Friday, January 30, 2009

Yap PIBC Classroom Project

Over the last couple weeks we have a group from Gateway Bible Church in Scotts Valley, California working in Yap, Federated States of Micronesia on a missions project. The project is to renovate a residence on the Colonia, Yap Evangelical Church property into a new Pacific Islands Bible College teaching facility. The old PIBC facility was damaged in a typhoon in 2004 and has been unusable ever since. The renovation would include a classroom, office space, libary-computer lab and two restrooms. You can see from the pictures that a lot of renovation was needed. The center would serve as PIBC office, traditional classroom and distance learning center. It would also provide the Yap Church with a research center for sermon preparation, Bible study and other educational uses and provide our missionary in Yap, Asael Ruda (left) with some much needed resources.

The Gateway group includes Jim Bartell, John McCabe and Kerry Weitzel. What I especially appreciate about this group is that instead of using up all the money on airfare etc for many people from the sending church they decided to train and employ locals to do most of the work. This way they leave a building in which the locals have ownership, the Yapese acquire or improve job skills, there are tremendous evangelism and discipleship opportunities and relationships are made and built. I am thankful for Gateway's commitment to use this model of short-term missions. As one Yapese project worker said, "You have given me hope and shown me that I can work again." We have also enjoyed getting to know John, Jim and Kerry as they came through Guam on their way to Yap.

In addition to leading the work crew the Gateway team was also involved in church work, Bible studies and outreach. Here John McCabe is preaching in the Yapese service. He is being translated into Yapese by Vincent Parren our PIBC Board representative from the Yap Church. There was also a lot of opportunity for interaction between the Gateway team and the Yapese workers. Even the young kids were involved in the project.

I will be heading down to Yap next week to meet with the Yap church leadership and talk about how we can make the best use of the building. One of the big items for planning and prayer will be the means of funding the operation of teaching facility. We very much want to resume the offering of regular and distance education PIBC courses in Yap and we will be talking about how PIBC can better serve the needs of the Yapese Church and minister to the people of the Yap Outer Islands. I am looking forward to the trip.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Stinnettes Are Back!

We make a lot of trips to the airport to see people off (sad goodbyes) and to welcome new and old friends to the islands (yea!). Last night was one of the happy trips to the airport as we welcomed back our long-time colleagues and friends Steve and Anne Stinnette. They left over 18 months ago for medical reasons and for Steve to finish his Master's degree. With a close to miraculous remedy for Steve's eye (see my past and Steve's past posts) and the degree completed, Steve and Anne are back to resume their ministries at PIBC. In the short term, Steve will be focusing on his VP of Advancement (fund raising and recruiting) position, but will also be heading up our student life department. Anne will begin working in the office, but will also be working with the young ladies on campus.

Steve and Anne have had a long time ministry on Guam and it was exciting to see how many of their old friends came to meet them at the airport. The students greeted them with a welcome song and there were lots of hugs. After the airport we headed to King's Restaurant so Steve could get some Chamorro Food. We are glad to have them back and I know their Micronesian hearts are very happy to be back. Steve even jumped right back in to a planning meeting this morning. We are praying for quick recovery from jetlag and would appreciate you praying along with us that they will be able to settle back into island life, get moving logistics taken care of (mail, car, house etc) and that God will use them mightily as they minister here.
Thank you Daisy for the pictures!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

First Week of the Semester at PIBC

We are already beginning the second week of the semester so I should post about the first week before it becomes a distant memory. We began the week with our monthly PIBC prayer and potluck in the main classroom on Sunday night (pictured). Besides having an enjoyable time of fellowship it is great to begin the semester with a focus on God and an opportunity to lift up our school including the people, programs and everything else to Him. Our task at PIBC is large but we have seen God act in a mighty way so many times here that we trust Him to meet the needs of this semester no matter what they are.

My first class was on Tuesday night - Exegesis in Genesis. It is mostly an on line class but I meet with the students for eight regular sessions during the semester. The class has 7 total students in it but only two are on the Guam campus. Thus, our class meetings will be focused on individual discussion, more fun I think. The challenge will be to provide the same kind of instruction to the five students at the Teaching Facility in Chuuk. I will not be able to go there until after the board meeting in mid-February. I will do most of my interaction with the students through chat room, threaded discussion and email. All my class material is uploaded to the site and the students watch a series of powerpoint presentations which are on a CD.

