Service-Minded PUC Students Give Back to the Community

PUC is blessed with a campus full of service minded students who actively participate in the college’s service-learning program. The goal of the program is to deepen students’ understanding of the academic material they learn in the classroom by applying their learning to real life. Students develop collaborative relationships with community groups such as the Veterans Home of California – Yountville, the Napa County Land Trust, the Lake County Continuum of Care, the Berryessa Bureau of Reclamation, and the Boys and Girls Club in St. Helena. Students’ critical thinking skills are enhanced through the practical application of skills and theories learned in the classroom. Though their values and beliefs may be challenged by engagement in their community, PUC’s faculty and staff remain committed to supporting students’ spiritual development and encourage students to process their learning experiences through creative assignments such as group presentations, journaling questions, and classroom discussions.

Here are just a few of the community outreach projects PUC students have participated in during recent months.

Berryessa Bureau of Reclamation
Students work at Lake Berryessa to plant native blue oak trees around the visitor’s center.

Citizenship Legal Services
Psychology and social work students are trained by coordinators and attorneys from the Citizenship Legal Service partnership to help residents with green cards apply for citizenship. Approximately 50 students have been trained in an effort to help staff the monthly workshops held throughout the Napa Valley.

MLK Monday
Each year, Napa’s MLK Monday Coalition puts together activities, volunteer options, and discussion groups in a day of “action and compassion” throughout the Napa Valley. Students from a variety of courses dialogue about MLK’s letter from Birmingham jail, view documentaries relevant to coursework and participate in discussions, and help clean up the Martha Walker Native Habitat Garden.

Napa Co. Land Trust: Pope Valley
Students from Conservation Biology courses put their knowledge to use clearing invasive species from around valley oak saplings, enabling them to thrive in beautiful Pope Valley.

Point in Time Count (Lake County) 2017 & 2018
Students from Statistical Methods learn about the faces behind the numbers when they administer the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) survey to people experiencing homelessness. Human Behavior and the Social Environment students learn about causes and effects of homelessness while they practice administering an assessment to clients.

How Uganda Love It?

By Lauren Chang

It all started as an ordinary trip to Uganda—that is if you consider moving halfway across the globe to be a student missionary for three months “ordinary.” I used to believe when I was accomplished enough—like when I became more self-sacrificing or developed a skill in medicine, dentistry, or law—then, God could use me. Well, I now know after three months of missionary time my preconceived notions of “helping others” couldn’t be further from the truth. God doesn’t need great people to do great things. He only needs people who are willing to say “yes” and take a leap of faith—something I think people like Abraham, Moses, and many other missionaries realized very quickly.

* * *

I left on September 26, 2017, with fellow PUC pioneers Tom and Mick Borecky and later, my friend Sadie Valentine as volunteers for the Kellerman Foundation. Originally founded by Dr. Scott Kellerman, the foundation was created to help the Pygmy people in Buhoma, Uganda, who were displaced from their indigenous home in the National Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Coming to Uganda was a leap of faith because we knew we were called to work with the Kellerman Foundation, but initially, we had no idea what we were going to do. The only job we set up was to build two simple structures: 1) a banda, which is a community center that also functions to collects rainwater; and 2) a Pygmy house made by mudding bamboo frames. In fact, until we were invited to join research projects by Dr. Kellerman and Dr. Jean Creasey, a dentist in Nevada City, this was all we had set up to do for three entire months.

Expectations

What I expected out of this missionary experience was to connect with the locals, to help others, and to grow and change because of it. All of those things turned out to be true—and to an even greater degree than I expected.

