website.

In the next chapter of Nehemiah, the opposition to the rebuilding began. I believe we have just experienced much the same thing here.

 Photos here

It seems there were several roadblocks thrown in our way today with respect to the website development, so I would ask for prayer that we can overcome these challenges and move ahead.

It appears that streaming a live audio feed is a more involved process than I originally thought.  I’m amazed at the amount of legal compliance that is required when it comes to IPR (intellectual property rights) issues!  To comply with all the regulations would be a bit too involved to pursue at this time, so we are tabling the issue for now.

However, TWR is currently developing some amazing online resources that can stream audio content.  This new system can handle providing great content (in hundreds of languages) to listeners all over the world.  TWR Bonaire plans to use this tool once it becomes available.  This tool is called “LinguaDMS,” or LinguaBlast.  Please be in prayer for the development of this project!

Most of my day was spent on editing the photos.  I find it somewhat difficult when I don’t really know what I’m looking at, as these photos are ten (or more) years old, and taken when I was not here.  I labelled them and tagged them as best I could.

I also took a fair bit of time to document the process I was using to sort the photos.

At noon, I strolled down towards the yacht harbour, and had a very nice lunch at the Bistro de Paris.  It was interesting sitting beside these beautiful yachts floating at their docks only a few feet away.  Beside the café is Village Harbour, a fairly new development that seems to have been well executed.  It looks a bit like a Spanish villa, and is well maintained.

After lunch, I went back to editing and sorting photos.

In regards to the website development, we are waiting to hear back from our Tech Support Stateside.  Until they can make repairs to our software, we cannot do much further development, hence my work on photo sorting instead.

So please pray that I will be able to be patient and understanding, while at the same time knocking on doors to see if they may open.  Please pray that the Lord will give me wisdom as we address issues concerning the website. After all, Nehemiah’s people held a weapon in one hand and a trowel in the other hand and still got the wall built. I believe the Lord sent me down here to get the website built.

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Today I left in good time to meet my dive instructor at the south end of the island for my final deep-dive test.  Regardless of the challenges of the day, I can always look forward to slipping underneath the waves into another world.

I picked up my tank at Bruce’s dive shop, changed, and put the equipment in my car, and continued south past the transmitter site, and just past the salt pier to a sight called INVISIBLES.

As I drove past the Cargil Salt Company, I could see the front-end loaders scraping up the salt on one of the salt pans.  It seems the solar salt business is still booming.

INVISIBLES Dive Site

Ebby arrived in his pickup truck shortly after I did, and we suited up and entered the water.  The entry was quite easy, and we snorkelled out to the marker buoy in about 30 feet of water.

We then blew off our BC’s and sank below the waves, and headed out to sea.  One of the first things I noticed at a depth of 30 feet was some garden eels in the sand.  What was remarkable is they didn’t seem frightened at our presence.  These are the same garden eels that you see a hundred feet down that you can never get close to before they disappear in their little holes.  But these tiny, slender eels continued waving with the current, occasionally snapping at invisible bits of plankton.  I didn’t have time to stop and take pictures as we were headed for deeper waters.  Today was a teaching dive, and not strictly a fun dive.

We proceeded down the slope and across a bit of sand and up onto a second reef.  It is this second reef that is invisible from the shore, hence the name.  It runs from about 80 feet down to 120 feet.  My depth gauge registers in metres, and we went down to 32 metres, or just over a hundred feet.  We swam slowly along the reef, and then across another sand flats to a different reef.  On these sand flats, you could see the garden eels waving in the current in the distance, but directly below us there were only tiny holes where they had disappeared.

After 15 minutes, we began our slow ascent to the surface, spending most of our time around 60 feet deep.  At one point, Ebby pointed into the deeper water towards the surface where what looked like a big tarpan was cruising by.  It appeared to be over six feet long, but quickly disappeared back into the haze.  I also noticed that there seems to be a fair bit of sediment in the water here.  You can see little bits of material floating everywhere in front of your mask.

I had Ebby take a couple pictures of me while I was down there.  Typically, I don’t have a dive instructor all to myself, so I don’t usually have this opportunity.

At one point, I noticed soft corals that looked a lot like a combination of a fern and a bush that seemed to grow everywhere.  Near the end of one branch, I noticed all the branches were tied in a tight knot.  I grabbed Ebby’s fin, and then pointed to the ball of soft coral branches, and motioned as to what that might be.  He reached into his BC pocket and pulled out a notepad, and wrote that it was a star fish that would come out at night.  Apparently it had wrapped a little blanket around itself while it slept during the day.

I also noticed several of the parrot fish darting quickly back and forth.  I’m not sure if the twilight had sent them into an elevated activity, but typically parrot fish move slowly along the reef as they graze with their beaks on dead patches of coral.

Closer to shore, I noticed a large puffer fish.  They have the cutest, huge, saucer-like eyes, and are fairly slow swimmers.  You can see the spines tucked in along their skin which would extend if they were to inflate into a round ball shape, should they be attacked.  But we were just more tourists coming through, so he just ignored us and swam along.

The second one I noticed was near a bald patch in the sand that seemed to have been dug out.  Once we surfaced, I asked Ebby what that was.  He said that was a spot where an eagle ray most likely had been feeding.  I had shot a video of that about a week ago.  Apparently they root in the sand, looking for conch shells to feed on.  Ebby said that if you come on a night dive, you can see the conch shells come out of the sand to feed.  I’m amazed at how many new things you learn on each dive!

After we exited the water and dried off a bit, I filled out my log book and had Ebby sign it, along with his instructor number.  I will now scan this in and email it back to Groundhog Divers where I took the in-class portion of my Deep Diver Speciality Course with SSI.  Once that is processed, I will officially be certified as a deep diver.  That will allow me to be able to dive on wrecks without any hassle from dive masters, wanting to know if I was qualified to do those kind of dives.  In actual fact, though, because deep dives involve less bottom time, I don’t expect I’ll actually be doing that many of them.  Most of the scenery is good up until 80 or 100 feet.  More than a hundred feet, it tends to thin out, due to the lack of sunlight   So unless there is a wreck that interests you, there is not often a good reason to go any deeper.

After Ebby left, I met a few tourists from Florida, and we took each other’s photos.  We chatted for a while, and they seemed enthralled with the beauty of the reefs on Bonaire.  Apparently in 2010, some scuba organization rated the Bonairian reefs as the best in all of the Caribbean.  But as I explained to them, the reefs are not quite as good as they were 30 years ago.  However, to be honest, I try not to notice the damage, but just concentrate on the beauty, of which there is still plenty.

Right after work tomorrow, I’m hooking up with Jay for a dive.  We meet at his house at five.  It is wonderful to finally be in the routine of work, and then a dive immediately after.

Signing off until tomorrow.

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