Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Family Christmas Celebrations

Joyce and I have been enjoying our family Christmas celebrations. After taking off from Guam at 7.30 AM on Christmas Day we enjoyed a 2nd Christmas Eve in the airport in Honolulu. We then arrived in LA at exactly the same time we left Guam. We enjoyed our first Christmas celebration with Michael, Samantha, the kids, and Samantha's family right after our arrival. The next day we met Matt and Kristin and drove up to Northern California, El Dorado County, to do both Cundall family and Owen family Christmas celebrations.






The Cundall family celebration was first on Saturday afternoon. Except for our daughter, Missy, all the families of Joyce and her sisters were there. We got to meet Nathan's new fiance and Brittany's new husband and get caught up on what was going on in the lives in the Cundall extended family. Even Joyce's Uncle Gary and Aunt Lois showed up at the celebration and took the family picture on the left. Of course there was a lot of food, featuring ham, pies and of course caramel corn and caramel filled cookies - a Cundall tradition. The evening ended with some serious game-playing. Also pictured here is Joyce with her mom and dad and sisters, Janet and Judy.



Sunday afternoon was the Owen family gathering. My sister Jayne and brother Doug with most of their families (Missy and cousin Jessica had to work and missed the party) came to my mom and dad's place. Everyone, except Diane who took the picture, is there on the left. The usual craziness ensued, but I think everyone had a good time. We enjoyed the traditional and very competitive "horse" tournament. Titus did a great job entertaining everyone. The turkey based dinner featured the traditional noodles and candy-cane cookies (made perfectly by Nate). It was a really wonderful blessing to be with so much family for Christmas (me with my brother and sister on the right.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Eve

It is Christmas Eve here on Guam. I am slow getting into it this year with so many meetings, etc. but now the fudge is in the refrigerator, the candy cane cookies are on the table and every time I see Joyce, she is making or wrapping a Christmas present. I spoke this Sunday on "the mission of Jesus" from John 1.9-14. Jesus was a "light" as the perfect image of God "glory" in a human body, he "made his dwelling" with us so that we could receive "grace and truth" and dwell with him now and forever, and he came to "his own" to develop relationship with us "children of God" for us to grow into the image of our Father and work with him to call and make more disciples. God becoming human is the turning point of human history. Let's celebrate it well! Merry Christmas. (Picture is from the PIBC staff Christmas outing - thanks Hartmut)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dolphin Boat Trip

I have just returned from enjoying our annual PIBC-Guam staff Christmas outing/party. This year we went on the dolphin boat ride at Guam Tropical Dive Station. Pretty much all the staff was there except for a few who were sick (we missed you Tim, Calvin and Sudas). This is the third time Joyce and I have gone on the dolphin trip (I think 4th for Joyce) and we have seen dolphins every time but one. This time as you can see from the picture we got pretty close to the dolphins and watched them frolic around for quite a while. You can also see the village of Agat in the background.

After the dolphins went away, we anchored a short distance away, in a relatively calm area and did some swimming and snorkeling. Several of the staff pulled off some incredible dives from the top of the boat. I stuck with cannonballs. The water was about 20-25 feet deep, so clear you could see the coral on the sea floor and nice and warm. Once some of the staff brought crackers and little hot dogs, it was also full of a wide variety of little fish. It was cool to just float in the middle of all those colorful fish.

After the snorkeling were the banana boat rides. They are a little more fun with a speedboat, but most of the kids, including Joyce and Jeff Johnson, had a great time on the ride. Most of the way back they were pulling someone on the banana boat.

It was a great day. The weather was perfect and I think everyone had a great time. We live on a beautiful island so it is nice to get out and see it once in a while. It is also great to have some relaxed time just to talk about stuff not related to work. On the left here is Joyce with our "roommate" Daisy Murdock. Daisy will be one of our housesitters while we are in California. On the right is Josephine Mendiola (PIBC science teacher) and I in one of our deep theological discussions. I will post the picture of our whole group on the boat when I get a copy.

Friday, December 19, 2008

End of the Semester

The last final has been completed, the last dorm room has passed exit inspection, the grades are in (or at least they will be soon), reports and evaluations are done and the students, staff and faculty are breathing a sigh of relief. Christmas vacation is here. Actually it seems like just yesterday we were beginning orientation. In some ways it was a tough semester. We had less dorm students than we expected this year so we had much less money than was budgeted. But with some belt-tightening we got through and nobody seemed to lack what they needed. We completed our first four seminary classes. I have to say that my Basic Exegesis class was one of my most fun and rewarding experiences in all my years on Guam. I saw tremendous improvement in my students' ability to interpret and preach God's Word. We saw (or heard) great improvements in the English level of many students. In addition, we saw students make lifetime commitments to God, some first time commitments. This semester was time well-spent!

