2017 Conference!

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7

It's 2017 and this year it is a very short trip with a very targeted purpose. To present at the Minister's Equipping Conference. Our focus: Souls in Our Care, Connecting Counseling and Pastoring.

As always your prayers and comments are definitely coveted and encouraged!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Conference Completed!

    This was an experience I will long remember and cherish.  There was literally a record turn out according to Celia's calculations of past MEC conferences till now.  It flowed in a seamless way from presentation to presentation.  We kicked things off on Thursday with my presentation to set the stage for pastoral counseling.  Pastor Fred was next up to discuss his use of counseling in his work as a pastor and in conjunction with our Branches ministry at Gateway.  Friday morning Pastor Fred preached at the campus chapel.  Friday night at the conference,  I again led with a brief presentation on encouraging the stories of others which was followed by Jim Sawyer.  He gave a spectacular theological talk about shame and its connection to the shepherding call.   Today our morning focused on skill building and the afternoon ended with a panel discussion where the on campus counselor Kaki, and two former students of the seminary counseling class joined us.
   The discussions were rich, particularly this afternoon.  I was deeply touched as one of my students on the panel talked about how his learning about counseling has impacted his life in very profound and practical ways.  Kaki gave an impassioned call to her fellow islanders to step up and seriously embrace caring for souls  in the face of tough issues that have long been culturally avoided.
   Pastor Fred noted ...what has been happening here is changing that aspect of culture.  There were many moments where I couldn't help tearing up.   It is difficult to capture how profoundly grateful I am to be part of this.
   On another note the work team from Gateway arrived late yesterday.  So today we ended our day by joining them for a late afternoon snorkel and group dinner at Dr. Kabob (my island fave)!  God gifted us with a stunning rainbow and ethereal light cast on the cliffs.  A near perfect day!  Some photo's attached.

Chamorro Villiage with Jim Sawyer, Howard & Kathy Merrel

One of the extraordinary table decorations done by PIU students

First Night - Defining Soul Care

Pastor Fred weighs in on counselling

"The largest turnout of any Ministry Equipping Conference to date"

Fred at Friday Chapel

Friday Night..encouraging their story....

Jim brings in the theological foundations. . .

Saturday morning skill building held at the Palm Ridge Hotel.

Hard at work. . .

Demonstration session. . .

A moment with Mar. . .

Panel discussion. . .

Gateway team leader Eric Kvamme. . .

Always happy to swim with the fishies. . .

Dinner at Dr. Kababs. .

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

First Day on Campus

       A true gift to walk on campus again;  to feel the welcome and share smiles with those who have become friends over these past 7 years and six trips.  To see the students, to hear the rhythms of worship and the pace of this special place,     So comfortable to settle in at a desk (a different one every time!)  and get to work.

     The day started with a time of prayer with Chairman of the Board  Howard Merrill, who is filling in while Dave Owen is off island.   So many things to focus on, campus concerns, the health of Dave Owen remains a top item; they still await his appointment at Stanford.  Howard is doing a tremendous job and his unique brand of humor and humility blesses us all!   Chapel this morning was sweet;  touching to see a former PIU student, now  staff, share from his heart.

     At this moment I am home, at peace, dinner prep done, awaiting the flight which will bring Pastor Fred and his wife Meredith. The conference draws close. I know God will show up and so will those He brings and I am grateful to have this chance.  Hopefully some photos will be posted soon.  As always your prayers are welcomed!


Me on campus &
Fred & Meredith
arrive in Guam!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Preparations Underway

    Surprising to think that I leave for Guam in 11 days!  This is a very fast trip, and yet seems daunting still!  Last year while in Guam it was proposed that the counseling skills course I typically teach in the seminary,  be adapted for the annual Minister's Equipping Conference.  It evolved into this upcoming conference on pastoral counseling and I am now preparing in earnest.   Our Senior Pastor from Gateway Bible, Fred Hennes and his wife Meredith will be there as well.  Fred will also be presenting on his use of pastoral counseling within the church and through outside resources.  We'll also be talking about Branches our counseling ministry at Gateway.  What a blessing and joy to be able to be in Guam and presenting with a pastor I so admire and respect!!  He'll teach at chapel and hopefully I can show him and Meredith around Guam before I leave!  A small Gateway team will be joining them after I leave to help with general needs on campus.  Of course prayers needed for all!
     Pacific Islands University,  as you know, is near and dear to our hearts.  At the moment things are difficult with Dave, the president, here in the states dealing with a severe medical issue.  We are short staffed at PIU, and the usual need for resources is there on all levels.  Please pray for this vital mission in Micronesia, and if you feel led, to contribute in some tangible way.  Blessings everyone!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

What an incredible blessing this year has been.  So many moments of connection, of celebration of possibility!  Next year may hold a trip back in October as well as for the spring semester in 2017.  We shall see what God has in store.

Thank you all for your prayers and your wishes.  Please enjoy this last video of the wonderful PIU days celebrations!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Island .....a word that conjures up so many images.....strains of old music and an island of loneliness, or that crowded urban center I visited every year from our Connecticut suburb.  Never in those early years would I imagine the depth that that word would become in my life.  This, my fifth trip to Guam and PIU....it is a place that is sacred in my life.  A place God has led me to find and deeply appreciate.  A place that I have grown to love, along with the constant and ever changing people I encounter there.  Through PIU, I have encountered many people from many different islands and have had the pleasure of even visiting distant places such as Yap and Palau in previous years.  This year I ended my month's long journey in Hawaii.  Until now I knew it only from the airport.

Now, thanks to work for the Red Cross, I have encountered yet another island resplendent with its beautiful character  and wonderful people I had the pleasure to encounter.  I delivered two workshops enveloped in the aroma of a  tuberose lei and adorned with a  bright red seed necklace.  Deb, a native Hawaiian gifted me with those and then ended my day by driving me around Oahu  to enjoy a bit of its spectacular beauty.  I even saw a sea turtle swimming below.  She treated me to some local food and we shared some amazing confections "malasadas"  -- from a local bakery in her neighborhood.

Enjoy this little video....the last days activities....(one more video still to come of PIU days)  on Guam, and today's activities in Hawaii.......

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Time is winding down......tonight is the last night of PIU days.  Our team IKON is up!  We've done so much over this last week of celebrating the University's 40 years in Micronesia and 25 years on Guam.  Here is a video of the first day...our magnificent Donor dinner at Two Lover's Point:

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Borrowed Eyes

     This is my fifth visit here since 2009.  Each time I am struck by the peace that I experience.  I contemplate that peace often, both here and back in the states.  Internally I feel closer to God,  at peace with whatever circumstances come, and generally grateful each and every day.  After one of the earlier trips, a wise friend and mentor, whom I deeply respect, asked me:  "why doesn't that stay with you, when you come back?"  I've pondered and pondered that question, and have yet to uncover the fullness of an answer.       I know that the closeness to Him is the major piece.  I also suspect that clearly understanding my purpose  is to serve here helps reinforce what He is trying to do with this raw glob of clay that I call my life.  Pray for continued pliability, Jo.
    The two classes ended yesterday.   As the students voiced their appreciation of our time and of what they learned, inside I knew that their gracious words reflected my own truth of how grateful I am for what they taught me.  Each time,  I learn as I teach.  I am profoundly enriched by the amazing perspective of each individual -- of how they sincerely and openly grapple with concepts that are new to them on so many levels. 
     What a gift it is to be allowed to borrow the eyes of another, even for just a fleeting moment.
     This week we celebrate the Ruby/Silver Anniversary of PIU and upcoming PIU days.....this too will bless, I am certain of it.