Saturday, May 28, 2011

PIU Alumni Trip to the Rock Islands

While in Palau, Mike and I took a day trip out to one of the rock islands near Koror with the Palauan PIU alumni. Alumni ranged from current students, to PIU, PIBC and MIBS alumni from over 30 years ago. We were next to the island where Survivor Palau 2 was filmed. It was a beautiful, sunny day with just enough cloud cover to keep us from getting sunburned badly. Actually this is one of the few times I have been to the rock islands and did not get sunburned at all. We pretty much had the whole little island to ourselves for the whole day. It was a wonderful day, swimming, snorkeling, eating  and  hearing what the alumni have been doing and how their time at PIU changed their lives.

The highlight of the day was the sharing time in the afternoon. We sat in the shade of a large tree and just went around the circle and had the alumni share about their days at MIBS, PIBC and PIU and how God has been working in their lives. We started with the alumni from the very first group that went to Chuuk back in 1976 and continued up to current students. Each person shared that their college experience was a profound shaping and directing experience for their lives that made them a better mother, father, teacher, pastor, principal, businessperson etc. But most important was how each one shared how Christ touched, and continues to touch, their lives through what they learned and experienced at PIU. The common theme was that the close relationships with faculty and fellow students were used by God to make them who they are today. It was very encouraging for me to hear their stories and, if I am still around, I am looking forward to hearing these kinds of stories from current students 30 years from now.

Of course another highlight was the excellent Palauan food. We had a good time of singing and prayer before we dug into it. There are few better eating experiences than biting into fresh sashimi out in the islands.

The boat ride was also amazing. I have been to Palau so many times and yet the beauty of the place never fails to blow me away. It was a one hour trip through a tropical paradise. It was also fun to talk with many people we hadn't seen in a while, even though it was difficult to be heard over the giant outboard motors.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Update from the PIU Yap MinistryTeam

Here is an update from the Pacific Islands University Yap Summer Ministry Team sent to us by team member Josh Ladd...

"We are performing at the Yap High School tomorrow at lunch time. It is not a mandatory requirement for the kids to come watch but they can come watch us if they want. We will be sharing a little about PIU but the main topic is completely about Jesus and what He has done for us. So please
pray that the kids at the high school will have softened hearts and will have a desire to know Jesus. Pray that the Holy Spirit will work through us with boldness and that we will be protected from any spiritual attack trying to distract us from the plans that God has for us.. Jesse (Hartt) will be sharing his testimony with Grate (Nokar) giving a message and myself doing the Cross skit as Jesus and "MCing" the program. Also pray for our group that we will continue to be motivated. It seems the excitement of being in a new place is starting to wear out (which was to be expected) so it is harder to get motivated to practice. So just pray that our group will have endurance from the Spirit and a focus and vision for what really matters and for why we are here. We are still working hard and getting it done, but we just need to keep persevering.

The Sunday services went good last week and we performed our program at the Yapese service and English night service. Lucy (Aunu) shared her testimony in the morning and Jesse shared his impromptu at the night service. I preached on Mark 1:16-20 both times. We are doing the same program again this Sunday at the Palauan church and will probably continue to perform it at various churches. So please keep praying for that as well."

The PIU Yap TF office manager Charity Sam updated Josh's update with this Facebook status, "The Yap Ministry Team has been a great IMPACT today !!They have left an IMPACT on Yap High School Ground this very day!!! Showers of blessings right before the actual time to start. 12:00 hits, The sun came out!!! The Lord is Good! Now their practicing for another quality time with the youth tonight!!"

The team has several more weeks of ministry on Yap and we would appreciate all your prayers for them.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Palau Trip #1

A couple days after graduation Michael and I headed down to Palau to do a little student recruiting, meeting with the deacons conference of the Palauan Evangelical Church and take care of some business with our PIU Teaching Facility in Palau. We have about 8 students in Palau now and we would like to see at least 20-25. We have a need for a qualified teacher who could be based in Palau and work with our office manager, Josie Lukas. In the meantime our plan is to continue offering several on line courses each semester and begin working on modular scheduling so that teachers based in Guam can teach some classes in Palau.