But now it is Christmas vacation and the students have departed to their islands or to relatives' places on Guam. According to today's PIBC Post the staff and faculty will spend their Christmases like this ....

  • Bill and Christel Wood leave Sunday morning for Singapore.
  • Peggy Duncan will be arriving this weekend from Chuuk and she will be staying at the Wood's house.
  • Larry and Sharon Bock leave on Monday to spend Christmas with their family in Texas. Larry will be returning for the start of the new semester and Sharon will be returning in February
  • Ned and Marisol Farnsworth's parents arrived earlier this week to celebrated Christmas with them.
  • Eric and Karyn Sorenson's parents arrived this week for Christmas.
  • Brad and Cheryl Boydston's three children will be joining them over the holidays.
  • Tim & Melody Plaxton's daughter Erin is visiting from Palau.
  • Hollie & Aaron Schaub are leaving Jan. 1st to go backpacking in New Zealand.
  • The long awaited return of Steve & Anne Stinnette is almost here! They've purchased tickets to return on Jan. 27th.
  • We will leave Christmas morning for three weeks in California with our family.
Not all the students leave and go back to their islands. Some stay with faculty members. We will have two of students (pictured moving in) Daisy (from Texas) and Mayumi (from Chuuk) stay with us until we leave for vacation. They will then house-sit for us until we get back in January. Tonight we had a little party at our house with staff who are staying around and the students staying with them. Melissa Heck, our Dean of Women and Laura Peters our receptionist came over with some of the students to eat and play games. I think they all came, except for one who said she didn't want to do "white people things." ;) I am not sure what that means. Vacation has begun!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Joyce's December Activities

Joyce has been enjoying an active, if not white, Christmas season. She went, with Cheryl Boydston and Mary Lou Carruthers, to hear some of the Christmas musicals at the local churches and to see an incredible Christmas display at the local friary. She was impressed that everything in the display moved. It also was quite high-tech with multiple flat screen displays and shows along with the more traditional Christmas displays. After the sight-seeing they went over to Agana Heights Baptist Church where they are joining with their choir for their Christmas Cantata. AHBC is pastored by PIBC faculty member Eric Sorenson.

She is also wrapping up the classes that she has been teaching this semester. Since the summer she has been teaching English at the Japanese school on Guam. The picture on the left is of her class doing a Halloween project. She is having a lot of fun with the class even though the kids are not as young as the ones she is used to. She also teaches ESL at PIBC a couple days per week. Monday the class went to the Niko hotel for a breakfast Christmas party (pictured below). I can tell the class has made a lot of progress in their English this semester. The pastor of one of the Chinese Presbyterian Churches on Guam, David Wu is part of the class and I enjoyed talking with him about working together with PIBC. Joyce and I will both wrap up our semesters this week as we are ready for Christmas vacation

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Pretty Normal Friday At PIBC

It was great to get back to my "normal" schedule at PIBC after all my travels and meetings. We only have one more week in the semester so I guess I won't be able to fall back into a routine until next semester. Nevertheless, Friday I got to attend chapel for the first time since mid-October. We have one-hour chapels every Tuesday and Friday at 11 AM. Yesterday Ned Farnsworth led a very creative chapel service. It included a piano duet (a Christmas medley of course) played by Joyce and Ned, a song in Spanish, dramatic readings of The Gift of the Magi by Ned and Luke chapter 2 by his English class. We also enjoyed singing Christmas carols together.



Friday evening we took out our PIBC family group to see the Christmas "winter wonderland" at Guam's two main malls. Guam Premium Outlet this year is offering "ice skating." It looks to me like they are skating on a piece of plywood with glossy paint on it, but the proceeds from it benefit Habitat for Humanity and it looked like the kids were having fun so it was all good. The students (pictured me, Giftleen, Gloria and Joyce) enjoyed the artificial snow that fell on us at the top of every hour. Last year the snow was wet and slippery. This year it kind of hit the floor and disappeared.

We then headed to Guam's other mall, the Micronesia Mall for the Christmas Tree light show. The big Christmas tree in the center of the mall lights up in computerized light show synchronized to some upbeat Christmas music, mostly Trans-Siberian orchestra which we always enjoy. After the light show, the gang headed over to Cold Stone Creamery to enjoy ice cream (generously provided by the financial partners of Brad and Cheryl Boydston) In the picture Joyce enjoys an oversized dessert with students Dave and Chuck. I would have to say it was an enjoyable way to spend a Friday evening!