But what I didn’t expect? Generosity, friendship, and warmth like you wouldn’t believe. Downtime, and lots of it. Emotional breakdowns. Success not according to accomplishments and achievements, but according to relationships. Sobbing after listening to Christmas music because I missed home. Things not going to plan. The emotional toll of being constantly watched by everyone because you are a mazoongu or “foreigner” in the local language of Rukiga. And most of all, the feeling of helplessness from witnessing some of the poorest people on earth. I don’t think any amount of National Geographic pictures could have prepared me for the heartbreak of seeing and meeting kids with bloated bellies from malnutrition or people dying from extremely curable diseases. We saw some of the poorest people in the world, and I still struggle with processing and dealing with that degree of poverty to this very day. But despite it all, these people are some of the happiest, most generous folks I have ever met. They invited us in time after time for the holidays or to share meals simply because we had become friends.

Friendship

One of our friends Christine Twasiima (Rukiga for “we appreciate”), works in a tourist shop with mountain gorilla merchandise and crafts. She spent countless afternoons teaching me how to weave baskets. There we would weave with our grass piles and needles for hours at the door of her shop, either talking and laughing with the other shopkeepers or hiding inside from the tropical rain. For many of those afternoons, she shared her lunch of matooke (bananas made like mashed potatoes), beans, and sweet potatoes in a light sauce, telling me that all the locals purposely prepare more food than they need in case of hungry visitors or friends. And the people know everything about everyone. One day, when I decided to stay in for a day of resting, I thought nobody would even notice. Later, I found out that everyone was worried and asked Tom and Mick as they passed by if I was OK and why I wasn’t there. Christine even called me to check on me. What I love the most about the culture is it is relationship-oriented and there is no sense of time at all. People will sit around and talk to you for as long as you’ll let them because this culture is centered around relationships—not productivity.

Another friend of ours named Gemma is the manager of a gorilla trekking lodge. We initially came to buy ice-cold sodas, but we ended up becoming instant friends when I asked her to teach me some Rukiga. Two months later on her off-days, Gemma took us to her hometown via a 4-hour bus ride at 4 a.m. through windy mountain dirt roads (and lots of honking!). After escaping the clutches of death, however, we ended up having one of the best days of our entire trip. We visited Gemma’s house built from the ground up by her father, met the family—seven people were there, and this is not including the other siblings and their kids!—saw the family beekeeping houses, gardens, crops, flowers, forest, and the breathtaking mountain views. The air smelled of pine and a picnic was set out for us in front of the house that was cool and shaded as we ate the most amazing home-cooked meal of stew, greens, and potatoes—all cooked on a clay furnace with three holes and a single fire underneath. Our day ended with loads of gifts sent back with us: fresh honey from their beehives, sugar cane, mangoes, clay pots, and a gorgeous necklace. In my entire life, I have not experienced better hospitality than in Uganda.

Closing

I talk so much about these experiences because really, besides the research and two days of helping to build the banda and the house, this was what we did. The research took a lot of time and effort to conduct, it’s true. We spent many days going out into the communities and conducting focus group interviews and surveys or recording data at the hospital for our research. Additionally, I have grown much closer to my friends and family who were a fantastic support system as we worked through all of the struggles and hardships we encountered together. But sometimes, I ask myself: “Why did God bring us all the way to Uganda if what came out of it was personal growth, strengthened and new friendships, research, two structures, and the witnessing of terrible poverty?” The answer? I am unsure, but at the very least, I have a renewed commitment to helping and loving others as God calls. I believe God uses ordinary people who are willing to say “yes” to do great things, and even though I am unsure of what that entails from my time in Uganda, I trust what He has set into motion, nobody can stop.

A panorama of our view.

Dr. Kellerman and I with a new friend.

Sadie and I’s room.

A Polaroid of Gemma and I.

Me making a basket in front of Christine’s shop.

Me with Gemma’s family.

Mick (L) and Tom (R) talking at Gemma’s house.

Me with guest house employee, Diana.

Monkeying around.

Batwa school kids.

Conducting a research surveys in a church.

