Thank you so much for your prayers and continued support. I’ve put together some photos of the missions conference and Creative Ministry Class that just finished up last week. Currently the students and three staff members are in Hemet California ministering on and around the Soboba Indian Reservation.
Spring is here, maybe. So many of you have had amazing winters with severe cold and deep snows, but we’ve had another mild winter with only two significant snow storms so far. As I write this it is snowing—ah, raining, snowing? We’ve had about 6” or so as far as I can tell, and lots of rain, too.
The students this semester continue to amaze and encourage me. All the music students are still faithfully practicing. One is taking off on the bass guitar and another on classical guitar.
The conference in Orlando, Florida that I attended last week was excellent. I was challenged by Gordon McDonald, blessed by Fernando Ortega, and informed by several sessions on issues related to writing a self-study report for accreditation. I was privileged to attend.
He is an adjunct professor, meaning he doesn’t work full time at IBC, but he takes a real interest in the students while he’s on campus. Each day he works out with several of the guys. A few days ago he shared with them that he had just received a call from his wife informing him that her mother had passed away. Compassionately, the men rallied around him and prayed for him!
The Hebrew meaning of the word we translate as “Sabbath” means to cease, desist, bring to an end, to rest. There is indeed a time for everything under heaven, and I have had the privilege of a Sabbath, thanks to my sister and her family. After closing out the semester and spending a couple of days in meetings related to accreditation, I took off for Dallas. For six days in a row I didn’t do anything related to the school! I slept like a log, ate like a bird (double my weight daily!), walked while memorizing Scripture, and hung out with the Luna family with a passion! We had the privilege of attending Handel’s Messiah performed with period instruments. We went to two movies (“Unbroken” was definitely worth the time and money), played games, and attended church where Seth (my nephew) was playing organ. I had opportunity to play several duets with Seth on the piano and we all sang together.
I can’t get away from it. I am reminded of the brevity of life everywhere. The suicide that took place on campus on September 12 was only one reminder, one that has forever changed us as a school and me as a person. A recent sermon from my pastor on Psalm 90, unexpected deaths of several acquaintances, readings in a book on pain, all continue to bring our mortality to the forefront. As a result, I am even more passionate about using every moment to prepare for eternity. I am also increasingly concerned for the continuing shift in our society away from awareness of spiritual things and an over-emphasis on self-indulgence.
Seeing students working hard, determined to make the most of their time at IBC, is a great encouragement! Conversely, when I know students are frittering away their time on empty activities my heart aches. Do they remember the people around them may not be there tomorrow? Have they grasped that life is short and the battle not only real but constant? Have I?
Our first snow is working at turning the landscape white as I write this. Fall has been warm and beautiful with just enough moisture to keep the dust down.
Things have gone along rather smoothly at IBC since I last wrote, though we still sorrow as a result of the tragedy at the beginning of the semester. Many students are struggling to keep up their grades, or rather, not struggling but letting their grades suffer as they do minimal or no work. But, you can see from the photos that they enjoyed Spirit Week and many participated with creativity and enthusiasm.
When Monieka chose to take her life, I’m certain she had no thought of how it would impact those around her. She was young and short-sighted, living in the moment. What disturbed me most was the absolute finality of her decision and the total helplessness of anyone to reverse it. As I wept with the students and staff that Friday morning, it seemed as though nothing else mattered. There was no, “it’s going to be alright,” because it never would be. Monieka would never sing that song we had been working on for the recital. She would never participate in Basic Work Habits class again. She would not fulfill her promise to serve with another student at the local women’s shelter on Wednesday evenings.
I was angry. At first my anger was directed at Monieka because she had played the fool. She had become a pawn in Satan’s service. She had left a staff member and her room mate with an indelible visual image that would plague them every time they closed their eyes for weeks to come, if not longer.
Imagine! I had time to work on my class material before class started and still kept the “normal” 8-5 office hours this past week!
I am enjoying having a lot of new staff around. We are finally able to spread out some of the work load a little better. I think I have a good start on the Basic Work Habits class that began today. Yes, I did mean today. We did it again. Started classes on Labor Day.
