Greetings! It can't be October already, can it? Life is very good, and you all play a huge part in its goodness. Thank you for your faithful stewardship to Westmont. I am lucky that I get to experience first-hand what your generosity over the years has brought to Westmont. You will read below about how the College opened the new Adams Center for the Visual Arts and Winter Hall for Science and Mathematics in time for the start of this school year. I am teaching my Business Law class in the new Adams Center. Never had so many whiteboards to use. For those of us who remember the terraced grass area between the Library and Porter Theater, it is amazing that in this "small" space these two magnificent structures were placed, and it does not feel crowded. Lots of natural light, and you can still see the beautiful trees. It really flows and works well. And the new Russ Carr Baseball Field, and new Track and Thorington Field for Soccer are beautiful. You will need to come by and visit.
I asked some of our classmates to give us an update on what they are up to. As you will read, I guess I need to get a book published! If anyone would like to supply a similar update on what you have been up to since 1984, please let me know as I would like to make this a regular feature of our quarterly e-letter. As for me, Campbell is a senior in high-school, and right now Seattle Pacific Univ is his first choice for college. We relandscaped our back yard, adding more seating area, nice fire pit, and an even nicer hot tub where I can watch English Premier League Futbol on the outdoor tv. Oh, we welcomed two new boxer puppies to the family - Abbey and Kashmir. So really, it is pretty quiet for us!
Cheers. Blessings to you and your families.
Cari (Dotres) and I left Westmont over 25 years ago, but some memories are as vivid as if they happened yesterday. Just a glance in the mirror brings me back to reality pretty quickly: the little hair I had is gone now, and the picture on the old student i.d. card I kept is someone my kids (now in college themselves) wouldn't recognize.
There have been good years since (not all). Cari and I were married in '85 and took a year "off" before heading to seminary in New Jersey. Then it was back to California (Santa Paula) for an associate pastorate and the birth of a girl and boy, off to Oklahoma (Duncan) for a senior pastor position, and finally to North Carolina (Durham), where I became a church planter in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and Cari a patient advocate for Duke University Hospital. Today, I pastor the church we started and write books on prayer.
Looking back on Westmont, it was God's presence in his people there that meant the most to me. I often didn't see it at the time. I've been a little like Jacob "waking up" at Bethel: "The Lord was in this place and I didn't know it" (Genesis 28:16).
There were things I didn't see until I left. Like the time I was wrestling with faith-shaking questions at Princeton and shared them with Dr. Gundry in a letter. His personal, single-spaced response was immediate and on-point. Through it and many other experiences at Westmont (such as Dr. Obitts' appreciation of Christian thinkers in centuries past) I was reminded of the wealth of a warm and evangelical faith in Jesus. Entirely by the grace of God, that faith is still mine today.
I can't think of anything that matters more. I've seen the outcome of lives without it, and have sometimes had to conduct their funerals. And with it, I and my family have been blessed beyond the power of words to express.
Today I'm deeply grateful for Westmont, although I honestly can't say I was at the time. Just like a nineteen-year-old. Put him on the beach for four years in one of the most beautiful parts of the country. Surround him with good friends and caring, capable teachers. He won't really understand how blessed he was until he leaves that place and looks back!
Not to glorify the past. I just want to thank God for it, and live with hope as the future unfolds. These words from John Newton, in a prayer (and hymn) he wrote for a New Year, capture the thought far better than I ever could:
Under God's Mercy,
Lisa Repko Borden
Byron ('82) and Lisa ('84) Borden left for Kenya in the fall of 1984, just a few short months after Lisašs graduation. Having grown up in Kenya, Byron told Lisa that she would love it... And she did:-) What started as a 2 year commitment turned into 15 years in this East African nation. The Bordens were initially involved in a student discipleship ministry in a small town, but spent the bulk of their years in a remote valley among Kenyašs Maasai people. Here, 100 miles from phone lines, post offices and paved roads, the Bordens helped establish a fledgling church of first generation believers, encouraged depth with Christ and were involved with multiple appropriate community development projects from agriculture to education. In 2000, the Bordens relocated with their 4 children to Portugal in southern Europe. They like to call their 6 years in Europe the detour for growth and the expansion of horizons. Joining Marty (81) and Carey (85) Uhler, they initiated and nurtured a network of house churches that reached out effectively to a younger European generation weary of what was perceived to be ŗdead religion.˛ They also served on a leadership team that cared for multiple church planting teams across the continent and became involved with the 24-7 Prayer movement. Eventually, their hearts for Africa led them to join old friends, Peter and Tammy Russell, in a new endeavor in Tanzania. Wild Hope International is a small organization with big dreams, encouraging transformation through leadership development, educational assistance, income generation, sports outreach and discipleship. Inspired by the love and concern Jesus showed for the whole person, their aim is to bring hope in the gritty circumstances of daily life, as well as in the tender spiritual places of the heart and soul. Armed with a commitment to both discipleship and development, Byron and Lisa have embraced life in Africa again. Their son, Jesse, graduated from Westmont in 2009 with a degree in Environmental Science. Trevor is currently in his senior year there, completing his degree in Social Science. Colin is a high school junior at Rift Valley Academy and Heather is a 7th grade home schooler. Lisa blogs at her personal/family blog letsputthekettleon.blogspot.com and at Wild Hopešs blog wildhopestories.blogspot.com.
