Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Our Thirtieth Wedding Anniversary

Back on May 26, 1979, on a very warm afternoon in Placerville California, Joyce and I got married. I can guarantee you we had no idea then where we would be 30 years, 3 kids, 3 grandkids, 3 churches and 3 schools later. I married her because she cute and fun (and low maintenance) and came out with the perfect life partner for me. We are where God wants us to be and we are doing something eternally meaningful and brings us joy. So we celebrated this afternoon after I was finished with meetings and she with her English class at the Japanese school. We started off by shopping for her present. I have learned that is the way she likes to do it. Then we went to Lone Star and splurged with the spinach-artichoke dip along with full meals. She got the ribs and I got the sirloin. After that we made our traditional trip to K-Mart to pick out cards. We each pick out one sentimental one and one funny one, and then we give them to each other. After we read them we put them back on the shelf. We have found this to be a fun (and cheap) way to express our sentiments. It was a fun and relaxing evening. Here's to 30 more years!

Friday, May 22, 2009

PIBC Wedding

Last Saturday we had the privilege to attend the wedding of Sonny (from Yap) and Elilai (from Palau). Sonny had a busy week. He was the PIBC valedictorian and had given his valedictory address at the graduation on Tuesday. The wedding took place at the Palauan Evangelical Church of Guam and was officiated by the pastor, Andrew Immanuel (Andy was one of my students at Emmaus a long time ago - well back in the 1980's. It was a beautiful wedding. On the left here is a picture of Elilai being escorted into the church by her dad and on the right they are saying their vows.

We also enjoyed the reception, and not just because they had a chocolate indulgence wedding cake. A couple different church bands provided worship music and several of Sonny and Elilai's friends (many from the PIBC students and staff) sang. Ned Farnsworth led some games to honor and help the new couple (one game cost me my belt, my shoestring and one dollar - don't ask.) We also got to get caught up with a lot of old friends that we hadn't seen in a while. Of course there was a lot of great island food.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

We have a new Grandson!

We are excited and proud to announce that our new grandson, Milo Draven Owen was born at 9.47 PM on May 16th. He checked in at 7 pounds, 3 ounces and is 19 inches long. Parents Matt and Kristin are doing fine and Milo is already back home with them. According to grandma Joyce, he has a powerful set of lungs. She "talked" to him on the phone already. This is our 3rd grandchild and the thrill and excitement of it is just as good every time. We can hardly wait to go see him. Joyce will probably go some time in July but I'll have to wait until later. For the story of the day of his birth and more pictures you can go to Matt's blog. I am sure we will have more posts about this event - some considerable follow-up! :)

Behind the Graduation

If you read my blog yesterday and saw the pictures you saw that our graduation last week was a wonderful event that went very well. However, just a few hours before the event we realized we had a problem. Graduation gowns, hats and tassels had not arrived in the mail even though we had ordered them far in advance and we had been assured that they would come on the plane by priority mail. We had been checking our PO Box religiously and even checked it a couple more times the day before and the day of graduation. Still nothing. (We got them a few days after graduation. We think that they forgot to put the customs statement on the box - we are a US territory but packages still need to clear customs.)

It was at this point that Joyce went into action. The day before graduation, she had already begun to call our alumni to see if they still had their gowns and hats from their graduations. Alumni began to bring them in and Joyce, Anne, Melissa, Sharon, Cheryl and some of the students ironed, altered them etc. to get them ready. We had enough hats and gowns but what about tassels? I don't know who came up with the idea but they bought graduation key chains that were mini '09 tassels and with a little ribbon and ingenuity they became real graduation tassels. A couple of them came off when the grads moved their tassels but overall it was a graduation ceremony save. Hopefully, Joyce will be wearing that graduation hat for real next May!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Tuesday May 14th we set loose 16 more PIBC graduates, 15 bachelors of arts in Bible and 1 associate of arts in Bible, to go out into the world. Of course we are excited and proud to see what they have accomplished; we enjoy the celebration and anticipate that God will do great things through each one of them. Even so, we are sorry to see them go. Many of this group started at PIBC in 2003 when Joyce and I returned from furlough and I became president of the school, so we have grown very attached to them. Nevertheless it was great to celebrate this achievement, meet their families and hear their plans.

Our graduation speaker this year was Kuniwo Nakamura former president of Palau. He stressed to the students the importance of using the education they have received to serve their home islands and the importance of having biblically trained people who can lead churches and communties from a Godly foundation and moral base. I was also thankful to hear him express his personal desire to help PIBC grow and develop. Our valedictorian was Sonny Kenbaroy from Yap. He mentioned that his original intent was to just spend two years at PIBC to learn the Bible before he went on to do something more "practical." However, he saw the impact that the Bible was making on his life and he felt that maybe God was calling him into missions so he completed the Bachelor's Degree. He thanked everyone who helped him get to this point, especially Elilai, his fiance, (now his wife as of Saturday - I'll do a post on the wedding too!)

