Friday, March 27, 2009

Rain or Shine--There Will Be Umbrellas

So, we just returned from nine-year-old Noelle's soccer game where, again, I have come face-to-face with the differences between soccer games on Guam and soccer games in California. Here are a few:

In California, umbrellas come out when it's raining. In Guam, you see more umbrellas when it's blistering hot than when it's pouring rain. Today was one of those hot umbrella days. The sun was beating down and the humidity was high, so out came the row of umbrellas, which is to a Guam car what lipstick is to a woman's purse.

Of course, the umbrella does serve its designated purpose as well, because rain or shine, the game goes on. I suppose this is because Guam is a rain forest, so not much playing would be done if games were canceled due to rain. During one of Noelle's games, it was raining so hard that her shoes filled with water. We literally had to "empty" her shoes so she could continue playing. I was in hysterics on the sidelines, thinking of all the games in California that had been canceled because it was sprinkling. If those soccer moms could see me now!! :-)

The Chamorro (Guam natives) spectators are, by and large, very quiet compared to mainlanders. Last year, we had a scheduling conflict so we had Christian (age 17) deliver Noelle to her game and we arrived about thirty minutes later. As we approached the field, I was immediately surprised by all the "noise" coming from the sidelines. I could hear parents shouting, clapping, and cheering. I remember thinking, "Wow! That's kind of obnoxious!" About 15 minutes later I noticed a large number of haoles (caucasians) playing on the opposing team. It was then that I put two-and-two together and realized Noelle was playing one of the military base teams. How quickly I had grown accustomed to the more quiet and reserved spectating style of the Chamorros. (By the way, I'm sure Noelle's team parents have raised their eye brows more than once at the excited shouts coming from my direction!)

On Guam, all teams whose players are 14 and under play co-ed. The reason they are co-ed is that Guam
is too small to have enough kids to make up enough segregated teams. This I really dislike, especially as Noelle gets older. In some games, Noelle is not only nearly three years younger than other players, but the boys are nearly twice her size. This is certainly true in weight. Picture a quarterback trying to tackle a lineman or vice versa. This isn't only a problem with the opposing team, it also creates problems with one's own team because, obviously, there is a greater advantage to pass to the big "linebackers" (which are never girls). However, Noelle has had to learn to be assertive and to compete with very difficult odds which will strengthen her character.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

What's in a Name? A University!

At first, it seems rather odd that a little institution like ours should be called a university. After all, even older, bigger institutions in the States are not universities. For instance, our son studies at Westmont College, which is (intentionally) not a university. Why then would the PIBC board vote to rename our school Pacific Islands University? Actually, the answer to the question lies in the story of what's happening way out here in this part of the world.

A university implies that there are several colleges within its overall program. No matter how big or small, when a school creates different colleges, the overall school becomes a university. Our board's decision to do so reflects growth in vision. Initially, PIBC was founded to train Micronesians for pastoral ministry, thus we have always offered one degree: the B.A. in Bible. Later, when PIBC was accredited, students with other career intentions flocked to the school and now outnumber pastoral-minded students probably 10 to 1. Most of our students want to go back to their islands and teach or work in government, for which a degree in Bible is not the most fitting. Recognizing this, a team from the college has been carefully putting together a new program for a degree in liberal arts (with a minor in Bible), which will become a yet-to-be-named college for liberal arts. Those desiring church-oriented ministry will continue to study toward their B.A. in Bible through Pacific Islands Bible College. However, I am pleased to announce that the first "college" officially underneath the banner is "Pacific Islands Evangelical Seminary," headed by a rather odd fellow hailing from California. This graduate school is the fusion of an increased awareness of the need for seminary-level training in Micronesia and the original vision to train Micronesians for pastoral ministry.

So don't be surprised when, starting this summer, the change goes into effect and we start referring to our little island college as a university, and our fledgling graduate program as an official seminary. So, what's in a name? In this case, three colleges are in a name.
Dave Owen

Here is our president, Dave Owen, holding the letter he received from our accrediting agency informing PIBC that an institutional name change has been approved.
Pacific Islands Bible College will become Pacific Islands University effective July 1st.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Guam Hyena

On the first day we drove to the house we are renting, a dog that looked like a hyena who had lost a battle with a lion, came meandering up with hopeful eyes. Conveying in writing how grotesque this poor boonie (wild) dog is would be impossible. She has patches of missing hair and is constantly scratching herself. Undeniably, she stinks to high-heaven! Obviously, she's had more than one batch of puppies and shows the wear and tear for her troubles. At first, her repulsive appearance made me want to have nothing to do with her and I wished she would go away. In time, neighbors informed us that the former renters had abandoned "Monje" when they moved. It amazed me how long this mongrel held out hope that her owner's would return. Every time we would drive up to the house, Monje would wander over with high expectations that her "long-lost family" would step out of the car. Our neighbors across the street don't want Monje because they already own two dogs; but, being soft-hearted they have taken-up feeding her so she won't starve to death. Nevertheless, she still favors our house--her original home. We give Monje scraps of meat and other assorted leftovers and so, in a way, she is used to us. In spite of this, she is terrified of humans and will allow NO ONE to pet or touch her. Cowering in terror, Monje whines if you reach your hand in her direction. It's actually quite heart-breaking as clearly she has a history of severe abuse. Sessions with a pet psychiatrist would probably be beneficial for Monje as she is so conflicted over her desire to protect herself and her desire to allow herself to bond with us. She's to the point where she will take food from my hand, but if I slowly reach toward her to pet her, she will immediately cower and cry pitifully. If I call her with my hand extended, she will get close enough to smell my hand, but then become too frightened to take the risk of allowing me to actually make contact. In mental anguish she slinks away, softly crying, and dragging her back feet on the ground! The battle within her as to which she yearns for most, self-protection or connection, couldn't be more apparent.

It hit me one day as I watched Monje agonizing between self-protection and connection, that I have met many people who are like Monje. Some are students at PIBC, some are friends, and others are found on every corner of every continent. Tragically, because they have been wounded and betrayed by those who should have been trustworthy, they cannot comprehend a God who is wholly good, and incapable of evil. One of the reasons we LOVE our work at PIBC, is that we are passionate about helping others discover the true nature of God. PIBC gives us endless opportunities to convey the absolute goodness of God; whether it's communicated through intellectual lectures in a theology class, through practical application in a counseling class, or simply by hanging out with students on the volleyball court, basketball court, or in a dorm room, opportunities abound. And, you cannot imagine the joy we feel as we watch students moving closer and closer to the out-stretched hand of our loving Savior.

For I know the plans I have for you,
declares the Lord,
plans fo
r wholeness and not for evil,
to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29: 11

Hanging out with students in the dorms. Lucy braids Noelle's hair--she's amazing with hair!