Quiet times of reflection and prayer. . . review and memorization of Ephesians . . driving . . . opportunity to meet with supporters I haven’t seen for 3 years . . . drinking coffee to stay awake (yes, me. Coffee). . . driving . . .different beds every night . . . traffic, traffic, traffic—people passing in the break-down lane . . .near side-swipes . . . driving, . . . beautiful scenery . . . singing . . .rolling hills, brilliant green leaves and manicured lawns . . . bright sunny days and brief downpours of rain . . . driving . . . good times with family members . . . dietary challenges while traveling and staying in people’s homes . . . meeting my great nephew for the first time . . . sharing the IBC update in homes and churches . . .driving . . .
Spring is here. The wind has been whipping through the pines. Already the ground is powdery dry. May God have mercy and send moisture before the heat descends!
This will be a short update since I plan to see as many of you as possible within the next month or so, but I wanted to give you a brief glimpse into what is happening here. We are about to embark on what may be one of the busiest weeks of the school year, culminating in commencement on Saturday afternoon. The music recital is on Tuesday, followed by an end-of-the-year BBQ that evening. Thursday evening is our 55th anniversary dinner and testimony time especially for the alumni. Friday we’ll have the Bachelor’s luncheon for the one student who is graduating with his four-year degree and in the evening we will have our first ever Student Ministry Showcase at which students will have opportunity to display their gifts and abilities through music, art work, creative writing, and drama. Saturday lunch time we will have a luncheon for all the graduates, including the one-year certificates and associate’s degrees. At 2 p.m. is commencement. We would appreciate your prayers that God would be glorified through all these events.
It was the last chapel service before the Ministry Immersion Trip (MIT). One by one students stood and shared openly about their struggles, failures, and desire to follow the Lord wholeheartedly. One recurring theme was their feelings of being unworthy to be at IBC. Several apologized for sin they had committed and publicly repented. Most shed some tears and a few wept openly. What a privilege to see God at work in our midst!
I think I was in Sprout’s, the new grocery store in town. I barely recognized him since he’d shaved his head. John oversees a ministry to Native college students in town, a ministry IBC students love to attend, and several have worked closely with him in internships. The ministry is based at Northern Arizona University (NAU) and strives to disciple Native students who are believers, as well and to attract Native seekers. Some IBC students have been involved in this ministry in one way or another every semester for years.
“You’re really getting some quality students these days!” John said with a smile.
“Indeed,” I responded. “I hear all three of the new ones this semester were at One Tribe this week.”
What a month this has been! Thank God, the move is now recent history and I am now in my new location. There was only one day in the process where I felt despairing, which is a lot better than the last mobile home move. I am amazed at God’s timing and grace toward me! Here is a brief run down:
“You should do my car too,” I joked with the students washing the school vehicles.
“Bring it over,” responded one student. “You serve us all year. We ought to at least wash your car once a year!”
And they did! They even vacuumed inside! Now how often does that happen?
Fulltime staff and faculty 2013
We are feverishly working on the school newsletter, hoping to have it to you within a week or two. In the meantime, thought I’d better drop you a quick update. It’s time for bed, but, here goes (hope this makes at least some sense!!)…
Term one ends this week and then we head out on our annual fall camp-out at Lake Powell, several hours north of here. So far, as far as I know, all the students are doing well. I am still adjusting to my new Spiritual Formation group of women, and they to me, but after the camp-out, we’ll likely be a lot better acquainted.
Fall is in the air. Frost has destroyed my “garden” but the pellet stove has been unsuccessful in booting up for its first run of the winter. This is the first fall I have actually dreaded winter. Must be getting old… I’ve also been trying to beat the snow in making a major move. I’ve been looking at places to move my manufactured home closer in to town (I really MUST be getting old!). Sure is a complicated process and the options are expensive. But, I think I might actually go through with it if I can talk one place down.
As usual, the students waited till the last minute to turn in their applications. We set a deadline and then charge a late fee until the absolute latest date, so, of course, most of the new freshmen paid a late fee.