My focus in the office is getting prepared for our February 11 board meeting and the upcoming visit by our accreditor in May. We are getting closer to the completion of our Self Study. Some of the other challenges we are facing are 1) Accrediting the changes we are making in our curriculum, school name and programs, 2) Trying to come up with the best plan for our other sites, especially Chuuk, that best meet the needs of our students there and continues to provide accessibility to our programs to students who cannot come to Guam 3) Finding the funding for what we believe God is calling us to do as a school 4) Finding staff and faculty to fill our many openings. I would appreciate your prayers for these issues.

Saturday morning I began my seminary course - Old Testament Survey - with three students. We have been purposely trying to keep student numbers in the seminary low for this our first year, but I really would have liked to have a couple more students in the class. Nevertheless we had a great time talking about Old Testament geography, transmission of the text and the overall theological theme of the OT. I am looking forward to our discussion next week of Genesis and Exodus.

I am the chapel speaker tomorrow so I need to close this down and work on my message!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Happy Birthday Joyce

Today, at least on Guam, is Joyce's birthday. This is birthday number @$%&. (We celebrated the big half-century birthday last year) We will go out to dinner tonight and celebrate a little. Here are a few "historical" pictures of Joyce. What a blessing she is to me and to everyone she comes in contact with!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Start of a New Semester

Yesterday marked the beginning of the Spring (why we use these meaningless seasonal names in the tropics I am not sure) semester at Pacific Islands Bible College. I always enjoy the arrival of the students and getting caught up with them about what they did over the break, although right now I have to be careful not to get too close and pass on the cold I picked up on the flight back from the Mainland. We are very happy to have picked up 10 new students this semester. Normally, because of December graduates, we have a smaller student body in the Spring, but it looks like this semster our student body will increase by 5-8 full time students. For more info on the start of the semester check out our Dean of Women, Melissa Heck's blog. I snatched these pictures from her.

This semester I will teach two classes. At the undergrad level, I will be teaching Exegesis in Genesis. This course is taught partially in the classroom and partially on line. I am very excited about teaching this because our new distance education coordinator, Hartmut Scherer (pictured here at registration), has done a great job enhancing our DE website to increase what we can do with it and Genesis is my favorite book to teach in all the Bible - well maybe Wisdom Literature is tied for my favorite :). I will also teach the Old Testament Survey course for the seminary. 39 books in 15 weeks. Hold on to your hats! Joyce will be teaching the PIBC ESL class on Mondays and Fridays along with her ESL classes at the Japanese school on Tuesday-Thursday.

I am looking forward to seeing everybody gathered for our first chapel today.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

We're Back on Guam

Joyce and I arrived back on Guam last night about 7 PM after a very uneventful flight. So now I am up before 4 AM as my body tries again to get used to a new time zone. Amazingly, I had no problem going the other way three weeks ago. We arrived in California on Christmas morning and jumped right into the day's festivities and then both of us slept about 12 hours that night and we had no jetlag problems the rest of the trip. Usually it is easier coming back to Guam, but it will take us a few days to get back to our normal sleep patterns.

We had a great and refreshing time on our vacation. We got to see most of my and Joyce's family and to spend a few days with all our kids together for the first time in 3 years. That was all a real blessing. We are reeeaaally going to miss them but now we are ready to get back into the work here. Joyce will be taking three classes, teaching a PIBC ESL course and teaching 9 hours a week at the Japanese school. Dave has one seminary class and an undergrad class at PIBC and will be teaching a Sunday school class at Bayview over the next few weeks. In addition we will be working on getting ready for the February board meeting, reaffirmation of accreditation with TRACS and getting our fund raising campaign off the ground. We appreciate your prayers that we will be sensitive to the leading of the Spirit so that we will be building God's kingdom and not something else, and that we will become better lovers of God and better lovers of the people around us this semester.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Weekend With the Kids

Thursday evening we went to LAX to pick up Missy and Cliff (Missy's boyfriend) as they arrived from Texas. I had seen them just a month before but Joyce had not seen Missy in about a year and a half. Cliff had never been to California before and enjoyed the palm trees lining the street. We gave him a quick introduction to the benefits of California living by taking them immediately to In 'N Out for a hamburger, fries and drink. We then all stayed at Mike and Sam's apartment that night.

The next morning Matt met us at Disneyland. Cliff, Missy, Joyce, Titus and Courage and I enjoyed the park. We were thankful that one of Samantha's Biola friends was able to get three free passes so we only had to pay for two of us to get in. We spent most of the morning and afternoon at the Magic Kingdom and the evening in the California Adventure. Mike and Samantha joined us for dinner and took back the kids for a rest. I think Titus' favorite ride was the Buzz Lightyear ride because he got to shoot lasers at the aliens. We went on it twice and he would have been happy to ride it all day. Courage enjoyed that ride too. Of course Joyce enjoyed the fast rides and roller coasters. It was extra fun to be able to experience Disneyland with little ones again. It was also great to have all three kids and their families all together with us for the first time since Michael and Samantha's wedding in January 2006.