Worship and Bible Study Resources at PUC

By Andrea James

When we have questions about God or want to discuss the Bible with other people, it can be difficult to know where to go and who to talk to. However, there are a multitude of resources available at PUC. Of course, you can always talk to our campus chaplain Jonathan Henderson ((707) 965-7191; jhenderson@puc.edu) or any of the pastors at the PUC Church (their contact information is on the church’s website). Then there is PRSM, which stands for peer-led, relevant, small-group ministries. You can contact the student chaplain Amber Sanchez ((707) 965-7190; alsanchez@puc.edu) about joining or starting one of these groups. There are also dorm worships every week, both for your hall and your specific floor (you can go to other dorms’ and floors’ worships too). You can look at the worship calendar on the PUC Ministries website to find out what events are coming up and what groups are meeting soon.

However, you’ve probably thought of or heard of those resources before. What might not come to mind immediately is our library. We have great commentaries, biblical encyclopedias, and other research material. There’s a whole section in the library with great worship and Bible study tools, plus those in the main stacks. Some suggestions for places to start include devotionals and biographies of Christian missionaries and theologians (e.g. C. S. Lewis or J. N. Andrews). Another resource you might not think of is the library’s website where you can find links (like under “SDA Resources” in the sidebar) to online tools such as:

This is just a small selection of what’s available. There are also things like bibliographies compiled on church history, theology, etc. to help you with your research and the Adventist Archives containing everything from General Conference Committee meeting minutes dating back to 1975 to a slideshow about the Millerite movement to Adventist periodicals from around the world. This is a Christian institution of learning—research on religious topics is PUC’s specialty! And if you don’t know where to start, ask a librarian for help. They’re there for a reason.

However, studying the Bible shouldn’t feel like studying for your classes. Your relationship with God can be enriched by a deeper understanding of the Bible and theology, but there are many other ways to get to know God better or to strengthen your relationship with Him. Pray to God for guidance and do what works for you. That could involve being part of a small group, asking a pastor questions, talking with your friends, researching ancient Hebrew culture, spending time singing hymns, or a thousand other options. It could also involve combinations of activities. Your relationship with God is deeply personal and works in a way specific to you. God is your friend, not an exam for which you need to prepare. However, you come know Him better and more intimately is great and should be pursued.

PUC in Pictures: Fall 2017 Edition

With the close of another great fall quarter here at PUC, we’re taking a moment to reflect back on some of the many great times and memories of the quarter.

Remember—You can follow PUC on Instagram (@PUCNow) and browse through some of our hashtags for a closer look at student life at PUC. #PUCNow and #MyPUCReason are great places to start!

 

 

 

 

 

Foggy mornings in the valley 🌫 #karlthefog

A post shared by Pacific Union College (@pucnow) on

 

 

 

 

We’re looking forward to 2018 PUC!

What it Means to be a Resident Assistant

By Andrea James

Many of us have probably considered being a resident assistant at some point, if only briefly. But it’s hard to tell what the job will actually be like without experiencing it for yourself, so I interviewed two current RAs about their experiences. Desiree Breise, a senior majoring in early childhood education, has been an RA for two years in McReynolds, and Alexandra Smith, a senior majoring in marketing and communication, is an RA in McReynolds for the first time this year.

Alexandra Smith, a senior majoring in marketing and communication, is an RA in McReynolds for the first time this year.

How did you come to be an RA and why?

Desiree: One of the previous RAs recommended me, and I was a desk worker my freshman and sophomore year, so I already kind of had my foot in the door. When the RA asked if I wanted to apply I didn’t at first because I think, I was really nervous about the responsibilities and all of the work that comes with being an RA, but I applied. I did my interview—it was so great, I was so nervous. Then I got the job, and I’ve loved it ever since.

