Friday, October 30, 2009

Weekend in Northern and Southern California

After a drive back up to La Mirada from San Diego (Milo and I had a little time to get acquainted in the two days I spent in San Diego as you can see from the picture - thank you Sarah) Steve and I met our Liebenzell USA director and PIU chairman of the board at Michael and Samantha's house. Mike and Samantha are in the process of getting approved as Liebenzell USA missionaries and hope to be raising support soon to head back to Guam after Mike graduates next Spring. We spent a couple hours talking about how to get Mike and Sam out by August 2010 so they can be in place for next school year. That evening I made my annual trip to In 'n' Out and got one of their great hamburgers

The next day Steve and I flew up to Sacramento. We flew up with two of the Sacramento Kings players sitting a couple rows in front of me. I didn't get an opportunity to talk NBA basketball with them. We pretty much dropped off our stuff at my parents' place and immediately made the four hour drive to Susanville to speak at the Southern Baptist Church there. We met my former Emmaus student from 1984-5, Jacob Ngiraiblosch, and the pastor of the church, John Murdock there and had a great evening talking about how we can help the ministry to the Micronesians that are spread out all over the US mainland. The next morning we spoke (actually I spoke, Steve had pretty much lost his voice) at both the Palauan and English services at the church. There was a lot of interest in our distance education program from both groups and four Palauan students told us that they are very interested in attending PIU next Fall. I had not really thought about Micronesians on the US mainland as an audience for our DE classes but having them in there would be great. I do appreciate the good prayer and support that comes from the Susanville Palauans and the Southern Baptist Church there.

After lunch Steve and I took a nice drive through Lassen National Park and made it to Redding in time to spend the evening with Joyce's parents, sister Judy and brother-in-law Wayne. We celebrated her dad's birthday by eating pie a-la-mode and watching football. Thanks to TIVO we watched three games in a just a few hours.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

US Mainland Trip #2 - LA to San Diego

We enjoyed our 2nd day in Los Angeles. In the morning, Steve and I met with Tom Kimber and Sonny Massey who lead the missions committee at Grace Evangelical Free Church, which our son Michael and his family attend, to talk to them about hosting our PIU Traveling Team when they arrive on the mainland this summer. We are hoping the church will host us for the first week and help us in orienting our team to the US. (Our traveling team plans to be on the US mainland from late May through the end of July. If your church or group would like to host the team or help us set up a presentation in your area please contact me at I think they liked the idea and are bringing the it up with the church leadership. We met later that day with Dan Crowley and Kim Imai from Sandals Church in Riverside. This is the main sending church for Jen Rydzik, our new remedial English teacher. We had a very productive meeting discussing ways that PIU and Sandals could work together in ministry and how we could better provide support for Jen.  That evening we met Bayview Church Guam pastor Greg Atkinson at a Biola soccer game. Biola won 2-1.

Wednesday morning we headed down to San Diego. We met Matt at his apartment and I got to see my 5 month old grandson Milo for the first time. (Pictured above left with his dad Matt). What a cute kid huh? He reminds me very much of Matt as a baby. We also met Liebenzell and PIU appointee Sarah Cain at the airport and spent a lot of time with her helping her get organized to raise support. Sarah will work in our development and student life departments and we would ask you to pray that she can get out on the field by January. In the afternoon we met with Lem Usita from San Diego Christian College to discuss some possible student mission trips from SDCC and some other opportunities to work together in ministry. I really appreciated Lem's enthusiasm and helpful ideas. After dropping Steve and Sarah to stay at Dan Field's house to talk media and marketing (Thank you Dan for helping us out in this area), I went back to Matt's house to spend a little more time with that cute baby.

Monday, October 26, 2009

US Mainland Trip: Post #1 - Arrival In LA

I am sorry that it has been a week between posts. Steve Stinnette and I have been flying and driving around California and keeping pretty busy. Steve picked up a cold on the flight and has lost his voice but has still managed to attend all but one of our meetings. My throat is scratchy from the dry air but it has not slowed down my talking at all. No surprise there. We flew into LAX at 5 AM last Monday. A couple hours later we met with Kevin and Missy Elwell with whom we ministered for several years on Guam in school and church ministries. We had an enjoyable couple hours talking about old times on Guam and possibilities for future cooperation in ministry. We then drove over to La Mirada to Mike and Sam's place. As we walked into their apartment courtyard, Titus greeted me from the balcony with an enthusiastic "hi grandpa." We rested up and had a good time talking with Titus and Courage (pictured). Mike and Samantha will graduate from Talbot Seminary next Spring and plan to come out to Guam in the Fall of 2010 as Liebenzell Missionaries and PIU faculty. We talked about support raising and PIU plans over pizza and pizookies.  We are really looking forward to having them on Guam. They will be a great asset to the school and it will be great having our grandchildren there. After a long day, (We left Guam at 6 AM, flew 16 hours and arrived in LA an hour before we left) we went to bed early on Monday night.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Some More of My Pictures from Spiritual Emphasis Days Last Week

I am here in Southern California and will report on what I am doing here in the next post. Before I did that I thought that I should put up a few more pictures from our Spiritual Emphasis Days event last week...