Mike was able to make presentations at both Emmaus and Bethania High Schools. We forgot to get the camera out at Bethania and take any pictures. The students were enthusiastic about PIU in both places, even though we got to Bethania an hour late because I got lost on the new road to get to Ngarard village. When we lived in Palau before it was accessible only by boat. The new liberal studies program seems to be very attractive to them. We have never had so many questions and responses to a presentation there. Maybe it was just that I brought a "younger and cooler" PIU rep!

We also attended the Deacon's Conference at Melekeok village. It was good to see several old friends and colleagues there. We also enjoyed very much the excellent Palauan food. I had a chance to talk to the conference about the new liberal studies and diving programs at PIU and share with the PEC leadership the vision and plans for the school's future. The church leadership is excited about the new opportunities these programs provide for their young people to get an education and stay in the region. I also was able to assure the Conference that all the PIU Bible programs are still in place and will continue to meet the needs of the church for biblically trained leadership.

I also happened to be in Koror for the kindergarten graduation so I thought I should include a picture of it. Joyce used to teach in the kindergarten, and Matt and Michael attended it back in the 1980's. Several PIU alumni continue to teach and provide leadership to the PEC Gospel Kindergarten. Besides, the kids are so cute.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

32nd Wedding Anniversary

32 years ago today Joyce and I were married. The main thing I remember about the day was that it was over 100 degrees and my ankle hurt so bad I could hardly stand up. :) But after 32 years it has certainly turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made in my life.

My morning devotions today were in Proverbs 19-20 and 19.14 really jumped out at me, "a prudent (successful, congenial, sensible depending on the translation) wife is from the LORD." The key word is a translation of the Hebrew word מַשְׂכָּלֶת  which according to HALOT (I have to be a good example here to the students in citing sources) means to be insightful, an achiever of success, skillful, wise. The idea it carries in wisdom literature is the ability to live life skillfully and successfully. It describes a person who knows how to navigate all the rough waters of life and bring herself and those associated with her safely to shore. The amazing thing was that Joyce's picture was right there in the lexicon definition! (Not really but it should have been.)

The point of the passage is that a man that gets a woman like that should thank the LORD because she is truly a gift. And I do thank God for Joyce. After 32 years I know I am truly blessed!

I thought I should throw one old picture in here. I think this is from about 1995, during a family vacation to Hume Lake. 

Mike's Surgery

Follow up on Mike's surgery as written by Samantha on Mike and Sam's blog...

"We're back home and I am so thankful!

Mike's surgery went well. The doctor was not able to use the bone piece as he had hoped, so he went ahead and took four "plugs" of bone from other parts of Mike's knee to fill in (think cobblestones) for the missing bone fragment. These living bone plugs should grow and fill in for the missing bone fragment. The doctor showed me pics of what he did (eww...) and seemed satisfied with how things turned out.

The kids were so well cared for today by Grace and Joyce. Between the two of them, they took care of Titus, Courage and Serenity ALL day! I didn't see the kids until Joyce brought them over in their pj's ready for bed (Titus was already asleep!).

Recovering from the anesthesia after the surgery went well too! Mike was very sleepy but did not seem to have any other adverse side effects as he came to. And, every person that helped or cared for Mike today was wonderful! In fact one of the nurses that tended to Mike was a classmate of his from high school!

Thanks for your prayers! All went well and I really had a sense of peace as Mike was taken in to surgery and the entire time he was under. Your love and support has meant so much to us during this time. We would appreciate your continued prayers for:

  • quick healing with NO complications
  • adequate pain management; the pain from the surgery should peak over the next 48 hours.
  • The kids to be understanding of daddy's need for space and inability to do much over the next week or so (Mike will need to be on crutches for the summer).
  • Strength and adequate rest for me."
We are very thankful for God's provision here and we would ask you to continue to pray with us for Mike to make a complete recovery. (I included only one picture from their blog. For all of them you need to read this on Mike and Sam's blog.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Last Post On the PIU Graduation

Here are a few more pictures of the post-ceremony celebration....

With grandma graduating it was a big family event!

That included lots of nephews.

And PIU students

And Friends

And somehow our cute baby always seems to get in the pictures too.

Please pray for Michael's Knee Surgery Today

From Michael and Samantha's Blog this morning...


If you haven't heard, Mike has been unable to straighten his left knee for about three weeks now. After x-rays and an MRI, it was determined today that Mike would go under the knife...tomorrow!

