Housekeeping

I read that Queen Isabella of Spain bragged that she had had only two baths in her life — one when she was born, and the other when she married Ferdinand. They gave her a third when she died. That’s about how often the shops seem to get cleaned around here. It’s not that I dislike the chore or that I like a cluttered shop. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. I enjoy putting things in order and a clean shop is a more productive and cheerful place to work. It just seems like there is always something more urgent to do, especially for engineers who find it hard to throw things away.

Hall of Shame

Hall of Shame

As a result, I’ve sometimes gone for long periods of letting things pile up and then finally stopping to put stuff away and throw out the junk. I’m in put away-throw away mode now and I’m kind of amazed at some of the stuff that has turned up. For example, yesterday I threw away a maintenance manual I had just discovered. It was a great manual, but the equipment it covered had been gone for at least 15 years, long before I ever got here. You discover these things only if you sort through stacks of papers and three-ring binders.

The picture that I’ve titled “Hall of Shame” is in the generator shop. As you can imagine, not a lot of work happens on these benches. I’ve been putting this off for a while partly because it’s hot and full of mosquitoes, but mostly because there really isn’t any place to put most of this stuff and very little of it can be thrown away. We have no floor space or wall space available for more shelves or hooks. I’ll be facing some hard decisions when I get after this. I did gain some floor space earlier this week when I butchered and sold for scrap two rusted out air conditioners that were taking up space. I even got about $15 for the radio station by selling the scrap!

I Found A Desk!

I Found A Desk!

On the other hand, I’ve been making great strides in the audio shop. Not long ago, I uncovered this desk that I’d almost forgotten was there. :-D Not really, but it was pretty well buried in assorted stuff which now resides on shelves or in the landfill. Yesterday, I finally broke down and got rid of two antique computers. One was a Pentium II (Anyone remember those?) and the other one was even older. I thought I might someday need to use the cases to build new computers, but that hasn’t happened. Now that they are gone, I’ll probably need to build a computer next week.

So why am I telling you all this? Well, for one thing, there have not been many big adventures here lately. And I’m thankful for that. It means we’re on the air and the equipment is working which affords me the time to take care of these things. But the more important reason is what we can accomplish by applying some housecleaning in our souls. You’re probably better at this stuff than I am because I’m quite convicted by the clutter in my life.

I see three kinds of clutter that build up in our lives along with all sorts of dust and debris. One kind of clutter is “mental clutter” — what you could call the cares of this life. There are lots of stresses, lots of plans to make, and lots of hurts to massage. Sometimes we get in a rut and, instead of processing them and moving on, we hang on to them and they block us from following where Jesus wants to lead us. Like a computer program caught in an infinite loop; we can’t seem to move on to the next part of God’s program. To change metaphors, they become like that junk on the benches in the generator shop that’s keeping me from using the benches the way they were meant to be used.

Cleaning: It's a Good Thing

Cleaning: It’s a Good Thing

Speaking of the junk on the bench, another kind of clutter is “stuff clutter.” When one of Mildred’s elderly relatives who had been through the Great Depression died many years ago, she had so much stuff that they had to hold the estate sake at the county fairgrounds. We have lots of stuff, simply because we can. We have the room and we have the money. What we usually do not think we have is the time to sort and properly dispose of the stuff, or the willpower to not buy it in the first place. When Mildred and I moved to Florida from Ohio, we moved from a two story house with a basement, a barn, a workshop, and a shed to a single story house with a Florida sized (ie. small) two car garage and no basement, no shed, no barn, no shop, and no permission from the home owners association to build anything like that. I think we had two sales before we moved and another one afterwards. Then, before we moved to Roatan, we had two more sales, gave stuff away, and hauled at least two loads to the dump. We had “stuff issues!” And those issues made it a lot more difficult to follow God’s directions to come work at Radio HRGS here in Roatán. When God says, “Go,” we should be a little more prepared.

The third kind of clutter is what I’ll call “people clutter” since I can’t come up with a better term right now. We sometimes clutter our lives with unhealthy relationships that drain us emotionally and often consume large chunks of time either resolving issues or in activities that are not profitable for anyone involved. The other person might even be leading us into temptation, making it harder for us to flee from sin. Let’s not forget, though, that just because a relationship is difficult does not necessarily make it unprofitable. God may want you in this person’s life to minister to them. It takes discernment to know the difference. Maybe we should evaluate our personal relationships by asking if they are good for our own spiritual growth, the other person’s welfare, or if God is using this relationship in some other way for His glory. If the answer to all three is “no,” it may be time to either refocus the relationship or to move on. Jesus said that if our hand or our eye causes us to sin, that calls for an amputation. He was exaggerating to make a point, but what if it’s a friend who is causing us to sin and will not stop?

