Friday, July 31, 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.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Our Thai Team Has Returned

The PIBC/PIU Thailand Mission Team has returned to Guam. They arrived at 2.00 AM on Thursday morning and look pretty much intact although they were pretty tired. We are very happy about what was accomplished in Thailand and with the impact it had on our students. They are all very excited about what God did through them as they ministered and what God was doing in them. Many of them are considering being involved in longer term missions. The common sentiment was "We didn't want to leave Thailand." Thank you for your prayers for the Thai team and please pray that their enthusiasm for missions and evangelism will be followed by all of our students.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Couple Interesting Missions Books

I have been working my way through a couple books about missions in the last few weeks. One very interesting read is The New Shape of World Christianity: How American Experience Reflects Global Faith by Mark Noll. In the book Noll traces the history and growth of the American influence in world missions, especially in the 20th century, how the "American factor" functions now, the challenges facing the church world-wide as 21st century missions becomes global and gives some examples of how some non-western countries have indigenized (is that a real word) the American style Christianity that was first brought to them. He also provides some recommendations for how the church should respond to these challenges. One surprise to me was the similarities that Noll pointed out between the experience and situations of Korean Christians now, to American Christians of the 20th century. At first, I found it hard to believe, but he makes a very good case for similar political, economic and social factors between the two nations. Noll makes a strong case that both Western and Eastern (these labels are becoming less and less useful) Christians have much to learn from each other. Noll also encouraged me to continue in my goal to develop Micronesian theologians who can work from the Americanized evangelical Christianity, that they first learned, to a truly Micronesian, but truly biblical Christianity.

Another interesting read was Island of Angels - The Growth of the Church on Kosrae 1852-2002, by Elden Buck. Basically Buck chronicles the development of the church on this small Micronesian island, and the surrounding islands, from the first coming of the Gospel to the island to the modern-day church. The most impressive thing about the book is the extensive use of primary resources including many letters written from the missionaries themselves and minutes of meetings and conferences. I felt connected to these people that lived more than 100 years ago. Of course the sheer volume of this material made the book a little difficult to read at times. It was especially enjoyable for me to read family names from the early history of the island of people that I know. It was fascinating to me to see how the Gospel can come in and transform a culture. It is obvious the author loves the people he is writing about. I would say that this made him tend to paint a bit rosier picture of the Kosraean Church than the reality. But if you want a comprehensive picture of how the Gospel can effect a culture it is well worth reading.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Joyce Takes off for the US Mainland

Yesterday morning at 4.30 I took Joyce to the airport to fly to the US Mainland for a a few weeks of vacation. (We are thankful for the frequent flyer miles my trips generate). She flew all day and night from Guam, through Japan, through Los Angeles, through Houston and on to Dallas where she will stay with out daughter Missy at her house in Allen. Both mother and daughter have been looking forward to their time together with great anticipation. She will spend a week there with Missy and also get to see our foster son David Ahlgren, his new wife and baby. After a week in Texas, Joyce will head to Southern California, meet Michael, Samantha, Titus and Courage and head right down to San Diego to see Matt and Kristin and, most importantly, to see Milo for the first time. We love being out in the islands, but the hardest thing about living out here is being so far from family. I have been reading some histories of the early mission work in Micronesia (more on that in a later post) and I cannot imagine being in the position of those missionaries who sometimes stayed in the field 10-15 years at a time without being able to see their children and families. Yes, 24 hour flights are difficult but, hey, they are much better than a 3-4 month ride on a ship!

Joyce has been working pretty hard this summer. She spent the last few weeks taking an intensive evangelism class at PIU. She has done a lot of evangelism in the past but she said that she learned a lot in the class from the text and from the teacher, fellow missionary Ned Farnsworth. Last Wednesday they went to down to the Micronesia Mall to practice sharing what Christ has done in their lives. Joyce and the other students had several opportunities to talk to people there. I came along and took some clandestine pictures of some of the interaction.

With Joyce gone I am now in charge of our lawn, the flowers and trees. She has things looking very good. Top left you can see our driveway and front lawn. On the right you can see the front of our house with her many and varied plants. Our lawn mower is in the repair shop and my thumb is notoriously non-green. I am praying that everything doesn't die while she is away. :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

New Pavilion for PIU-Guam

I just made a post on the Pacific Islands University blog about the completion of our pavilion project. Over the last few weeks I have been updating the progress of the building and we are excited that it will be done in plenty of time before the semester begins August 28th.

The pavilion will provide a shady place for students to gather outdoors, eat their lunches and dinners, hold meetings and do ministry activities. It is lighted so we can use it at night. It should be a tremendous benefit to all the PIU family. Thank you to everyone who contributed to the financing of this project. We are very thankful that the majority of the funding for the pavilion was provided for by donations from many of the friends and supporters of the school. May God Bless You!

