No Sand – Aug. 21, 2012

I’m starting to get into the habit of finding new and interesting locations from which to dictate my blog each evening.  Tonight I am about a mile from the most southern tip of Bonaire at a place we used to call Far Beach.  Now it is called White Beach, but I would have to disagree with the term beach.  In fact, I’m sitting surrounded by the Caribbean equivalent of a gravel pit.  As far as my flashlight can show me, there are mounds upon mounds of pieces of sun-bleached coral.

 Photos here

Bonaire has never had a reputation for long, sandy beaches, but this used to be the exception.  If I’m not mistaken, this beach was destroyed years ago during a storm.  However, I still have very fond memories of camping out here with my brother and sister when the sandy beach used to be about 20 feet wide.  Now I believe all the sand is under the water.  I came here tonight to scout out the area for when my sister arrives in less than two weeks, as we plan to go camping somewhere in this vicinity.  I’m guessing we will have to get air mattresses in order to cope.

Tonight there is a quarter moon out.  The moonbeams are coming right up to my feet, as I sit three feet from the water’s edge.  The sky is almost completely clear, and there is a pleasant breeze coming from behind me.  To my right, at about the two o’clock position, are the lights of two different oil tankers.  Between them and the beam of moonlight is the glow of Curacao.  To my far right are the towers of Trans World Radio, about two miles to the north.  And to my left, there are only the stars.  In fact, I have driven past all civilization.

What draws me to the beach are the stars.  I know I have mentioned this before, but I never cease to be thrilled by looking into the heavens at God’s handiwork.  I remember going to sleep on the beach as a teenager, staring up at the stars, and trying to see just one more reveal itself, if I stared hard enough.

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This morning I did my impression of Darth Vader, and attacked the insects and fleas in my house.  First, I went around the house and closed every single window.  I still had a bit of air left in my scuba tank from Sunday, so I attached the tank to my BC, hooked up the regulator, got my scuba mask, and turned the tank on.  I had purchased a can of Baygon, which is a heavy-duty insect killer they don’t even sell in Canada.  I started in my bedroom and sprayed everywhere I could think of, all the while breathing out of my regulator.

Next I went to the room where the dogs had been kept for a couple of days during the construction of the back fence, and then proceeded to go through the rest of the house, spraying as I went.

Just as I got to the front door, the Baygon ran out, but I think I was able to do a fairly decent job.  I locked the door, and then removed my gear.  Hopefully, there weren’t any neighbours watching!  As I wasn’t sure whether I would go diving tonight or not, I brought my scuba gear with me to work.

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At TWR, I had devotions, and then sat down to check email and get to work.  I had been meaning to have a sit-down with Brandon for a few days now, and asked him before we began work when would be a good time to sit and chat.  He said he would love to talk, and would let me know as soon as he was free.  Unfortunately, Brandon says he often experiences death by meetings, and today was no different.  He is constantly being called out to meetings at different points on the island and with other staff members.

In the meantime, I started to document the questions I had for him, and ended up with a list three pages long.  I was also able to further refine our discussion paper on the listen-live proposal.

I had brought sandwiches for lunch, as I wanted to get down to the Dive Friends’ Retail Store on the main street before they closed for siesta.  Sure enough, they had exactly the scissors I needed for cutting away fishing line from the reef.  And here is the problem with going shopping:  You never walk away with just the one thing you came in for.  I ended up buying two plastic fish charts that I can bring with me on a dive, two T-shirts and a ball cap.  I charged it to my Visa card, which is the first Visa purchase I’ve made, as I am trying to avoid their service fees.

Next, I dropped down to Wannadive and dropped off my two empty tanks and picked up a full one.  I then let the people at the front desk know that I had a tank.  I love the honour system at all the dive shops down here.

(While sitting here, I saw another shooting star streak towards the horizon, just to the right of the moon.)