Call it de-cluttering, spiritual housekeeping, focus, or something else; if we want to be used by God as much as possible, we need to evaluate our lives from time to time to see what might be keeping us from pursuing and obeying God. I find this highly challenging because I enjoy so many activities. When I read Warren Wiersbe’s story about Dwight Moody, it hit me right on top of the head. While traveling in Ireland back in 1873, D.L. Moody heard British evangelist Henry Varley say: “The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him.” Moody couldn’t stop thinking about Varley’s words. “As I crossed the wide Atlantic,” Moody said, “the boards of the deck…were engraved with them, and when I reached Chicago, the very paving stones seemed marked with them.” Moody was so stricken by Varley’s statement that he decided he was involved in too many ministries to be effective and therefore began to concentrate on evangelism.

Several decades ago one of our pastors said something I’ll never forget, but I sometimes need to remind myself of it. He said that, because God wants us to do all things well, if we are not able to find the time to do all things well, we are doing something God does not want us to do. We need to find out what it is and stop doing it. I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s an extreme challenge. In Hebrews 12:1-2 we read:

… let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Good News – Bad News Kinda Day

Nice backdrop for a Bible study!

Nice backdrop for a Bible study!

It’s been another one of those days. I’m writing this off line now and will paste it into our blog editor whenever we once again have Internet service.

Today started out pretty cool. I finally made it this morning to the men’s Bible study that I’ve been wanting to join. I’ve been wanting to do this for several weeks. It’s at an ideal time since it starts at 6:30 AM on Thursdays … a perfect way to begin my day off and I still get to sleep in a little. We had a great time discussing spiritual warfare from Ephesians chapter six as well as several other issues.

The other side of the frame rail was just as bad.

The other side of the frame rail was just as bad.

As I left the study, I decided to get a jump on getting the truck washed, which is something I usually have done on Thursday afternoon. While the guys had it up in the air to pressure wash the undercarriage, they called me over and pointed out several huge holes in the frame. Oops! Switching from good news to bad news.

After Mark’s guys got the truck all cleaned up and waxed, I went over to Perry’s shop show him the damage. He said he can get to it next week and that even though it looks scary, as you can see from the picture, it’s OK to drive it for a while longer.
The next bit of bad news came when I got into the truck and started it up. It had started pouring down rain with wind, thunder, and lighting while I was talking to Perry. The radio in the truck came on just in time for me to hear some crackles and sputters before it went silent. Some day off this was turning out to be!

I called the station to see if Ken needed my help. Karen answered the phone and said she was still trying to find him. She thought he was working back in one of the shops. I told her that I would drive on up to the transmitter building in case the problem was there and to have Ken call me when he could.
It was kind of an interesting drive up that muddy, steep road with torrents of water gushing down past me. It made me feel like a real missionary adventurer for a while. But I made it up there with no problems and discovered that the network switch that distributes all the data among the various pieces of equipment was deader than a doornail. Just about that time Ken called so see what I’d learned and ask what he could do. Perfect timing, Ken. I told him where to find a spare network switch in the audio shop and before long he arrived with it. I plugged it in and connected the cables and we were back on the air. Well, the AM was. Still no FM audio. Apparently the digital/analog converter for the FM signal didn’t like all the network gyrations and it went brain dead. I cycled power on it and we were back in business.

It was almost six hours after leaving for the Bible study that I finally got home with a freshly washed truck that was almost covered in new mud. I had time for lunch with Mildred and we watched a short movie before it was time to go to the funeral of one of our listeners. Now we’re back and I can finally do some writing and catch up on email. This is the first chance I’ve had all day to do that and now we have no internet.

Pause here while Jerry tinkers with routers, cables, and other mysterious stuff.

Alrighty! The Internet is back. Sort of. It appears that our firewall is having some sort of emotional issues and won’t let us out to the outside world. I plugged the Internet provider’s adapter straight into my computer (bypassing the firewall), changed my computer’s network settings to be able to work directly with their adapter, and I’m back on line. Of course, no one else can use the Internet and I can’t get into our network. So I guess I’ll try to get that fixed before it’s time for shower, supper, and sleep and then back to “work” in the morning.

