Monday, September 29, 2008

Computer Community

One thing that has really changed for missionaries over the last few years is the ability to stay in contact with the people at home. With email, blogs, facebook and myspace we can stay in almost daily contact with family, friends and churches (Well, except for sometimes when we are away from Guam and out in FSM or Palau - there is still no affordable broadband out there and internet access is sometimes unreliable, although we have video and audio skyped from Chuuk a couple times) It has been a lot of fun to reconnect with some people that we have not seen or talked to in a long time with these networking programs. It also is a great help with missions meetings, church communication and keeping in contact with PIBC personnel spread around the world. We now have our executive board meetings by Skype with one member in Germany, one on the US mainland and me on Guam. We are also developing our on-line distance education capacity and have offered our first fully DE course this semester.

Of course the best thing about this kind of communication is staying in touch with our grandchildren and being able to be part of their lives even though we are so far away. Last weekend we got to video conference with Michael, Samantha and the kids. Titus' 2nd birthday is today so we will send him an audio birthday card. We did get to see him sing songs, dunk the basketall in his hoop, read his books and perform we are not sure what it was. Titus and I even bump fists on the camera. We got to see how much Courage has grown and how active she has become. And, as good grandparents we click away on the camera taking pictures. (Here are some of the pics we took) It is not quite the same as being there, but we thank God that we can spend time with them through the internet.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Joyce in Community

Joyce has one big advantage over all the other missionaries. She is both a student and teacher at PIBC and is part of both communities. She is working to finish up her BA (she took a 25+ year break to raise three kids). She has completed her minor and her general education but still needs several Bible and Theology courses to finish. As a student she spends a lot of time with the other students doing homework and projects together and participating in classroom, on-line and other discussions as a student. Because she is one of them and is a very open, accepting person the students like to confide in her. She really enjoys the times when she can just be "one of the students." Here is Joyce with the Palauan students - since we spent so much time in Palau, Joyce is an honorary Palauan student.

Joyce also is teaching the community ESL class (in addition to her English teaching at the Japanese school), team teaching the class with Kent Boydston. Last week they had a birthday party in the class for one of the Chinese students. I guess, you could say that Joyce is also part of the staff as she works with Tim Plaxton doing building maintenance and helps out in the office. In the picture here the "girls" (Joyce, Evelyn Suda, Melissa Heck and Hollie Schuab) are celebrating Hollie's birthday.

Many of our students struggle financially. One of the ways we help them out is to employ them to do different jobs. A couple days ago Joyce brought over Rambo and TJ (students from Chuuk) to work with her to trim some tree branches in our yard. Now, Joyce is a pretty good tree climber herself, but she was amazed at how these guys could move through the trees - amazing balance! (Here is Rambo in the tree with TJ in front of it). We were also amazed that they could stand and work on limbs that look so small they could barely hold a bird. These times away from school are great times to get to know the students better and give them a chance to earn some spending money. Joyce was also happy to get a lot of yard work done.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Owen Trivia

Here are some trivial facts you might not know about Joyce and I. Just for fun. Who knows we may have a trivia contest some time if we are speaking in your church....?

We have been with Liebenzell Mission USA and out in Micronesia since 1984 - a little over 24 years now.

Joyce's favorite cake is angel food, while Dave's is triple chocolate. However, Joyce would rather have a birthday pie than a birthday cake. Joyce's favorite ice cream is Bluebell Peach and Dave's is Baskin Robbins Fudge Brownie.

The earth coordinates of our house here on Guam are North Latitude and East Longitude. You can see our house very clearly with Google Earth.

Joyce is currently reading The Kite Runner and Dave is reading Old Testament Theology by Bruce Waltke.

Both of us are on Facebook and Joyce also has an account on MySpace. Dave likes to play Scramble and Joyce likes to upload pictures.

The Owen's used to vacation in the late 60's near where the Cundall's lived so it is possible that Joyce and I may have actually seen each other many years before we met at Biola University. We met at Biola in the Fall semester of 1976, started dating in 1978 and married in 1979.

Our favorite vacation place (and one of the most affordable from Guam) is Bali.

Joyce enjoys playing the accordion. Dave has a ukulele on his wall for decoration but he can't play it.

Dave's favorite book of the Bible is Genesis and Joyce's is 2nd Corinthians.

The subject we most like to brag about: our grandkids Titus and Courage.

Dave's favorite thing to do with the PIBC students (besides teach Bible) is playing basketball. Joyce's is baking cookies.

I know this is all critical information. But who knows, it may benefit you some day.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Classroom in the Community

My seminary class (Basics of Biblical Exegesis) consists of two sessions a week. The more traditional session is on Saturday morning from 8 AM to 11.30. This is part lecture (powerpoint, white board, copied notes etc), part discussion and mostly "hands on" exegesis. This Saturday the class will show me their exegetical and theological outlines of Acts 1.1-11 and then we will work through the passage together. Then we will discuss the methods for interpreting biblical narrative and will work together in class through Genesis 22.1-19 and Luke 2.1-20. Then I will turn them loose on Genesis 13.5-18 for homework and see what they come up with. In the class we are trying to emphasize "doing exegesis" over talking about it.

The 2nd component is the weekly discussion on the class textbooks which takes place at different times and in different places. We have met at my house and in my office for discussion, but yesterday we met at the IP Coffee House near the University of Guam for a discussion of Eat This Book - A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading by Eugene Peterson. It was a little loud with the coffee grinding and the people at the surrounding tables in their own conversations, but we had a great discussion. I think the students feel more free to express themselves in that kind of environment. I am trying to model a way that our students can be teaching in their churches when they graduate. I am hoping that our seminary grads will be able to raise the intellectual and theological bar in their churches without intimidating anyone. I also receive the tremendous benefit of hearing the insights from the book from our students' different perspectives.

