Monday, August 31, 2009

Teaching Sunday School

One of my most enjoyable activities these past few months has been teaching the adult Sunday school class at Bayview Church. The class was supposed to be a survey of the Pentateuch that went from mid-January to the end of April, but by April we weren't finished with Genesis so we just kept going through the summer. Yesterday we finished up Deuteronomy to bring the class to a close. I will be pretty busy during this Fall semester so I decided to take a break from teaching at church for the Fall but I hope to be able to teach some more there in the future. It was fun to teach a group with a bit higher average age that my PIU classes and I enjoyed the interaction very much. Joyce got us together after class for this picture. A couple of the class members had already escaped from class but most are there. Joyce and I have been enjoying our time at Bayview.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Registration and Student Orientation

It has been a busy weekend for everyone at PIU as the students have been arriving for registration and orientation. Yesterday, Saturday, a little over 70 students went through the registration process. Several have been picked up at the airport over the last few days and some were coming in on Saturday during the registration time. The 9-Noon registration time ran into the evening. Thank you registration team for the extra effort! Last night we opened our new student orientation with an all student-staff barbeque. The traditional beef ribs, chicken and hot dogs were great. We also had potato salad, rice and green salad. I enjoyed shooting some hoops and talking with some of the new students. It looks like we have a few new guys that will help our basketball team this year. We topped off the evening with ice cream sundaes. It was a fun way to get things going. Today we had a communion/worship service with the students on campus. We will finish orientation on Monday and we start a full schedule of classes on Tuesday. Here we go class of 2010!

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Students Are Back

All summer long I was feeling lonely in my office in the back of the administration building. The quiet was nice for working on the responses to the deficiencies that our accrediting agency found in their May visit, (This morning we sent this completed 45 page document to TRACS and will await their evaluation of it), but this week the students have begun arriving and the silence is no more. All week students have been registering, taking placement tests, checking their financial aid (and sometimes checking their financial balance to see how much they owe before they can start the semester) and doing all kinds of other school business. I have been asking people to pray for our student numbers all summer and it seems people have been praying. I was hoping for 65 students and so far we have over 110 signed up. We won't know the full number until the last few sign up next week but we are praising God and are a bit overwhelmed. There are only a couple open spots left in the dormitories. Some students who were hoping to live in the dorms will need to stay with family members this semester.

Several students are already in class. The Study Skills class began last Monday. It is being taught by our Academic VP Melody Plaxton and our new remedial English teacher Jen Rydzik. You can see both of them in the background of the picture on the left. Jen just arrived last Friday and we already had her in the classroom on Monday. My class (New Testament Survey) will begin at 9 AM tomorrow. I am not sure yet how many students I will have in there. Registration will start go from 9-12 Noon tomorrow and after lunch new student orientation will begin. We will end our day tomorrow with a BBQ and game night. I am ready for it to begin!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Joyce is Back on Guam

Joyce arrived back on Guam last night after 25 hours spent in the air and in airports. She flew from LAX to Houston to Honolulu to Guam and arrived a little after 6 PM. She really enjoyed spending her month of vacation with the kids and the grand-kids. It is a good thing that she had a very good night's sleep last night because she goes back to work at the Japanese School at 9 AM today. She is planning a very busy semester working three mornings a week at the Japanese School, taking three PIU classes, teaching a remedial English class at PIU and tutoring some of our students. I guess it was a good thing that she got a vacation. :) I am glad to have her back home too, and not just because I was getting tired of eating cereal!

Here are some pictures from the California part of her vacation trip...
An origami display in the Tokyo airport

With Milo and Titus at Milo's baby shower











Mike, Samantha and Courage at the zoo



Joyce with the fierce Titus-tiger



















Matt, Kristin and Milo at the baby shower

Titus and Courage with their Guam shirts

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Storm Update


It looks like Tropical Storm Vamco is taking the predicted Northern turn and will not come anywhere near us. In the storm track graphic from Joint Typhoon Warning Center you can see the island of Saipan, which is just to the North of Guam, in the lower left corner of the map. This looks like a storm that won't bother any land areas. As we prepare for the beginning of a new school year we thank God for this blessing!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Possible Approaching Storm

According to the Pacific Daily News today Guam residents should prepare for a possible tropical storm, already named Vamco, heading our way. The storm is starting where some of the more devastating storms in Guam's history have started, but that does not necessarily mean this one will follow the same track. We are keeping an eye on it and I am making sure that I remember where the typhoon shutters and fasteners are. We would appreciate your prayers. For more info you can read the article in the PDN. You can also follow the storm's progress on the Joint Typhoon warning center web page.