In the picture on the right you can also see our computer lab in the background.

Happy Liberation Day

We had a very enjoyable Liberation Day. We both caught up on some needed work in the morning and then got some rest in the afternoon. Joyce got less rest as she is trying to get everything done before she leaves on her vacation Friday morning to go see the kids and grandkids. We went down to Bayview Church in the evening to enjoy some fellowship and watch the fireworks. We heard some good music, had some interesting conversation and, of course, ate some snacks. I think Joyce enjoyed the mangoes. I am still working on figuring out my camera settings for these kinds of pictures. :0)

Here Joyce is enjoying some good conversation with the girls. I especially enjoyed getting caught up with Kevin Elwell. Kevin, with some members of his youth group from 1st Baptist West LA, is back on Guam on a mission trip helping Bayview run a VBS. Kevin was the youth pastor at Yigo Baptist when I was there back in the 90's and we coached high school basketball together several years. It was great to see him again. All in all, an enjoyable day.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Palau Trip

I am back and pretty much recovered from my Palau trip. (It is not being in Palau that wipes you out. It is the flight back which leaves at 2.30 AM and arrives on Guam at 5.30 AM.) I would say that it was a productive and enjoyable trip. My main purpose in going last week was to meet with the Palauan Evangelical Church leadership and discuss how PIU will do distance education at the teaching facility there. The discussion was very helpful and not only included how we would take care of the current semester, but also included some visionary long-range planning for the PIU program in Palau. For the coming semester we will continue as planned, offering three distance education courses from Guam while making available our computer lab at Palau Community College to our students. I was encouraged to meet several new students who will begin their PIU studies in Palau. If things go well this semester we would offer more courses by DE and mixtures of traditional classroom instruction with DE options in the Spring. We will continue to plan what the Palau TF will look like in the future and have a proposal to submit to the PIU Board in March. This DE plan will need to be coordinated with what we plan to do in Chuuk and Yap too.

The meeting was not the only reason I was in Palau. The first night there I attended the combination installation of Hiob Ngirachemoi as pastor of the Koror Evangelical Church and good-bye party for Liebenzell Missionary Rob Watt (both pictured above). Hiob was our PIU Dean of Men for three years on the Guam campus and Rob pastored the English service of the KEC along with serving as the PIU Palau TF Coodinator. So, I guess it was sort of a trade but there were no draft choices, players to be named later or salary cap issues involved. The celebration was fun as I got to meet many old friends and the food was superb.

I also met with a man whom I am hoping to hire as our PIU Director of Institutional Effectiveness. Our accreditor identified our lack in this area as our most critical deficiency that we need to take care of. It seems that the Lord has dropped in our lap a guy who is very skilled in this area. I would appreciate your prayers as we work out details, especially immigration issues, to bring him to Guam.

In a couple weeks I will be going to Chuuk to finalize our plans for distance education there.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Distance Education

PIU has been involved in providing classes through distance education for a little over three years now. At first, all the DE classes were provided to students at our teaching facilities in Yap, Palau and Chuuk with the hybrid model. That is a teacher, usually me in the first couple years, would fly to the teaching facility, stay there a week or two teaching traditional, but intensive, discussion-lecture type classes and then fly back to Guam. The students would then do their reading and writing assignments through email and on-line discussion forums. Other materials and quizzes were also taken on the PIBC-DE web site. Since then we have added a full-time Distance Education coordinator, Hartmut Scherer and, in addition to the hybrid courses, PIU has been offering full Distance Education courses and will offer three this Fall.

This is especially important for us, as lack of staff have forced PIU to close our Tol Campus in Chuuk and reorganize our teaching facilities. I was in Chuuk a couple weeks ago working on an agreement to set up a PIU Teaching-Facility DE Center on Weno, Chuuk and I will leave for Palau in a couple hours to work out a final agreement for converting our Palau TF to a DE Center. We are hoping to make all three DE classes available in both Chuuk and Palau this Fall. We hope to have the Yap DE Center up and running for the Spring 2010 semester. All these centers would look something like the Guam center pictured above. At present we can offer only a small portion of our full programs by DE but our plan is to have our DE programs fully recognized by TRACS so that we can offer full programs in these centers and to interested individuals by the Fall of 2011. I am also looking for interested teachers who can help us set up and teach distance education courses. For more information email me or the school at

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Further Adventures of Joyce

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Joyce and Anne went to the Mango Festival in Agat last week. Here they are pictured with some of the mangoes. Joyce also came home with some unusual jewelry (pictured on the right). The round beads are made from coral and the more rectangular shaped beads are made from the vertebrae of Guam Brown Tree Snakes. She really likes her unusual necklace and earrings. So now Joyce is looking for a 4 foot, or longer, snake so that she can kill it and trade it for another jewelry set. The guy that makes the jewelry says that when she kills it she should put the whole snake into the freezer until she can bring it to him. So be careful if you are reaching into our freezer for ice cubes.