What was that this morning about spiritual warfare? ;-)

A Busy Week

It’s only Thursday and I’ve already been to Utila and back as well as helping Ken Anderson a little bit with a demolition project. I won’t write much because I spent so much time making this brief video. I thought it was time for a little action movie. Not a lot of action, but it’s better than none. ;-)

Last time I went to Utila, I discovered that the base plate of the AM tower was getting really rusty. I cleaned it as well as I could and applied so many coats of paint I forgot the number of them. I think it was eight coats. I was very curious how the paint was holding up. On top of that, I wanted Ken to take a look with me and see if, together, we could invent a scheme for beefing up the base of the tower. I think we have an idea, but we’ll still need to refine it. When I finished pushing aside the pasture grass that had grown up around the base of the tower my eyes nearly popped out of my head. The paint looked perfect! There was some blistering higher up on the tower itself, but the part I’d worked on looked totally free of rust.

Yesterday Ken went to work on removing the termite riddled shelter from over and around the Silseths’ home air conditioner. We’ve been informed by a friend who really knows A/C that the cover is holding in heat and keeping the rain from rinsing off the sea salt. So Ken did the majority of the work on that yesterday with a little help from yours truly as needed. Today, he recruited a neighbor to help with removing the shelter surrounding the A/C on our house. It sure does look different back there now! Check out the video of the trip and the demolition.

Mildred and I are hoping that next week we’ll be able to go to Tegucigalpa to get our resident visas renewed again. Even though we paid for five years, it’s necessary to have them take another photo and, if I understand correctly, take a new set of fingerprints. Just in case something changed, I guess. And we pay a small fee to the government for the privilege of visiting their offices. It still beats sending our passports over there every 30 days!

Old Habits Die Hard

Ken and Karen Anderson have been here for a week now, and I’m still adapting to the change. It’s not bad; in fact, it’s great. But it is sure different. I’m used to being the guy who fixes everything. Now, in Ken, we have someone else who can fix just about anything. While I deeply appreciate the lightening of my load, I also feel a little bit odd seeing someone else doing what I’ve always done. It’s taking a little getting used to. I just hope I don’t get too used to it. After all, when they leave in November, I’ll be back to trying to juggle all the repairs and maintenance alone again. I didn’t realize how exhausting it was until Ken lifted most of the load off my shoulders. Thank you, Ken! And thank you, Karen. Karen is spending lots of time in the production studio lending her voice to the cause. She is voice tracking three days a week (which Peter usually does), which lightens our load so that Mildred and I are each just doing two days a week. And Karen sounds good, too!

Ken working on the Silseth air conditioner

Ken working on the SIlseth air conditioner

The first chore for Ken was getting the mower working again. As I started to mow on the morning the Andersons arrived, I discovered that one of the blades was not locked to its shaft which meant it wasn’t spinning as fast as the shaft. Not good! So Ken took that apart and managed to get it working again with epoxy until the parts I ordered get here for a proper repair. Next up was finishing the duct work that Peter and I built for the Silseths’ new air conditioner. The ducting was actually done, but we still needed to make a new “rain hood” for it. I had already made one for our house and bought enough material to make one for both houses. That gave Ken a template and saved him a trip to the hardware store. The next step will be to remove the roofs from over the A/C units so the rain can rinse the salty dust off them. They should also be more efficient, too. Our friend, Bob Whitford was here last fall and noticed that the outside temperature under those lean-to roofs is about five degrees hotter than the rest of the outdoors.

Our upcoming ferry route and the signal route

Our upcoming ferry route and the signal route

But before we start making that huge mess, Ken and I are planning to go to Utila. We’ll just be gone a couple days, leaving tomorrow and returning on Tuesday so we can check on the rust on the bottom of the AM tower and do any cleaning and painting it might need. I also want to make a slight adjustment to the remote control that we use to check on the transmitter over the phone line. On the way back, I need to shop for a couple items in La Ceiba which is where we change ferries on the mainland. Yesterday, when I called to make a hotel reservation and to arrange transportation with my friend Lance, they told me it’s a very quiet time over there now. Business is slow, which is hard on them, but should make for smooth sailing for Ken and me. … assuming the weather stays as nice as it has been this week. In fact, the forecast says the winds will be calmer so we should literally have smooth sailing. There’s an old saying that rough seas make for good sailors. But since I am going to be a passenger, not a sailor, I’ll opt for the smooth seas if I can. ;-)

Oh! I nearly forgot. Mildred and I tried something new this week. We’ve done the HRGS Update lots of times before, but this week we gave it a different twist. I need to add that I think Mildred did a great job, by the way. You can check it out by using the player at the end of this story.