Joel and Percia (left) both started (if I remember right) at PIBC in 2002-3. Joel is from Peleliu in Palau and Percia is from Yap. I remember having both of them in freshman OT History which was one of the first Bible classes a student took then. Since then I have had them in a few other classes and it has been wonderful to see them both develop their biblical knowledge and theological minds. I also got to shoot a few hoops with both of them and I will miss Joel violating the eighth commandment every time he covered me on the court. They plan to get married later this summer and serve in the church in Peleliu.

Of course there was a lot of celebration, traditional leis (flower, money and candy varieties), posing for pictures, and plenty of dessert. To the right you can see Lydia (Yap), Mesikt (Palau) and Percia posing with their leis, marmars and flowers. In the picture on the left, we are with Darwin Joker who persevered through many years as a part-time student, working full time to support his family and taking 1, 2 or 3 courses per semester.

This year, with Sonny's wedding coming up and so many Yapese graduates we had a large contingent of Yapese attend the graduation. Many of them we have known for a long time from when we pastored the Guam Evangelical Church and from our ministering in Yap over the years. We hung around with our Yapese friends for about an hour after the graduation and got caught up on what everyone was doing.

We would appreciate your prayers for these graduates as they move on to the next phase of their lives. We are thankful to our prayer partners and our financial supporters who make it possible for us to minister at PIBC. Thank you. You helped make this possible!

Faculty-Staff Appreciation Dinner

Our end-of year faculty-staff appreciation dinner for PIBC this year was kind of an "islands meet Texas" theme as we met at the Lone Star Restaurant last Monday. The purpose of the dinner was to thank all of our staff for a "job well done" for the 2008-9 school year. Lone Star was chosen as the venue again this year because "everyone likes steak," but Joyce likes it for the dinner rolls with the honey butter and the sweet potatoes. It was exciting to have 37 staff and faculty members there. It wasn't too many years ago we could get our whole staff around one table. This time we filled all three tables in the "Alamo Room."

Another purpose of the dinner is to honor and say goodbye to the people who have faithfully served at PIBC but are leaving to move on to other ministries. Brad and Cheryl Boydston (left) have been at PIBC for 3 years with Brad serving as our Academic VP and Cheryl in our business office. They will be church-planting in Arizona after they leave Guam in June. Hiob and Leah Ngirachemoi (Right) will be moving back to Palau to pastor the Koror congregation of the Palauan Evangelical Church. Hiob served as Dean of Men and campus pastor while he was here at PIBC. We will miss all of them, but we know God will be continuing to work through them and who knows, they may come back to us someday?

Some of our staff wanted to get up close and personal with a Texas steer (besides the ones they were chewing up and swallowing.) Joel Farnsworth (left) enjoyed his lunch and the opportunity to pose in front of the bull. Our Assistant Dean of Men, Kalvin Assito, also reached out to take the bull by the horns.


PIBC held our baccalaureate for the Guam campus on Sunday, May 10th. (Yes, I know I am way behind on my posting.) The service was held at the Onnuri Church in Mangilao. The featured speaker was Dr. Cristel Wood, current faculty member and our former Academic Vice President. She challenged us based on the graduates' theme to "Serve the Lord with Gladness." She used several Old Testament examples which I especially appreciated. One of our board members, Harald Gorges, led the communion fellowship which the almost graduates (at that moment) shared with all the audience. As you can see from the picture the students also sang a couple songs. The baccalaureate was student planned and led, with class spokesman Darwin Joker serving as the MC. I think every year the highlight is the prayer of dedication for the graduates led by several of the faculty. My job this year was the closing prayer. Of course after the baccalaureate service we went over to the campus for a delicious celebratory BBQ.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Memorial Service

I haven't actually written a blog post in a few days so I thought I would get you caught up on what is going on here at PIBC. It has been a strange last week with both very difficult things to deal with and things to celebrate - sometimes both at once. So here goes...

Last Friday night was the memorial service for Kathy Newell. It was held at the Lutheran Church of Guam. I think we were all still somewhat numb from shock. A lot of us shared that we had just talked with her in the last few days and she seemed as energetic as ever. I shared that she was talking with us about the final she had just given and how disappointed she was that some of the students did not perform up to their potential. I saw her as a person that had the Christlike quality (which we try to model at PIBC) of reaching down to meet needs to help, to make higher education accessible, but loved the students too much to leave them there - she insisted they perform up to their potential and she pushed them to get there with all her might. It is still hard to think that she is not with us any more.

