Thursday, January 31, 2008

Good News At PIBC

Today seems to be a day of good news and answered prayer. When I got up this morning there was a notice in my email that the visa request for Jens and Karin Schulz, our CFO/Guam Campus Director and Registrar, was approved. Jens and Karin had to leave Guam before Christmas when their religious worker visas were revoked. We have been operating very short handed without them, while hoping and praying that they would be able to come back as soon as possible. Now they need to complete the paperwork in Germany and we should have them back within the next month. We also heard good news from Steve and Anne Stinnette that his eye is healing in a way that borders on the miraculous. It may be that we will have our administrative group back completely intact sooner than we expected. This is good because we will need all our people since the LORD may be moving us toward a major expansion into Hawaii and Tonga. We will be working with some partners in Hawaii this month on a project that would add these two sites to the PIBC family and also would add a full seminary program to our curriculum. We hope to work out all the details and have a proposal to present to our accreditors by the middle of next month. If all works out these sites and programs would be up and running by this coming Fall. It is easy to look at this and say "No Way! Too Much" but we already see God bringing in the people and resources to accomplish this. Please pray with us that we will have clear direction and wisdom as plan for this next step in our PIBC adventure.

One other comment on the good day/week. One cool thing about PIBC is being able to go to chapel. I had the opportunity to share with the students on Tuesday and 4 times per week staff, faculty and students get to fellowship with preaching, music, etc. We get everything from classic homiletics, fiery exhortation, funny skits to, as we got today from Ned Farnsworth a sermon that included a super hero short and a Broadway type musical number. It is really a blessing to be able to worship together more than once a week.

Monday, January 28, 2008

House Project Update

Joyce and her mom and dad have been keeping busy working on our house. At the same time our neighbors ripped out the fence between us on one side of our house and put in a better one. I reported last week on how things were going so I thought I would give you an update. It looks like the fence is pretty close to done. A lot of Joyce's trees and plants had to be ripped out so she is already working on some new ones. As you can see from the picture it already looks pretty good and I know that soon the plants will be as big as the ones we ripped out.


On the other side of the house the enclosing of the laundry room continues. Joyce and her dad have been laying one row of bricks every day. Now they have one more full row to go. They should be done with the block by the end of the week. Joyce is having a great time pouring the concrete into the blocks while she is up high on the scaffold. I was a little concerned about her back with all this, but she says that when she woke up Saturday her back pain was gone. She is certainly getting around a lot better.



We found one surprise in the roof supports of the laundry room. This very large centipede had made its home up there. Joyce removed it on the broom after taking its picture. We think these things are poisonous but we don't know for sure. It's gone now, but you never know what little beasties you are going to encounter here.

Friday, January 25, 2008

First Week of the Semester

We have completed the first week of the new semester on the Guam campus. We were excited to have several new students enroll that we were not expecting. I don't have a final count yet on how many students we will have, but we should have that soon. We are still busy shuffling students around in the classes making sure they get into the right classes to get them through their programs on time. I am teaching two classes. One class (pictured - they are taking their first memory verse quiz) Survey of General Epistles has eight students - all men. I think this is the first all-male class I have ever taught at PIBC. Three women dropped out of it because of conflicts with other courses they needed. My father-in-law will be leading the lecture-discussions for the next four weeks as I travel. My other course is a partial distance education course, Exegesis in Genesis. We have 37 students in that class. 22 are Guam campus students, 10 will be taking it in the Chuuk Teaching Facility and 5 more in the Palau TF. I will lead 8 classroom lecture discussion sessions on each of the the three sites, but most of the discussion and class work will be done on line. This week our on-line discussion deals with views of origins, creation-evolution and intelligent design. I really enjoy the distance education classes because the students come to the class from all over and there is a very wide age range. It is great to see them exposed to a wide range of perspectives.

I also need to comment on chapel today. It was one of those days that reminds me why I am here. (We do sometimes forget in the busyness of running a school.) The Chuukese Christmas mission team to Saipan was in charge of today's chapel. After some Chuukese songs, two of our male students gave the message. Keiny talked about how he saw God do miracles in people's lives through their humble efforts and urged the students to go out and fulfill the Great Commission because Jesus promises to always be with us. Then Calvin, talked about how the trip was conceived, planned and executed by the students without help from the faculty and staff and eloquently exhorted the student body to take personal responsibility for obeying the call of Christ and serving others. All I could say was AMEN!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Home Improvement

One of the projects that Joyce's mom and dad have been working on this month is the rebuilding of our laundry/storage room. Last month I posted about how the termites had eaten up the wooden walls of our old laundry room. Joyce decided that we needed to replace the wooden walls with concrete block. A wise decision in the tropics! So, Dale has been laying a row of blocks each day for the last couple weeks. As you can see in the pictures it is starting to look very nice with a couple windows and a door. It was all open before. Besides providing more secure storage we were thinking that we might be able to use it as another guest room. It will still have a steel roof. It will be nice to have a bigger and better storage and laundry area.