We thank you for your faithful prayers and for the financial support that keeps us ministering here. It’s amazing what God can do through simple, imperfect people who will go wherever He asks, give whatever He asks, and do whatever He asks.

 

Almost There — Again

stork-and-frog-in-color-dont-ever-give-up-smI think persistence is about to pay off. But, then again, that’s what I thought last week and it hasn’t yet. I think Hank Aaron had it right when he said,

My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.”

So that’s what I’ve been doing. Still, it’s a good thing I didn’t have a baseball bat handy or we’d have had a rather expensive brand new computer scattered around the studio. :-)

In my last update, I said I was going to give up on Windows 7 for the new computer and just install our extra Windows XP Pro license. It wouldn’t let me. Whenever I tried to boot from the installation disk I got the dreaded Windows blue screen of death. I tested the disk on other computers and it worked fine, but not this new computer. After several hours of Googling that gave me no clues, I resigned myself to using Windows 7 and we’d just have to live with the annoyances.

What an adventure that turned out to be! I’d already reformatted the hard drive, so I used the recovery disk that came with the computer. Guess what? It only had Windows. No drivers for the network adapter, sound, and so on. It’s a little hard to go on line to get the driver for your network adapter when the network adapter doesn’t work because you don’t have the driver. What were they thinking?! What was I thinking when I burned that bridge by formatting the drive instead of using a new one and keeping the original just in case?

Got Cables?

Got Cables?

To make an exceedingly long story short, I finally got it all reinstalled and working off line. The grand moment came Tuesday during an hour long program. I switched us over to the standby computer, removed the old FM broadcast computer, and put the new one in place. Once everything was hooked up, I made the necessary changes to our network so the new computer would look just like the old one to the production computers. For our next trick, we tried to use the production computers to make our voice tracks. It didn’t work. We could record them but they were getting saved to a place we could not find. It should have worked, but it didn’t. I yanked the new one out and put back the old computer so I could ponder my predicament.

The only thing I knew that was different was that it had Windows 7 rather than XP. There had to be a way to put XP on that new computer. Back to my old friend, Google. This time, I must have phrased the search query better, because the answer was right at the top of the list. I made one esoteric change to the BIOS settings in how the computer configured the hard drives, and I was finally able to install XP. But this time I did it on a different hard disk!

Everything is now installed and running smoothly. I plan to put it into service early Friday morning when no one else is in the studios. Hopefully, I’ll have everything set up and ready for use before Mildred gets there at 8:00ish. Hopefully.

My whole week seemed to revolve around this crazy computer. As a result, Peter and I began recording the HRGS Update wondering just what we could talk about that wasn’t the same as the previous week. We didn’t need to be concerned. We soon found ourselves talking about things that are far more important than what we’d been doing. As always, we enjoyed our conversation and a listener friend even stopped by our house the other evening and told us how much she enjoyed it, too.

Dog Days of Summer

Saydee and Mildred Watching the Island Pass By

Saydee and Mildred Watching the Island Pass By

Mildred and I have a new job. We’re dog sitters this week and possibly next week because Peter and Sandi are away and their usual dog sitters are not available. It’s extra work, but it’s fun, too. We like Saydee and she likes us. They have trained her well, which is a huge help.

The Silseths have gone to Tegucigalpa to see a cardiologist. They hope he can finally fix the extra heartbeats that have been tormenting and tiring Peter. He was scheduled to see the doctor this afternoon. We think he will may undergo ablation which is a procedure in which they burn off the misfiring nerve. Mildred and I are still waiting for them to get back to us with the doctor’s decision — hopefully tomorrow. Afterward, they plan to take a week off so Peter can recuperate. So we’re flying solo plus dog sitting.

Needless to say, with the extra responsibilities, I won’t be working on as many projects. However there was one emergency that I had to deal with right away. It actually began  the day before they left. The radio we use to receive the FM signal at the station, so we know if we’re on the air or not, up and died. We had to carry around a little portable radio. I checked six stores before I found a suitable radio at a little import shop. It was Mildred’s idea to stop there. I figured it would be really unlikely, but stopped anyway since we were driving right past it. The shop keeper had almost forgotten they had this radio and we were just about to leave when she remembered it on a back shelf. On top of that, it was open box so I got it for less than half what it would cost at Amazon, and that doesn’t even count the extra we’d have paid for shipping and customs. What a deal!

