Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Pitfalls of Guam

Hmmm..... Should I tell you the story of how last night I fell into a three-foot-deep hole walking to my car in one of the nicest neighborhoods on island? Or should I tell you the story of driving on roads so bad that two nights ago, when I lightly braked for a stop sign, my car just kept sliding and sliding into cross-traffic, causing the car heading toward me to have to swerve into the on-coming lane, barely avoiding a serious accident? Or, perhaps I should tell you about trying to get parcels from the States. Yes, I think I will focus on that since it is causing me quite a bit of stress at the moment.

I will be teaching a four unit counseling class at Pacific Islands Bible College
starting next week. I ordered two different textbooks for the class from two different publishers several weeks ago. I paid a bundle of extra money to have the books shipped by the fastest means possible. Towards the end of last week, I still had no textbooks. Then on Thursday I got a call from the University of Guam telling me they had a box with my phone number on it. Why the box ended up at UOG I have no idea. (Thank goodness Guamanians are so nice that the gentleman took the time to call to ask if the box was mine before sending it back to the publisher in the States). I rushed down and found a box with twelve (of the 26) needed textbooks. At least I, the professor, had ONE textbook I could read so as to partially prepare for my class. But, where were the other textbooks? Dave Owen, the president of PIBC, just received a box of books he'd ordered for a class he was teaching two years ago! How does one write a syllabus or prepare lectures without all the needed textbooks? What will happen if the needed textbooks don't arrive by the time class starts next week?

For those of you who have taught, I'm sure you understand the serious quandary this puts me in. How can I possibly be prepared to teach this class without having ever read or even seen my core textbook! In addition, I had really hoped to be able to thoroughly mull over the material to be able to come up with effective ways of communicating with the students. With English being their second language and with textbooks being written from an American cultural perspective, I knew I had my work cut out for me. Okay, here comes true confessions of a missionary: I'm a little scared of taking on this big-time teaching commitment. I have taught one unit intensive classes in grad school but I have never taught a semester-long class. My expertise is in doing counseling (over twenty years of it!)--not teaching it. Okay, I'll be really honest; the combination of not having the materials and this being my first long-term teaching assignment is pushing my anxiety buttons. Do you think you could pray for me? With all my heart, I want my teaching platform to be a vehicle by which students can begin to understand the deep love of Christ and His desire to bring wholeness and healing to broken and wounded people. This is the message I want to be integrated into all that I teach. The obstacles I face overwhelm me: no textbooks, English as a second language, a significantly different culture, and the first time teaching a long-term college class.

I take heart in what Scripture says, "The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective” (James 5:16b)." I covet your prayers.

This is Jayvina. I believe she will be one of the students in my counseling class. She is an extremely bright and sweet young woman. Please pray for her and the other students at the college, many of whom struggle with English as a second language and face trying circumstances within their clans on various islands throughout Micronesia.


Sophia said...

i am living proof that you don't need textbooks in college! although, i'm sure your students are far more studious than i ever will be, books are overrated. just focus on being a great lecturer and you'll be fine. i'll let you know if i get into grad school.... =]

Tina said...

Your 20+ years of experience will teach the students much more than the textbook will ever. The book is really a guide, but what you can offer from your experience will be far more valuable than anything that is written. It's your stories that will make the impact and lasting memory. Be yourself, and know that God will be leading you on this journey.

I'll be praying Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight."