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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Taking on the Heat: a Solar Panels Update and the Arrival of Our Summer Interns

The KTWR staff has been laboring hard in the heat to install the new solar panels since the materials arrived in March, and much progress has been made. Volunteers Jerry and Pam Fitzwater were still on island then and were able to help with digging the postholes. After the holes were dug, the posts were set in place and the panels were mounted. Now our engineers are in the process of wiring the panels and tying them into the main power grid at the site.

Digging the postholes
One hole at a time: Jim M. using the auger while Jerry and Dale clear dirt out of the way and keep it from falling back into the hole
Dale and Dave setting a post in its hole while Phil and Mike prepare another post in the background
Jim A., Perry, Mike, and Jim M. pouring concrete to secure the posts

Since the Fitzwaters left us at the end of April, we’ve had some new help arrive on island—three summer interns! Abby, Elayne, and Sarah have joined KTWR for two months to gain some practical experience in their respective engineering fields and to grow in their understanding of missions. All three young ladies raised support to be here and have sacrificed making money and taking it easy during their summer breaks out of a desire to be faithful to the Lord and His calling in their lives.



Abby Acker just completed her sophomore year at John Brown University where she is majoring in Electrical Engineering with a minor in Intercultural Studies. In the picture above, Abby is pulling wiring through a conduit for the newly mounted panels.



Elayne Apol also just completed her sophomore year at Dordt College where she is a Mechanical Engineering major. Above, Elayne is using a heat gun (in the already hot weather) to straighten some of the wire conduits that stick out above ground.


Sarah Chen will be a senior this fall at the University of Michigan. She is majoring in Computer Engineering. Sarah is pictured above feeding wiring through a conduit for Abby while Dale further secures some panels to their mounts.

The work might not always be what they expected it to be as all of our staff members wear many hats around the site in order to keep our daily operations running smoothly. But it is clear that these interns came prepared to serve, and they have willingly taken on various tasks no matter how menial or complex. We are excited to see how the Lord grows them this summer and uses this time to teach them more about their fields of study, the ministry of TWR on Guam, and the mission He has given His followers to reach every tribe, tongue, and nation with the Good News of Jesus Christ our Savior.

From left to right: Elayne, Sarah, and Abby


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Busy Season

The dry season on Guam has finally started to look more like a dry season, and with it our staff at KTWR has found itself in the midst of a busy work season. Our IT personnel are currently working on an upgrade for our NETIA system, the database system that feeds programs to the transmitters for broadcasting. This system upgrade will help us make use of certain NETIA features that we have not be using up until this point. One advantage is that it will link together our system on Guam and our system on Sri Lanka. This is an advantage because our staff on Guam manages the broadcasts for our transmitters on Sri Lanka. Now if there is an issue with those broadcasts, we will be able to see those issues and address them more directly from our remote location.

Another task on our staff’s to-do list is replacing the Dummy Load that was installed this time last year. You may recall our reports on this project that began in July 2015. It appears that at some point the output of a transmitter was routed to the Dummy Load instead of to an antenna while the Dummy Load's cooling pump was turned off. This burned up the resistors on the load, which led to the need for a replacement.

Replacement resistors for the Dummy Load

Next, after months of waiting for this shipment to arrive, the solar panels (and their accompanying parts) for the third and final phase of our solar panel project arrived at the site last week! Now we will be able to finish the work on this project that has been three years in the making. We have already benefitted from the first two installments of solar panels, but once this third phase is complete, we will be able to save even more money on energy costs—our greatest ministry expense. The money we save can go toward expanding TWR’s ministry to the Asia/Pacific region.

Unloading the panels from the truck


Posts and other parts for the solar panels

All of these tasks have taken place as we have been gearing up for our bi-annual season change, which took place Sunday, March 26th. Twice a year we must apply for new frequencies for our broadcasts with the FCC and come up with new broadcast schedules for our programs. This requires much collaboration between all of our departments—IT, engineering, content management, etc.—and between all of our ministry partners in the region. Once we know which frequencies we have been given by the FCC for broadcasting, we then have to decide which programs will broadcast on those different frequencies. Schedules are made up, ministry partners load programs into the database, and our program traffic controllers build the program playlists. The transmitters have to be retuned to broadcast on the new frequencies, and we have to continue to communicate with the FCC to acquire approval for certain allocations as we realize the need to tweak certain things. Now that the season change has officially occurred, our staff will follow up with the progress of the broadcasts and fix any issues with the transmitters, computers, and playlists. Please pray for the broadcasts during this new season, that the transition will happen smoothly and that people will hear the good news of Jesus Christ and be encouraged by messages of truth and hope!

Allen, a content manager, working on some recordings for the new season

In this busy season, we have been blessed with some extra help from volunteers. Jerry and Pam Fitzwater arrived on Guam on March 2nd and will be here until the end of April. They are from Indiana where they attend the sending church of the Dills, one of our staff families. Jerry and Pam first learned about TWR through the Dills as they were raising support to move to Guam, and as the Fitzwater’s looked more into the ministry, they came across opportunities to serve short-term. One thing led to another, and pretty soon the Lord had supplied them with the funds and the opportunity to take leave from their jobs in Indiana for two months. Since they have arrived, Jerry has helped with various projects around the site. He will also help with the first stages of the solar panel project. Pam has also been able to help with various tasks around the site, and as a nurse, she has gone through the proper channels to train our staff in CPR so that we may be certified on Guam. This will happen sometime in the next month. We are grateful for Jerry and Pam, for their servants’ hearts and the help they have brought to us during this eventful time.