Dr. Fitzsimmons, the orthopedist who will be performing the surgery, met with us today and confirmed that there is in fact a fragment of bone that has come off and is lodged in the meniscus of Mike's left knee. This is what is preventing Mike from straightening his knee. Surgery tomorrow will remove the bone fragment. That is likely to be the easiest part. After that, Dr. Fitzsimmons will determine if the bone fragment is still good/healthy enough to attempt a reattach. At this point, he is banking on that. So in our appointment he told us that he would like to reattach the bone fragment and hold it in place with two small metal screws, with the hopes that it would eventually fuse back together. All of this work will require a large incision on the outside of Mike's knee. And, post surgery, will call for Mike to be on crutches (no weight on the knee) for three months before a second surgery. Because Dr. Fitzsimmons will be using metal screws, a second surgery is required to remove the metal screws and check on the progress of healing.

Mike's knee injury is quite uncommon so there is a lot of uncertainty involved with the procedure. It is unclear how successful the surgery will be, how much function Mike will get out of the knee, if the bone will fuse, etc. But, Dr. Fitzsimmons thought that this was our best option for "fixing" Mike's knee.

We appreciate your prayers for:
A smooth, uncomplicated operation
Skill and wisdom on the doctor's part
The health of the bone fragment itself (pray that it is in good enough condition to reattach without having to scrape bone from other parts of Mike's knee)
A quick recovery
Thankful, helpful attitudes for our whole family
That Mike will heal enough to start freerunning/parkour training or at least wrestle with the kids :)

I've included the countdown clock above so you can have a better idea of when Mike will be in surgery in your time zone. The doctor blocked out three hours for the surgery with the hopes that it wouldn't take that long.

By the way, we found out tonight that a female student who is taking summer courses at PIU will be moving in with us this week...a double blessing! She will be close to campus for her classes and we'll have an extra set of hands to care for home and kids!

Thank you so much for your prayers! You are an essential part of the ministry that happens here in Guam and in caring for our family!

Monday, May 23, 2011

A few more pictures from the PIU graduation

Here are a few pictures of Joyce with her fellow graduates. In the picture on the right Joyce poses with the valedictorians Grateful Nokar and Xuefen Mei.

Here are a couple of our AA graduates, Davy Welle and Jake James. I think both of them are planning to come back and finish their BA degrees. Jake in Liberal Studies and Davy in Biblical Studies

Joyce and Elilai have been at PIU together for quite a while. 

Joyce with Machinta, Inca and our registrar Urte Scherer

Serenity is not yet a graduate. She would be the class of 2032

My Prayer for PIU

For several years God has been leading me to pray for the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant for PIU. If you have ever heard me speak in a church or give a Bible lesson you have probably heard something from me about how these promises apply to us today. God called Abram to "go out and be a blessing" by taking the blessings that God gave him and sharing them with others as he brought worship of God into his daily business. I think that is pretty much what God calls all of us to do as we fulfill the "Great Commission" of "making disciples of all nations" by using the resources, talents, gifts and opportunities He gives us to connect Jesus to people as we live out the normal day to day business of life. For me, that is the bottom line to all my responsibilities as president of PIU. Thus, it must be something that God does through us, not just something we do ourselves and that is what God is promising through the covenant with Abraham.

So, I have been praying for land. God promised Abraham a land where his people could be at rest and the world could see how wonderful a place, that lived according to God's ways, could be. Ultimately that promise will be fulfilled when Christ rules on earth but we, as Christ's body have an opportunity to, as one of my students put it, to "bring the holy of holies of God's presence wherever we go." The 3 1/2 acres where PIU sits in the center of Guam has been a place like that for many people already. As I prayed I imagined us expanding into adjoining properties but that is impossible now. We continue to pray that God will show us a place where we can build a place that will provide "excellent higher Christian education to the peoples of the Pacific."

I have been praying for "seed" or people that God will bring alongside to accomplish the vision He has provided for PIU. Many people have come and gone from our staff in the almost 20 years I have been at the school and most have been great blessings to us and our students. God also has brought us amazing students that continue to serve him all over the world today. This year, for various reasons, we are losing a good portion of our administration. I am praying that God will bring in the right people to lead our academic, advancement, and other departments so that we truly can be the Christian university in the region, with people who bring their relationship with God into ministry, work, education (Bible, Liberal Studies and even scuba) and life.

