Thursday, October 30, 2008

¡Hasta Luego, Ethel!

We thank the Lord for our friend and sister in Christ, Ethel (Auntie Ethel to Joel and Amelia)!

She led the first Thailand TESL mission trip and helped wash cars to raise money.

She helped to entertain our kids by giving them rides in the water cart.
Even with her busy schedule, she helped us move into our new house in November 2007.
Right now our hearts are heavy because our friend and coworker Ethel had to leave PIBC due to her mother's funeral in the Philippines. Her renewal visa to the U.S. was in process, and that may mean that she will be unable to return afterwards. Although we are sad, we know that Ethel's life is in God's hands and that He will use her for His glory wherever she may be. Still, we will miss her quiet, faithful servant's heart. Please help us pray for the Lord's direction in her life. God bless you, Ethel.

Phillies Win World Series

Please allow me to gloat a little bit (although not as much as Dave O. if the 49ers win the Super Bowl)! On Wednesday the Philadelphia Phillies captured the World Series with a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, winning the best-of-seven competition 4-1. The last time they won in 1980 I was a sophomore in high school, and the team roster included such baseball greats as Pete Rose (before his gambling fall from grace), Mike Schmidt, and Tug McGraw (for you younger reader, he was Tim McGraw's biological father. Whoever thought that the parents would be remembered for their progeny?). Yay, Philadelphia! Glad to see you in the winner's circle again! Now we need to pray for those 76ers!

The Conservative Christian Case for Supporting Obama

The following post is from and is entitled "The Conservative Christian Case for Supporting Obama." Whether or not you want to agree with everything the writer says (you probably don't), I believe that it is a well-reasoned treatise on how the Republican Party and the Religious Right are failing to deliver on many pro-life values other than offering much more than lipservice to its anti-abortion platform. Over the years I have come to a place where I can not simply vote for a candidate based on the abortion issue because their are many issues that I feel passionate about. This year in Guam I am voting for senators who are opposed both to partial birth abortion and Prop A (casino gambling).