The memorial service was a great celebration of her life with a lot of laughter and tears. The PIBC choir sang beautifully and her many friends shared the eternal impact that she had made on their lives. One of the students said "she will always be my advisor." I am thankful that, as Pastor Jeff Johnson shared, "we grieve, but we don't grieve as those who have no hope." We will miss her, not forget her and will be reunited with her and the rest of God's people in eternity.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

PIBC Graduation in the Pacific Daily News

Here are some great pictures from our graduation yesterday in the Pacific Daily News. I will be posting my pictures and making a few other "end of the school year" posts soon.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Sad News From PIBC Today

This is from the PIBC web site...

The PIBC community is in shock following the death of much loved faculty member Kathy Newell this morning.
Apparently she had just entered the water for her first scuba dive of the day when her diving companions noticed that something was wrong. Two women dove into the water and pulled her back onto the boat. One of the companions, a nurse, began CPR, which they and the US Coast Guard maintained. She was pronounced dead at Naval Hospital Guam.

Kathy, was a mission volunteer through the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) and was wrapping up her second year at PIBC. She had a ticket to return home to Flagstaff, Arizona on May 28th. Kathy was particularly excited about seeing her grandchildren again.

A career educator, Kathy taught Methods of Elementary Education; Community ESL, and Intro to Linguistics & Second Language Acquisition at PIBC. Her professional background was elementary education and English language acquisition. In addition to teaching in the Falgstaff schools she taught on the Navajo Indian Reservation and in Russia. She earned both BS and MA degrees from Northern Arizona University.

PIBC president, Dr David Owen, reflected on Kathy's work at the school, "She was an excellent, creative teacher and a selfless volunteer who came out here on her own time and at her own expense to give young people from the Pacific Islands access to a quality education. She ministered Christ to our students in a unique way as she held them to a loving, but high, standard."

A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m., Friday, May 8th, at the Lutheran Church of Guam.

You can read more about Kathy and how the PIBC community is responding to her going home to be with the LORD at the Stinnette's (PIBC VP of Advancement) and Melissa Heck's (Dean of Women) blog

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Palau Trip

I spent last week down in Palau. Sadly I didn't get to do any teaching while there, but I always enjoy going back. My main purpose in going was to talk with church leaders, students, staff etc about the changes and challenges that look like will be ahead of us at PIBC/PIU over the next few months. As I shared in an earlier post, about half of our administrative council will be ending their term of service and will not be returning to PIBC after this school year. This leaves us in a position where we do not have enough people to administratively support multiple sites for the 2009-2010 school year. Our board has decided that, unless we get a miraculous influx of missionaries within the next month, we will pull back and run only the Guam campus next year and put the other sites on a one-year hiatus. Two weeks ago board member Harald Gorges and our CFO Jens Schulz went to Chuuk to inform church leaders, students and staff there. Last week I went to Palau to do the same thing.

I was very encouraged at my meeting with the Palauan Church leadership as they expressed their appreciation for PIBC and assured me of their help. The church leaders assured me that they would provide the support needed to keep the Palau TF open. With their help we can provide a computer lab and office where the students can take distance education classes and some hybrid classes (intensive classroom time with a distance ed. component) can be offered. I am hoping that we can do the same thing in Chuuk and Yap. I also needed to inform the church that we were moving our missionary and TF coordinator, Rob Watt, up to the Guam campus to be the VP of our student life department. I know they did not want to lose Rob, but the PEC leadership approached the issue with a kingdom perspective and I was blessed with the spirit of unity and cooperation that prevailed. The picture here is of Rob teaching his PIBC class in the Koror Church.

I also had the opportunity to drive up to Bethania with Rob and speak to the PIBC students up there and to spend some time with the senior class at the girls' high school. (I borrowed these Palauan scenery pictures from Bethania teacher Jenny Spencer). There seemed to be a lot of enthusiasm for, and interest in, the possiblity of coming to PIBC/PIU. These young ladies asked a lot of good questions. I also enjoyed the drive up Babeldaop island. The road is nice and smooth now all the way and of course, the Palau scenery is always spectacular. (You can see beautiful scenery like this all over Micronesia). The only bad thing about going to Palau is that the return flights to Guam leave at 1.00 AM and arrive at 4 or 5 AM.

I would appreciate your prayers for the people we need to run our Guam campus and to re-staff our teaching facilities in the future. More on the needs in a later post.