Thursday, March 17, 2011

Reality Check: The Need is Great

March 14, 2011

Eric reports: It was time to get to work right away on Monday, so I shifted from my role as PIU seminary dean to PIU dive program coordinator. With Charity as our driver, we zipped over to the famous Manta Ray Resort, home of Yap Diver’s. Owner Bill Acker had showed significant interest in our program and a desire to employ more trained Micronesian divers. A friendly welcome resulted in a meeting scheduled for the following day. Check tomorrow’s blog for the results.

Common Sight

When we got home, we had a surprise visit. Let me back up. On Sunday night, after I preached at the English service, we had the privilege of meeting another bright PIU grad, Jonathan Tamag. Jonathan runs the hospital’s community counseling program, and is a young leader in the Yapese church. Although Karyn had been busily preparing to present a seminar to Jonathan’s counseling staff, just before we left Guam, we were told they wouldn’t be able to pull it off (Flexibility is the key word when working in Micronesia). Now it became obvious Jonathan still really wanted something presented, but wasn’t sure when or how, and that’s how it was left. On Monday afternoon, we received a rap on our apartment door and a greeting from Jonathan announcing he had brought his counselor’s with him! It was a classic moment to watch Karyn go into the fight or flight mode, thinking she was on the spot for a spontaneous counseling seminar. I could almost hear her thoughts: “First thing, put on longer, more culturally appropriate, pants (as she flew into the bedroom to change out of her shorts). Second, grab all your material, your computer, and look relaxed.” Actually, Jonathan was not asking for a spur-of-the-moment formal counseling seminar as much as he was looking for some casual consulting in the hopes of setting up something more formal for later in the week. However, what began as nothing more than a little Q & A, resulted in two hours of intensive consulting on issues far deeper than any two-hour conversation could address. Here was Karyn with two of Jonathan’s woefully under-trained, but deeply caring workers, grasping for a helping hand while daily facing issues of epidemic suicide in the midst of a culture that will not talk about it, the very thing essential to resolving it. Serious substance abuse issues coupled with domestic violence and child abuse puts these poorly equipped “front-line” workers at high risk of burn-out. While begging Karyn to return in May and teach a multiple-week intensive counseling seminar, for now, it was settled that she will spend Friday afternoon consulting at the hospital in an attempt to offer a little help and a dose of hope.
Karyn meeting with hospital counselors

After that eye-opening session, Charity decided to drive us up along the other side of Yap proper, which was nothing less than a succession of National Geographic scenes.

Men's House

Picture lush tropical foliage abutting crystalline seas dotted with an occasional large open-air palm-thatched “men’s house,” one for every village. Pulling up to a small tin-walled building with a single gas pump, we were thrilled to be greeted by Lydia, another PIU grad taking the afternoon shift at her family’s gas station ($4.70 per gallon, and the cheapest on Yap). Her ministry is actually teaching in the morning kindergarten program run by the Colonia Church, but like all Micronesians, she is part of the family unit, and does her part pumping gas while killing the time in-between customers sitting out back under the shade of their palm-covered shack.

Rushing back to the lower building for a board meeting of the Yap Evangelical Church, I slipped in just in the nick of time. Asael Ruda, head pastor, and Pren, board chair (and member of the PIU board), had asked me to come to share any insights and news from PIU. Now it was my turn to consult. Though the gospel arrived on Yap in 1959, the church still needs basic infrastructure, and the leaders feel the pressing concern to establish proper ordination procedures. Since long-time missionary to Micronesia, Harold Gorges was also in the meeting, both of us chimed in, and it was immediately decided that a seminar was needed to work on these issues. Just like the counselors in the hospital longing for some fundamental guidelines, so too is the church in Yap. “When can you come back?” It is our hope, that if the funds are available, we will both come back in May, Karyn to work with hospital counselors, and I with church leadership. Then, we’ll be off to the states to reconnect with supporting churches.

Yap Evangelical Church Sanctuary

 Yes, the need here is tremendous, a need I feel our unique school can help meet. Fortunately the need was not so overwhelming as to keep me from enjoying the fresh sashimi (raw yellow-fin tuna) just brought in and sliced up an hour before our meeting, along with the homemade donuts. Yes, I brought some sashimi up to Karyn who was busy preparing the first installation of our Yap blog at the PIU teaching facility—the only place we can get Internet access (albeit, very slow access)! Speaking of which, there’s more to come, so stay tuned!

Yap PIU Teaching Facility


Jean said...

Eric & Karyn - kudos for your dedication and pioneerism - Like Rotary out in the outer islands, repeated efforts, visits and constant connections is the key to keeping the dreams alive. God bless you, your family and your work!

Jean Cepeda

teyler said...

Sounds like God is affirming the work being done at PIU and through you guys! Wish I was there to enjoy the natural beauty and some diving... of course! Love ya