That evening we all drove down to Matt and Kristin's place in San Diego. On Saturday morning we had our "family Christmas" and gift exchange. Joyce made marshmallow launchers for everyone so there was a pretty good marshmallow gunfight. Titus got a complete knight's outfit with a plastic sword and helmet. That afternoon we went to Yokozunes Restaurant in Chula Vista for Chammorro food and then did some touristy stuff. We enjoyed the Seaport Village by doing some shopping, playing with the parrots and getting balloon animals for the kids. After that we went over to Ocean Beach and took a walk on the longest pier in California. There was an incredible full moon and gorgeous sunset for us to enjoy.

Sunday we went to church with Matt and Kristin at Crosschurch, a new church plant where Matt plays guitar and drums for the worship team. we enjoyed the service and getting to meet the people Matt and Kristin fellowship with. After church we loaded up with platters from Chili's (thank you Cliff) and watched the Steelers-Chargers game. Cliff and Missy are gung-ho Steelers fans and even wore their jersies to church - they were booed in church (good-naturedly of course) and at Chili's. Hey, we were in San Diego. Titus wore a Chargers jersey for the game, but cheered for the Steelers. After the game we had our traditional Owen family Mexican Train dominoes game, which, as always, Joyce won.

Monday we drove back up to LA and dropped Missy and Cliff off at LAX for their return trip to Dallas. We were sad to have to all take leave of each other but we were thankful for being able to have such a good visit. We have one more night with the grand-kids and then we will head back to Guam tomorrow. It has been a great vacation!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

From NorCal to SoCal

Tuesday we left Northern California to drive to Southern California for the last part of our vacation. Michael had already returned for classes on Monday so we put Titus and Courage in their car seats, and Joyce, Samantha and I headed down Highway 99 to La Mirada. The trip started out badly with a speeding ticket on Mother Lode Drive in El Dorado. What made it really bad was that it was right where my mom and dad had spoken about, "Watch out for the downhill part of the road. It is easy to lose track of your speed and the CHP likes to sit there and watch for speeders." That is exactly what happened as my speed hit 63 (or so I was told) in a 50 zone. Arrrrggg! Nevertheless, despite the ticket and the foggy conditions the trip went well. The kids traveled great. We stopped in Visalia and let them play in the Mcdonald's play yard for about an hour - as you can see from the pictures.

Now we are at Mike and Samantha's house and spent yesterday mostly running errands. I took Titus to Starbucks for breakfast (thanks mom for the Starbucks card for Christmas) and he went around the restaurant introducing himself, "Hi, I am Titus. I play football." We have also been amazed at how much Courage has grown and developed while we have been here. She stood on her own for a few seconds and is looking like she might take off walking pretty soon. It has really been a blessing for us to be able to be with them and we will really miss them when we head back to Guam next week. As you can see Joyce is enjoying coloring with Titus and I have enjoyed watching sports with him streamed live on the computer.

It was also hard to say good bye to family up in NorCal. We went out with my family to go bowling and have a family day on Saturday. (See Titus and Mike bowling in the video I posted on my Facebook page). Then on Monday we spent most of the day over at Joyce's mom and dad's (left) place cleaning out our kids' stored stuff there to bring it back to them. Our rental car was stuffed to the max with our kids' stuff on our trip.

Now we are waiting for Missy and Cliff to arrive from Texas to complete the family vacation. We will hang around with them (and head to San Diego for part of the time to have all 3 kids together with us for the first time since Mike and Sam got married on New Years Day 2006) for about 4 days. It is also great to get to meet Batman up close and personal.

Friday, January 02, 2009

New Years Day Activity - Burning Tree

We had a great family, food, and football filled New Years Day. My sister Jayne and her family spent the day with us. As you can see in the video we continued our family tradition of burning our Christmas Tree on New Years Day. It is a kind of "out with the old, in with the new" tradition for us. Sorry I started out with the camera sideways. This year Joyce put no flammable material on the tree but it still went up pretty quick. Except for the cold and fog we are very much enjoying the family time. Our plan is to drive down to LA on Sunday or Monday and spend about 4 days with all three of our kids and their families down there.

We have spent the last few days eating (here is Joyce and Titus making cookies) and playing games. We did not play Twister - we left that to Titus and Courage, but we have enjoyed dominoes, Boggle and Taboo among others. Mainly, these games are just a good excuse to spend time together talking and making funny comments about each other.

PS For all you Penn State fans out at PIBC... My condolences and I told you so!