Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Made it Through One Storm

Tropical depression 18W came through Guam with a lot of publicity but didn't do much, except drop a lot of rain. You can get a bit of an idea of how much rain there was from the picture of our parking area next to the classroom which, during a heavy rain is called Lake Liebenzell. (Thank you Plaxton's for the picture). We had classes in the morning but canceled afternoon and evening classes. The storm unexpectedly broke up in the afternoon and the students enjoyed some extra free time. I used the extra time to work on the budget - how exciting.

People here know the importance of being prepared for bad weather. This morning was the first time in a long time I have had to line up for the gas pump. But, if a bad storm hits you never know how long it will be before the gas stations will be able to pump gas. Another big issue is drinking water. We heard that many of the bottled water establishments ran out of water pretty early in the day. Our water place, Wellness Water and Ice next to the Payless Grocery Store in Yigo, didn't run out of water. But they did great business today. Joyce went in there this afternoon and took pictures of the water bottles lined up for filling. We like going there for our drinking water because they are nice, friendly people and they load the water bottles into your car for you.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tropical Storm is Here

We are under tropical storm condition 1 here on Guam today. What I am hearing is that we will have 35-45 mile an hour winds and heavy rains. The main force of this storm will hit us in about 7-8 hours at 4 PM this afternoon. Our morning classes today are still meeting, but we have canceled our afternoon and evening classes. I will have to make up another session of my New Testament Survey class which was supposed to meet tonight. The storm coming through today will probably not do much more than get us really wet, but we are more concerned about Tropical Depression Melor. Melor is predicted to become a typhoon and is on track to hit Saipan on Saturday or Sunday. Of course a typhoon's path can not be predicted precisely so we are preparing the campus in case it takes a more Southern path. For updates on our weather situation check out our local newspaper, the Pacific Daily News or the Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center. The storm track pictures are from the JTWC web site.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tropical Storm Headed Our Way

The Guam Pacific Daily News this morning is warning Guam residents to take precautions and be prepared for "damaging winds" later today or tomorrow. The storm, tropical depression 18W, appears to be moving further South which would lessen its danger to us, but it is best to be prepared. This should give us a good chance to test our emergency readiness on the PIU campus (yikes!). As always, we appreciate your prayers.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

PIU-LCG Challenge

The PIU-LCG Sports Challenge and Fellowship Day has become an annual (and much anticipated) Fall ritual. The 2009 version happened last weekend on the PIU campus and, despite some rain delays and event cancellations, a good time was had by all. The PIU team again was victorious but it was a very close competition that came down to the final pull of the tug-of-war rope. The LCG team took the win in basketball but PIU pulled out victory in volleyball and the tug-of-war. Everyone enjoyed the great barbecue, which was supplied by the Lutheran Church of Guam, and the devotional and worship time led by LCG pastor Jeff Johnson (husband of PIU board member, Mary Johnson.

The faithful officiating team for the basketball game. 

The cooks kept the barbecue going long into the night. 

We all enjoyed the devotional time

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Yap Trip

I got to make another short trip to Yap last weekend. I always enjoy my trips there. Yap is a relaxing and beautiful place. The main purpose of the trip was to prepare for the completion of the PIU Yap Teaching Facility. We had a team from Gateway Bible Church in Santa Cruz California come out last year to work with the Yap Evangelical Church to renovate our classroom building and they plan to come out again in 2010 to help finish the building. Our original building was flooded during Typhoon Sudal in 2004 so we are working on a new building a little further up the hill overlooking the lagoon. I had a good chance to sit with the Yap Church leadership and plan for the work and also for how we will run the Teaching facility when it is done. We are hoping to have a grand re-opening of the facility in August of 2010 to be ready for classes in the Fall 2010 semester.