We picnicked here on the way back from my last speaking trip.

We picnicked here on the way back from my last speaking trip.

I’ve had two opportunities to preach since we got back after furlough and I’ve been asked to speak on August 4 at the church we sometimes visit where they target their ministry mostly to North Americans and Europeans. It will be my first time preaching there. I’m both thrilled and terrified every time someone asks me to speak. It’s an incredible responsibility. That thought reminds me to encourage you to never take your pastor for granted. I’ve been speaking on forgiveness and it’s been extremely convicting for me. I see people listening closely, so I think God might be doing the same kind of work in them as He is in me.

We remain grateful for your prayers. Satan continues to try various means to fight back against the inroads Radio HRGS is making against his influence here. Many of you help make it financially possible for us to live and work here and we are doubly thankful for you and to you.

Some Weeks Are More Different

In eight years here at Radio HRGS, I’ve never had two weeks alike. In fact, I’m as sure as I can be that I’ve never had two days alike. But this week has been unusually unusual.

Future Slo-mo Disaster

Future Slo-mo Disaster

It’s not often that you get to see a significantly serious infrastructure catastrophe slowly evolve. The little store about 200 yards up the street built a concrete trash corral for their trash cans. It really doesn’t corral much trash. It seems like most of the trash is in the creek and in the neighbor’s yard across the creek. But I’m sure they thought it looked good on paper before they built it. It has concrete walls on three sides and a concrete floor. Through the middle of the floor sprouts a wooden utility pole carrying telephone lines, cable TV lines, and electrical wires at 11,800 volts. Perhaps, in hindsight, a foundation might have been a good idea. In the picture at right you can see a little of what it’s doing to the utility pole. We’ve taken pictures to the electric company, so we’ll see if they take any preventive measures. In the inset, you can see our two-inch water pipe that supplies our customers beyond the creek attached to the side of the bridge. The stress of the slowly falling structure finally broke the elbow on our side of the bridge the other day. After Peter and I repaired that, we cut loose the concrete pillar you see leaning to the side. It was on the verge of dropping straight down and crushing the pipe under it.

Kid Central - HRGS Front Porch

Kid Central – HRGS Front Porch

On a more positive note, it’s been like kid central here this week. A big team of teens and adults from Fellowship Bible Church in South Jersey (New Jersey to those who don’t know any better ;-)) is here this week holding a sort of combination sports camp/vacation Bible school on the grounds in front of the radio station. They have drawn quite a crowd of children who are getting some good exercise, learning some new songs, and hearing about Jesus and His love for them. Some of the leaders have been here several times, so they know their way around and are wonderfully undemanding, which makes it a pleasure to do favors for them. Last night was a special treat. They invited Mildred and me to join them for supper at The Blue Bahia, one of our favorite places to eat. I wish we could have visited all night!

Another neat thing this week was meeting new listeners Sunday. A couple with their family are visiting here from the States for four weeks. She’s bilingual so she listens to English and Spanish and he’s English only. She said they live where they can listen to either the AM or FM signal so he can hear English all day if he wants to. She was sure excited to find a Christian radio station in their temporary home where they’ve come asking God to use them in His ministry.

Peter and Saydee

Peter and Saydee

It looks like next week will be just as different as all our other weeks. Our station manager, Peter Silseth, has been consulting with his doctors about a medical puzzle. He gets extra heartbeats and has been experiencing a slow pulse and low blood pressure. After trying many different medicines available for this condition and not experiencing any relief, his doctor (who is also our doctor) is going with him and Sandi next week to see the top cardiologist in the country. They expect that the solution will be a procedure called ablation in which they locate and burn off the misfiring nerve. But they won’t really know the plan till they see the specialist. They will be leaving Tuesday for the trip to Tegucigalpa and expect to be gone until about Sunday. Their dog, Saydee, usually stays with a friend who also has a dog and they all get along well, but this friend will be away from the island. So Mildred and I will get to be dog sitters next week. Please pray for Peter and Sandi. This has been a very difficult time for them with all the uncertainty, weakness, and discomfort Peter’s condition has generated.

Now, back to the positive stuff. I’ve mentioned before my island friend, Raul Muñoz. He helped us with the generator several years ago, but he’d never been in our studios. He came by this week so Peter and I lured him into a recording studio and parked him in front of a microphone. You can hear the results in the audio player below. We always have a good time when we get together with Raul.

Not so hum-drum!