I have also been praying for "blessing." I have to admit that most of the time to me that meant resources and finances. And believe me we need them. But as I read the story of Abraham it is clear that the greatest blessing promised here is the presence of God in relationship. That most important part of the covenant we have at PIU in abundance. It is evident as we sit in chapel sharing how the truth of a biblical passage applies to our lives. It is evident when a staff member prays with a student for resources to pay their school bill or for an issue in their lives. It is evident when we see students fired up about going to the mission field or serving in the community. I see it in the faces of our staff as they keep working hard (with a smile) even though there is no money to do it - really living out their faith in front of the community.  I often hear the comment when people come on our school property that "God is really in this place." That is the greatest blessing and that is why I am confident that the resources to keep it going and to make it grow have always come in the past will come in the future.

So, I am continuing to pray for land, seed and blessing for PIU. I would appreciate it very much if you would join me.

Graduation Ceremony

Here are a few pictures from the graduation ceremony. This is my 9th graduation ceremony as the president of PIU. This is the 3rd ceremony we have held outside at the PIU campus. This year we had 17 graduates. It is not the largest graduating class we have ever had, but this year's ceremony may have been the most colorful with the banners and flags and with the faculty in full regalia. The graduation planning committee did a great job and I think the ceremony honored God, the school and the graduates.

The graduates walk in with nervous smiles

The graduates are obviously enjoying the speeches. 

Lieutenant Governor Tenorio talked about the importance of faith based institutions for building character and providing another option for higher education. 

He then posed with our valedictorians Xuefen Mei and Grateful Nokar.

As is our tradition the faculty and staff sang a hymn chosen by the graduates. This year's hymn was "Holy, Holy, Holy."

Board member, Mary Johnson and I handed out the diplomas. 

Our first Master of Arts in Religion graduate, Peng Li Johnson was hooded by Seminary Dean Eric Sorenson. We first met Peng Li on a ministry trip to Harbin China back in 2004. 

Faculty member Iotaka Choram closed the ceremony with prayer. Ladies and Gentlemen the graduating class of 2011! 

Graduation Preliminaries

In many ways this year's graduation was a microcosm of the 2010-11 school year. We had a host of logistical difficulties but the main result was fantastic. Before the ceremony we prayed for no rain and that things would go smoothly. Instead, we got bucket-loads of rain, an island-wide power outage that lasted from about 30 minutes before the scheduled start of the ceremony to about 10 minutes after the ceremony concluded, and a key speaker was held up and arrived late. At least, this year the graduation caps and gowns arrived in the mail on time. Nevertheless, we had our donated canopies which kept the rain off of us, our generator cranked up and kept the sound system and everything else running smoothly and the lieutenant governor arrived just as we were ready to start. According to everyone I talked to the graduation ceremony was a great success, people were blessed and the graduates were honored. Just as, though we had some great financial and personnel difficulties this year, we saw amazing growth in our students and that is what really counts. Here are a few pictures of the events as we got ready for the graduation ceremony. Next post will be pictures of the actual ceremony.

Joyce tries on cap and gown before we head to school for the ceremony and then we get a picture together in our regalia.

The Pacific Daily News photographer snaps a picture of Joyce before the ceremony. The picture is a little dark because the power was out throughout the building.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Graduation Practice

Over the next few days I will be posting some pictures of our PIU graduation. We took a lot of pictures and, I thought this year I would post more than just a sample, so I'll break up the pictures into several posts. Here are a few pictures of the graduation practice on Monday morning the 9th. Practice is always kind of a bittersweet time because we know most of the students will be moving on from PIU. We are happy for them but will miss them. Also, at this point, we always have logistical problems pop up, which always seem to get solved before the ceremony. It was just nice, for me, to have some time to sit and talk with students about what God is doing in their lives and hear their future plans.

Melody Plaxton gives the staff and faculty instructions about the program. While we were practicing the staff song, students were setting up the chairs that we borrowed from UOG. The rental for the canopies was donated by the Lutheran Church of Guam. Thank you to UOG and LCG!

Dr. Bill Wood demonstrates to the grads the proper way to do the "pomp and circumstance walk" 

Looks like they got it!

The grads do one last practice of the class song. The song was written by one of the graduates.