Thursday, October 28, 2010

Seminary Christmas Shopping

    Some of you moaned when you read the phrase, "Christmas Shopping," because, truth be told, you're nowhere near being ready.  I hate to pop your bubble, but as I write, the big event is only 57 days away.  Wait!  You still have time to read this blog before you rush out the door in a state of complete panic.  In fact, this article will help you.  After you're done with it, you need only follow a few simple directions and you can click things right off your list.  You don't even have to leave the comfort of your chair, much less the comfort of your home.  So nestle down and listen to my Christmas tale.
     Our part-time theology professor, Jim Sawyer, has made some arrangements that will allow you to add Pacific Islands Evangelical Seminary (PIES) to your Christmas list.  Through Jim's ministry, Sacred Saga (, he put on his Santa suit and created an Amazon wish list with scores of books we need to add to the library of Pacific Islands University (PIU), our home institution.  PIES was begun under PIU in 2008 with Eric as its founding dean.  It is now one of the most unique seminaries in the world, and the only one of its kind in the Western Pacific.  Our students come from all over Micronesia, the Pacific Rim, and the US.  We even have a student from Bangledesh and another from mainland China.  It is truly an amazing and diverse community of students pursuing the Master of Arts degree.  However, since we are new and small, and all of our students barely scrape by, we always face a set of challenges.  For instance, we share a library with PIU that was designed to serve undergraduates only.  We really need more master's level books.  So, when Dr. Sawyer came up with the idea, Dr. Sorenson created the wish list, and it's now posted on Amazon (  With a few simple clicks of your mouse button, you can send our seminary a gift book (or CD Rom) ranging in price from $14.95 to $500.  It will be shipped directly to our school, and we will add it to the collection with a great big spirit of Christmas joy! 
    It really is simple:  Click on and find "wish list" in gold letters toward the top at the right side of your screen.  It will take you to another screen with an option called, "find someone's list."  All you need to do is type in Pacific Islands Evangelical Seminary, and our list will pop up before your wondering eyes.  Then, shop till you drop . . . a gift in the mail, that is.  All that's required is your credit card and the Amazon elves happily fire it our direction.  Anything you can do will be greatly appreciated by our students, and add more joy to the season!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Lessons for Coaching in Micronesia

Pacific Islands University has a men's basketball league, but no leagues for women. Observing how much the women at PIU enjoy playing volleyball, I decided to put together and coach a PIU women's volleyball team, and I am currently organizing a league. I have coached several different volleyball teams over the years, but coaching this Micronesian college team has been quite a challenge! Here are some lessons I have learned along the way:

1) Gently substitute the players' cherished island skirts with men's basketball shorts. Be sure the shorts are long enough to cover the players knees so that you don't offend cultural sensibilities.

2) Search high and low for enough athletic shoes for each player to borrow since flip flops are worn for all occasions, including volleyball games (yes, with the skirts).

3) Convince the players to keep their athletic shoes on. Wearing athletic shoes is a requirement in most gyms and certainly in schools, so save yourself the embarrassment of looking out and finding that a quarter of the players have discreetly removed their shoes at some point during the game! Stubbornly resist the repeated request, "Can't we just go bare foot or wear our zorries (flip flops)?"

4) Be prepared for the ensuing shock, horror, and perhaps mutiny, when you announce that actual physical exercise will be required.

5) Maintain absolute control as complete hysteria breaks out amongst players at the spectacle of their fellow teammates actually doing the required conditioning exercises, such as high knee sprints, side shuffles, blocking at the net, etc. From a coach's perspective, because Micronesian women have no prior exercise experience, the execution of the conditioning requirements is rather entertaining.

Note: At all costs, do not even crack a smile when a player asks to turn off the court lights so she can run her laps in the dark without being seen! (actual incident)

6) Convince the players to really take the game seriously and be competitive.

Do not come unglued when during an intense game, an exhausted player queries, "Can't we just play for fun?" (another actual incident)

7 Don't give up just because your players are shouting encouragement to the opposing team's server during the most critical points of the game. (another actual incident). Continue to promote the concept of taking the game seriously and being competitive. (Did I already mention this?)

Despite the challenges of coaching this team, I (Karyn) am excited to use volleyball as an avenue to bring about healthy growth in PIU students. Our team is in desperate need of volleyballs, a ball cart, and some other supplies. If you are interested in helping us meet this need, please contact me. Thank you!