Well, after Jerry’s post last week about my life being so much of the same routine day after day, I had an exciting day yesterday. I took a trip to La Ceiba on the mainland with the main purpose of the trip being to get my annual mammogram.

I asked Sandi to call the radiologist’s office on Tuesday to be sure the doctor would be there before I made the final decision to go. The ride on the early morning ferry was nice and smooth and then, traveling via taxi, I arrived at the office about 9:00. Even though I didn’t have an appointment, I was the first patient to be seen because everyone else was waiting for ultrasound exams. I was finished and left with my films and the doctor’s written report by 10:15 and it cost me about $27.50!!

I took a chance on visiting my dentist in the same building (again, no appointment). She was in and finishing up with a patient when I arrived. She was able to remove my last old silver filling to replace it with a white composite resin filling. I was finished there before 11:00 and it cost me about $35.00!!

The one thing I wanted to shop for while in La Ceiba was a 1/4-inch dowel for one of Jerry’s projects. I was out of the Ace Hardware store by 11:15 and it cost me about $ .70!!

So far, I was on a roll and it wasn’t even noon yet….

I decided next that I needed something from Dunkin’ Donuts. My lower lip was kind of numb on the left side, but that glazed donut sure tasted good.  You’ve probably guessed that we don’t have a Dunkin Donuts, or Krispy Kreme Donuts  on the island. After a long trek and several stops in different stores – mostly looking and a little bit of buying – I arrived at Burger King for lunch. We don’t have one of those on the island either, so the Whopper Jr. and fries had a special appeal. Then I walked some more to the Mega Mall where it was nice and cool inside. Along the way I was thrilled to see that sidewalks have replaced the dirt paths along the side of the main road and the view of the mountains as a backdrop at the golf course was spectacular (see photos below).

By this point I was mainly killing time waiting for the afternoon ferry’s departure. I had a few more items I wanted to look for at the Supermercardo Mega (grocery store) at the mall, but they didn’t have what I was looking for. I bought some sliced pepperoni and an interesting bottle/can of apple drink. It’s plastic on the bottom portion with an aluminum pop-tab top – different! The picture also shows a package of cookies that I enjoy and reminds me of a car trip with the Mitten family a couple of years ago from Siguatepeque to the Copan ruins. They’re almost a cracker/cookie with sugar on top.

Now, I had just three more stops before the ferry – Wendy’s for a chocolate Frosty, KFC to take home for Jerry and Dunkin’ Donuts for us to share – yummy!! A little break from the routine is a good thing now and then!

 

 

This is Perseverance

We’ve been back from our “home assignment” now for about a month and haven’t had much in the way of big adventures yet. That’s always nice, but it makes it a little hard to come up with something really gripping for the blog. I already told you about the little trip over to Utila. And we’ve had lots and lots of power outages. It’s almost like the bad old days in that regard, but nothing very exciting there. Mildred said this morning that people keep wanting her to write about her life. But she says all she does is go to the bank, go to the grocery store, and go to the office or studio at the radio station.

Taking Care of Business

Taking Care of Business

That’s all she does?! She’ll probably be embarrassed to proof read this for me, but let me tell you a little about this amazing woman. One part of what she does is keep track of all the radio station finances. This involves the obvious stuff like paying the bills and employees while tracking income and expenses. She generates the reports that Bible Basics needs in order to maintain their standing with the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. She generates the water and electrical bills for our utility customers. To calculate those bills she uses one of the largest and most complex spreadsheets I’ve ever seen. At least twice a month she has to go to the bank. To me, that would be the biggest ordeal. She has done it enough to know when are the good days and the bad days, but she still sometimes stands in line for up to an hour. Sorry. I’d rather have a broken leg than go to the bank around here. I can’t help but admire her patience.

Request & Dedication

Request & Dedication

Another part of what she does is called the Monday Morning Concert. Each week she features an artist or group and  selects their music and inserts biographical info about them. Or once a month, she invents a musical theme for the concert and selects music to go with that theme. This week she featured music about sheep and shepherds. Once a month, the theme is the new music we introduce at the start of each month. She researches the artists and the songs so she can give the listeners some context to enrich the listening experience. Twice a week she is on the air live with Request and Dedication, a one hour program where people call, write, or contact us via Facebook with their song requests. On Mondays she has the whole English FM broadcast from 7:30 AM until 3:00 PM. And on top of that, she sometimes fills in for me when I have emergencies that keep me out of the studio.

She can COOK!

She can COOK!