Monday, August 17, 2009

End of Summer Bible Study


Tonight I just got home from the "Monday night summer Bible study" last session. Over the last 11 weeks we have taken a fairly in depth look at Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. Some weeks we have had as many as 15 there and others as few as four. I have enjoyed every week. The discussions have always been interesting as people with very different backgrounds, different levels of Christian maturity and at different places in their lives contribute to the discussion. I find that I learn something new from every session. It seems that someone always brings something to the discussion that I have not thought about before. Most of the people in the study are involved in leadership in some way in their churches so it is also interesting to hear how they are applying what they are learning in their homes and ministries. I am also thankful for the deepened relationships with the people in the study. As I told the class tonight, "this was the most fun I had all summer!"

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Semester Starts - Big Week of Meetings

Almost everybody has arrived back on Guam from their summer travels - most traveled to the US Mainland to raise support. It was great to see Larry and Sharon Bock at church this morning, they arrived early Saturday morning. I know the Sorenson's are back but I haven't seen them yet. The Plaxton's returned on Tuesday night and Steve Stinnette returned a couple days ago. Steve and I had a Saturday afternoon meeting that included watching the 49er-Bronco football game as part of the agenda. There are a few others on their way back including, of course, Joyce who won't be back for another week. Our new remedial English teacher Jen Rydzik will arrive next Friday. It is really great to have people to talk to in the office again. Tonight we should be able to see pretty much everybody at prayer meeting. We normally have a prayer-fellowship time every other Sunday evening. I always enjoy that.

Please be in prayer for us as we begin our meetings to prepare for the coming semester. We were encouraged to see 11 new students show up for the TOEFL test last Friday and we have another scheduled for August 27th. Tonight's meeting starts a full week of meetings. Tomorrow (Monday) is our first administrative meeting of the year. The main goals are to finish up our responses to our accreditor after their May visit, orienting new people, assess improvements we need to make and get each department ready for the coming semester. Wednesday and Thursday will be faculty in-service and we will especially focus on documenting student achievement and distance education. Finally, Friday will be our first all staff-faculty meeting of the year.

Please be in prayer for these meetings. The students will start coming in on the 27th and classes begin on the 29th. Here we go 2009-10 school year!

Friday, August 14, 2009

New Testament Survey - Fall Seminary Class

I am finishing up my preparation for my Fall semester Pacific Islands Evangelical Seminary class: New Testament Survey. The class will begin on Saturday, August 29. That will be the first of 15 class meetings over the next 7 1/2 weeks. The class will meet on 8 Saturday mornings from 9-11 and on 7 Wednesday evenings from 7-9. Basically the course (BNEW 501) is a survey of all 27 books of the New Testament. The course will emphasize the understanding of each book as a whole in light of its background, genre and message in its own context and then, how each book fits into the unfolding drama and message of the revealed Kingdom of God in the New Testament, how it “fulfills” the Old Testament and the overall message of scripture. We will especially emphasize New Testament Theology in class discussions.

Nine of the class meetings (all the Saturdays and the first Wednesday) will emphasize going through the New Testament book by book. The overall message of each book will be the main focus of these discussions. Students will read the New Testament text and A Survey of the New Testament by Robert Gundry. Gundry goes through the NT book by book emphasizing the background information and the outline for each book. In addition the students will read my overviews of each book of the New Testament on the class web site and take an on line quiz on the class material. They will also write three 2-3 page "argument papers" on selected NT books. At the end of the course the students should understand the basic message, the major interpretive issues and how each book fits into the theology of the whole New Testament.

