Thursday, March 1, 2018

Welcome to the Battle

It has been my privilege to lead Pacific Islands University for over a year now. PIU is an institution of higher learning. Wow, have I ever been learning. My entrance into this position was a "battlefield promotion." I am incredibly honored be in line behind Dr. Roland Rauchholz, Dr. William Wood, and Dr. David Owen. My job is made much easier because of the work these past presidents have done in making PIU the institution that it is.
Some of what I have been learning is important to you, as you make the decision about what is next in your life. 
  • PIU’s reason for existing places us in a small, perhaps tiny, group of educational institutions.
    We want to provide you with an education that will help you make a living, but that is not really what we are about. Far more important than the salary you will earn or the title you will be given is the life you will build--the person you will become. Sometimes I rebuke myself for being arrogant when I say that I want our students to go out and change the world. Who am I, what is PIU, to expect such a lofty outcome? Then I think of a shepherd boy named David, or a band of twelve unlikely characters that Jesus sent into "all the world," and I know it can be. I look at PIU alumni out faithfully serving, and I think, "Why not?"
    PIU exists to transform. The paradigm for that transformation is the Word of God. Transformed people transform their surroundings, and as they model and share the life-changing word of God, others are transformed, and . . .
  • The kind of transformative teaching we are offering at PIU can only come from a highly dedicated faculty and staff. Another thing I'm learning is that those who serve at PIU truly do serve. They are professionals, to be sure, but theirs is not a mere profession. It is a calling.
  • I'm also learning that we live in a world of rapid change. Changes that took decades to evolve in the mainland US are thrust upon this region with the ferocity of a typhoon. Those changes bring a plethora of opportunities, including educational opportunities. 
At PIU we believe that knowledge should be practical, so let me practice that and apply what I have been learning. Why should I expect bright young students, full of hope, to choose to attend a small school in a rural area of Guam? What gives me hope that some of them will choose, out of all the options available to them, to attend Pacific Islands University? That hope burns in my heart because I believe there are some of you who realize that bigger isn't better, that there are young adults who aren't interested in studying What this World has to Offer 101. In their hearts there is a flame that could be fanned at PIU. It's a little light that illuminates a basic concept, God does great things through those who are yielded to Him and who are prepared to do His work. 
If you are one of those dedicated people, then welcome. My welcome is not a light-hearted greeting, like one receives when he arrives at a party. No, while we have a lot of fun at PIU, we are not here to party. We are here because we want to change the world, and by God's grace, and with His power, we believe that we can. My welcome comes from the heart of an old warrior clasping the hand of one younger than he, another who is ready to join the battle. Welcome, comrade, welcome to the conflict. By His grace, we will prevail.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Two new videos on the PIU Coffee with the President Youtube channel

Part of the Coffee with the President partnership is me sending periodic video reports. I recently added a report that features fellow missionary, Alex Tavarez.

Mayson Red, PIU 2017, gave me permission to post this video of one of his poems.

Please pray for us. February 8-10 is our Ministry Equipping Conference
My good friend and fellow Liebenzell USA missionary Steve Stinnette is our main speaker.

H (for K, too)

