Friday, September 30, 2011

25 Noted Differences--Uh, Make That 26

Having to constantly remind ourselves to speed UP so we won't get a ticket!! (Guam: 45 mph max, California: 75 mph max)

A Typical Market
Gazillion choices in food—especially fresh produce and affordable meat. 

Style in clothing is much more important (and intimidating!).

Shorts are MUCH shorter! (Katie has to wear those super short spandex shorts for her volleyball uniform on her high school team.)

You will most likely eat inside the house when invited to a home for a meal. On the island, eating most often takes place outside under a canopy.

Under the canopy

The incredible joy of fresh, cool air!  Wonderful being able to open the windows while driving or sitting in the house--way too hot to do this on Guam at any time--24/7, 365 days a year! 

On Guam, the older you are, the more respected you are. Here, it seems like the older you are, the more marginalized you are.  

“People aren’t as friendly in CA. Like, if you accidentally bump into them in the store and you say, ‘Sorry’ they barely acknowledge it, but on Guam, they’ll say, ‘Oh, that’s okay’ and they may continue to carry on a conversation with you.” (Noelle, 11 years old)

The beautiful sound of birds chirping and the great varieties all around us. Because of the invasive brown tree snake, the bird population on Guam has been nearly annihilated. (It is hysterical to watch the cat we brought with us from Guam. She has never seen birds hopping and flying all around and is clearly fascinated and perplexed!) 

Invasive brown tree snake
found near PIU's men's dorm

Lots of different colored people.  On Guam, it's essentially one color--brown.

On Guam, it is assumed that kids will be included in EVERY event.  It is the opposite in CA--assume kids are not invited unless otherwise stated.

Sales tax--yuck!

No boonie dogs to give household scraps to.  There are 40,000 boonie dogs on the island, yes, I said 40,000!  These are stray dogs:  20% belong to someone but run free, 40% are fed by someone even thought the dog is not their pet, and 40% just roam around. 

Boonie Dogs

LOTS of Spanish being spoken—especially in schools and in stores. We never heard Spanish on Guam, even though the Spanish ruled Guam for 300 years! 

The pleasure of sitting outside without being munched on by mosquitoes.

Being cold on the beach (and even colder in the water) compared to being too hot on the beach and barely cool enough in Guam's warm ocean (86 degrees).

It's no longer easy to spot our girls in a crowd--there are plenty of other blond "haoles."

It used to be easy . . .

 Having a million forms to fill out and liability waivers to sign in order to do anything (e.g. enter school, play a sport, transported in a vehicle, etc.). This is probably a result of the high liability risk in CA. Good luck suing an institution on Guam, therefore, little fear of being sued!

Seemingly everyone (from middle schoolers to adults) has a Smart Phone, and quite often not just a Smart phone but an Iphone.
Not “giving grace” before eating at ALL events. On Guam, even at government sponsored events and public sporting events, if a meal is served, a prayer will be offered. (This also connects back to the Spanish/Catholic influence.)
Having street lights and sidewalks!

Typical Island Street

Activities are EXPENSIVE in CA. Cost for high school volleyball on Guam: $0, Cost for high school volleyball in CA: $300 plus additional fees for transportation, sports banquet, coaches fees, etc. About $500 total. Cost for Club Volleyball on Guam: $25.00, in Santa Barbara: $4500-$6000


It hasn't rained since we've moved! Being a rain forest, Guam has rain nearly every day, and activities (e.g. soccer games) continue, rain (even monsoon rain!) or shine.

End of season soccer game and family party

 No balutan! In Guam, any time food is served, the leftovers are divvied up, and sent home with the guests.

Feeling like a VERY small fish in a VERY large pond!
Yipee!  No more monstrous, gargantuan, practically man-eating cockroaches!!

Need I say more?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Riding the Camel

“For I am doing a work in your days that you
would not believe if told.”
Habakkuk 1.5

The Parsonage
This is the sentence that began the letter we sent to our supporters, alerting them to the big changes coming soon. Well, soon did indeed come quickly, and we found ourselves rushing from our furlough in CA back to Guam to pack our possessions into a twenty-foot cargo container. That cargo container is presently on a ship being transported across the Pacific Ocean. We sincerely hope it will make it to us with no further delays (yes, they’ve already delayed delivery by a week). In the meantime, we are living in a beautiful 1800’s era parsonage that has been deemed a historical landmark in Santa Barbara County. We are grateful for the loaned air mattresses and table with chairs so we can sit down and sleep on something besides hardwood floors! We are anxious to have our school supplies, kitchen goods, books, bedding (and beds!), toiletries and furniture so we are ready for the pending school year. Our girls will be transitioning from being home schooled to attending the local public schools. I will be transitioning from being my kids’ teacher to formally teaching only students at Pacific Islands University! I am excited to more fully devote myself to this, and I’m currently preparing for the counseling class I will be teaching via Skype in a week. I am also excited to continue my role as mentor for PIU staff and to provide counseling via chat and Skype. I marvel at the amazing windows that modern technology opens. Too bad there isn’t a way to coach a volleyball team using technology! I am saddened that I will not be able to continue coaching weekly practices with the PIU women; I guess I’ll have to schedule intensive practices during the weeks I am at PIU each semester. In the meantime, I’m contacting some companies to see if I can get donated balls and equipment, and I’m hoping that a Guam friend may be willing to take my place as head coach.

Several people have expressed confusion as to what exactly this physical move means in regards to my work in Micronesia. I will continue to serve PIU and the people of Micronesia with the same commitment as when I was physically living in Guam. The difference will be in HOW I go about my work. To accomplish this, I will rely heavily on modern technology, travel, and I am now blessed to have access to resources that will enable me to do the research necessary to develop strategies to address the tragically high rates of sexual abuse, domestic violence, and suicide throughout Micronesia. Eric will be working full-time as the pastor for adult ministries at Community Covenant Church of Goleta (part of his job description is coordinating the North Park Seminary Extension classes that utilize the church’s classrooms, so it’s similar to what he’s been doing). As his schedule allows, he will continue to provide pastoral training to remote island pastors (currently, we are planning to be in Yap in February), and he looks forward to cultivating ministry among Micronesians who have relocated here to the states. He will also be providing the lectures for the fall class he was slotted to teach at PIU prior to us knowing we would be in a new location!

Certainly, we are surprised by many of the changes that have come our way, but we remain confident that God is directing our course. I had a dream just last night that I think symbolizes this concept well. I was riding a camel (no I have NEVER ridden a camel) and the camel didn’t even have a bridal in its mouth by which to control it! I knew I was supposed to keep the camel moving up a twisting and turning path with many caves and rock formations and hundreds of path tributaries. I wasn’t exactly sure which route to take to get to the top. Was one a short-cut? Was one riddled with danger? Add to this that my camel wasn’t particularly cooperative. The dromedary especially wanted to stop and eat any grass it saw and it often acted ornery. I had to be creative to keep it moving and I wished I had a clearly marked map. As I reflected on this dream, I realized that one thing was certain, I KNEW I was suppose to keep heading up the mountain. And so it is, “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24).

Addendum: Since we wrote this, our cargo container arrived and all the contents were transferred into the parsonage where we are living. So, as we type this, there are unpacked boxes throughout the house, and a lot of chaos. We are extremely grateful to God that our belongings have arrived safely, and we'll be even more grateful when they are all put away so that we can devote ourselves more fully to our work.