Jerry, dark blue shirt, helping unload the solar panels

Pam pulling some stubborn weeds in front of the site

Friday, February 24, 2017

KTWR Departures

Paul and Kathy during their
first years at KTWR
In the last six months we’ve had to say goodbye to two of our veteran KTWR families. Paul and Kathy Gregowske arrived with their family on Guam in 1991. Paul helped with various building projects and maintenance around the site. For years he played a very important role in the daily operations of the ministry. One of Kathy’s favorite opportunities while here was responding to listener letters and QSL cards. She had a knack for connecting with listeners through correspondence, and I know there were many whom the Lord blessed through her responses. In 2001 God called Paul and Kathy to Cambodia first to help with the Media Center project and later to work alongside the Cambodian TWR staff in their efforts to reach their people for Christ. This was a special time for the Gregowskes as they got to work face-to-face with listeners of TWR’s broadcasts, an aspect of the ministry that is often missed by those of us on Guam since we are not in the same geographical location as our listeners. In 2008 the Lord moved Paul and Kathy back to Guam where their help was much needed again. They served here faithfully until their retirement at the end of August last year. We are so excited for this new adventure to which God has called them, but we will miss them greatly.

Kathy in Cambodia

Paul in Cambodia


George in the
transmitter hall
Kathy at work in the
office
The second couple that left us left just this month. George and Kathy Ross arrived on Guam in 1990, just one year before the Gregowskes. Both of the Rosses wore a number of hats during their years on Guam. George has done everything from building and antenna maintenance to being the control room and transmitter operator to frequency coordination. He also served as the station manager for a time. Radio is not just a job or a ministry opportunity for George but a passion that is infectious. Kathy has done everything from Bible correspondence to administrative work to hospitality services for those moving to or visiting the island. Her love for Guam has caused many others to fall in love with the island, too. While the Rosses have not retired from TWR and while George will continue his work with frequency coordination as well as his involvement with the future of DRM broadcasts, he is taking on another role where it makes more sense for him to be based out of the States. The Rosses will also be greatly missed at KTWR, but we thank God for the time He has given us with both of these families and for all He has taught us through them.



Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

Psalm 1:1-3

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Power Struggles and the Challenges of a New Year

Over the last several months, it seems as if we have encountered problem after problem with our transmitters. When a transmitter goes down during the evening broadcasts or we receive feedback from listeners indicating glitches in the broadcasts, our engineers and IT personnel labor long hours to pinpoint what went wrong—a daunting task considering there are well over a thousand different parts in each transmitter and not all of them are easy to access or even to see. Because we transmit every night, when a transmitter does fail or has issues, our engineers are on a time crunch to figure out either a temporary solution to get the transmitters through the next night or (and it’s what we always hope happens) to figure out a more permanent solution that will ensure no more issues. At least for a while.

You may ask the reason for these recent technical difficulties. Most of the issues can be attributed to the old age of certain equipment, heat stress (it takes a lot of power to run these transmitters, which produces a lot of heat), and every-day mechanical wear. Sometimes these issues can be attributed to a lack of stable power, though. In the United States, we tend to take for granted stable power, but the reality is that much of the world does not have that luxury. Although Guam is by most standards a well-developed island, there are still struggles to have stable power, especially in the last couple of years. The Guam Power Authority (GPA) has had its own issues due to damage to equipment from typhoons and also mechanical failures. This lack of stable power from our power source (GPA) causes stress on our transmitters. Although we don’t always see the source of the problem right away, we serve a God who sees it all and knows it all, and by His power and grace, He keeps the transmitters running or allows our staff to find the cause of whatever issue the transmitters are meting out in that moment.

We ask as the New Year starts that you praise the Lord with us for the many who were able to listen to the broadcasts from KTWR in 2016 and hear the Good News that God has saved us from our sins through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus on the cross, and praise Him for the many Christians who live in fear and under persecution who were able to be strengthened in their faith by the messages with which we are able to provide them. We also ask you to pray that the Lord would continue to help our engineers and IT personnel to have clear minds and to find the source of individual problems with our equipment and that we would have the means to fix them so that people may continue to hear, and that by hearing they may believe, and that by believing the may call on the Lord who saves (Romans 10:13-15).


In these pictures you will see two of our engineers working to fix one of the problems we encountered in December. This is a good example of the difficulty of pinpointing the source of a transmitter failure. In the pictures they are replacing a transformer, which provides power for the main tube in the transmitter. Because the failures we were facing at the time were intermittent failures, it was hard to find the cause. Once they figured it might be the transformer, they replaced it. However, after replacing this part, the transmitter continued to fail. Later, they found two capacitors (roughly the size of ink cartridges, so they were difficult to see and difficult to reach) that had failed. These capacitors were on the transformer output, which is why it would be easy to think initially that the transformer was the source of the intermittent failures.