"I am an evangelical Christian with a record of voting in line with the Republican Party. This year, however, I am casting my vote for Barack Obama. My support for Obama stands on its own, and has been well documented throughout this blog. But why would an evangelical Christian vote for a Democrat? The answer is as much a reflection of what Obama stands for as it is what the GOP does not.
Last week I received an email from Dr. James Dobson – whose internet ministry I subscribe to – imploring me to “vote my values,” meaning to vote for the candidate whose “pro-life” and pro traditional marriage rhetoric carried Dr. Dobson’s stamp of approval. My immediate thought was: Why should I vote two of my values to the exclusion of all others? In that question lies the problem of the Christian allegiance to the Republican Party.
Since this country’s founding, Christians have politicized Biblical values (we have as much right to do so as any other group that wants this nation to reflect its beliefs) and have helped the U.S. become a beacon of light to the world. The problem, I now realize, with the union of Christians to the GOP, is that we’ve aligned ourselves with a spokes group that sees Christians as nothing more than a voting bloc to pander to with lip service about two passion-evoking issues while ignoring other values that form the core of our beliefs. And as they grip our hearts with life and marriage, the GOP exploits our values to demonize or vilify those with opposing viewpoints.
A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
John 13:34-35
GOP leadership has (perhaps with the willing participation of some Christian leaders) twisted and distilled our values to the point where we are just hot-button sound bites wrapped up in a platform designed to benefit the wealthy and corporate classes. In the process, they have turned uninformed Christians (me among them) into “single-issue voters,” sheepishly towing the Party line while it exploits the name of God and bastardizes our ideals to foment hatred, division and racism and to engender animosity toward Christians by associating us with a platform that is anathema to God’s love.
The party that sprang back to executive power in 2001 (never mind 1994’s broken “contract with America”) did so headed by a self-professed Christian who took no issue with smearing his opponent (John McCain) with the racist lie that he’d illegitimately fathered a mongrel child. George Bush went on to run not only two of the most vile campaigns in recent memory, but also to hold one of the most deceptive and secretive presidencies ever (kudos to Nixon for the one-upmanship).
Today’s GOP wants to strike out further, exploiting Christian principles to preach a message of hate, division, racism and confused class warfare. Whether it be Nancy Pfotenhauer proclaiming that northern Virginia – which is leaning toward Obama – is not the “real Virginia”, Joe McCain (John’s brother) calling blue-leaning Arlington and Alexandria “communist country”, Michele Bachmann calling for a congressional witch hunt to weed out congressmen – like Obama, apparently – who are “anti-American”, Sarah Palin calling small towns in “red states” the home of “real Americans” (not to mention her derision of community organizers), or Robin Hayes claiming that “liberals hate real Americans that work and achieve and believe in God”, the GOP is doing all it can in the waning days of this campaign to create sloganized hatred and division in this country. And with the “Joe the Plumber” tour, John McCain is trying to trick Americans into falling for the perverse lie that somehow working-class, blue collar tradesmen are economically aligned with the top 5% of wage earners and are on the losing end of a mythical “class warfare” that Obama is waging against the working class. And as if that’s not a far enough transgression, the GOP is on a “religious crusade” to paint all Arabs and Muslims as evil terrorists and to “otherize” a respected United States Senator and fellow Christian who is running for President and happens to be African-American, calling him every conceivable demonized and incendiary word other than (and in at least one notable case, including) coming out and saying “he’s black.” And if they cannot win again through fear, division and racism, the GOP is fully prepared to use the subterfuge of voter fraud to conceal their disgusting efforts at voter disenfranchisement (each word links to a separate news article).
GOP strategists have substituted hatemongering for the love of God. And some Christian leaders are complicit in this twisted endeavor. At a recent McCain rally in Davenport, Iowa, Arnold Conrad, former Pastor of the Grace Evangelical Free Church, while leading the invocation, said
I would also pray, Lord, that Your reputation is involved in all that happens between now and November, because there are millions of people around this world praying to their god – whether it’s Hindu, Buddha, Allah – that his opponent wins, for a variety of reasons. And Lord, I pray that You would guard Your own reputation, because they’re going to think that their god is bigger than You, if that happens. So I pray that You will step forward and honor Your own name with all that happens between now and Election Day.
So now God’s reputation is maligned if Obama wins? What of the fact that Obama is a Christian? And what of the Christians who are praying for Obama? Trading on the name of God to castigate your political opponent and recklessly fan the flames of racial, ethnic, religious and socio-economic discord is not of God. And yet, in spite of that, the GOP wants Christians to be co-conspirators in a fundamental breach of Christ’s commandment – the modern equivalent of betraying Christ for 30 pieces of silver – in exchange for the perpetually unfulfilled promise that they will one day overturn Roe v. Wade? Are we actually going to let ourselves fall victim to cookie-cutter religiosity – voting one value while casting all others into the abyss?
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
Luke 4:18-19
