Bula Vinaka from Fiji! We hope that our latest report finds you all doing well. Things are going great with work of the Bible Institute at Raiwaqa here in Suva, Fiji. We have completed our first regular of classes of the year, participated in the Fijian Workshop, and are winding down the last week of our short courses. Even as I write this report, our students are busy taking their final exams for the short courses.
The last couple of months have brought us plenty of excitement! We have been visited by two tropical cyclones (Josie, a Category 1 storm, and Keni, a Category 3 storm). But, we have also enjoyed some much more pleasant visitors who have come to help with the work! We look forward to sharing more information with you in this report!
Term One is in the Books
Over the last couple of months we experienced what I believe was our best term yet. Last year, we ended the school year with eight full-time students. This year, we began the term with twelve full-time students! Three of those students are new students: Asher Abraham from Pohnpei in Micronesia, Alphonsus Rickimae from the Solomon Islands, and Samuela Tupou from Suva, Fiji. Our fourth addition is a returning student, Brother Kitione Salinadrontini. Brother Kiti is from the Naila congregation in Fiji. He began the program last year, but he had to withdraw in the middle of the year due to a work commitment. We are glad to have all of these students with us.
The first term has been a very challenging one for our students. Dad taught Sermon on the Mount, Congregational Development, and Introduction to Greek. The students were especially engaged during the Congregational Development class, where they asked a large number of questions about how to develop leaders in the church. They particularly asked challenging questions about how to appoint elders in the church and what is their role in the church. They were also asked to complete a group project in which they had to design a year-long Bible class program for a local congregation. The students took the project very seriously and turned in some excellent programs. We hope to encourage them to implement some of their ideas in their own local congregations in the future. But, the most challenging of Dad’s courses was Introduction to Greek. It is never easy teaching a foreign language, but it is especially difficult when teaching it to students who speak English as a second language. But, Dad did a great job in teaching the course. While the students definitely found the class to be challenging, they worked hard and did a great job with it. I taught Old Testament Prophets I (Isaiah – Daniel), General Epistles (Philemon, James, 1-3 John), and Christian Evidences. By far, the most challenging of the courses was Christian Evidences. But, as it is with the U.S., it is a very important topic for Christians living in the South Pacific. In recent years, there has been a strong push to introduce evolution and atheism into the local schools and universities. Our goal is to equip our students with the information they need to answer these challenges. Overall, our students had an outstanding first term!
Visits from Short Course Teachers
We are just finishing up our first round of two-week short courses. This month, we have been blessed to have brother Terry Pafford teach a course on OT Poetry I (Job-Psalms). Brother Pafford lives in Midland, Texas, where he serves as an elder in his congregation. His congregation has been a generous supporter of the Bible Institute. Brother Pafford has done an excellent job in covering his topic. He has also been known to share a few of his jokes with my sons during his stay! We have really enjoyed having him visit the work.
Our second teacher this term is Randy English, who is teaching Preacher and His Work. Brother English has spent twenty-nine years working full-time in the South Pacific, so he is no stranger to the work. We were really excited to be able to get him to teach the course on Preacher and His Work, because his experience working in the South Pacific has given him a great insight into what the work of preacher in this part of the world really involves. We were also blessed to his wife, Sharon, and their daughter, Cassie, with him on this trip. Randy and Sharon were my parents next door neighbors for five years while they worked in American Samoa, so it was great to be able to visit with their family.
We had an additional special visit during the short courses this year. Aaron and Cindy Baker spent seven years working as missionaries in Vanuatu. They were traveling back from a two week trip to work with the church there when they stopped over for a few days in Fiji. Aaron was especially interested in visiting the school to see what our program has to offer. It was such joy to be able to spend a few days visiting with Aaron and Cindy.
Our New Library has Arrived
In our last report, we mentioned the fact that our school library had just shipped from the U.S. I am excited to announce that our library has arrived in Fiji and cleared customs! The delivery was delayed about a week and a half due to the two cyclones, but it arrived safely. We were just finishing up our last day of final exams when they contacted us that it was ready to clear customs. So, Dad and I loaded up and headed to the customs office to pick up our shipment. After a couple of hours of processing the customs paper work, they released the shipment to us. We had just over seventy boxes of books for our school library! We hired a truck to deliver them to the school, where we were met by some of the students to unload all of the boxes. Over the next couple of days, my oldest two boys (Austin and Cory) unpacked and shelved all of the books. We still have to catalogue all of the books and organize them, but we hope to soon be able to give our students full access to this valuable resource. Again, let me offer my sincere thanks for all who made this possible!