Apr 27, 2007

Springtime in Saipan

Easter Morning 2007, Saipan CNMI

Barbara Beach

Keeping the Love Light Burning: Marriage Encounter

Well, it's been 20 days since my last entry. I've been away for awhile. Partly, it's been because I've been very busy. But then I'm always busy. . .Our internet was also down for almost a past week, so some of the prime time I put aside for blogging last weekend was useless for me.

But I'm back now!

It's spring time here in Saipan. The temperatures are balmy, the skies are blue, the birds are singing. . .oh, wait. That's the way Saipan is all year round! Spring's not much different than the rest of the year here in the CNMI--it's a little drier than it will be in another month or so, and the flame trees are coming into bloom (Pics of that in my next entry. . .this weekend is the annual Flame Tree Festival).

Herewith a pictorial guide of life in Saipan during the month of April. . .

Science Fair

Thursday, March 29

Two of our students present their project as I look on. You might recognize "KoreaY" on the left, as one of the students who went to Singapore with us, and "Harry" one of our REAL Christian Theater members.

As usual we did our Science Fair with our "sister" school, Whispering Palms School. We are the two smallest private schools on the island and both of our school's emphasize a family atmosphere. The only difference is our school is religious and theirs is not. From time to time we do things together--for example the next day they invited us to join them for a special screening of the film Bridge to Terabithia. It would be fun to do more with them.

Saying Sayanora to Shor

Friday, April 6

Me and Dan take a farewell photo

My friend and mentor in writing and directing, Dan Shor moved away from Saipan this month. He will be working on a film project inLos Angeles for several weeks. Possibly the move will be only temporary--if his involvement in an Indian film to be shot in Saipan next month works out, but it could be also permanent. Personally, I hope he comes back. He's a kind and faithful friend and a wise teacher. I've learned a lot from Dan and I shall miss him greatly.

We went out for lunch a few weeks back, just before he left. We ate at The Taste of India (which unfortunately, like Dan, is also leaving Saipan. Buisness is just too slow and they've decided to pull up stakes and move their operation to Guam. Babs and I ate the last breakfast served there last Sunday and today we ate the last buffet lunch to be prepared there. Tomorrow is their last day in business on Saipan).

Smoothie Night at the Piersons

Saturday Night, April 7

Those Pierson's are so cool! They always come up with funnest things to do and they always inivite us to join in the fun! A few Saturday nights back, it was "smoothie night." It was an excellent opportunity for Crystal to show off the prowess of her VitaMix blender. I also got to show off my acting chops as we all watched the DVD of my buddy Dan's TV pilot State of Liberty, in which I had a acting role.

Crystal proudly models the VitaMix!

At the Piersons: Bev, the wife of our Korean pastor Lizzy, and Missy

Ken and Crystal create MAGIC with their VitaMix!

Grant, Mai, and Britini at the Pierson's smoothie night.

Was It a Morning Like This? Sunrise Service

Easter Sunday, April 8

The mountaintop vistas on Easter morning. Do you see the cross in the picture above?

In the foreground are our pals Kanae and Russ (his face is half cut off)

A group from the Chuukese Protestant congregation sings. That's Carol Paez in the foreground with her back turned to the camera.

Friends for Life: Barbara and Carol at the end of the sunrise service.

Lost II: Return to the Jungle

Sabbath, April 14, 2007

You may recall that last fall, Grant and I got quite lost during a daring attempt to circumnavigate the island by bicycle. You may remember the privations, the horrors, the wasps. You might recall the police coming out to look for us after darkness fell. You might have concluded we'd learned our lesson. . .

And you'd be right! This time, when we went back--

Wait a minute, I thought you said you learned your lesson!

Of course we did! But that lesson was not that if you get lost, you give up. Oh no. The lesson learned was--mark your trail and be prepared! And so on a bright Sabbath afternoon armed with a couple of large bottles of water, flashlights, a first aid kiy, beef jerky, trail mix & granola bars, and plenty of brightly colored marking tape, not to mention of course, our trusty compass, cell phone, and machete we returned to the jungle where we'd last suffered ignomy and humiliation. We sought to conquer rude nature and find the lost road we knew existed somewhere out in the boonies.

The adventure begins. . .again. . .at San Juan Beach. I think we look confident, yes, but also wiser, tempered by our foolhardy mistakes of the past.

Despite our beleagured island's pathetic economic condition, progress marches on. In the five months since we left this place the once slippery, rutted trail that we to scrabble down has been transformed into this. . .

Brand new concrete steps with a cheerful blue handrail to assist you on your way to the beach below.

We enter the jungle. This is the view looking back only a few yards into the jungle. The forest ahead would be much more dense.

We tried a different route initially but quickly found ourselves encountering what Grant calls a "wall"--sheer rock cliffs, impenetrable tangled jungle. We veered away from our intended course and soon found ourselves back in familiar territory--the original trail we'd took during our first foray into the jungle last fall. It was almost like coming home. . .sort of.

Like most ego-centric explorers we started naming our discoveries, choosing to disregard the obvious evidence--faded ribbons from hash runners past, the occasional discared beer can--that other has been there before us. So the large boulder we passed when trying to carve our new route became Man of War. The gully that we followed to recover our bikes last time, we christened Graves Gulch. And the trail that meandered along disappearing and reappearing along Grant Gulch was named the Maycock Trail. Evenutally we arrived at the place where we'd abandoned the Maycock Trail last time and struck off fruitlessly into the tangatangan and wasps nests in search of the elusive road. The place was marked by a distinctive, large, multi-branched and somewhat ragged looking tree that Grant called. ..