The first one here above left is most of the gang that attended the event.

Our speakers: Matt Augee (Green shirt) and Dan Fields (Blue Shirt). We also enjoyed having Dan and Matt stay at our house for the week. It was great getting to know them and I believe they made a great impact on the students. We will get to see Dan again tomorrow in San Diego

An important part of the program was breaking into small groups and discussing the speaker's point and how to apply it. 

The food was also an important part of the program. I don't think anyone went hungry!

There was also important political debate.

Not really! We were just supporting our favorite NFL teams.

A good game of foosball was also relaxing.

Or you could get a nice eye massage and acupuncture from one of the students

All in all a good time of worship and fellowship. Joyce is enjoying some fellowship with our friends Nino, Ambrosio and May.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Spiritual Emphasis Days #1

For two days in every Fall semester, the PIU family takes a couple days off our regular schedule to focus on worship and deepen our relationships with God and each other. Normally we do this at the end of October, but this year we moved up the event to accommodate some special speakers. This was great for me because I am normally on my recruiting trip to the mainland (I leave Monday this year) when the event takes place.  The plan was to have the event on the Bayview Church athletic field and have everyone camp out in tents. However, a tropical storm headed our way and made its closest pass on Thursday. We decided that 40 mph winds and living in tents doesn't go well together. So instead of starting the event at Bayview we began the morning events and lunch on the PIU campus. Bayview then was very gracious to let use their auditorium and Christian Servicemen's Center and we moved over to the church after lunch in the classroom.

Our speakers for this year were Matt Augee from Arizona and Dan Fields from San Diego. Both did a great job. Dan took thousands of pictures during the 5 days he was on Guam and, if you want to see extremely beautiful pictures of Guam, the school and our students you will want to take a look at his blog. Matt was our main speaker and really touched on many of the issues our students face. He runs youth camps on the mainland for churches and the military and is an experienced and effective youth speaker. The students especially enjoyed his "toys" which were quite effective means of driving home the points he was making to the students. Both Dan and Matt are involved in foundations that work with Christian ministries and we are looking forward to working with them to develop PIU into what God is calling us to be.

The first night ended with another exciting PIU basketball game versus the Abundant Life Church. This time we pulled off a 5 point win in a fast up and down the court game. With all the dormitory students at the game - we took a bus - I think we outnumbered our opponent's fans by about 10 to one. After the game the students returned to Bayview Church and slept (yea right, I think they talked all night). More on day two soon

Recent Chuuk Trip

Monday and Tuesday I made a short trip to Chuuk to check on our new teaching facility at Mizpah High School and give the TOEFL test to students interested in PIU. While it was a little disappointing that many of the scheduled test takers did not show up because of a scheduling conflict (we won't be able to offer another TOEFL in Chuuk until Spring 2010) I had several good meetings with church and school leaders. Some of our computers are set up at Mizpah and we have eight students right now taking PIU distance education classes. Our representative in Chuuk, Harvey Fritz, is confident that we will see more students sign up in January and even more in August of 2010. I enjoyed getting to know Curley Sos and Steioshy Manuel from  Mizpah High School and Logan Memorial Church. It was great to hear their vision for developing the ministries of the school and church and for outreach into the community. We explored several ideas about how PIU could cooperate with them. There are opportunities to develop our certificate in basic English program and Bible certificate programs for the community and in the outer islands of Chuuk. I was not able to meet with leaders of the Evangelical Church of Chuuk but we continue to hope that we can rebuild the relationship with them and continue the long-time partnership between ECC and PIU. We want to serve as much of the church and community in Chuuk as we can.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Last Week Revisited

I am not sure last week was a typical week for a PIU missionary on Guam but here it is (was).

