On Bonaire near the Kaya Gob Debrot roundabout, a little boy and his teacher were walking by the scaffoldings that cover the mural on the TWR Bonaire studio. The faded reef painting was layered in a fresh coat of white paint, and the boy worriedly asked, “Are the fishes coming back?”
Similar to when the first mural was painted, the changed mural is causing quite a stir on the island. Even drivers in passing cars are slowing down to observe what is happening to the mural on the TWR studio! The mural of reef fish and Bible verse has been a landmark on Bonaire for almost two decades now. Many people shared how meaningful the mural has been for them and how it has encouraged them during difficult times their lives.
In 1998, the initial plan for the mural was to paint a “whaling wall.” Instead, the original artist Paul Gallo designed an underwater mural of tropical fish. Gallo included a lionfish, which raised many eyebrows because lionfish did not inhabit the Bonairean waters. Since then, lionfish have become an invasive species to the nearby reefs.
Over the years, the colors of this mural faded. According to the current TWR Bonaire station director, Bernard Oosterhoff, something needed to be done,
“The new mural will mark a new phase for TWR. After four years of hard work, we are increasing the power… and this will double the reach of the transmitter. With the upgraded transmitter, we will be able to reach a hundred million people living in Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela, and North and Central Brazil. This is such a milestone that we want to celebrate. The new mural is already a beautiful visual marker of this new era.”
So, are the fishes coming back? Yes, they are! Artists Rita Carswell and Jeannie Villacorte are hard at work transforming the faded mural into a colorful underwater world. Caswell and Villacorte have been supporting TWR for a long time and were thrilled when TWR missionaries Carol and Daryl VanDyken approached them about the project. It took the artists two weeks of designing and gridding the mural before their brushes ever touched the wall. Now, Carswell and Villacorte are turning the outlined painting into the beloved Bonaire reef.
As with the first mural, God will be glorified through the Scripture verse from Psalm 107: “See the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.” This time the verse will also be written in Papiamentu!