Christians have a ministerial calling to provide aid and comfort to those in our society who are poor and oppressed. These persons also represent our values. And yet the benevolent (and otherwise “small government”) Republican party, which has decided that it’s the Federal government’s duty to protect the life of unborn children, wants to leave those children out in the cold when they need healthcare. For the uber-Christian GOP has determined that though unborn children have a right to life, children who are born to economically depressed parents (who are, by the way, disproportionately represented in the statistics of those seeking abortions) do not have the right to life-sustaining healthcare. John McCain’s policies, while making insurance more – and perhaps cripplingly – expensive for working class Americans, do nothing to ensure that the 47 million uninsured Americans have access to insurance and that all children have a right to insurance.
Likewise, the “compassionate conservatives” who want us to “vote our values” use the power they achieve because of those votes to call for tax policies that place a disproportionate burden on struggling Americans (including the Christians who blindly voted their values) while the wealthiest citizens reap disproportionate tax benefits (talk about engendering class warfare). How can the Republican party care about addressing poverty when it’s tax policies actually create poverty? And how can the Republican Party care about its Christian base when it’s economic and health policies actually harm us and the people we’re called to minister to? The notion that we ought to elect a party that robs us of our health and wealth while blaspheming the name of God just because that party waxes rhetorically about the sanctity of life is beyond insulting.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15
God wants Christians to not only possess knowledge of the Bible, but also to excel in the knowledge of our trade and to generally possess a dedication to learning that befits a creation endowed with such vast reserves of learning potential. Yet the McCain campaign and GOP operatives are waging a war against intelligence. Whether it’s manipulating the fact that Obama overcame poverty to become a Harvard educated professor who correctly pronounces “Pakistan” to call him an effete elitist, or asking Americans to vote based on slogans (like “Joe Six Pack” or “Joe the Plumber”) that have no relation to reality, Republicans are actually trying to vilify intellectualism (further helping along that class warfare in the process).
When did the party of Teddy Roosevelt decide it was politically expedient to champion mediocrity? With the various “Joe” slogans, Republicans insult blue collar workers everywhere by expecting them to vote for the candidate who’s willing to talk “folksy” and drink a beer with them all the while lying about the fact that “Joes” across America will be worse off under McCain’s tax policies than under Obama’s.
But the poster-child for the Republican assault on intelligence is the once honorable John McCain’s running mate, who, by the way is also an affront to Christians. While professing Christianity, Sarah Palin has shown a penchant for lying whenever she opens her mouth. Whether she’s making up the story that the Alaska legislature fully exonerated her of abuse-of-power charges, proclaiming that Obama is an anti-American terrorist sympathizer, calling Obama a socialist (and now, a communist) who will raise all our taxes and “redistribute wealth”, or reveling in the hatred and rage she incites at her rallies, Palin has proven herself to be a lying, vengeful, slanderous hypocrite who uses Christianity as a resume booster.
She is also an unabashed anti-intellectual. While she’s not insulting working Americans by speaking with a hokey, sixth-grade-reading-level dialect (as though working Americans are too stupid to understand and relate to anything else), Gov. Palin is expecting the American people to swallow the proverbial tripe that she’s qualified potentially for the highest office in the world by virtue of (1) her ability to see Russia, (2) her overseeing of a national guard that might – any day now (whenever Putin “rears his head”) – be called on to defend the U.S. against a highly improbable Russian invasion of Alaska, (3) her recent U.N. coming out party where she, for the first time in her life, met foreign leaders, (4) the fact that her international travel experience is limited to a trip to Kuwait and Germany to visit Alaska National Guard troops – a trip for which she obtained her first passport – last year, and (5) her governance of an oil-rich state. We’re also supposed to ignore the fact that she cannot make it through softball television interviews – for which she had weeks to prepare – without stumbling incoherently through answers to even the simplest of policy questions and getting hopelessly stumped at both the fundamental questions – whether she agrees with the Bush doctrine, and the “gimme” questions – what newspapers she reads.
And after weeks on the campaign trail, she has yet to demonstrate the desire – as Colin Powell put it, the “intellectual curiosity” – to become a student of the serious international and domestic policy issues that she has no comprehension of but seeks to be in charge of. It was appalling that, in her only debate, Gov. Palin excused her inability to answer questions important to the American people by saying “how long have I been at this, like five weeks?” If she cared about anything other than smiling, winking and regurgitating campaign talking points, Palin would have used that “five weeks” to attempt to seriously consider some solutions to our national and international issues.
In that regard, Palin is an insult and a slap in the face to Christians. When stripped of her contrived “qualifications” we are left with a candidate whose only redeeming quality – with regard to the Christian base for whom she was nominated – is that she is a professed Christian who is pro life. And the implication is that Christians are either too stupid, too emotional, or too single-minded to see through her support for our values to the fact that she is woefully unqualified and was selected merely as a pandering tool. Sarah Palin embodies the ultimate betrayal of the trust that we placed in the Republican Party to champion our message.