Alexandra: So winter quarter of last year there was kind of a scare we were going to lose one of our RAs because she was going to graduate in the middle of the year, so I heard through the grapevine our dean might be looking for an RA. I thought, “Oh, maybe that would be a thing I would want to try out.” So I thought about it, and I talked to my RA friends, and they told me more about it. I thought, “That’s kind of cool. Not really sure I want that much responsibility in my life.” Then the dean didn’t need an RA at the time because the RA stayed. But, at the end of the year, she did graduate. Then it was application time and I was like, “Do I really want to do this? Do I really want this much responsibility?” I thought about how big an opportunity it is to reach out to all kinds of girls who live in your dorm, and to get to know them, and to know they have a friend and someone who does care about them and who does check in with them—especially the younger girls. It was like, “That’s a really nice thing.” So I applied, and I dressed up, and I did my interview and I got the job.

Desiree Breise, a senior majoring in early childhood education, has been an RA for two years in McReynolds.

What are some of the challenges of being an RA?

Desiree: My biggest one is being an RA all the time because you want to be there 100 percent, but you don’t want to give all of yourself. You want to be able to help others, but also help yourself. That balance is one of the hardest things for me because I tend to give, give, give, and then I don’t have anything to give to myself. If I’m not giving anything to myself, then I’m not going to give 100 percent to the girls. That’s the biggest one, or maybe not getting as much sleep as you want. Yeah, definitely less sleep, but in the end, it’s worth it.

Alexandra: I’d definitely say coming out of your shell because I’m an introvert, so I don’t always want to talk to everyone, and that’s okay, but also as an RA you kind of have to, especially at room check. When you’re going into people’s rooms you can’t be cold to them. Also you are there to help, you are there to be a part of something. So it’s kind of hard to make that initial jump into it but after you start, it’s fine.

What are some of the advantages or perks of being an RA?

Desiree: Well, oh my goodness, community—you get to become friends with amazing people; you get to know the girls in the dorm. I look forward to going to the dorm to say hi to all the girls, to greet them, to make them feel at home. Especially the freshmen who feel like they don’t have anybody, but you’re that person for them. That’s really important and I really love that. And truthfully, I feel like I get to have a more spiritual life being an RA. My walk has been very hard. It’s been a struggle, it’s been difficult just questioning and not understanding what I want in my relationship with God, but being an RA has helped me find level ground in regard to my relationship with God.

Alexandra: We went on an RA retreat at Albion and I love Albion. That was really nice. Also just getting close to the girls. It’s getting the opportunity to talk to girls who you may never have spoken to and they would have never spoken to you otherwise.

What advice would you give to students thinking about being RAs?

Desiree: I would say pray about it and, honestly, go for it. It’s such an amazing experience to get to know different people and different stories because I think we stick to what we know and stay pretty close-minded. It’s such a wonderful thing to be open-minded and see and hear a bunch of different things that you get the opportunity to hear because you’re an RA. Be open to getting to know girls (or boys, whichever gender) and hearing their stories. It’s a full-time job; it’s 24-7. So knowing you can handle that, but do it. Do it! It’s worth it! Being an RA is great!

Alexandra: Just apply and see where it takes you. When we were at RA retreat, the deans gave these beautiful, creative testimonies about how they became deans. A lot of them didn’t think it was in the cards for them at all, but the opportunity just kind of revealed itself. It was almost like a divine intervention.

While I’ve never felt the calling to become an RA personally, it was a great experience to see what a blessing the position has been to some of my friends. If being a desk worker or an RA is something you’re interested in, reach out to your RA or dean to find out more.

Helpful Adventist Terms and Facts

By Andrea James

Whether you’ve grown up in the church or coming to PUC is your first experience in an Adventist setting, there are a lot of details that can be confusing. Below is an Adventist “cheat sheet” for your referral if you find yourself in need of one.

What does “Seventh-day Adventist” mean?

Seventh-day Adventists believe the seventh day of the week (Saturday) is the Sabbath. Or more accurately, they believe Sabbath is from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday. They also believe in the advent, or the Second Coming of Jesus.

Who is Ellen White?

