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)

#FacultyFriday: Meet Victor Gaines

Mr. Victor Gaines joined the team of esteemed PUC academia in 2014 as assistant professor in the department of business where he teaches an array of accounting and finance classes. Gaines came to PUC after being an adjunct assistant professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for 15 years where he taught accounting and management classes. Before deciding to use his vast business experience to give back through teaching, Gaines held various positions including chief financial officer at Forest Lake Education Center, county auditor in Orange County, Flor., and senior auditor at Ruddick Corporation in Charlotte, N.C., and spent over 20 years in the Marine Corps.

Name: Victor W. Gaines
Title: Assistant professor of business administration
Email: vgaines@puc.edu
Faculty since: July 1, 2014

Classes taught: Financial Accounting; Managerial Accounting; Cost Accounting I & II; Intermediate Account I & II; Fraud Examination; Government and Non-for-Profit Accounting; Advance Accounting; Auditing; Accounting Topics: Internal Auditing; Insurance and Risk Management

Education: Bachelor’s in management/accounting, from Park College in Parkville, Mo., 1997; MBA, from Webster University in St. Louis, Mo., 1999; DBA with an emphasis in management, from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Ariz., 2017

Professional activities: Seminar and on-site instructor for The Institute of Internal Auditors since June 2000

What made you decide to be a teacher?
I always wanted to give back. Throughout my professional career, I had several individuals who helped me. I felt there was no better way to help others than through education. So, I became a business manager and then a teacher.

What are some of your hobbies?
Most of my hobbies revolve around the outdoors. I love hiking and camping when I get a chance.

What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
Most individuals do not know I served 22 years in the United States Marine Corps., and 10 of those years I served as a helicopter mechanic/crew chief on CH 46 helicopters.

What’s your favorite thing about PUC?
My favorite thing about PUC is the wonderful students. I love hearing their stories and how they decided to come to PUC. It’s very inspiring.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?
I definitely like the back 40. When I get the chance, I like to go in the back 40 where it is nice and quiet.

What advice would you give to an incoming freshman?
The best advice I would give a freshman would be get to know their advisor as soon as possible and become “best friends” with them. This needs be done as soon as possible. This will help the student develop a roadmap as they work toward graduation. Also, make sure that you have a healthy blend of academics and fun time. Too much of either one can be devastating.

PUC Communication Major JJ Reynolds Honored at Annual SAC Convention

JJ Reynolds, center, with Tamara Wolcott Fisher, right, president of the Society of Adventist Communicators, and Dan Weber, left, communication director for the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.

Every year the Society of Adventist Communicators meets to bring fellow Adventist communicators together to network, learn, and grow as well as to celebrate great accomplishments of both professionals and students aspiring to work in the field. This year, PUC sent one faculty member and five students to represent the college for the three day event in Portland, Ore., October 19-21.

JJ Reynolds, who is studying multi-cultural communication and business at PUC, attended the event and received special recognition by the SAC.  

Congratulations on receiving the Honorable Overall Student Communication Award at the recent Society of Adventist Communicators conference! Tell me about your award. Were you nominated, or did you have to submit your work to be recognized?

I was not expecting to win this award. I believe Professor Michelle Rai, the chair of the department of communications, nominated me for it.

How does it feel to be recognized for your achievements?

It feels good knowing all the effort I have put in outside of school is paying off more than just financially.

Tell me about your experience at the SAC conference you just attended. Was it the first time you attended the conference? Did you find it to be valuable to attend as a student?

It was my first time attending the SAC conference. I didn’t know what to expect! I didn’t know if it would be workshops or speakers, hands-on or lecture based. I went because I love to learn and figured this would be a good place to start.

It turned out to be a great networking event for anyone who would like to pursue a career in the Adventist communication field and I would highly suggest for anyone in the field to attend.

You’re the video producer for the Student Association this year. What plans do you have for what you would like to do?

This year, I am trying to shed some light on what PUC has to offer as well as creating material for students. We currently are running a weekly series called “The PUC Moment” hosted by Pastor Mark Witas. The goal is to share a moment of inspiration and knowledge which is geared towards our PUC family!

I am also working on specific stories from each of the departments on campus. I am not sure how far I will get this year but I am hoping that next year someone will continue it.

You’re also involved in a lot of other things on campus. What other projects are you working on right now?

I am currently involved with the 5000Drops campaign. PUC has partnered with Water For Good to raise awareness and funds for the maintenance and creation of wells in the Central African Republic! To learn more visit 5000drops.com.

What PUC Means to Me

By Andrea James

I have a confession to make: I was wrong about PUC.

For years, I was vehement in my desire to never attend an Adventist school, especially PUC. I had grown up in a sheltered bubble where almost everyone was rich, white, and Adventist. This bothered me a lot.

My mother immigrated to the U.S. with her mostly Colombian family when she was a child, while my dad’s family come from the Midwest and their ancestors come from a German colony in the Ukraine. My mother’s family raised me for all but a few years of my childhoodthough my upbringing was still mostly white, culturally speaking; I probably learned to make arepas before I learned to make pancakes, but I still can’t speak fluent Spanish and I never had a quinceañera (though that was more because of how incredibly expensive they are).