Friday, January 19, 2018

A Missionary Saturday

What do missionaries do on a Saturday morning?
Missionaries are a varied lot, so nothing applies to all of us--well, Jesus loves us, so almost nothing.
This morning, I spent my Saturday morning a lot like the way many of you spend your "day off." There is a project that's been on the "Honey Do" list for a while now. Our lovely little apartment has limited storage. When we have company, like we do right now, it can be hard to find a place for everything. We decided a while back that a shclf above and to the side of the door would be useful. Yesterday I was at the building supply store, I saw what I thought would work, called Kathy for a measurement and came home with the materials. The first two hours of my day were devoted to
getting it installed. I think it will really help, and I earned points. : )
Our maintenance staff here at PIU is stretched thin, so I try to help out with mowing. I walk several days a week, anyhow, so on the days when I mow I do my exercise behind a mower. Since "our yard" is right next to the campus entrance, I figure it is also part of my public relations responsibilities. No doubt some millionaire will drive by, be impressed, and write us a big check. One can always hope. Bottom line, I figure being a good steward in an institution like ours, where we can't afford to do big things, means being faithful in doing little things.
After I finish writing this, I'll do something I did probably a thousand Saturdays in my life--I'm preaching tomorrow in a local church, and then on Tuesday in chapel--sermon prep is on the agenda.
Kathy's been cleaning up the mess I made hanging the shelf, doing some other cleaning, and organizing some paper-work. Wherever in the world, whatever title one has, a woman's work is never done.
A fellow missionary, Alex, lives over near the shop where the lawn equipment is stored. He was out doing some adjustment on one of his kid's bicycle--a Christmas present from grandparents. Don't forget missionaries have families. You know those pressures that sometimes make family hard for you? We deal with those, too, plus some other heavy things that are unique to folk who leave home and go somewhere where things are different than what they are used to.
To get back to my point, though, the missionaries here on the PIU campus are spending their Saturday, much like you will when you get up on Saturday morning a few hours from now. There is one other similarity. I mow grass and do household maintenance, just like you. My friend fixes bikes for his kids, just like dads all over the world. Missionary wives and moms are first wives and moms; like women all over the world in those roles they make life so much better for us all. In addition, just like you, we have to work hard to obey the Scripture, "Be anxious for nothing . . . pray." As I put pressure on the drill to bore into the block wall, as I walked up and down, and back and forth behind the mower, as I drug palm fronds away, and pulled weeds from a rock-garden out front, I had to fight the urge to worry. As you know, college administration is not what I've done all my life. When I stepped into this role I was aware that the possibility of failure was very real. I regularly read about institutions much bigger and better-funded , and with presidents more capable than Pacific Islands, shutting their doors. We just began a new semester. As my predecessor reminds me, that always brings new hope. Except when I let worry take hold.
For the year I've been here, we've been like the rebels (the good guys) in the new Star Wars movie. A large part of our strategy has been to stay just out of reach of the forces of doom that are chasing us hard. I take pleasure, and generally draw hope from the fact that we are still out in front.
Scripture tells us to pray instead of worry, so let me close this by asking you to pray for something specific. Pray for the accrediting reaffirmation that is upon us.
If we are going to make it and continue into the future, we need to maintain our status as an accredited institution. We are beginning the process that will lead to the reaffirmation of our accreditation. This time, and one more will make twice that I've led a school through a major accrediting project, but I have talked to enough people who have, and I've read and heard enough about what we have to do, to know it's a lot like the Great Tribulation. Plus, we have to pay a bunch of money for the privilege of enduring the affliction. "What if"s, and "I don't know if can"s pulsate in my head nearly as rapidly as the firing of the spark plug on the mower. Doubts spring up as fast and as plentifully as weeds in the tropical earth. I can't imagine worse timing. Don't we already have enough to deal with? Pray for me to be able to guide the team through this process. Pray for us to work well together. Pray that we will have the resources we need to complete the self-study, to pay the fees, host the accreditation team, etc.. Pray that we'll find ways to address the deficiencies we will find as we do our self-study, and hear from our auditors. Pray that God's will will be done.

Thanks for spending a few minutes with me on Saturday. I pray that you will have a great Lord's Day, tomorrow.

By His Grace,
Howard (for Kathy, too)

Monday, December 25, 2017

Thoughts on our almost one year anniversary on Guam.

This STTA has a missionary ring to it, so I thought I'd post it here, as well as over at Something to Think About.

It's been a while


I'm listening to the roosters crow in the early morning light on the day after Christmas.  I can pick and choose what I do today, but I know that soon my schedule will step back into the driver's seat. Some time early in January, when our one year anniversary of living here on Guam will come to pass, I'll likely be too busy to think much about it. So I'm taking time this morning to reflect on that coming marker on my calendar.
I'm 67 years old, and  I've lived longer in this lovely little apartment on the campus of Pacific Islands University than any other place I've lived as an adult, except one. That sounds way more impressive if you don't know that Kathy lived in #1 place for more than 42 years. That doesn't leave much time for # 2 & #3.
To say we have "put down roots" here would likely be an exaggeration and might belittle those who have invested so much more, though, to carry the image a bit farther, we are comfortable in the planter on the porch.
For those four decades when my address was 2106 S. Carpenter Drive . . . (mail sent to that address still gets to us, by the way) I always tried to maintain the spirit of the old song, "This world is not my home. I'm just passing through." Now, in a sense, that homeless for Christ mentality is easier to maintain, but only in a sense. I find in me a kinship with Jonah, who came to regard the plant that shaded him as his in a particular and powerful sense.

Usually, I have a pretty clear idea what I'm thinking about when I write "Something to Think About." This morning, not so much. I guess the best I can do, as I consider my anniversary of living in Mangilao Guam, is to share two things to think about, which might seem contradictory, but which I don't think are:
  1. Being transplanted is painful, for some more than others, we have a tendency to resist putting down roots--even in the pot on the porch--knowing that the next move is coming. Resist that self-protective urge. Be where you are.
  2. Nothing in the world is permanent. Jesus said of Himself, "Foxes have dens and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head" (Luke 9:58). Do we think we are better than He?
It's STTA (Something To Think About).

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Children's Day 2017

One of the great things I get to do in my role as President of Pacific Islands University is hang out with some really sharp people.
Like Dr. Christel Wood, for instance. Dr. Wood has been teaching Education, and other courses for a long time, but she hasn't lost any of her enthusiasm. Every year, she and her students--another sharp group of people--hold Children's Day. This gives the students an opportunity to put to use what they learn in class, as well as reach out to kids in our community.

Here are some pictures Christel and I took of the most recent Children's Day.

The brain-trust at work: Zaloma, Jen, Andrew (in green), Jella, & Brianna.

The theme of the day was God is love.

We had more than 75 children in attendance.

The students were in charge of decorations.

 Jella & Restme doing their thing.
 Zaloma teaching.

"I know. I know!

Bible lessons, team times, good stuff.

 We didn't lack for enthusiasm

Matty leading he group.

Dinnery offering cool drinks.

We finished off with a lunch.

I'm proud of our kids and our staff. It is one of the ways PIU is reaching out to our community.