While we were in the midst of this project our neighbors asked us if they could tear out our fence on the property line between us and build a newer and better one. Our fence actually strayed off the line and was a few inches on to their property. This sounded like a good idea to us and we were glad to contribute our fence materials that were already there to the project. The fence will have a concrete block lower part and then a wire fence on the upper part. It will also cover the whole property line. So we are thankful for a new, better fence at little cost to us. We have the blessing of construction on both sides of the house now.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Joyce Hits The Big 5-0

Today Joyce had her big half-century birthday. She has been subjected to several different versions of "Happy Birthday To You." Last night Melissa Heck, our Dean of Women, organized a surprise birthday party at our house. Joyce has been down all week with a bad back, but she started feeling better on Sunday afternoon. She was happy to get up and enjoy the house full of people and her Guam brown tree snake birthday cake. Pretty much all of the PIBC and Liebenzell staff came by to celebrate with us with funny cards and joke "old lady" presents. We made her wear the black 50th birthday t-shirt.





Today was the first day of classes for the Spring semester so Joyce spent her birthday afternoon in class. She is taking Cross-Cultural Communication and Christian Literature this semester. She will be working at the pre-school in the morning and then taking a class on Monday afternoon and the other on Wednesday and Friday afternoons. She has been out from work with her back the last few days but is planning on going back in tomorrow.

Tonight Joyce's mom and dad took us out to the Lone Star Steak House for a birthday dinner. The food is great and we love watching the multi-ethnic waiters there (people from pretty much all the islands, several Asian countries and some Americans work there) dance the Texas two-step to the loud country music. Of course they sang "Happy Birthday" too and gave Joyce a free sundae. It is hard to believe Joyce is 50. She certainly doesn't look it... or act it. I think she had a fun 50th birthday.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Prayer Requests For A New Semester


The students are arriving back at campus for the Spring (that is what we call it but there are not really seasons here, except for maybe wet and dry - less wet - 84 degrees and humid every day) semester which will begin on Monday. I will be teaching two courses: Survey of NT General Epistles (assisted by my father-in-law Dale Cundall) and Exegesis in Genesis. The Genesis course will be a distance education course with students on Guam, Chuuk and Palau. We are all running around like crazy to get everything ready. Because of the blessings of new faculty we are shuffling offices and mine was one that needed to move. So between moving furniture, preparing classes, registering students and other normal school activities we never get bored. Here are a few prayer requests to start the semester.

  1. For our new teachers. We have three teachers who are teaching their first PIBC class this semester: Alfredo Agtarap, Kathy Newell and Hiob Ngirachemoi You can read more about them on the PIBC web site. The picture above is of Fred Agtarap, our Academic VP Brad Boydston and me. You could also pray for all our teachers that God will work through us as we disciple the students.
  2. For possible expansion plans. I spent a couple days in Hawaii last week discussing some opportunities to expand the offerings and sites of PIBC. One proposal would have PIBC working with other groups to expand our program to a graduate level. This is something we have wanted to do for a long time. Another proposal would add new PIBC sites in Fiji, Tonga and Honolulu. There are about 100 prayer requests I could list here in relation to these opportunities, but mainly I would ask for wisdom and discernment for our board and administration as we discuss these opportunities with our potential partners. I am very excited about this, but we want to make sure that we do what God is calling us to do and we do it His way.
  3. For Joyce: She has been struggling with some back pain and missed the last two days of school this week. She is getting around a little better today, but I would appreciate your prayers for her healing. Of course she does not want to go into her 50th birthday Monday laid up in bed!
  4. For Me: That I will be able to use my time wisely as I juggle between being husband, teacher, president, advancement person etc.
We do appreciate all your prayers and support!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Saying Goodbye

One of the hard things about living on Guam is that we have to say goodbye to people so often. This Sunday night we had to say goodbye to Aaron and Hollie Schaub, but we did it with a potluck dinner and time of prayer. Hollie has been working for PIBC for the last couple semesters as a student ministry coordinator. Aaron is a helicopter pilot for the navy. Hollie has done a great job organizing our student mission trips and a lot of the student ministries that take place during the semester. Her expertise and connections have been very helpful over the last year. It is amazing how God keeps bringing such highly qualified people to us. Aaron has also been a real blessing with his generosity and help to us, especially his putting up with us over-working his wife.