This relates to my feelings about PUC in that I was desperate to meet mixed-race people like myself and I didn’t think that would happen here. I had grown up in the Adventist world and all I had seen were white people, with occasional exceptions. I thought I would have to go to a secular school to get any kind of real diversity. I am so glad to be wrong!

Once I was finally convinced/decided to attend PUC, I was shocked to see and experience what the PUC community was actually like. PUC has been an immense blessing to me. For the first time, I’ve gotten to meet to people from all sorts of socioeconomic levels, cultures, backgrounds, etc. Having grown up going to schools full of rich white kids with whom I could only ever half-identify, I have immensely enjoyed being able to relate to other mixed-race people and listen to their experiences and stories. This is exactly what I was hoping for when I started college.

Of course, I wanted not only to interact with people like me but also with people nothing like me at all. I will never get bored learning about all the things I share and don’t share with the various people I meet, and I doubt I will ever stop being surprised by what I discover. I have immensely enjoyed expanding my understanding of others and correcting my significant ignorance about many subjects and issues. I hope to constantly grow and learn more with the help of my professors, classes, and friends here at PUC. And, of course, through my life once I graduate.

#FacultyFriday: Meet James Wibberding

Welcome to our latest installment of #FacultyFriday, where we feature a different faculty member each week.

Joining the college’s department of theology, Dr. James Wibberding has a wide variety of experience as a pastor, professor, author, chaplain, and speaker. Since 2014, he has served as the lead pastor for the Journey Seventh-day Adventist Church, a 700-person church in Kelso, Wash. Dr. Wibberding has also served as an adjunct professor at Andrews University since 2013.

During the 2013 legislative session, Dr. Wibberding was the senate chaplain for the state of Idaho where he provided daily inspirational talks to the Senate while they were in session and also offered social support to the senators and their families. For many years, he has also worked as a pastor at the Cloverdale Seventh-day Adventist Church in Boise, Idaho, and throughout the Pennsylvania Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, where he also served as the lay training director, developing curriculum for an annual lay pastor training course. Additionally, Dr. Wibberding has published several books, including “Learn to Preach Before Next Weekend” and “Sabbath Reflections: A Weekly Devotional.”

Name: James (Jim) Wibberding
Title: Associate professor of applied theology and biblical studies
Email: jwibberding@puc.edu
Faculty since: July 1, 2017

Classes taught: Pastoral Ministry, Biblical Foundations, Ministry Extern Program I

Education: Bachelor’s in theology, from Southern Adventist University, 2000; masters of divinity, from Andrews University, 2005; doctor of ministry, from Andrews University, 2010

What made you decide to be a teacher?
I have wanted to be a teacher for the past 20 years because I believe every person is a unique masterpiece of God with an exquisite potential that I find joy in helping them develop.

What are some of your hobbies?
I enjoy hiking, building musical instruments, and furniture out of wood, and finding new ways to create.

What is something people might be surprised to know about you?
I have been a pastor for 17 years and still disdain neckties.

What are you looking forward to the most about teaching at PUC?
Contributing to the life of a community that is intended to nurture the best in humanity.

So far, what’s been your favorite thing about PUC?
The incredible diversity of our student body and the potential that represents for making a difference in the world together.

PUC Offers Exciting New Scholarship Opportunities

Pacific Union College is proud to announce two new scholarship opportunities available to students entering Fall 2018; the STEM Scholarship and the Campus Impact Scholarship. Recognizing the financial difficulties families face when planning for college, PUC has strengthened its commitment to make a Seventh-day Adventist liberal arts education accessible and affordable to all admitted students.

PUC’s new STEM Scholarship recognizes first-time freshmen who have obtained a strong understanding of and competence in advanced mathematics and science during high school. Recipients must have completed three years of college preparatory laboratory courses (biology, chemistry, physics, anatomy & physiology) and three years of college preparatory math courses (intermediate/advanced algebra, pre-calculus, calculus, geometry, and statistics) to receive the $1,000 renewable award. (Please see scholarship guidelines for specific requirements and details.)

The Campus Impact Scholarship is a $1,000 renewable scholarship available to students who are invited to participate in PUC’s orchestra, wind ensemble, iCantori, or octet, or are selected for specific roles in campus ministries or CONNECT outreach. These awards are renewable upon continued participation in the specific programs.

In addition, amounts for many existing scholarships have been increased, including the President’s and Dean’s Scholarships for both transfer and first-year students. These scholarships are automatically received by qualifying incoming students, based upon GPA and/or test scores.

Other scholarship changes include transfer student eligibility for the Legacy Scholarship, a renewable $1,500 scholarship awarded to students with a parent or legal guardian who attended a minimum of two years or graduated from PUC.

The qualifications for the Mostert Christian Leader Scholarship have changed as well, which now awards a maximum of $2,000 to incoming freshmen who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in their schools, churches, or communities during their junior and/or senior years of high school. This includes student association officers, junior and senior class officers, and athletic team captain. Award applies to freshman year only.

“Making college affordable has never been more important. As a parent of two college-bound daughters, I personally understand the financial challenges families are facing,” said Jennifer Tyner, vice president of enrollment management and marketing. “PUC is working very hard to make an Adventist college education possible and creating more opportunities for students to succeed in their professional goals.”

Last year, PUC awarded students over $40 million in financial aid. To learn more about all of PUC’s scholarship opportunities, application criteria, and to apply, visit puc.edu/scholarships or call (800) 862-7080, option 1.