Joyce has also been putting a lot of work into our yard. She has the Japanese grass pretty well spread through the front and back yards now. I have been posting some pictures of her flowers in several posts over the last few weeks. We have also the enjoyed
the production of her fruit and nut trees. Saturday, on the first sunny morning after a week of pretty much constant rain, we also realized that we are growing mushrooms. Once you get the plants into the hard ground and rooted (that is the hard part) things seem to grow pretty well here!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Another Goodbye Party

Thursday our PIBC/PIU group met at the Magellan Restaurant in the Niko Hotel to say goodbye to Jens and Karin Schulz. Actually Jens and Karin won't be leaving for a couple weeks yet, but several of our people will be off-island when they actually leave. So by popular demand we had the going-away lunch a little early. Jens and Karin have been at PIBC for nine years now as the Chief Financial Officer (Jens) and bookkeeper (Karin). There were a lot of reminisces about how much PIBC has changed during the time they have been there. The Schulz's have played a very important part in the foundation and development of PIBC/PIU as an accredited institution of higher learning and they will be greatly missed.

Except for having to make another goodbye speech, the party was fun. The traditional going away gift was given - a couple Flores' prints depicting life on Guam. The Niko has a pretty good lunch buffet which changes every couple weeks. This week's menu featured Asian. Despite the fact that we had to say goodbye (again!) we always have a good time whenever we get the group together, although we did miss quite a few of our PIU family who are on the mainland raising support.

By the way, We have not yet found replacements for Jens and Karin. We still need someone to come in to replace Jens as our VP of Finance and Operations and we need to find (at least) a part-time bookkeeper. We will have our remaining office staff cover some of the responsibilities but we have an urgent need to find someone very soon to get ready for the coming school year. Please pray for this need. And consider, wouldn't you like to join this good-looking group doing Kingdom work here in the islands?

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Cool Stuff at the Japanese School

Joyce continues to work at the Japanese School of Guam as an English teacher. She enjoys her work there very much. So much so, that she has increased her weekly hours. She works three mornings (Tuesday to Thursday 4 hours) a week in the classroom and has added two hours each on Tuesday and Thursday afternoon in the after school care program. This works very well with her classes and teaching schedule at PIBC/PIU. It also gives her an opportunity to have some interaction outside the PIBC and church community. Of course the school is very happy with her work and has hired her for the next school year.

Joyce says that one of the cool things about doing the after-school care is the different equipment the Japanese school has in their play-yard.....

Of course there are the standard swings, that are not always used in the way they were originally designed to be used.

Then there are these balance posts to run and walk on.

And then there is this tire/pole/rope thing that looks like a lot of fun to play on. I have heard a rumor that Joyce can get air-borne off of this thing. Joyce says that the really cool thing is the garden at the Japanese school and she promises to bring home some pictures of that for a future post.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Happy 4th from Dave and Joyce

It is already the 4th of July here on Guam, where America's Day begins so we are in our second day of Independence Day weekend. We spent most of our Friday looking at and test driving cars. Our Santa Fe has been giving us some trouble (and there are a lot of times where we need to be in two places at the same time) so we have been saving some $$ for some time to buy another car. After looking at pretty much every economy car on the Triple J lot we decided on the Kia Optima. I will put a picture up of it as soon as the loan goes through and we get it. For now, I am putting up some pictures Joyce took of her trip to the Mango Festival last Sunday. Joyce didn't get Friday off from the evangelism class she is taking. It is an intensive class so they meet right through the holidays.

It is mango season on Guam. All over the island the road side stands are selling mangoes. Right now I like the mangoes, blended into smoothies and in salads. The fruit is great. The blossoms (in April and May) make me have an allergic reaction.

So, we hope you have a Happy 4th of July. We will be filling some holes in our road this morning and then going to a BBQ this afternoon. Happy Independence Day!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

We Are Now Pacific Islands University

According to our accreditor TRACS, PIBC has now officially become PIU - Pacific Islands University. We still need to change the DBA's on our business license to reflect that we are one university with three schools- Pacific Islands Bible College, Pacific Islands Evangelical Seminary and Pacific Islands Christian College. I am trying to find a local lawyer who can help us with this and a couple other transition issues. We are also in the process of changing our web site, seal and logo - and of course the most important thing: buying new PIU shirts to sell. We are excited about the changes and are praying that the new people we need for our expanded programs will be found soon. We are also happy to have many new student applications, more than we usually have at this point.