Most Adventists believe Ellen G. White (a.k.a. Sister White) was a prophet who experienced many visions from God. She founded the Seventh-day Adventist denomination along with her husband, James White (a.k.a. Elder White), and Joseph Bates. She was a prolific author whose writings had and continue to have a huge influence on the Church. Adventists consider her writings divinely inspired. They are not equal to the Bible by any means (Ellen White herself encouraged people to go to the Bible, check her work against it, and always use it to judge what is true), but they are used frequently in Adventist Bible studies and for general guidance.

What is the Spirit of Prophecy?

The Spirit of Prophecy is another way to refer to the writings of Ellen White, which exemplify the spiritual gift of prophecy.

What happened in 1884? What was the Great Disappointment?

According to William Miller, the Second Coming was supposed to occur around October 22, 1844. Many Adventists—including Ellen White—accepted and spread this message. However, Jesus did not come, and the event was called the Great Disappointment. There was great change in the beliefs of the early church leaders after this time.

What is the Three Angels’ Message?

The Three Angels’ Message comes from Rev. 14:6-12. The Adventist church believes the message was given to prepare the world for the Second Coming. The church believes its mission as the remnant church is to proclaim the Gospel as part of that preparation.

What is the remnant church?

Adventists believe their church is the remnant church of Biblical prophecy. According to the official statement of the Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist church, “A remnant has been called out to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. This remnant announces the arrival of the judgment hour, proclaims salvation through Christ, and heralds the approach of His second advent.”

What is the health message?

It refers to adherence to the kosher laws of Lev. 11 and vegetarianism. Adventists believe they should live according to the health message and spread it to others outside of the faith. Not all Adventists are vegetarians, nor do all Adventists adhere to the kosher laws, but it is held up as the ideal for living a healthy life and consuming a healthy diet. There is a strong connection between the health message and Ellen White’s writings about health.

What is the General Conference?

The General Conference is the governing body of the Adventist church. General Conference sessions are held every five years, where delegates elect the church’s leaders, talk about and vote on changes to the church constitution, and hear reports from the church’s 13 divisions.

What is the Great Controversy?

The Great Controversy is the war between God and Satan, which God won when Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected. Adventists believe it will be fully over when Jesus comes again, sin is eradicated completely and eternally, and the earth is made new.

What does “justification by faith” mean?

Adventists believe we are not saved by our actions but by our faith in God. We believe in Jesus and in His power to save us, forgive us, and help us. We are not justified by doing good things, but by believing in God and His grace.

For more information, you can contact the pastors on campus or search the official website of the Seventh-day Adventist church.

Hearts of Service: PUC’s Summer 2017 Mission Trip to Kenya

PUC Student Association President Megan Weems spent her summer a little differently than the average college student: she embarked on a nearly 30 hour trek to Maasai Mara, Kenya with others from the PUC family for several days to serve the community there. We asked her to talk about her inspiring experience learning about a new culture and giving back to those less fortunate in our world. Here is Megan’s story.

Our team was comprised of 15 people. We had two doctors, one nurse, one professor, and 11 other people, all who had hearts for service. We left on a Monday afternoon to embark on a long journey from small town Angwin, Calif., to the middle of the Maasai Mara in Kenya. It took one 15 and half hour flight to Dubai, a six hour flight to Nairobi, and then an eight hour safari car ride from Nairobi to the Maasai Mara, our final destination.

We arrived on a Friday, the next day we went to a Maasai Adventist church. On Sabbath afternoon and Sunday we went on a safari around the Maasai Mara, with beautiful views and plethora of animals. After resting up for the few days on the Mara and shaking off the jetlag, the team was in preparation mode for the week to come. We were separated into bush clinic teams, a Vacation Bible School team, and a painting/construction crew. Our group was small but all very driven and excited to be doing our part to help the Maasai community.

