Friday, December 26, 2008

No Tears!!

Well, I'm pleased to say that I made it through Christmas without "breaking down" due to missing our eldest son, Teyler, who is in California going to college. I think, in huge part, the reason it wasn't as hard this Christmas is because we had Eric's parents with us. It's been so much fun showing them where we live and work; watching them experience first-hand Micronesian culture, eating local cuisine, and introducing them to our friends, students, and colleagues. Here are a few pictures showing our activities. Starting with picking them up at the airport after being apart for nearly 1-1/2 years.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Comfort My People

This morning, as I was reading my devotions, the words, "Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to [them]" jumped out at me. As I re-read the verses (Isaiah 40: 1-2a) a few times wondering why God seemed to want me to hear those particular words, I concluded He was simply reminding me of the importance of using our words to comfort others. After this, I "chatted" with my mom on-line and mentioned that I hoped I wouldn't get REALLY sad like I did last year on Christmas Day because of not having our son or my parents with me. Ultimately, I terminated the chat because my parent's-in-law are here for their first Guam visit, and I decided they simply HAD to munch on banana donuts while on Guam. Lola Sablan, knowing I had visitors, was kind enough to bring to church a large branch of the delicious cooking bananas. With my tummy satiated with the calorie-free (LOL) fried banana donuts, I hopped into the shower. I have a tradition of praying for my friend, September, and her family whenever I shower. You see, in May, their family sent us an INCREDIBLE care package with many toiletry items. Shockingly, within days of receiving the care package, we received word that the Vaudrey's vivacious 19 year-old daughter had died (See Blog June 2, 2008). Ever since then, whenever I shower, I pray that God would comfort their family as they grieve the loss of their precious child. So, as usual, as I showered, I prayed. I thought about how sad I was that our son, who is 20, wouldn't be with us this Christmas and yet, I will be able to hold him this summer when we're home on furlough. What must it be like for September, knowing that she will never again hold Kate while on this earth? My heart hurt for her, and I prayed that God would be near and dear to her family during this holy season. Suddenly, as clear as day, the words, "Comfort my people" came to mind. Wow! I knew I needed to get to the computer and send September a "comforting" email. The Bible says that our God is "the God who sees." He knows the pain of losing a child through a tragic death. He sees September and her family and knows every nuance of their sorrow. I hope that regardless of the pain you may be bearing this Christmas, you will know the true character of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ--the God who sees, the God of all comfort. The God who, in love, became flesh on Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas,


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Strange Bed Fellows!

Guam makes for strange bed fellows! Because Guam is so small, there is no Jewish synagogue. As a result, my friend, Heather, ended up attending our Protestant church because she heard we were studying the book of Genesis in Sunday school, and that Eric was preaching through the book of Nehemiah. Since these were both "Old" Testament books, she knew she would share that in common with us Christians. I am sad that my friend does not believe that Jesus is the Messiah, but I'm glad God has crossed our paths. I don't believe in coincidences and trust that God is working out His perfect plan through this unusual pairing. Heather is amazingly organized. Her organization was clearly reflected in the party she threw on Saturday for a few ladies at our church. The invitation said to come to a "Wrap Party." It was a wonderful party wherein we were to bring all the gifts we needed to wrap and Heather would provide dinner and all the wrapping paper, scissors, and ribbons we would need. What a fabulous idea! It was a nice time of fellowship while simultaneously accomplishing a big task! And, how kind of Heather to provide this service for a holiday not her own.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Put Your Doctrine to the Test!

So Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat and all that stuff; but, work in the classroom continues. I (Eric) thought I'd let you in a little closer to what goes on in a Bible college class in Micronesia. I think you'll see that even though we are in a pretty kick-back part of the world, we still take our college classes pretty seriously.

For instance, I've taken a liking to the case study approach to pedagogy. I teach doctrine, which in some minds is not very applicable to real life; it's too theoretical, some argue. One of my challenges then, is to help my students get from theory to reality, to help them move beyond concepts to real life. Could they really detect bad doctrine if it stared them in the face? To find out, I created some bad doctrine and had it "stare them in the face!" I created a fictitious letter from a young couple who had begun attending a new church. This new church was teaching things the couple had never heard before. I assigned the students to pick apart the doctrines presented in the letter and write a letter back to the young couple articulating specific concerns with the church's teaching. A portion of the imaginary letter follows:

Imaginary letter:
Our new church is such an exciting place to be. It’s full of great worship and fellowship, and the pastor is a very good teacher. He says things we never heard at PIBC! Some things are so new to us, we’re wondering what you think about them. Our first Sunday, the pastor preached about the mysteries of God that are not revealed in Scripture. Our pastor takes the Bible literally about Jesus being begotten like it says in John 3.16 (King James), and he taught us that Jesus was an ordinary man like the rest of us, but he was so near perfect that God chose him to become his Son to die on the cross (Hebrews 5.8, 9). When God the Father chose Jesus, that’s when he was “begotten.” God the Father didn’t really know who the Messiah would be before Jesus came along and earned the right to be declared God’s Son. I have never heard of this, what do you think? I would like to know what you think since you have been a Christian much longer than me. It sure seems to make sense though!

My students did really well. How would you fare if you took this test? Take some time this Christmas to find out, and then let me know what you think (but don't expect a grade!)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanksgiving Day

Well, even though you wouldn't know it's winter here, just like in the States, it is the flu season. The flu has managed to hit everyone in our family except Eric. I got hit with it two days ago and I feel like death. But, "The blog must go on!" So, I'm pushing myself to get these pictures posted and then I'm taking my fever, sore
throat, and congestion, and laying down.

These pictures were all taken Thanksgiving Day. At noon, we began celebrating at PIBC. All the staff brought the fare to provide a traditional Thanksgiving meal for the students. This event was preceded by a time of worship. With bellies bloated, at 6:00 p.m., the Sorensons proceeded to the next celebration, a Chamorro fiesta/Thanksgiving celebration at a
local home. Chamorro celebrations are huge events because of their tightly-woven extended family systems. So, at the event we attended, there were probably about a hundred people coming and going. And, at the Chamorro "Thanksgiving" celebration, there was just as much local cuisine as traditional Thanksgiving edibles. An example of this is seen in the picture of Katie and Noelle standing in front of the large pan of DELICIOUS lumpia. Throughout the evening, there were announcements made on an elaborate sound system and intermittent dancing and Karaoke.