What else does she do? She feeds and clothes the station engineer — and that’s no small task! She not only washes my clothes, she mends them and, just when they are starting to get comfortable, she tears them up for rags because they are too tattered for wearing in public. It’s one of the many ways she protects me from myself. :-) Cooking and shopping in Roatán is not quite the adventure that it used to be, but it’s sure not like in the States. She does a fantastic job of it and I’m grateful even if I can’t eat as much as I’d like to. She’ll even proofread this for me before I make it public. I can never catch all my own typos. This would be a mess without her help. I’ll let you know at the end if she changes anything significant. :-) Addendum: She straightened out some facts I got confused about.

Now for the truly amazing part. She does these routine, often boring, chores over and over and over again. That’s perseverance. I have one of the coolest jobs in the world. Every day is different. I get to invent and make stuff. I work with electricity, electronics, computers, metal and wood fabrication, machinery, and people. I get to preach. I get to go to Utila once in a while. My life is often exciting while Mildred’s days are usually incredibly routine. But the radio station could not function without the things she does. She does them consistently; she does them well; and she does them far away from her mother and our son and daughter-in-law, all of whom she deeply misses. She does it because she loves Jesus that much.

Ain’t Got Time to Fix the …

Bob & Kay in the Studio

Bob & Kay in the Studio

As I sit typing, I hear the Cathedrals singing ”This Old House” on the TV in the other room. There are lots of repetitions of “Ain’t got time to fix …” in that song. Somehow that seems appropriate. I’ve had little time for much of anything. But Bob Whitford’s been doing lots of fixing up around our old house. And Kay’s been doing lots of cleaning and other chores. Ben and Pat Burkey are still here too. I’ve mostly been in scurry mode in the studios dealing with several computer issues. Then sometimes helping Bob and Ben with their projects till almost supper time. That makes for some long days when you start work at 5:30 or before!

Today’s project was the air conditioner ducts on our house. Bob and Ben also replaced our termite riddled attic stairway as well as some door trim. They installed a stairway in the Silseth’s house too, plus lots of other things. Kay has helped with dishes, laundry, trimming bushes, cleaning windows, and so on. Bob and Ben worked on the electrical supply to the Children’s Home next door the whole first week Bob was here. That was a real challenge to sort out. It was hard work, too — lots of digging and swatting of nasty, biting ants.

Ben comes to the station before 5:30 every weekday morning to check the satellite downloads and get them all processed for me. I still do the weekend downloads. Pat’s been voice tracking her heart out. She wants to have it done far enough ahead to make it easy for Peter and Sandi when they get back in late November.

Yesterday I coaxed Bob and Kay into the studio to help me create this week’s HRGS Update. Guess what. They loved doing it! ;-) I’ll let them tell the rest of the story.

Not Yet Decrepit Enough

I seem to be at the uncomfortable age of having learned how to do or figure out how to do almost everything, but not yet decrepit enough to say, “No.” It’s been making me tired lately, but at least I feel appreciated.

The latest honor is coming up Thursday. One of the young ladies next door to us has asked me to photograph her wedding. Since it takes place on my day off, and she doesn’t really know anyone else capable, it was hard to say no — especially since we planned to go anyway. It’s been many years since I’ve shot a wedding. No, make that many decades. Sure hope I don’t blow it. ;-)

It seems lately that stuff is breaking faster than I can keep up with it. We’re still working on the high SWR in our FM antenna system. We have it mostly narrowed down to the antennas. One is good, two are questionable, and the other five are clearly bad. We’re waiting on a response from the manufacturer as to how to proceed from here. If you didn’t catch it in earlier blog posts, or maybe forgot, SWR stands for standing wave ratio. In a perfect cable and antenna, every single watt of radio power will get radiated into the air from the antenna. In the real world, a little bit of power gets reflected back to the transmitter. When the ratio of reflected power to unreflected power gets too high, it causes problems. Here’s a short video that shows our latest test procedure.

We still have two other big deals hanging over our heads. I’ve had my hands pretty full working on the FM antenna system and fixing the lawn mower which had developed a problem before I went to Iowa. So there hasn’t been much time to work on the problem with the bad electrical neutral feeding the children’s home building. I think I have located where we need to dig in order to access two conduit runs I hope to be able to join together. Once we get that dug up and connected, I can pull all new electrical wires over there from our generator shop and put that issue to bed. But it’s a fairly big job and I don’t have a lot of time left to accomplish it.