The other 6 Wednesday evening class meetings will be discussions of New Testament theology based on readings in New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ, by Thomas R. Schreiner. Schreiner will keep us focused on the big picture message of the New Testament with his emphasis of its two major themes; that the kingdom has come (though in "already, not yet" form) in Jesus Christ and that the glory of God is accomplished through the work of Christ and the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit. The students will post their questions on their reading in an on line forum to prepare for our class meetings in which we will come together to discuss their questions on their reading. We will also emphasize the practical applications of New Testament theology to our lives and ministries.

I can hardly wait for class to start. I think I get at least as much blessing out of the class as the students. Out of everything I do, this is by far the most fun!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Chuuk Distance Education

Last week I flew down to Chuuk to meet with the leadership of the Evangelical Church of Chuuk about the changes PIU is making there and at our other off-campus sites. For the coming school year we are converting our Teaching Facilities to Distance Education computer labs, mainly because we just don't have enough staff, faculty, administration and resources to maintain the excellent quality of the main campus and also keep the off-campus sites at the same academic level. I was hoping that the leadership of the ECC would be willing to work with us while we are in this one-year transition period. However, they voted last week to break all ties with PIBC and with Liebenzell Mission. For me it was a very difficult time and I was so sad that after a relationship of 33 years with PIBC and 103 years with the mission that it would end like this. On a positive note though, the door seems to have opened for us to make a partnership with another church group in Chuuk and we will open our Distance Education Teaching Facility at Mizpah High School next week. For more details you can read the text of the radio announcement that we made in Chuuk today on the PIBC web page. We are still praying that we can have good relationship will all the church groups in Chuuk and meet all the Christian higher education needs there.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Some Pictures from Joyce's Trip

Joyce has been having a fun time with our kids and grand-kids the last couple weeks. She first went to Texas to spend a week with Missy. She got to spend time with David Ahlgren (our foster son who lived with us in 1997-8) and his wife Katelyn (right - with David and Katelyn on the left side of the pic and Missy and Cliff on the right), our nephews AJ and Kevin and Missy's boyfriend Cliff and his family.

Then she headed to Southern California to the kids and grand-kids there. It would be the first time she would get to see Milo, our new grandson born in May. She met Michael, Samantha and the kids in LA and then the next day they went down to San Diego. Grandma is pretty excited to get to hold Milo for the first time. Joyce says that she is enjoying getting to spend some time with family during her vacation. I think I will have to wait until Christmas time get a vacation, but I will get to see them on my way through California during my October-November recruiting-conference trip.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

August Prayer Requests

It is hard to believe that the summer "vacation" is almost over. Both Joyce and I have had a pretty busy summer. My three main projects have been coordinating the preparation of our response to our accreditor's report after their visit in May (with a lot of help from the rest of our administrative staff - especially Melody Plaxton), dealing with the administrative issues for our name change and teaching a campus Bible study on Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs. It is not hard to figure out which one of these I enjoy the most. Joyce has been teaching English during the summer session at the Japanese School of Guam. That session just ended and Joyce took off for a few weeks of vacation to see our kids and grandkids. She will be back in a couple weeks. I am hoping to post some pictures of her as soon as she sends me some.

We would very much appreciate your prayers for the following issues....
  1. Our response to the TRACS recommendations is due on August 15th. Pray for wisdom as we write up this response. We know it will make us a better school, but it is a lot of work.
  2. Student Admissions: We are excited to see so many new student applications already turned in. Now we have to make hard decisions on which students we will accept and which ones we will not. Pray for wise decisions by the admissions committee (and more space and more teachers so we could accept more students)
  3. Personnel Needs: Our #1 need is for a chief financial officer. Right now we are looking for a short-term, part-timer to handle our immediate financial oversight. We really need a qualified long term person to oversee our finances and daily operations. I am also trying to recruit a person to lead our teacher training program, an English teacher and people who would be willing to set up and teach distance education courses (DE courses can be taught from anywhere in the world) for us.
  4. Most of our staff and students will be traveling back to Guam for the beginning of the semester in late August. Please pray that everyone will get here rested and ready for a new semester.
  5. Finally pray for the administrative issues for our transition from PIBC to PIU. It is a lot of work to change the name of a non-profit corporation.
Thank you for your prayers for us and our co-workers and students at PIU. Ultimately it all depends on God and we thank Him for letting us have a part in His kingdom work.