Monday: If it is Monday it must be administrative meeting. We have our admin meeting every Monday morning at 10 AM. It includes Melody Plaxton - Academic, Rob Watt - Student Life, Harumi Eliason - Finance, Lisa Collins - Library, Steve Stinnette - Advancement, Eric Sorenson - Seminary and Cristel Boedecker, who does a great job on the minutes. This is our time for taking care of issues that effect the school, planning and communicating across departments. We also have a good time of fellowship. This week one of our big issues is the TRACS (our accrediting agency) annual report. We are working on getting it finished up this week. It is a big job but it gives us a good snapshot of what the school looks like. Monday afternoon I spent working on the operations report. On Monday evening Joyce has class so I do my exercise routine and then prepare a quiz for my seminary class.

Tuesday: We had an executive committee of the board meeting at 8 AM. With one board member in Germany, one in New Jersey and one on Guam it is always tough to get the timing right. We do the meetings by Skype. The main subject of the meeting was looking at the 2009-10 school year budget. We make a tentative budget in March at the annual board meeting and then we need to adjust it in September when we see how many students we will have. It was a good meeting. We got the budget ready for board approval and the internet only went down one time during the meeting. Tuesday afternoon we had a planning meeting for our summer 2010 ministry team. It was raining so hard we decided to stay home on Tuesday night - Joyce had homework.Tuesday chapel was in between the meetings. I was looking forward to hearing the message but got pulled out of chapel for a minor financial crisis (we solved it).

Wednesday: Worked some more on the operational report. We had another planning meeting for developing our curriculum for our Certificate in Basic English program. We want to make it more practical for our students who will be entering this program. Some will be using it for gaining the English proficiency for college entrance while others will use the program to improve their English for working in the hotel and tourist industry or in the expected construction boom. We are hoping to work together with other Guam community service organizations on this project. Wednesday evening was my seminary NT Survey class. This is my favorite part of the week. Our discussion was on Jesus, the NT and the Old Testament law. How do they fit together? We had some good discussion about how the NT writers use the Old Testament.

Thursday: Thursday morning was class prep and a little more work on some other office and planning issues. I have had a tooth ache for the last couple weeks so I had a dentist appointment in the afternoon. The dentist said the tooth was cracked and he had some good news and bad news. Don't you hate it when they say that? Anyway the good news was that the crack did not go all the way down and the tooth was savable. The bad news was that there was decay there so I would need a root canal. After all that I drove home unable to feel any part of my lips, tongue or right side of my face. PIU had a basketball game that night so I went to the game in that condition. It is hard to cheer when you can't feel your face. It was a close game but we lost.

Friday: Friday morning chapel was a music chapel in which Bill Wood exegeted a couple songs and we sang them together. I always enjoy Bill's chapels and would say that they are always unique. I spent Friday afternoon doing some student counseling.

Saturday: Class again! Yeah! Today we covered Philemon, the pastoral epistles, James and 1st Peter.Whoo. We flew through them. Saturday afternoon I did some class prep and then took a nap. Joyce and I did get to go out and enjoy an evening together on Saturday night.

That was my week. I am not sure it is typical, but we do keep pretty busy. I'd rather be in the classroom than the office, but the high quality, good people I get to work with make my work week very enjoyable.

Friday, October 09, 2009

The PIU Traveling Team

Last week was the first official practice for our 2009-10 PIU Traveling Team. The team is a group of students, staff and faculty who go to churches, community groups, schools etc to represent Pacific Islands University.The goals of the group are 1)to provide exposure to, increase the visibility of, recruit students, and raise support for the school, and 2) to provide opportunities for cross-cultural ministry and increased spiritual growth in the lives of our students. The group, beginning on November 1, will minister using a student-led program containing a mix of music, personal testimonies of transformation, relevant biblical messages, and other island/Asian culturally-related artistic forms and displays, on Guam and possibly other islands in Micronesia. In the last few years the Traveling Team has done a good job of making us more well-known on the island.

The big difference this year is that the traveling team will travel much farther than past years. Our plan is to take 10-12 students and 5-7 staff members to tour the mainland USA in the summer of 2010. The team will leave Guam soon after graduation in May and will sing their way across the US until the end of July. As of right now, we have scheduled ministry events in California, Oregon, Texas and the Southeastern US. Out of the 18 students on the Guam traveling team we will pick 10-12 for the US ministry. The team is led by Joyce and I, Eric and Karyn Sorenson, Kalvin Assito, and Delight and Evelyn Suda. If you would like information about the team, booking our team at your church or event, or you would like to help support our traveling team financially please contact me or Eric. We would love to see you this summer.