Why don’t I have much time? Because Mildred and I are leaving for our furlough June 4. We have lots and lots to do to get ready, but we are sure looking forward to reconnecting with family, friends, and other supporters. We’ll be up in the States for two months and then come back to renew our resident visas and to give Peter and Sandi a chance to take their furlough. During those months, we’re getting help from two families who used to serve here. Ken and Karen Anderson will take the first shift and Ben and Pat Burke will take the second shift. Since they will over lap a little bit, it will be like old home week here for a short time.

This is the bracket the thief tried to break.

This is the bracket the thief tried to break.

Besides all that, I need to re-address the security of our storage area, which is a shipping container. There was another attempted break in this week. No entry or serious damage, but I see where I can make a couple improvements. We have two photo eyes for security lights that need to be replaced. Mother’s Day is this Sunday. We still do not have our AM computer back in the studio after last fall’s lightning attack. I need to come up with some way to simulcast the program on both AM and FM when the two computers are five miles apart. And I’d better get that done really soon! The list could go on and on, so you can see why we are begging God for more staff. Please keep praying about that. Perhaps you are the person or couple God has in mind!

I should mention my mom. She is doing very well after her surgery. She has been acting a little loopy, though. Doctors are not quite sure yet what’s causing that. Her blood work is OK. Perhaps all those years of dealing with kids like me and my siblings is finally getting to her. ;-)

I hope we’ll get to see many of you while we journey in the U. S. this summer. We’ll be fairly equally divided between Florida and Ohio, with a brief foray into eastern Iowa. Let us know if you want to try to schedule something.

Shock, Awe, and Consternation

Shock

A couple weeks ago someone stole one of the radio station’s trash barrels. We use plastic 55 gallon drums and they cost about $20 to $30 each. Today, while I was eating lunch another one disappeared. I was shocked. Already?! And in broad daylight? With “HRGS” painted on the side? Yup. Gone. And all the trash that was in it was gone too. The trash part really puzzled me. I walked down the road a ways, looking back in among the houses. Didn’t see it. So I headed back the other way. There were a few the right color, but they were too far away to identify, so I kept walking so I could get a better look. I’m sure glad I did!!

Awe

Trash Barrel in Dr. Raymond's Truck

Trash Barrel in Dr. Raymond's Truck

As I approached the pulperia where we usually buy eggs and a few other odds and ends, I noticed my friend Dr. Raymond in front of the pulperia in his little pickup truck with a bunch of kids. He coaches basketball and also has basketball classes here on Saturday mornings. He had been here with his usual crowd of pre-teens this morning. His adult team was scheduled to play here this afternoon and he was headed back to get ready for the game. Guess what I saw in the back of his truck. My crazy friend had loaded up the nearly full barrel and taken it somewhere to dump it. Now I’m in awe. What a guy! He knows that it’s no fun for us to pick up the trash people almost always leave on the grounds, so he always has his players police the ground as a way of saying thanks for having a place to play. This time he went way above and beyond the call of duty. Perhaps he figured that if he’d told me what he was going to do I would have tried to tell him he didn’t need to do that. ;-)

Consternation

Peter Checking the Main Connector on Our FM Signal Splitter

Peter Checking the Main Connector on Our FM Signal Splitter

Our SWR woes continue, but we have another plan. What’s SWR? It’s the measure of the power that is getting reflected back to the transmitter rather than going out from the antennas. We’ve been getting lots of expert advice from several engineers up in the States. We are starting to think it might be the signal splitter that’s reflecting too much power back to the transmitter instead of passing it on to the antennas. We’ve inspected and tested every connection, cable, and antenna individually and they all behave the same. What’s a signal splitter? Well, if you have cable TV and have more than one TV on the cable, you’re using a signal splitter. But this splitter is way bigger and handles a lot more power. We don’t have the kind of test equipment the pros use, but we do have the old signal splitter from our old FM installation on the hill behind the radio station. Monday we plan to take the old splitter up there and put it into service to see if it improves the SWR.

If that improves the SWR, we’ll not only know what’s wrong, we’ll be back to full power. Right now, we have eight antennas rated at 500 watts each and the transmitter only puts out 2,000 watts total. So the antennas are sort of loafing. The old splitter can only feed four antennas, but, since they can each handle 500 watts, we should be able to stay at full power until we get a replacement splitter. If the old splitter does not reduce the SWR, then I think we need a real pro down here with the right test equipment. I am moderately confident that we will have this figured out by the end of the day Monday, but we absolutely need God’s help with this. Please pray for us for wisdom, safety, and cooperative weather.