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil!

You'll note I'm wearing a hat. I didn't like the idea of all kinds of floatsam and jetsam getting trapped in my dreads. Grant kindly lent me his cap. Eventually, we heard the roaring of waves crashing on a beach and recognized that we must have found our way to the coast again. We pushed through some trees and came upon a secluded beach. We scrambled down a narrow steep trail and made our way to the shore. I named the place Barbara Beach and Grant called a small inlet Mermaid Lagoon.

The intrepid explorer: Grant gestures heroically from a ridge on Barbara Beach.

This, my friends, is what happens to you on Body for Life.

Here we are back at San Juan Beach having successfully journeyed out to Barbara Beach and back without getting lost and with a good half hour of daylight to spare!

The lost road was not found that day. . .but have no fear, we will be going back again.

Coming soon: Lost II: The Return to the Jungle: The Movie!
Marriage Encounter Weekend

April 13-15

Almost four years ago Barbara and I embarked on a weekend that revolutionized our marriage, the Worldwide Marriage Encounter. This marriage enrichment experience sponsored by the Catholic Church here in Saipan is designed to help make good marriages better, and help married couples learn to communicate better with one another. It is an intense but rewarding weekend where you spent a LOT of time one on one with your spouse.

Babs and I loved it and from that weekend in the fall of 2003 we became active members of what we call "the M.E. community"--other couples who've attended Marriage Encounter weekends and now are giving back by helping organize and carry out Weekends. The next Encounter Weekend in the fall of 2004 Barbara and I helped plan. The following "M.E." weekend we were co-chairs with our friends Russ and Kanae of the Facility Committee. It was our responsibility to look after the Saipan Riviera Hotel where the weekend takes place and act as a liasion between the hotel management and staff and the "M.E. " team. It was a lot of responsiblity and we basically stayed at the hotel all weekend, but Russ and Kanae were great people to work with and it was fun. This year, for the first time, we weren't heavily involved in the planning of the weekend. We were just too busy what with the trip to Singapore and a million and one other events to be committ to any serious responsibilities. Still, we were able to do our part by encouraging our friends Ken and Crystal Pierson to go.

They went and from what they tell us, it was a wonderful, enriching, and memorable weekend and we're so glad for that.

While the Piersons were encountering their marriage we were not sitting idle. We wrote them a card that would be delivered to them during the weekend, we prayed for them throughout the weekend--and to remind us to do so, we lit a candle Friday night when the weekend began and let it burn until Sunday afternoon when we went to greet them at the end of the weekend. We took the candle with us and presented it to them as a memento of the weekend. We also went to see the couples off at the beginning of the weekend, volunteered to help serve the couples lunch on Sabbath, and returned to welcome the "newly-encountered" couples when they finished the weekend.

Why go to all this effort? Well, I have an "M.E." t-shirt that reads in bold script on the back: "Because my marriage is worth it." And we think their marriage is too!

Welcoming the Piersons at the end of the Marriage Encounter Weekend.

Here's some "time lapse" shots of the Pierson's candle over the course of the weekend.

Pierson Candlewatch, Sabbath morning

Pierson CandleWatch, Saturday night

Pierson CandleWatch, Sunday morning.

They survived! Ken & Crystal at the end of the Marriage Encounter weekend

(From left to right, Me & Barbara [check out my new shirt I bought in Little India in Singapore], the newly "encountered" Ken & Crystal Pierson, and mutual friends Kanae & Russ Quinn)
School Spirit Week
April 16-20

"Dr. Maycock, I presume?" Grant and I dressed up on "Career Day" during School Spirit Week. Grant is a British explorer and I am a doctor.

Spring Week of Prayer

April 23-27

Grant and Pastor tag-team during our spring Week of Prayer.
Pastor Eliki broke it down for the kids this week--the basic Adventist message--Jesus is coming soon and here's how you can be ready. Grant led in worship and did a standout job as always and the kids singing was beautiful--especially during "Humble Thyself/Awesome God." I got so choked up just listening to the kids I couldn't even sing myself!

May is going to a big month blogwise. A preview of what's to come:

Tomorrow night REAL Christian Theater stages it's production of Bridge to Terabithia, adapted for the stage by noneother than our very own Grant Graves.

Also going on this weekend: The Flame Tree Festival

Next weekend, REAL Christian Theater travels to Guam for it's end of the season tour.

Also in May, Grant and I along with three other men will be taking the 7th grade boys on a kind of "rite of passage" camp out to none other than the very same place where we got lost and have since returned to further explore.

My 8th grade students graduate and the school year comes to a close.

Oh, and one more thing. My blog is now one year old!


Marianas Eye said...

How long did it take to write all of that!? Wow!

Thanks for your thoughts and prayers. The outpouring is calming our spirits. I'll keep everyone posted through my blog.


Mr. Grant said...

A great read. I laughed out loud a few times. Keep it up. Looking forward to the next batch of blogs. Congrats on the one year mark!

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Sean said...

HoHoHo. . .real knee slapper there Russ! :)

I'll have to check out the Quinn Inn!