Monday, September 15, 2008


The subject of today's chapel, handled very well today by PIBC faculty member and fellow Liebenzell USA missionary Ned Farnsworth, was community. He talked about, assisted by several students and staff members, how PIBC, like the church, is a group of diverse people drawn together by our relationship with Christ. We then demonstrated that community by taking an offering to contribute to financially needy students. We also talked about our newly formed community groups. This year on the Guam campus, instead of having 4 1/2 hour chapels per week, we will have two 1-hour chapels every week and meet together sometime during the week with our small group. Joyce and I, along with the Boydston's will be leading one of these groups. We are looking forward to that.

We also enjoyed community at the annual Lutheran Church of Guam- PIBC sports challenge on Sunday on the campus. We competed in basketball (I played some basketball - notice how high I am flying here as I play defense), volleyball and tug-of-war. This year the PIBC team took home the trophy. We also enjoyed eating, fellowshipping and just hanging out together. Even though it was a hot afternoon and evening a good time was had by all. I also enjoyed teaching on Cults at the Lutheran Church of Guam on Sunday morning. I will be teaching there three more weeks in the adult Sunday school class. We at PIBC appreciate very much the support and friendship of the people at LCG.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Back From Chuuk

I have just returned from a short trip to Chuuk to visit with the faculty and staff at our PIBC sites there and to spend some time with church leaders. You may remember that our board made a decision in June to phase out the academic program on our Tol, Chuuk campus (classroom pictured) and consolidate that program in Chuuk at our Weno (district center of Chuuk) facility. We also have started a remedial program at our Weno teaching facility called the "Bridge Program" which began operations this past week. Right now we have about 32 students on our Tol campus and about 60 at the TF on Weno. The main purpose of the visit was to figure out how the Tol campus would operate in the future. As we discussed this with all involved it seemed that the best plan was to provide a one-year partial academic program that would allow young Chuukese students to experience their first year in college in a more familiar environment before they went on to one of the other more multi-cultural sites like the Guam campus. This would also allow us to run the remedial Bridge program out on Tol as well. We already have dormitories on Tol (we don't have them on Weno) where the students could live and experience campus life. This would also enable us to accept students from outside Chuuk who do not qualify academically for the Guam campus or other sites and place them into a remedial program. We would appreciate your prayers as we explore the feasability of this plan and work out details. It was a real blessing to have such a spirit of cooperation going between the school administration, staff and church leadership.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Interesting House Guests

One of the blessings of living in Guam, kind of right in the middle of things in the Pacific, is that we get to meet a lot of interesting people from a lot of interesting places. We jokingly, refer to our house as the "Owen Hotel" because so many people stay with us. While I am glad that we can help people out, it is really we who get the blessing. This past weekend was one of those times. Michael Wang contacted us a while back about the possibility of being a guest teacher at PIBC. Mike is on the faculty at Oklahoma Central University and also teaches at the University of Oklahoma. He was in Taiwan, doing some typhoon relief work and asked if he could stop by and see our operation. We had a great time of getting to know each other and discussing how we could partner in ministry. We are hoping that Mike will also be a contact who will help us bring in some students from Taiwan.

Mike also got to join us for our Labor Day activities. Because we did registration on Monday, we confined our recreational activities to the evening. Joyce BBQ'd some burgers and dogs and we enjoyed a rousing game of dominoes with the Plaxtons, the Bocks and Mike. A great time was had by all and surprisingly Joyce didn't win - Sharon Bock took 1st place. Mike headed back to Oklahoma the next morning.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Happy Birthday Dad!

On Sports Center this morning they were saying that a lot of "Hall of Fame people" were born on September 2nd (like Terry Bradshaw) and celebrating birthdays today. My Hall of Fame starts with my dad who is celebrating his 77th birthday today. Note also that my dad has way more hair than Terry Bradshaw. Happy Birthday Dad!

Monday, September 01, 2008

A Full Weekend of Orientation

This past weekend began with most of the students arriving and ended yesterday with registration. Though it looks like our enrollment may be down slightly on the Guam campus (we won't know for sure until all the stragglers and part-timers complete registration this week) we have another good group of students. The Deans got busy before Friday as student flights from Yap, Palau, Chuuk and the Marshalls arrived on Guam. Then Saturday morning, while I was teaching my seminary class the orientation began. I broke away from class as 9 AM to join as the faculty and staff introduced themselves to the students. As I looked at the line of faculty stretching all across the front of the classroom I was again reminded of how far we have come from just a few years ago.

Hollie Schaub, our acting Dean of Student Affairs, did a very creative job of explaining school and dorm policies and going through the student handbook (normally activities that put all the students to sleep) during the morning session. Our school basketball team had a church league basketball game (our guys in red) at Noon in which we came up a little short (80 something to 40 something, ouch!) That evening the staff presented some very humorous skits that hammered home the points made in the morning.

On Sunday morning we met together for a worship service. Many of the students are new on island so we have a worship service on campus the first week. We then help the students to get plugged in to local churches while they are on Guam. This was the highlight of the weekend for me as Kalvin and Percia, two of our students, shared about their summer missionary trips and 2005 graduate and present seminary student Hedrick Kual presented the message from the Word. I had one of those rare moments of fulfillment as I listened and watched the students take it in. After church we had lunch (a ton of excellent food) at Chad and Jacki Chandler's with Josephine Mendiola (pictured) and Mike and Judy Albin. Relaxing with a lot of laughter!

Finally the student BBQ and talent show was Sunday night. We saw our students sing, dance, use chairs as musical instruments and even "walk on water." All of the judges, except for Eric Sorenson :) were very complimentary and nice to the participants. I think everyone was pretty tired by the time we got home Sunday night.