After lunch, I answered a few emails, and read up some documentation on compliance issues on the Internet.  Finally around two o’clock, Brandon said he could meet with me, so we went into the conference room, which also functions as the director’s office.  I was thankful that I had things written out, as it allowed me to clearly express my ideas and concerns.  Number one on my list was setting a firm target date for the launch of the website.  After a lengthy discussion, it was agreed that should certain areas of the website not be ready by the end of the month, we would simply de-activate them, and still go live by September 1st.  This was a real answer to prayer, as previously the plan was to launch sometime by the end of this year, after I had left.  Praise the Lord.  My main concern was answered.

We continued going through various topics, including which staff members would be assisting on different pages on the website, as well as when I would be training the staff to take over for me.  We were able to agree on all points.  I actually was able to bring my iPad in so Brandon could go through the site as we discussed each page.  Brandon is working with me to ensure that the site is ready for launch.  We set some goals, and are feverishly working to complete them.  In short, my meeting with Brandon was a real answer to prayer.

(As I continue to dictate, the waves are pounding steadily at my feet, while the Milky Way stretches to the horizon from above my head to about the eleven o’clock position.  I just heard the first car in the last half hour go by.)

After work, the Pedersens invited me over for supper since they were going to provide me with some flea treatment powder for the furniture in the house.  I will be giving all the mattresses and couches a fine coating of flea powder dust before I leave for work in the morning, just in case the Baygon didn’t get all of them.

On the way out, having fed the dogs before leaving, I dropped by the City Café to ask Albert a question.  Since I’ll be doing my first sensor data collection this Friday night, I wasn’t sure how to pass the reader onto the next diver, as the Yellow Submarine Shop will be closed by the time I leave the water.  The solution was easy.  I simply turn it in the following morning.  I also got the contact information of the lady who does the readings Saturday afternoon, and spoke with her on the phone briefly so that we can avoid any missed connections.  I will only have the opportunity to take the readings on four different Fridays.  Once again, Albert was very helpful and enthusiastic.  He seems to be a natural-born leader in these environmental endeavours.

I arrived at the Pedersens by 6:30.  Their son was very excited to show me a new iPad game called Eden.  I decided to buy my own version for 99 cents, which absolutely thrilled the children.  The problem was that the youngest got so excited, that she didn’t want to come to supper.  Mari cooked a lovely supper of rice, chicken thighs, and also chicken in some type of broth, as well as a Chinese vegetable mix with some teriyaki sauce in it.  I told her she should start her own franchise.  The kids took turns telling funny stories from when they were younger.

After supper, Dave called me into his “man cave,” where he showed me the various computer models of radio signal propagation.  Apparently there is a whole series of ham operators who have a secondary hobby of operating VHF receiving stations.  He was able to bring up a website that tracked all the ships on the ocean, as they are all required to have a VHF transmitter on board.  The receiver he showed me was off the Maldives on the east coast of Africa, and it showed the position and track of all the ships in that area.  The VHF receivers these fellows own privately are plugged into the Internet, and together they form this amazing network.  What I find difficult to understand is that these guys do this all for free, in spite of the cost of the equipment.

Dave then went on to show me his own private website where he has posted some of his scientific papers on radio signal propagation through the atmosphere.  Apparently the ionosphere, high up in the atmosphere,  deflects radio waves.   Under the right weather conditions, it can send a ham signal 3,000 miles away or more.   I didn’t realize how much weather affects radio signals.

Dave has been fascinated by radios since he was a child.  It is wonderful how the Lord has called him into the exact ministry where his radio engineering skills can be used for the Lord by Trans World Radio.  Pray for Dave and the other engineer, Dick Veldman, as they do the design on a couple of projects which are still in the pipeline.

(Another shooting star at about “ten o’clock” to my left!)

By the time we came out of Dave’s “cave,” it was eight o’clock, and I could tell that the children were getting a little tired, so I decided to leave and let the parents get them tucked in.

As happened last Friday, instead of heading back north to my home, I headed south to where I am sitting now.

I’m still overwhelmed with how much I have to be thankful for!


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