I am unashamedly pro life and pro traditional marriage. Christ is also, though he would condemn abortion clinic bombers (who, by the way, Ms. Palin, notwithstanding your attempt to dodge the question and pander to the lunatic fringe of your “base”, are terrorists). And though He obviously did not condone the practices of the sinners of His day, Jesus walked among them, rather than separating His followers from them, for to those persons was His ministry.
True, Obama is not pro-life (though he is against gay marriage), but his stance on abortion is conciliatory, rather than divisive: “We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country.” That statement is from his nomination acceptance speech. Obama is thus sincere enough to admit that though he has a differing opinion with fellow Christians on an important issue, he is willing to work together to solve a potentially divisive problem in a way that may remove the impetus for women to seek abortions. It is that desire to unite and seek common ground rather than divide that separates Obama/Biden from McCain/Palin.
I do not have any messianic delusions about Obama, but his career background and political message indicate that he has tapped into Christ’s message, and that he understands that a leader must be an advocate for all of us, not just those in his voting bloc. Contrast Obama’s message in his national introduction speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention with the divisive message of the Republican Party.
…there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America; there’s the United States of America. There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America. The pundits…like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue States: red states for Republicans, blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states. We coach little league in the blue states and, yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the red states. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq, and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America. In the end, that’s what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism, or do we participate in a politics of hope?
Whether it be his early work as a community organizer and civil rights attorney, his achievement of bipartisan support for ethics and healthcare reform and higher tax credits for low-wage workers while in the Illinois Senate, his involvement with police organizations to enact death penalty reforms and seek an end to racial profiling, or his efforts at improving fiscal transparency (on which he received bipartisan support from John McCain, among others), criminalizing voter intimidation and improving healthcare and education while in the U.S. Senate, Obama has a record of bridging divides, reaching across party lines and working to end the social inequalities that plague the ethnically and economically disadvantaged members of our society. That balanced, unifying leadership is the kind of leadership we need in the White House. We need a leader that restores a sense of hope in a unifying purpose for this country.
[P]art of what has been lost these past eight years can’t just be measured by lost wages or bigger trade deficits. What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose, and that’s what we have to restore…. [T]his, too, is part of America’s promise, the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort.
Barack Obama, 2008 Democratic Nomination Acceptance Speech
We are a nation of fault lines. The oneness that saw us through the Great Depression and World War II to become the greatest, most powerful and benevolent nation on Earth has been replaced with a fractured society, defined by social discord and plagued by smoldering racial, economic, class and political tensions. We have become a selfish, individualistic, win-at-all-costs society that seems to only recall a unifying purpose in times of national tragedy. While this predicament is not the fault of one political party, no post-Cold War president has yet called Americans to a purpose higher than themselves. And the narrative-stealing “change” agents on the other side have demonstrated that they merely want to help America further dissolve into national obscurity.
As I’ve said before, Barack Obama pledges to change that course, “to bring to our highest office the wisdom, the morals, the ideals and the people necessary to steer the American psyche back on course…to restore in this country a sense of collective purpose and unified destiny.” Having the potential to be more than just a president, Barack is poised to be a transcendent, generational leader both embodying and effectuating reconciliation and restoration. That’s the change we need – a leader who simultaneously calls America back to a time when we were unified in collective pursuit of the “American promise” and forward to a present and future where we can actually attain that promise; a leader committed to genuinely helping the disadvantaged classes in our society achieve equality of opportunity.
These are values Christians can vote for. Obama’s platform calls for providing realistic educational, economic and healthcare opportunities for the poor, for the socially disadvantaged and for the economically distressed workers in our society. Obama’s vision – the veracity of his belief in which is borne out by his record – is for a country where Christians can fellowship with Muslims, where white Americans can break bread with black Americans, where “liberals” can find common ground with “conservatives”. Obama’s pledge is to restore America as a beacon of light for the world. This platform represents a more holistic cross-section of Christian values; for while Christians will not (and should not) agree with every stance taken by another social or religious group, our ministry is to the world and, thus, our political focus should be on electing leaders who not only advocate a broad swath of our values – thereby exhibiting our values to the world – but also effectuate restorative policies that will help those most in need. The time has come to do away with politics that pander to one of our values while employing rhetoric that spawns division and hatred and policies that do the most harm. The time has come for change. This is Barack Obama’s time."