Our meeting this last week was mainly an introductory get-together to talk about the goals of the team, to get to know each other better and hear the students sing and talk. The singing was incredible and the fellowship was a lot of fun too. And of course the food was good too.  I am really looking forward to working with these students and I am very excited that many of you who read and follow my blog from the mainland USA will get the opportunity to meet our students face to face. We would appreciate your prayers as we practice, prepare the team and begin raising support. Who knows maybe the zories of our PIU students could be outside YOUR door this summer.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Field Education at PIU

Field Education is one of the important components in our Bible program at PIU. Each degree student takes three one-unit FE courses at the 100-200 level and then a fourth-year three-unit practicum. The three lower level courses (Ministry Introduction, Development and Immersion) are taken by both AA and BA students and provide an introduction, exposure to and training in a variety of basic church, community and school ministries.  We want the students to gain experience in a wide variety of ministries to help them discover their gifts and talents and to bring their new experiences back to their home churches. The practicum is the taken in the area of the student's emphasis (the emphasis consists of 18 units or 6 upper division classes) within the Bible major and is the capstone to the program. Some of the emphases we offer are Elementary Education, Teaching English as a 2nd Language, Pastoral Studies, Missions and Christian Education. For example, we have several students finishing their elementary education minor as teaching interns in Guam Public Schools. Some of the Missions students completed their practicum in Thailand last summer.

One of our Field Ed. practicum students this semester is Judson Marar. Judson is doing his pastoral internship under the mentorship of our Seminary Dean Eric Sorenson. However, part of his internship deals with Children's Ministries. Joyce is supervising this part of his internship. The last few weeks he has been riding in to church at Bayview with us to work with Joyce in her 2-3 year old Sunday School class. She has been using the "watch, help, lead" method. After a few weeks of watching Joyce teach and helping her with the class, last week Judson planned and taught the class from start to finish. We have enjoyed getting to know him on the drive to church and Joyce has appreciated having his help in the class. I think she will miss having him there as he moves on to the other sections of his internship.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Storm is Past and Life is Back to "Normal"

The picture on the right is of Typhoon Melor on its way toward Japan. We are thankful that it completely missed Guam and caused only minor damage on Saipan. We are praying that it doesn't do any harm to Japan either.  When a storm like this threatens Guam we always have the dilemma about how much should we prepare and when should we start doing it. One time we didn't have an opportunity to prepare (we were off island) and our completely unprotected house came through typhoon Chata'an without too much damage. Chata'an took our trampoline out of the backyard and gave us a house full of water which was squeegied out with no damage. We thought we had prepared well for Paka in 1997 and pretty much lost almost everything we had. Of course we had a metal roofed house then. This time we kept an eye on the storm using the various internet sites. We do the basic stuff early and then make the decision to put up the typhoon shutters at the last possible minute. I know I can get them up in less than an hour even in high winds. We have put them up a couple times and then had no typhoon but I guess that's better than the other way around. :) Of course, with the school we have to err on the side of safety and we have plenty of guys to put up typhoon shutters on campus anyway. So, we are thankful for another miss, but we remain watchful.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Storm Update

According to the 6 AM update from the Pacific Daily News: "The closest point approach to Guam is forecasted at 9 p.m. today at about 202 miles north of Guam, according to Joint Typhoon Warning Center.Guam remains in Condition of Readiness 2, which means damaging winds of 39 to 57 mph are expected within 24 hours." From the Navy's forecasted track at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center it looks like the storm continues to move further North, but the center of it, with its 143-172 mph winds will be less than 100 miles away from Saipan . I am teaching my class this morning (We are making up our discussion of Paul's Corinthian letters that we missed from the last storm and then looking a the Prison Epistles), but this looks like a very dangerous storm and we are keeping a close eye on it and will be ready if the track changes. The little green outlined island on the left, middle side of the picture is Guam - Saipan is above Guam and slightly to the right already under the cloud band.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Update on Typhoon Melor

It looks like Typhoon Melor is going to go North of Guam according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. However, it looks very dangerous for Saipan as typhoon Melor is expected to be a super-typhoon by the time it passes by there. For right now we plan to proceed as scheduled with all PIU Friday night and Saturday morning activities (update: basketball game is canceled). We are keeping a close eye on the typhoon's track - it would not be unprecedented for a typhoon to change direction - and are prepared to commence our emergency procedures if Melor begins to track in our direction. We have our drinking water, batteries and candles ready to go and our storm shutters are at the ready (Joyce and I can put up the shutters at our house in about 1/2 hour before high winds hit, in about an hour if high winds have already arrived. We know this from experience.). Please pray that this typhoon will go far north above the CNMI and leave us all alone!