Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Little Technology in the Jungle Goes a Long Way

Louis Powell has now been down twice to visit us. We first met him when he tagged along with the group from LifeWord radio ministry last March.
It was then we began planning several more ways to reach Kekchi people, specifically centering on more Bible training for those unable to get training. Louis has designed the T-Box for just this purpose. It is a small speaker box that accepts a micro-SD chip and/or a USB drive. It also is equipped with a radio tuner and it's speaker is loud enough for at least 25 people to hear easily. In November I (Jimmy) will be giving the 22 boxes Louis brought down to the national missionaries here in Petén. They will placing these boxes in villages with men who desire to be pastors but cannot come to our training. We are putting together a Kekchi mp3 library with teaching on various subjects. Every month I will be giving the new month's USB to the national missionaries who will in turn switch them out with the old ones in each village. Each month we will have a new theme and the men can listen to the training in a correspondence course format. You can see a picture of one below (on the left).
However the box above is not only proving training in just one house, it is running a radio station! Louis also brought along this trip a radio transmitter and antennae. Every village we work in is a result of the radio station in the southwest corner of Petén, therefore every village already has a radio presence. Except that last December we helped Mateo Botzok start a church in the city of Poptún, where the big radio station doesn't reach. We began paying for him to be on a local, spanish radio station for one hour each week in Kekchi, and with this his work began to grow quickly.

When Louis mentioned to me about his small radio station I immediately thought of Pastor Mateo and the work in Poptún. Mateo previously worked an even larger Kekchi Baptist radio station for 5 years in another department. With his prior knowledge and good radio voice, we knew that this could be very successful.

On the 18th I took the gear to Mateo's house and we began setting it up for a trial run. 3 hours later we were broadcasting the book of Matthew in Kekchi on 100.1 FM.
{Please excuse the cellphone photos}
Mateo supports his family by working as a carpenter. As such, he had all the tools needed to set up a makeshift tower.
Again, this is just a temporary set up until we build a more fixed tower, but it worked well for testing.
You can see here that it is not very high above his house. After getting it stable and setting up the T-Box to play we began looking for a frequency that was not being used by somebody else. Then we started driving to see how far it would reach. As we drove we would pass Kekchi house after Kekchi house that is currently not involved in the work, but now has the Gospel available to them. With just this short tower we had a range of 2km. At full height we should reach 3 miles or 5km. Beyond that range will be difficult to convince people to walk to church anyways.

The purpose of this is to strengthen the church there. First we will be able to give the current members more Bible training each week. Mateo plans to run the radio for 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening. Secondly this will be a great outreach to the Kekchi families that don't know about the church yet. It gives us something to put on flyers and pass out door to door and there is no other form of Kekchi language entertainment besides this radio station. We have a good monopoly in that regard.
Besides having our programs, he also has Kekchi music and the entire Kekchi New Testament already on the T-Box. Pray for Pastor Mateo Botzok as he works with this in addition to his growing church and his carpentry business.
Sunday after church we all gathered inside Mateo's house for prayer to ask God to use this new station.
{Mateo's son, Gamaliel, setting up the radio transmitter}
{Praying for the station}

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