Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Celebrating Graduation

Watching the twenty-four beaming graduates really made it all worth the effort. Imagining where God will lead these young men and women and the potential influence they have for the Kingdom brought the daily routine of teaching and grading into perspective. Beginning with the Baccalaureate Service on Sunday afternoon, with Eric chosen to preach, and culminating with Commencement on Tuesday, PIBC celebrated its largest graduating class since its inception in 1976: 23 bachelor’s degrees and 1 associate’s degree. Some of these students will further their schooling, some will go back to their islands and teach or work in government, and some are still figuring it out (some things are the same here as everywhere!). A few are heading to either Thailand or Palau on one of our school mission trips, and one student, after traveling to Thailand for his second trip, will return to PIBC as Assistant Dean of Students.

Despite the rainfall at the outdoor commencement ceremony, it was a perfect day (the workers had covered the whole area with canopies so the sound system was well under cover). The place was packed with several hundred beautifully dressed people from all over Micronesia as we gathered together to thank God for his goodness. The college degree you and I almost take for granted in the US is a cause for tremendous celebration in much of the rest of the world, including out here in Oceana. Few and far between are Micronesians with a college degree – what a thrill it is to know that we’ve had a part in adding to that number. For that matter, you play a part too, as you support us with your prayers and giving. We urge you to keep it up because the work of the Lord here is bearing fruit! Pray not only for us and PIBC, but include these new graduates, asking that they will stay the course and make an impact for Jesus Christ.After the ceremony, the students were smothered in leis made of candy, money and flowers. This was obviously a very important tradition. In the next picture, you can see how incredibly creative the students are. They used wooden skewers with Kleenex-made flowers and wild fern to form flower arrangements. And, in the last picture, you can see how wild fern has been stapled to the steps leading up to the stage. Fern also lined the walkway leading to the stage.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Let the Festivities Begin!

Last weekend marked the beginning of four wonderful days of graduation celebration. It began Saturday with a dinner celebration hosted by the underclassmen in honor of the graduates. The highlight of the evening was the Yapese Stick Dance performed in full native dress out on the basketball court. Although these ancient dances originally had pagan meaning, we are so proud of our students who have redeemed their rich cultural heritage for the gospel of Jesus Christ by changing the old worlds to reflect the glory of God. Click "play" to check it out!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Lo, the Seminary Cometh!

Well, the day has finally arrived! PIBC has officially been granted approval to offer a master’s degree. For several years the PIBC board and administration have been convinced that a seminary is needed here in the Western Pacific to further the education of those already holding bachelor degrees, or to deepen the theological education one may have received as an undergraduate at PIBC. In an increasingly complex world filled with more information than entire generations before us ever dreamed of, the demand for good theological thinking is at an all-time high. We are trusting God that this humble seminary will become a key part of the church’s growth here in Micronesia. Considering the fact that Eric has been chosen as Dean of the Seminary, much of his attention is now given to planning for the fall and fine-tuning the seminary application form. It will also mean team-teaching a seminary course in Church History along with one undergraduate course in doctrine. Even though Eric has never fancied himself as much of an administrator, at least he’s administrating something he feels passionate about: making theological education available for the strengthening of the worldwide church. That’s worth pouring some energy into!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Baked Parrot

Two years ago, when Eric and I were visiting and teaching on Chuuk, for one of the meals we feasted on parrot fish. You have to understand that neither Eric nor I like fishy fish. What I mean by that is fish that really tastes like fish. Trout would be a good example of fishy fish. A good example of non-fishy fish would be halibut and to a lesser degree, salmon. Well, the parrot fish was delicious. It was the most tender fish I'd ever eaten and was definitely in the non-fishy fish category. Because parrot fish is a tropical fish, I had never seen it sold in the States. So, once we moved to Guam, my mouth began to salivate every time I'd think about eating parrot fish. There was one problem, even though we could now buy the parrot fish in the store, we had no idea how to prepare it. (They are packaged whole--guts and all!) What to do.....

Throughout the course of this semester, Eric and I have had the privilege of getting to know a married couple on campus: Perry and Joy, and their daughter, Ganya. They are from Palua and Joy is a full-time student. Joy's church encouraged her to come to PIBC to get her B.A. degree so she can return to work full-time at their Paluan church as the children's director. One evening, as I sat chatting in their "house," Perry pulled out a big fish from his freezer and offered it to me. (It is common for students' family members to send fish to Guam with friends leaving their particular island. This fish is delicious and MUCH less expensive than what it would cost on Guam). I looked at that big frozen fish and explained that neither Eric nor I would know how to fix it. I suggested we have them over for dinner. I would prepare the side dishes and they could bring the fish but prepare it with us so that we could learn. It was in this context that I mentioned in passing that my favorite fish was the parrot fish.

Fast forward five nights and, to my shock, Perry and family showed up not with the frozen fish from his freezer, but with a fresh parrot fish bought at a local Paluan market. What a treat! But first we needed to learn how to clean the fish. It was quite a bit of work and quite a fishy-smelling process. Each of us tried our hand at it. All the scales were removed as well as all the guts but nothing else on the fish was altered--head, tail and all fins remained intact. Finally, after baking for about 30 minutes, it was time to eat the fruit of our labor. Joy and Perry explained to us that the best part of the fish was the head and traditionally the husband got this because of his position as "head of the family." Joy giggled as she told us that sometimes she and Perry would "fight" over the head and he would kindly share it with her. Not wanting to be stingy :~) Eric and I generously insisted they should be honored with the head of our fine parrot fish. Perry informed us that the eyes are also delicious and a very juicy side benefit of the head. It was with great relish that the fish was consumed. Joy had also brought some tapioca as a side dish for our meal (that is what she is holding in the baggie--the leftover tapioca). The tapioca and the white rice was also devoured with vigor. Interestingly, what our Palauan friends showed NO interest in eating was the homemade bread and the homemade chocolate chip cookies. In addition to learning how to clean and cook a parrot fish, I also observed some distinct cultural differences in preferred cuisine. Regardless, we had a delightful night with our Palauan friends.

P.S. Follow this link to discover some amazing facts about the parrot fish. It is truly an intriguing creature! animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/fish/parrot-fish.html