Aaron will be headed out on a deployment over the next few months and Hollie will be headed to La Mirada to get in another semester in the Biola School of Intercultural Studies while he is gone. We are hoping that Hollie will connect with Michael, Samantha and Titus while there. We also hope to have both of them back for the Fall semester. We appreciate your prayers for Aaron and Hollie and for the school as everybody stretches a little to cover Hollie's responsibilities.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hawaii Day #1

I am back in my hotel room after a good day of discussion. We will continue later tonight. The discussion group included (from left to right) me, Randy Furushima, Chris Racine and Hemaloto Alatini. Chris and Hema are very interested in having PIBC expand into Fiji and Tonga and beyond. Randy and I have been talking a long time about PIBC opening a teaching facility in Hawaii. Hawaii has more Micronesians than any place in the world other than Chuuk. It is exciting to be in a discussion with guys who have a great and expansive vision. What we are talking about would enable PIBC to truly become a college of many more of the Pacific islands. Of course, for something like this to happen many details would have to be worked out, but many of the needed pieces, including a lot of the financing, are already in place. Please pray with us for wisdom and direction. My dream is that when my time on this earth is done that that all the islands will have well-trained theologians, pastors and Bible teachers who will disciple their own people for Christ.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Headed to Hawaii For A Few Days

When most people see the title above they think "vacation," but I will be headed to Hawaii tomorrow (Wednesday Guam time) to do some work. I will be there until Saturday meeting with a group of people who are interested in Christian education in the Pacific Islands. We are going to talk to see if God is leading us to pursue partnership in the work in the islands. One of the possibilities is that they would fund a PIBC teaching facility in Hawaii. We will also be talking about other islands like Tonga and Fiji. Sometimes I think I have a pretty big vision of what God is calling us to do out here and then God expands it. We will see if this is one of those times. I would appreciate your prayers for wisdom and discernment of God's will over the next few days.

Joyce's parents are still here on Guam to keep her company while I am gone. Yesterday, Dale, Joyce's dad, extended the concrete floor of our laundry room on our house. I think they will be putting up the concrete block wall to replace the wooden one the termites ate while I am in Hawaii. In the picture Rob Watt, our Palau Teaching Facility coordinator who was staying with us on his way through back to Palau, is helping Dale with the job. The picture below is proof that we didn't make Rob work all the time. We agreed to not tally the final score so we both enjoyed our 18 holes. Christian and Eric Sorenson were also part of our foursome.

I am working on getting two classes ready for the start of the semester on January 21. One will be a distance education class which will take place in Guam, Palau and Chuuk. So I am expecting to travel a lot more than normal for a spring semester. We will also be working on preparing our self study for reaffirmation of our accreditation. It should be another fun and interesting semester.

By the way, my son Michael is now blogging. He has some big news to share in his first posts that also us makes us very happy and proud. With lots of meaningful work to do and a growing family, we are blessed people!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Termites

One of our projects for the Christmas vacation was to take out the old wooden laundry/storage room we had built on to our house a few years ago and put it in a new concrete one. Our main reason for this was that we were pretty sure the wood was infested with termites. You can see from the pictures that we were right. So a couple days ago Joyce and I, mostly Joyce, tore out the old wood, including shelves, frames and everything wooden. We had to get them out completely before they got inside our house. You can see the devastating job they do from the pictures.


















This is (or was) a pair of wooden-handled garden shears that we had stored on the shelves for a couple years. The metal was a little rusted but still fine, but the handles are completely gone. Most of the wood in the entire structure just crumbled to dust when we touched it. Joyce built a very hot fire and burned all of it to make sure we got all the termites. You can see why nobody builds wooden houses out here. We will block in the structure this coming week and use metal or plastic shelves in it.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Goals For 2008

Happy New Year everybody. I am finishing up my holiday today by playing a little golf with a couple of the PIBC faculty members. My 1st golf game since last summer. With the new year I am thinking about goals for 2008. Maybe this is because Liebenzell Mission USA and several of our supporting churches require us to submit an annual report in January that includes my goals in several areas for the coming year. So here are my ministry, educational and personal/family related goals for 2008. Despite the picture, my goals do not include winning the Heisman trophy. This is just me modeling the 49er jersey my daughter gave me for Christmas. I would invite anyone reading this to hold me accountable by asking me later this year, "how are you doing on goal X?" and to pray for me as I work on these throughout the year.

Ministry
  1. To find 25 new annual fund financial supporters for PIBC. This is greatly needed to pay local staff and faculty who cannot raise much support.
  2. To continue to contact and deepen relationships with local Guam and Micronesian churches to partner with PIBC.
  3. To complete the self study process for accreditation with TRACS.
  4. To spend more time away from my desk and out (that includes Yap, Chuuk and Palau too) with staff, faculty and students interacting about what the school should be doing.
  5. To develop a fully distance education course for PIBC. Right now all of our DE courses still have a classroom element.
  6. To have ready a master's program , either by developing our own or finding a partner, that would begin classes in the Fall of 2009.
  7. To Recruit sufficient staff and faculty to fulfill the mission of the school.
  8. Post at least twice a week to this blog.

Educational - I don't have further formal educational goals right now but learning never stops...

  1. To read at least one serious theological/biblical book and one ministry related book per month.
  2. To keep up with the 5 or 6 theological/biblical blogs that keep me on top of what is going on in the theological world.
Personal/Spiritual
  1. Read through the Bible in the original languages.
  2. Spend more quiet time - prayer and meditation.
  3. Take my wife out on one date per week.
  4. Get weight down below 200 lbs. and keep it there. (I really need help here)
This is enough for now. Thank you for praying for me.