I would be happy to dialogue with anyone who wants to regarding the above post, my own political journey, or anything else of interest. Please email me at Thanks.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Vow to Cherish

Many people are commenting about the current movie Fireproof as very effective in showing the importance of commitment in marriage and working hard to stay together. I cannot comment on that movie because I have not seen it. Last night Marisol and I watched the 1999 film A Vow to Cherish that was produced by Billy Graham's World Wide Pictures. A Vow to Cherish chronicles a marriage affected by the wife's Alzheimer's Disease. Although tempted to stray because of his loneliness, the husband (played by Ken Howard from the old TV series The White Shadow) stays true to his vow cherish his wife "in sickness and in health." We highly recommend it as an inspirational and challenging story. For more information about it, go to We would like to go see Fireproof, which we have heard good things about. However, it has not yet reached Guam.

Our Garden Is Busy

Our garden is doing well, and Joel took some pictures for you to see!

We have some pretty red plumeria blossoms that smell really good.

We finally have fruit on our passion fruit vine. Now I can finally be a "man of passion." Goody, goody, goody!
Here are some "boonie" peppers that are quite potent. We make a nice spicy salsa with them.

Schaeffer Hates Hate Speech, and So Do I

I normally don't get political in this blog, but I am troubled by the hatemongering that is going on at this time, with much of it directed towards Senator Obama. I believe that political candidates have a responsibility to respond to hate speech that is demonstrated towards opponents in a public setting. I am currently reading Frank (a/k/a Frankie) Shaeffer's memoir which is mentioned at the end of this editorial. Son of the late evangelical theologian Francis Shaeffer who founded L'Abri in Switzerland, he is eloquent and thought-provoking and I believe fair in his challenge to Mr. McCain.

McCain's attacks fuel dangerous hatred by Frank Schaeffer in the Baltimore Sun John McCain: If your campaign does not stop equating Sen. Barack Obama with terrorism, questioning his patriotism and portraying Mr. Obama as "not one of us," I accuse you of deliberately feeding the most unhinged elements of our society the red meat of hate, and therefore of potentially instigating violence. At a Sarah Palin rally, someone called out, "Kill him!" At one of your rallies, someone called out, "Terrorist!" Neither was answered or denounced by you or your running mate, as the crowd laughed and cheered. At your campaign event Wednesday in Bethlehem, Pa., the crowd was seething with hatred for the Democratic nominee - an attitude encouraged in speeches there by you, your running mate, your wife and the local Republican chairman. Shame! John McCain: In 2000, as a lifelong Republican, I worked to get you elected instead of George W. Bush. In return, you wrote an endorsement of one of my books about military service. You seemed to be a man who put principle ahead of mere political gain. You have changed. You have a choice: Go down in history as a decent senator and an honorable military man with many successes, or go down in history as the latest abettor of right-wing extremist hate. John McCain, you are no fool, and you understand the depths of hatred that surround the issue of race in this country. You also know that, post- 9/11, to call someone a friend of a terrorist is a very serious matter. You also know we are a bitterly divided country on many other issues. You know that, sadly, in America, violence is always just a moment away. You know that there are plenty of crazy people out there. Stop! Think! Your rallies are beginning to look, sound, feel and smell like lynch mobs. John McCain, you're walking a perilous line. If you do not stand up for all that is good in America and declare that Senator Obama is a patriot, fit for office, and denounce your hate-filled supporters when they scream out "Terrorist" or "Kill him," history will hold you responsible for all that follows. John McCain and Sarah Palin, you are playing with fire, and you know it. You are unleashing the monster of American hatred and prejudice, to the peril of all of us. You are doing this in wartime. You are doing this as our economy collapses. You are doing this in a country with a history of assassinations. Change the atmosphere of your campaign. Talk about the issues at hand. Make your case. But stop stirring up the lunatic fringe of haters, or risk suffering the judgment of history and the loathing of the American people - forever. We will hold you responsible. (Frank Schaeffer is the author of "Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back."

Of course, here in Guam we do not vote for president of the U.S. So PLEASE don't blame me for the outcome. But do PLEASE go out and vote on November 4. Your voice must be heard.

Come Wash Your Car!

One of the ways our students raise money for different projects is by holding carwashes. This is very common here on Guam, and it is not unusual to pass three or four carwashes within a mile or so on weekends. The PIBC Student Council (STUDCO) held a carwash two Saturdays ago. Here is a picture recap!

Jessy from Pohnpei is one of the nicest guys you could ever meet. He is nice to everyone. Not only that, but he is also good at washing cars. All of the students are.