We also had the opportunity to talk to several people about PIU's growing program with the already added seminary and certificate in Basic English programs and the planned liberal arts and education programs. There is a lot of support for this in Yap and several leaders and businessmen there indicated their willingness to help financially and with publicizing the school and recruiting students for us. I was very encouraged by the response. Thank you to everyone who prayed for the trip.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hope For a Road to Our House

10 years ago when we built and moved into our present house we were told that soon a road would be built to it. Part of a dirt road was scraped out then that goes about halfway from the paved road to our house. (left) Since then, 5 more new houses have been built in our neighborhood and we still pretty much drive overland to get to our homes. As you can see from the pictures it is a pretty rough ride on the cars. But finally there is hope. Last week, 2 piles of coral were dumped next to the road and then 2 more piles were brought in this week. Nothing has been done with them yet, although one of our neighbors went out and used about 1/2 of one of the piles to fill some of the worst holes. We are hoping that the piles of coral are indicators that some road work will soon be done. On the positive side... our road condition makes our neighborhood pretty quiet.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Theology Around the Table

One of the new traditions I am trying to establish in my seminary classes is having one class session per semester at my house around the dinner table. This seems to be a well-received and popular tradition among the students. In fact, we had some students from my previous classes that asked if they could come to the discussion class at my house! Last Wednesday we continued the tradition as the New Testament Survey class met for dinner at our house. So, with giant slabs of take-and-bake pizza and buckets of chicken in front of us we discussed how the Gospel writers developed what would become the high Christology of the New Testament through the story of how Jesus interacted with those around him, including the Father and Spirit, the disciples, and the crowds. The discussion was wide-ranging and enthusiastic with everyone contributing. It seems that everyone is more comfortable to share their thoughts in this type of environment. Right now, with small classes, it is easy for us to do this kind of teaching. Maybe as the seminary grows I will just need to get a bigger table.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Michael Vigil Gets Married

We were happy to be able to witness the wedding of our "nephew" (he has been calling us "Uncle Dave and Auntie Joyce" since we met him and his family back in 1993) Michael Vigil and Savannah. The Vigils are part of our Guam family, you know part of the family that Jesus promised that you get when you leave your home behind to serve him. So it was really a joy to us to be able to enjoy the day with Mike's parents, May and Tony and his brother JR. May is one of our librarians at PIU and Mike is a PIU student. The wedding took place at Two Lovers Point with Senator Won Pat officiating.

Here are some pictures from the wedding...

Here is Joyce and I with Michael and Savannah. Mike asked me to pray the closing prayer of blessing for the wedding and Joyce took plenty of pictures.

The Vigil Family: JR, May, Michael, Savannah, Tony

Here is Joyce's attempt at an old-fashioned style wedding picture. They were supposed to be trying to look very serious and stern. The picture was taken in the lobby of the Marriott Hotel.

Here is the PIU gang with the Vigil family after the reception. You can see that it was clouding up behind us. Monday during the wedding was pretty much the only break in the rain last week. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful wedding.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sunday Night Prayer Meeting

Twice a month the PIU staff and faculty meet for Sunday night prayer, worship and fellowship. Once a month we have a fellowship dinner. This last weekend the meeting was at our house and we enjoyed food, conversation, prayer and worship together. Sometimes you just start singing, praying and talking together and you just don't want to stop. That was what happened Sunday. Maybe it is because we are all under the stress of the beginning of a new semester or maybe it is just because we enjoy being together, but it seemed to be one of those nights where you can sense the presence of God in the group. We spent over an hour in prayer and it seemed like 10 minutes went by. Then it seemed like everyone just wanted to stay after and talk. What a great way to start the week.

Update: Part One of our prayer for Steve was answered. All his tests came back negative. We are praising God for this, but continue to ask for healing for his osteoporosis.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pray for Steve Stinnette

As I mentioned in the last post, our chapel last Friday was focused on prayer and worship. One of our main issues for prayer was the health of Steve Stinnette. Steve is our Vice President of Advancement at PIU and has been a missionary colleague for many years. You may remember that it was not that long ago that we asked for prayer for Steve's eye problems and God healed him miraculously. This time the problem is not his eye. Steve shared that he has been diagnosed with a pretty bad case of osteoporosis. This is very unusual for a male person of his age and his doctors are testing him for several possible causes for this. He should hear the results of the tests some time late Monday afternoon. We are all praying that God will intervene again for healing for Steve. Please join in us in praying for him.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Second Week of School

Of course we are happy to have more students than we expected but it does have us scrambling. We have been out to find mattresses (I think we ended up needing 20+ but we got them), beds, dressers and all kinds of other dorm equipment. Last I heard we are still a few dressers short. Sometimes we must improvise. In the picture on the right, Joyce and Cici are re-covering some chairs for the women's dorm. Joyce also made some curtains which she and Cici put up. Tim Plaxton, our director of maintenance, seems to running everywhere to find needed supplies and make repairs. He says that fixing the the things that 70 dorm students break is a never ending job.

