Missions to Micronesia
Jon and Heather Clapp - Palau
Dear Prayer Partners! January 2016
If you are reading this letter, wondering if you missed our last prayer letter, most likely you didn’t, as we haven’t sent out an update since last August. We apologize, but appreciate your prayers, as well as your patience. J
Discipleship 101: Many decisions were made this summer to trust Christ, and almost all have continued to have a strong desire to know more about their new life in GOD. Jon continues to meet with the high school boys once a week, while our teammate John Zimmer meets with the jr. high boys, as well as the college age group. Travis has joined Jon once a week, and is meeting with a young man named Roderick. Several others continue to be discipled through men’s and women’s Bible studies throughout the week. Pray that the men and women will in turn carry the Truth to their friends and families.
Life Gets Ugly Sometimes! In the midst of our “regular” activities, sometimes we uncover deep-rooted sin problems that need to be handled with care. Please pray for Starla and her 5 children as they have been hurt deeply and are trying to trust GOD in it all. Pray for Blossom as she tries to offer healing to the painful scars of sin in the lives those she loves. And pray also for a marriage that remains intact, but continues to struggle. These situations that have come up in the past months give us a renewed hatred for sin, a greater burden to reach out in love, and a passion for real heart change.
Land: Please continue to pray for land! Yes, we mentioned it in our last prayer letter, and we will continue to ask you to pray with us until GOD provides for this need. (Luke 18:1-7) John Zimmer has worked tirelessly with local leaders and landowners, but we continue to wait for GOD to do a miracle. Don’t stop praying for this real need.
Furlough Plans: It is hard to believe, but we are almost at the end of our second 4 years here in Palau. We have purchased our tickets, and we will be arriving in the States in early June. Pray that GOD would allow us to make an even bigger impact here in Palau before we leave, and that our hearts will stay focused on GOD’s plan for our lives.
Health: GOD has given us incredible grace in allowing us to serve here in Palau without any major medical issues. Yet from time to time, we do get sick. Lately, both of us (Jon and Heather) have been struggling to get to 100% on a regular basis. We would appreciate your prayer for extra strength and energy as we head into our last few months in Palau before furlough, as we have many “little” things need to be taken care of before June.
We are so thankful for GOD bringing you into our lives! Without you and your prayers, we would be ineffective here in Palau. Thank you, and praise the LORD!!!
Jon, Heather, Travis, Luke, and Levi
P.S. The attached picture is of our bus. It looks like a truck, but is used more as a people mover. This was last Saturday after a work day. 17 teenagers in my truck is not a rare thing. Usually more like 20.
Missions to Closed Country
October 10, 2015
The cooler temperatures and turning leaves clearly indicate that autumn is well underway, but I still find myself thinking that summer has only just ended. This is probably related to the fact that I have only taught two weeks this semester. First the start of our school year was delayed a couple of weeks in order to ensure that the new campus would be ready and then we almost immediately had a week off for National Day (Oct 1-7).
In fact, the new campus is only partially ready. All the major buildings seem to be built but the insides of many buildings are still a work in progress. At best, things are being done just barely ahead of when they are actually needed. The chemistry department is scheduled to move around the 20th of this month (originally that was supposed to happen in June). This date has not been postponed for at least the last two months, so it seems things are fairly on-track with the latest revised schedule.
So how is the new campus? The words that initially come to mind are big, remote, isolated, desolate and far away. A couple of days ago, I was out walking (on the old campus) and met another chemistry professor. He was with his son, who is a freshman at my university. I asked the son what he thought of the new campus and he said "it is not crowded". In contrast, my juniors, who did not have a parent standing within earshot, responded to the same question with a collective groan and a host of grimaces.
It is perhaps not fair to call the new campus desolate since they have planted trees and grass all over the place. But at this point the trees are so small that what you mainly see is endless rows of rectangular brick buildings, most of which have very little character. The only non-brick building on campus is the hundred-million-dollar library which most of my Chinese friends think is spectacular. In ten years when the trees have had a chance to grow up, it may actually be a beautiful campus.
I made a trip out last week just to take some pictures. Since I can only include a few here, I have put the rest on my new Chinese cloud account. I set that up this year to be able to more easily share class materials with students. So I thought it would also work for those that want to see more of the new campus.
At this point, I have made four trips back and forth to the new campus. There is a new city bus line that runs between the two campuses with a regular bus that makes 25 stops along the way and an express bus that only makes 5 stops. So far, I have only ridden the express bus and it has taken 45 min to an hour, which is better than I had expected. During evening rush hour it can take up to two hours. The main problem with the bus is that sometimes it is extremely crowded. It is not much fun to stand on a packed-hot bus for over an hour after a long day on your feet. Fortunately so far, I have only had to stand once and it was the day before the holiday started. It may be that many students were trying to flee campus to visit more interesting parts of the city so maybe that won't be a regular occurrence (time will tell).
Along with the new campus, I also have a new teaching challenge this semester. The university asked if they could add about twenty more students to my freshman Chemistry class. Since they had given me a small class of only 50 students and I usually have over 100 students, I readily agreed. What they neglected to tell me was that these twenty students are international students (mostly from southeast Asia and Africa - I think). I have only met with this mixed class once but I can already tell it is going to be a challenge.
The international students are the inaugural class for a new program that offers a chemical engineering major with everything taught in English. My course is actually for non-majors and is too basic for chemistry and chemical engineering students. However, the level of math and science of most high school graduates around the world (including America) is far below that of most Chinese students. So I think the administration decided to put the students in my class, in the hopes of bringing them up to a suitable level for the normal chemistry- major introductory class. But I am concerned that their current level of chemistry knowledge is not adequate for even my basic class. After my first class, the Chinese students asked questions about the nuances of the material and the international students asked fundamental, I have no idea what you are talking about, type questions. It is going to be an interesting semester.
I have had the key to my new office for almost a month now. The first week I only had a desk (a very large desk that used to belong to one of the very senior chemistry professors). Then the next week I got a chair and the following week a second chair, a broom and a trash can. Most of the rooms in the chemistry building are still under construction so I have not yet been able to meet with students for our weekly chats. I am hoping to be able to start that within the next couple of weeks. I have bought some stools for my office to use for the meetings and later I hope to get a couch to make things a bit more comfortable. I have really missed my weekly meetings with my students.
Now that our week long National Holiday is over, I feel like the semester can finally begin in earnest. There will be no more breaks until mid-January. I am looking forward to getting back into the classroom and interacting with students more regularly again.
I hope your fall is going well,