This year as I went through the applications I was struck with a deep sadness as I read story after story of rejection, neglect, suicidal attempts or thoughts, and self hatred. I was close to tears after reading one prospective student’s autobiography in particular. Most of these young people have known deep hurt. Most have experimented with alcohol and several with drugs. Several have raised themselves. At least one moved from home to home when his own family became so dysfunctional that he couldn’t stay there any more.
She was sun burned and tired but her face was radiant. “This is such a privilege for me,” she said, beaming. One of the students had just shared his testimony and this hard-working team member was invigorated to work for another several hours before packing up to leave. The woman who spoke to me shared that she had struggled with drug abuse and could identify with God’s work in the life of the student who shared. She went on to say that this week had been hard (her muscles were sore from head to toe) but she wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Her intention was to go home and use the momentum she had gained to start being physically active again and shed some of the pounds she had gained since getting “clean.” She was feeling renewed spiritually and physically.
What a privilege to be asked to sing at Jerry and Linda Yonnie’s 40th wedding anniversary party! I realized as I listened to the memories from their four now-grown children that the Yonnies have been a part of my life longer than my own mother was! When I first moved to New Mexico the Yonnies were just starting their ministry at Oak View Bible Church after Jerry graduated from Indian Bible College. For 6 years I sat under the ministry of Jerry as my pastor. Then they moved to Flagstaff so Jerry could take over the office of the president of Indian Bible College. Several years later I took them up on their invitation to join them and followed them to IBC. When they moved to Sanders, Arizona to reopen a church there, I stayed on at IBC, but our relationship continued.
Signs of Growth
The following quotes are from end-of-the-semester papers that the Personal Finance students were required to write. They provide evidence that God is still at work in our midst even though there have been some hard times. This Personal Finance class has helped me see finances in a whole new light.
It must be spring. A dry, southwest wind has been howling off and on for the past several weeks. It’s almost time for graduation. We have only one more week of classes before the students go their separate ways for the summer.
March was definitely not a trouble-free month. It seemed as though the school was under attack from all sides, but when the dust cleared, Christ was victorious! In addition, as a result of the attacks, I think the school is stronger and more unified as the students participated in extending grace to a repentant fellow student who had fallen into sin. While this was certainly a painful experience for all of us, there is no better way to teach such concepts as discipline within a community of believers, the need for public repentance when there has been public sin, and the ultimate goal of restoration. The hard lesson of consequences, even after repentance, has also been agonizingly modeled in our midst.
My mind is racing. So many things I’d like to share with you…
… opportunities to talk about Christ the past few Sunday afternoons as I get to know a young woman and her adult son who attend the Sunday afternoon meals for “those less fortunate” in the community around IBC.
… grief of dealing with doubts from people who believe slanderous Facebook posts accusing the school of dabbling with New Age spiritism and our president being a heretic.
… reward of being able to share with the student body and most of the staff some of the things I’ve been learning over the years about how to care for this body in a godly manner.
… encouragement at the response from the students to the mission conference and hearing of at least one individual who is taking specific steps to be able to travel to Russia this coming summer.
…sorrow at the passing of the woman who takes me in every two years when I stay in Middleboro, Massachusetts for seven weeks duration, but relief at knowing she is with the Lord.
… joy in hearing stories of God’s work in the lives of several of our graduates as I prepared to write the articles for the recent newsletter.
“As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone and we fly away. Who understands the power of Your anger, and Your fury, according to the fear that is due You? So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:10-12)
When we finished reading this passage in our Spiritual Formation group, having just celebrated another birthday (one young lady will be 19 this coming week), our conversation turned to the frailty of our existence, the brevity of our lives, and the necessity of making every moment count for God.
Honestly, I was pretty apprehensive about the whole thing. Driving that far north in December and January, navigating unfamiliar streets in downtown Saint Louis, piloting my way through a massive crowd of college students . . . just seemed like a lot to undertake at my advanced age and lack of adaptability. Okay, so I’m not that old nor, hopefully, that inflexible, but my fears were real.