Kinamwe, which means "peace" in Chuukese, takes a moment to pose while he is sudsing up the car.
Looks like Myumi and Jennifer from Chuuk love doing windows. We need to get these ladies over to our house as soon as possible!
Shelby from Palau puts a shine with a smile. The students raised over $500 in several hours. They will use this money for a few projects, including the Spiritual Emphasis Retreat.

21st Annual Micronesian Island Fair

Last Sunday we headed to Ypao Beach for a late afternoon swim. We didn't remember that it was also the site for the annual Micronesian Island Fair, so we had double duty: swimming and checking out the booths, one for each of the islands or island groups.
Our two shivering kids waited patiently while their parents set up the picnic supper we had prepared at home.
There were two sailing vessels on display at the beach.
We ended the night by touring a replica of a Chamorro hut. The Chamorro are the native Guamanians. (Sorry for the blurry picture.) We enjoyed our time at the beach and fair.

Crazy Hat Night

Last Wednesday was Crazy Hat Night at Awana. Joel and Marisol spent time making hats for Joel and me to wear. We think they turned out well, and so did the judges. Joel won the prize for silliest hat. Congratulations, Joel (and Marisol, too)!

Here we are at home, modeling our hats one more time before hopping into bed.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dental Update 2

Thanks to all of you who have been praying for our dental needs. The pediatric dentist fixed Joel's cavities, and Amelia did not have any (praise the Lord). Now we are brushing after every meal and flossing at night. Marisol had her root canal in September, and at her last visit (she had two cavities filled) the dentist said that he may not be able to save the tooth that he did the root canal on. We are disappointed about that. We will know at her next visit on November 8. We have received $1250 from individuals and $1000 from our church here in Guam (thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU). We paid as much as we could from our Health Reimbursement Account with Liebenzell. It will be at least $2000 more until everything in Marisol's treatment plan is finished. Would you please pray with us for God to supply the rest of this need? Thank you very much.

Visit from Elilai

This morning one of our PIBC students, Elilai, came to visit us. As you might remember, she was a member of the Palau Mission Trip. This semester she is working and we don't get to see her as much as we would like. While she was here, Joel whispered in her ear, "I wish you could stay all day." Thanks for the visit, Elilai!
Joel wanted to show all of you the picture he made of a queen. He says it is a queen "because she has a crown." I guess I should have been able to figure that out on my own!!!

Joel knows almost all of the capital letters. This was the first time that he wrote his full name. We are really enjoying doing school together as a family.

Measles at Awana

Joel really loves Awana. He is working on passing his "Red Jewels" at present, learning Bible verses as well as the books of the Bible. Last Wednesday was Measles Night, and the kids were able to put red dots on their leaders when they said their verses. Here Joel demonstrates how it was done.

Learning to Kick

No, Joel isn't joining the Rockettes!

In his swim class he is learning how to kick his legs. Here his instructor is helping him. Joel is doing very well in his class, and we are proud of him. Today he has a bad cold and cannot go; he is disappointed, of course!

Sleeping Beauties

Enjoy these pictures of two Sleepy Beauties!

Our newest niece, Zoe, was born in August. We can't wait to meet her. Not sure when, though!

This is our very own princess, Miss Amelia Marie. We love being with her, but we also enjoy moments of tranquility when she is asleep!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

PIBC Community Groups

This semester PIBC's Student Life department divided the students and staff into community groups for the purpose of fellowship, encouragement and accountability. It has been a rewarding and fulfilling adventure this far.

Marisol from Ecuador, Safelyn from Chuuk and staff member Stella from Yap play with Joel and Amelia.

Staff members Urte and Hartmut and students Joel from Palau and Percia from Yap smile for the camera.
Joe and Tjay from Chuuk pose for the roving photographer.
Leeman from Palau and Jeff from Chuuk relax during snack time.
As you can see, we form a diverse group and enjoy being in each other's company as we grow and learn together. We meet every Saturday evening at 6:30.

