Wednesday, November 26, 2008


We just returned from a Thanksgiving Eve service at our church. By the time I got home, I was so filled with thankfulness that I decided I would try to get a quick blog posted before preparing my turkey for roasting. I feel so blessed to be a part of the beautiful cultures around me. Experiencing these cultures reveals a side of God and of humanity I had not heretofore been blessed with knowing and experiencing.

It's difficult explaining to people that although our college is on Guam, almost all of our students are from remote islands surrounding Guam. These islands represent very distinct cultures, cultures very different from Guam's culture; although, there are definitely some cultural similarities. Our church is primarily a Chamorro church, the indigenous people of Guam. It has been such a joy to be a part of this church family. Tonight at church, one of the ladies gave me a Tahitian Ginger Torch (see pictures on this post). It was an amazing flower that has no odor and looks completely fake! It even felt like plastic! I marveled at another treasure that someone was kind enough to share. Throughout the night, I laughed thinking of the days I used to be awe-struck when hearing about someone entertaining twenty people for Thanksgiving. Here on Guam, twenty people is a puny, unheard of gathering. There will be at LEAST that many at a family gathering and often closer to or exceeding a hundred. The event is NEVER held IN someone's house because no one's home is big enough to house that many people. There will be HUGE heavy-duty canopies set up and everyone will eat outside in the 86+ degree weather accompanied with high humidity. And there will always be more than enough food. But, the food, even on Thanksgiving, will be more "fiesta" type food than traditional Thanksgiving fare. Afterall, how can you have a Chamorro gathering without red rice and ribs? And, how can you celebrate Thanksgiving with Micronesians without fish? And so, tomorrow at noon, we, the staff at PIBC will bring the fixings and will gather with our students for a Thanksgiving meal. Then, at 5:00 p.m. our immediate family will head to a friend's house to share a Chamorro Thanksgiving dinner. I can hardly wait to see what cultural gems I will encounter tomorrow. And I can only inadequately express the thankfulness I feel to be working here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Who's on Your Calendar?

Scheduling a time just to hang out seems rather odd, but busyness is a reality here just as it is elsewhere. Before we moved here, we used to say, "If you don't put it on the calendar, it won't happen!" Well, we say the same thing here. Thus, even though all of our staff wants to spend quality time with the students, it doesn't seem to happen unless we're intentional. From this realization came our formally organized fellowship groups; several students "assigned" to a few teachers and/or staff to build relationships. So, as formal as it felt, we literally sat down with our "assigned" students and scheduled times just to hang out.

It is such a great learning experience just to hang out. When we hang out, the students are themselves, not pupils fixated on taking notes. And, I'm sure, they see us as real people, not just teachers fixated on lecturing till their hands get cramped. But hanging out also has a way of revealing our differences. The other night we had four of our group members over to play a game and watch a movie. After playing spoons, which was met with screams and laughter, we watched the newer version of "Freaky Friday." Karyn and I both agree that the students were way more entertaining than the movie. It's difficult to explain, but when westerners watch movies, we are somewhat removed from what's going on on the screen. We are so
used to movies, that we watch them critically, if not a little analytically (we're all movie critics). Sure, we laugh, and we are moved, but with some reservation. Not so these students! The movie was punctuated with ooo's and ahh's, laughter, and delight. Even physically they reacted. Hiding their faces in embarassment, eyes opened wide in wonder, hands over their mouths in shock, they felt every bit of the movie. It was actually quite refreshing. Here were these (young) adults fully opening themselves to the gamat of emotions elicitted by the movie , and they loved it. And we loved it.

So we learned something: even if it requires being intentional, it's worth hanging out. Who's on your calendar?