We set up five bush clinics while during our time in Maasai Mara. The bush clinics consisted of a team of doctors; Dr. Jonathan Wheeler and his wife, Dr. Julie Perry Wheeler; nurse Francis Aho; and recent PUC nursing graduate Elizabeth Shown. Each day they packed their lunches, put on their scrubs, piled into a safari truck, and drove to a surrounding village in need of medical attention. They offered basic medical checkups,eye checkups, a pharmacy, triage station, and lots of prayer for each Maasai native seen. On a typical day the bush clinic team would see as many as 70 people.

Upon arrival our VBS team first met with the headmaster of the Olosonin Primary school. We discovered the school had over 700 students enrolled and only eight teachers overseeing them. Each morning began with song service led by recent PUC grad Kelly Siegel and myself. Following song service, Dr. Peterson, adjunct professor of music at PUC, would give a Bible story complete with puppets and various instruments. Each day closed with an arts and crafts section which allowed each child the opportunity to create something they could take home. Towards the end of the week the children were excitingly awaiting our arrival at the beginning of each day. At the end of our weeklong program, the children showed their thanks by treating us to a traditional Maasai tribal dance, grabbing our hands and making us join in.

After spending the mornings with the children, we began painting the staff quarters of the first all girls high school in Maasai. Each afternoon we teamed up with a Maasai native, our very own Fabio Maia, the service and missions coordinator at the college, along with five other PUC students. Our crew scraped, primed, and paint the walls. Once school let out, the students would come and dance, sing, and play along as we worked. A great memory for me will always be the Maasai children teaching us Swahili songs, as we taught them English.

Our group was extremely fortunate to have amazing American native hosts. The Aho family are the owners of Mara West (accommodation) and African Missions Services. They run their own community clinic and led our bush clinics. We were blessed to be able to serve the community in the capacity we did and then come back to safe and comfortable accommodations. The Maasai Mara area is blessed to have them and we are blessed to know them.

This trip is something each of us will never forget, and it will stay with us throughout our lives. The PUC missions office strives to create lasting relationships around the world and hopes to return to Maasai Mara soon. The PUC family is expanding from Angwin to all over the world, from Brazil to Fiji and beyond. Now we have just added more beautiful souls, the people of the Maasai Mara.

The group was fortunate enough to go on a safari in the Maasai Mara. We were able to experience and see firsthand the animals of Kenya in their natural habitat. (Picture by JJ Reynolds)

Each day a part of the team went out to the primary school to lead a Vacation Bible School program. The team would sing songs, pray, put on puppet Bible stories, and make arts and crafts with and for the kids. It was a great way to really get the children involved with the members of our missions group to learn and swap stories about faith, love, and life. (Picture by JJ Reynolds)

While distributing donated water filters to community schools on the Maasai Mara, students would charge the truck to see what was happening. Each filter will provide 70,000 gallons of clean water. (Picture by JJ Reynolds)

Dr. Peterson putting a performance to the children during church service. The children were amazed and bewildered at the violin and the sounds that came from it. (Picture by Dylan Turner)

Dr. Wheeler with a patient at one of the clinics hosted with African Missions Services. Dr. Wheeler did general patient checkups while his wife Dr. Julie Perry, an ophthalmologist, did eye checkups. Praying with the patients was one thing Dr. Wheeler made sure to do. There was a translator present for every checkup. (Picture by JJ Reynolds)

Every day at the Olisonoon Primary School, all 705 students eat the same thing for lunch, a corn-based porridge. They stand in line with a cup ready to receive their daily portion. (Picture by JJ Reynolds)

This is the crew that helped in the construction site. Each day this group would prime, paint, and work hand in hand with the local construction workers to finish the new faculty housing for the only all girls high school in the area. (Picture by Esau Gonzalez)

Returning missionaries Kelly (Brazil, nine months), Cristina (Brazil, nine months), and Megan (Fiji, nine months) were the leaders of VBS. This was the end of the first day of VBS with the kids. (Picture by Dylan Turner)