New Awana Cubbies

I am having a great time working with the Cubbies at our church's Awana Club on Wednesday nights. Joel graduated to the Sparks group, and Marisol and Amelia work in the nursery. So it is a Farnsworth Family Affair. In this picture Miss Jan and Miss Kathy award Estella her Cubbies vest.

Then and Now

Our friend and PIBC alumna Jayleen recently returned to Guam from Chuuk. She used to babysit Joel and Amelia when Marisol and I were in English class. Look how the children have changed in the past year and a half since Jayleen graduated. Please pray for wisdom as she makes plans for her future.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Mysterious Ways

Many of you know that I spent ten years being a religious volunteer at Berks County Prison in PA. During the last couple of those years I served with Yokefellowship, an interdenominational ministry that allows the men and women volunteers to go into the cell blocks and lead the prisoners in Bible studies. I really enjoyed that because it gave us the opportunity to get to know the men well as we spent one night each week with them. One man that I became aquainted with was Luis. He and I met in 2000, and when I left PA for Ecuador in 2001 we began corresponding regularly. When I returned to PA with my family for my study furlough from 2004-06 we continued to write, and I went to visit him one time at Dallas (PA) Correctional Institution. We really enjoyed our afternoon together. Even here in Guam we wrote back and forth. He received his GED and became a plumber.

Luis wrote me a letter in March of this year when we were getting the team ready for the mission trip to Palau in June. I did not respond right away and when we returned from Palau and I finally answered, the letter came back month later with the word "paroled" written on the envelope. Of course, I was happy for Luis, but I must admit I was a bit sad as well because I knew that it meant I would probably never hear from him again. Such is the normal relationship between religious volunteer and former prisoner. I started praying differently for him, that God would keep him from the evil one and guide him to people who would help him stay on track. I wrote to the chaplain at Dallas to see if there was any way that he could get me in contact with Luis. I realized that it was a long shot at best.

The following week I received an email message from our pastor in Reading, PA. He surprised me with the news that Luis was attending our church there. One of the members of the church grew up with Luis and invited him without knowing of Luis and my relationship. She realized that he knew me when he showed her some family pictures that we had sent him. I started crying tears of joy and thanked the Lord for two things, that I knew where Luis was and that there were people who would help him through the often difficult process of readjustment to the outside world. I answered my pastor and told him how thrilled I was at God's answer to my prayers.

Last Sunday Luis called me at 6 am to say hi. He told me that he participates in a rehabilitation program and already has found a job. It was so great to hear his voice again. I can't wait to be able to see him again someday. Please pray for Luis and for his growth in the Lord.

God works in mysterious ways. God is good!

King Joel and Queen Amelia

We are avid watchers of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood complete with King Friday and Queen Sarah Saturday. Today in home school Joel was learning how to write the "G" and the "Q" and made crowns to practice writing the "G" in king and the "Q" in queen.

Look out, Pizza Hut!

Today Joel and Amelia helped Marisol make pizza with homemade crust. It was delicious! I am sure that I will request it again soon.

Swim, Joel, Swim!

Joel continues to enjoy his swimming class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Today he was swimming by himself with the help of his kickboard, and he is learning to put his head in and out of the water to breathe. His teacher, Kaoru, is very patient and caring. I usually sit by the side of the pool and do Greek homework and walk over from time to time to watch Joel in his class. This semester I decided to take a Greek class at the college to review my Greek from seminary. It is much easier the second time, and I thank God for this opportunity. I also enjoy getting to know the other swimming parents.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Happy Birthday, Welcome Back, and Retro

Can you believe we have been here two years as of September 26, 2008? It has been a fun, and at times challenging, ride. Here is a look at us now and a look back.

Amelia and Joel are happy to show off their new purse, backback and Ecuadorian flag that they received from Marisol's family in Ecuador.

We are happy to welcome our dear friend Melissa back to Guam just in time to help us celebrate Marisol's birthday and eat pineapple upside down cake with us. Please continue to pray for Melissa and her family as they adjust to life without her dad.
This is the first-ever picture in Guam when we arrived at the airport. Notice Marisol's pretty lei. Micronesians give wonderful welcomes to people, so come visit us.
Look how our kids looked when we arrived two years ago. You can compare with the first picture above. My, how our cutie petuties have grown!