Friday, December 12, 2008

December Prayer Requests


I am now getting settled back into my "normal" life on Guam. With the many trips for recruiting, fund raising, conferences, and seeing our other sites, I was only in my office on Guam one day between October 17th and December 10th. It has been good to get reacquainted with staff and students again, not to mention Joyce! J It was great to see a lot of you as I traveled through California, Tennessee, Texas, North and South Carolina and Hawaii. I am always encouraged when I get to see and talk to all the people who are praying for us. With that in mind here are a couple things to pray and praise for us and our ministry here at Pacific Islands Bible College

  1. We will be taking a vacation using our frequent flyer miles (one benefit of lots of travel) to visit our families. Please pray for refreshment and a good time of connection for us.
  2. We are making some important decisions and plans for the future of our Chuuk campus and teaching facility. I presented one possible plan to church leaders in Chuuk this week to which they were favorable. We need God's direction and resources as we prepare to present this to our board.
  3. We will be beginning a major private donor fund raising program for PIBC in 2009. We have never done anything on this scale before and we are investing a good chunk of money into it. Please pray that God will supply needed funds through this so that we can grow PIBC in the direction we believe God is taking us.
  4. Dave is still doing a lot of administrative work, but I will get to teach 2 classes next semester (seminary Old Testament Survey and undergraduate Exegesis in Genesis). I will be preparing these courses over the next few weeks.
  5. Joyce is still teaching English at the Japanese School on Guam and in the PIBC remedial program. She would appreciate your prayers for good evangelistic opportunities.
  6. And finally, our big praise item: Matt and Kristin will be providing us with grandchild #3 toward the end of May. We are very excited and ask your prayers for baby, mom and dad.

Thank you so much for your interest in our ministry and for your prayers.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Little Storm Coming

The rain and a little wind has arrived. We are hearing that we might have winds up to about 60 miles per hour later. Joyce brought the candy cane lights into the house. We didn't do a lot of outdoor decorating this year anyway. We won't put up the storm shutters unless we hear that the winds are going to be more severe than predicted. The picture is from out the front door in the admin office building at PIBC. The rain was coming down pretty good but let up for us to drive home. Since I like the sound of rain and wind it should be a very relaxing evening. We didn't plan to go anywhere tonight anyway. :)

Tropical Storm Headed Our Way


Our tropical depression was just upgraded to a tropical storm. We should be seeing winds around 35 miles per hour this evening. I heard about possible gusts up to 70 but we will see. Outside tarps and canopies will need to be take down, along with outdoor Christmas decorations but it doesn't look like something to be worried about. This picture of the projected storm track is from the navy's joint typhoon warning center web site. We will be praying that the storm proceeds on by us quickly and avoids hitting anybody else.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Last Day of Saipan Visit

I am getting ready to head back to Guam after an enjoyable visit to Saipan. I have been part of the TRACS team reviewing the self-study of Eucon International College as part of their application for accreditation. We have been reviewing every part of their program for the last four days. We stayed up late last night writing our report and then presented it to the Eucon administration this morning. We at PIBC will be undergoing a similar process this coming Spring as we complete the reaffirmation of our accreditation we received in 2004. I will be glad to get back to Guam this afternoon and have a couple days there before I head to Chuuk for some meetings with PIBC and church leaders there. The picture here is of me, our TRACS team, and Eucon board members with Benigno Fitial, the governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Saipan Trip Day 1

I arrived in Saipan last night for the TRACS accreditation team visit. We are evaluating Eukon International College. I was here three years ago as part of the team when we evaluated them for candidacy and now we are helping them get ready for full accreditation. I have not been back to Saipan since that visit three years ago and I am amazed at how empty the place seems now. Many businesses that were operating when I was here last time have shut down. When we were here for vacation with our kids back in 1995 we had a lot of fun in Saipan and it is sad to see so many things gone.

Today was the day to get to know the rest of the team. Tomorrow we will get down to business. But today we drove around the island and did a little sightseeing. I had an odd thing happen on the trip. We stopped at the Aqua Resort to pick up a map and I realized that the Aqua was the hotel where Joyce, Michael, Missy and I stayed in 1995 on our vacation. We took a picture there by the pool that I posted a while back on my Facebook page. I tried to stand in the same place today and have my picture taken there. It looks pretty much the same except the flower bed is gone. However, you can see from the pictures that some things have changed.