Yesterday was our first prayer and praise chapel. Several different groups of students shared musical numbers (Men's dorm choir pictured). Meluat even treated us to, what I am pretty sure was, our first ever harmonica solo in chapel. Faculty member, Hartmut Scherer, gave us an encouraging meditation from the book of Job on what it means that our Redeemer lives. One benefit of working here at a Christian university is that it is part of our job to take time out on Tuesdays and Fridays to stop and worship, praise God and enjoy the Christian fellowship of students and staff. Yesterday was a real blessing.

Another BBQ

Well two weeks of school have already passed by. I am behind on my posts so please forgive me for making several posts all at once. Last Saturday night we had another BBQ at PIU (we do like to eat - tomorrow night is our monthly staff prayer night and potluck at our house). This one was sponsored by the University of Guam ministry team. Several of our students work with Austin Evers, a Southern Baptist missionary, to do outreach at the UOG campus. They mainly work through building relationships, service ministries and an occasional big event there. Several of our students already work with Austin and others are needed for the ministry. Again we enjoyed the good food and fellowship. It was also exciting to hear about the opportunities our students will have this semester to put the knowledge and ministry skills they are learning in the classroom into practice.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

September Prayer Requests

We have finished our first week of the semester and are now well into our classes. I have 3 sessions of my class already done. I appreciate very much your prayers for our August prayer requests. Our response has been turned in to our accreditor TRACS and we will now await their evaluation of it at the commission meeting in early November in North Carolina. We are also thankful for a very busy admissions process. We are grateful for the students, but we need to work on our admissions processes. We are also thankful that all of our staff and students got here from their places all over the world and are now back on the job at PIU. We would appreciate your continued prayers for our name-change issues as I mentioned in August.

Here are some of our key prayer requests for September...

  1. Students: Pray for the spiritual, personal and academic growth of our students. Part of our mission is to provide an environment that the Spirit can use to move our students to His goal for them. Pray especially for the new students as they make the transition to this new environment.
  2. Faculty and Staff: God had provided us with a great faculty and staff and almost all of them are responsible for more than one campus job. Pray for their energy and strength to do the job and for deepening relationships with the students.
  3. Nino: Please pray for a speedy visa approval for our new Institutional Effectiveness Director Nino Pate. Nino is planning to come to Guam to join our staff in October if Uncle Sam approves.
  4. Chuuk Teaching Facility: We are still in the process of setting up our new Chuuk Teaching Facility at Mizpah High School. We need to get things set up this week so the students there can join the distance education classes in time.
  5. Personnel Needs: Please pray that we can fill these positions: 1) VP of Finance (God has blessed us with a great part-time person but we really need a full time person) 2) English Teachers - We need teachers with Masters Degrees and bachelors degreed teachers with TESOL certificates and/or experience. 3) We need an education professional to head up our planned Teacher Education program 4) Distance Ed. teachers - We need qualified people to teach Bible, general education and other courses from home through our distance education web site. We would love to find some teachers that already have experience setting up DE classes.
We do appreciate your prayers and support for our ministry here in the Pacific. May God bless you as you serve him.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

First Week of School

We are wrapping up the first week of school tomorrow. In some ways it has been the wildest first week of a semester that I can ever remember. First, as we prepared for 60-65 students we ended up, as of today, with 110. We appreciated the students' patience as they waited in line to go to each registration station, especially as the sky opened up on us with buckets of rain. We were thankful for the new pavilion which provided some shelter. We could use a paved parking lot too! Of course we had some beautiful days this week and it was great to see so many students outside enjoying another tropical Guam day.

Tuesday was our first chapel. I usually get the honor of being the first chapel speaker and I led off with my usual topic - the vision, mission and objectives of the school. I tied it to Philemon 1-2 with the point that we, just like Paul, are concerned with real people, our students, and our purpose is to provide an environment and discipleship to help them become "brothers and sisters," "prisoners" of Christ, "co-workers" and "friends" and "fellow-soldiers" within the church. The students did a good job with the worship band and I am looking forward to future chapels.

Classes are in full swing and the students seem to be handling their syllabus shock pretty well. I have already taught two sessions of my NT Survey class and am enjoying the class discussion. Joyce is talking three classes. One of her classes is Prophetic Literature taught by Eric Sorenson (pictured here). When I went into the library a couple days ago it was full. There are students everywhere and we love it!