Liz (Jenks) and Brian Hammer
It's interesting to reflect back on some of the memories that make growing up in a Christian home unique. As a kid the distinction initially became apparent in the external things. I remember when I began to realize that not everyone went to church on Sunday mornings, not everyone prayed before their meals, and oddly, not everyone had a map of the world pinned to the wall in their kitchen. The perimeter of that map, affixed above the Jenks family dinner table, was filled with photographs of individuals and families serving as missionaries throughout the world. My dad had carefully attached a piece of red yarn from each picture and directed it and pinned it to the country where those in the photo were serving. My parents were missions minded people. We often hosted visiting missionaries and they served faithfully on the mission board at our church. I believe their example created the natural progression for me to view someone serving as a missionary as not only noble with a worthwhile calling, but also as someone doing something normal, as in not odd. Missions is something that, as a Christian, should be a normal part of my thinking, prayer life and relationships.
I'm thankful that I married someone that shares this view with me. Brian and I have enjoyed partnering with friends overseas during the 24 years of our marriage. For us, it's the relationships with people that have been the driving force in where we place our energies, prayers and resources. Maybe I'm shallow, but I don't honestly know how much time I would spend praying for the people of a certain South East Asian country without fellow Westmont alums Jamey and Cindy Lewis living there. Jamey and Cindy have prompted me to care outside of myself, to another part of the world, to a completely different culture. Because I care about Jamey and Cindy, I care about what they care about.
Recognizing the influence that my parents had on me and my view of missions, it's been important for Brian and me to lead by example with our four kids. While we haven't created the map on the kitchen wall - I'm not that crafty, the yarn and all - we have been intentional about exposing our kids to what God is up to in the world beyond Santa Monica. It's surprisingly easy to do. We attend a church that places a big emphasis on missions. Through our church we have been able to open our home to visiting missionaries for overnight stays and have hosted dozens of lunches and dinners.
Most of all though, it always does come down to relationships. Because of a certain family, the Jansen's, we Hammers have a passion for the people of Malawi, Africa. Perry and Brenda Jansen became our dear friends back in the early 90's when they attended our church in Santa Monica. Perry was in his medical residency at Santa Monica Hospital and Brenda was a stay at home mom with their preschool aged daughter. Brian and Perry were in a men's discipleship group together, Brenda and I became fast friends through play dates and shared pots of coffee. Fast forward ten years and Perry felt a continual pull from the Lord to use his medical skills overseas. One door after another was flung open and they found themselves living in Lilongwe, the capitol city of Malawi. I had never heard of Malawi, and certainly couldn't find it on a map until they moved there. Over time, I began to care deeply about what Perry and Brenda cared about. The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa has names and faces for the Hammer family. Perry is now the Medical Director of Partners in Hope Medical Clinic, and our family had the privilege of visiting the Jansen's in 2005. It's one thing to hear about a place, to pray for a group of people, to look at the website and the photos. It's another thing entirely to see our boys scoop portions of rice onto the waiting plates of orphans in the village and to watch them play with the babies at the Crisis Nursery. It's a strange sensation of both blessing and pain. To know that Perry and Brenda's daughters are two of our Masha's "bestest friends in the whole wide world." makes us thankful that the world, for all its enormity, can really be rather small. Brian and I are storing up our airline miles to get ourselves back to Malawi, hopefully sooner rather than later. Since 2005 two of our sons, David and Kevin, have been able to return to Malawi with teams from their Christian high school. Because of the relationships Perry and Brenda enjoy with our church, and the relationship our church has with the school, there is now this wonderful shared love for the people of Malawi between these two organizations and their members. God has blessed each of us with the ability and desire to be in relationship with one another. Sometimes those relationships will take you places you never expected, and couldn't even find on a map.
Homecoming 2010 is October 1 & 2
All paths lead to Westmont for Homecoming Weekend. The schedule and registration details are online at westmont.edu/homecoming2010.
Voskuyl Library has been transformed!
Students are grateful for the newly renovated Voskuyl Library. Thank you for your generous support during our Class Challenge! Read more...
Fall 2010: Adams Center and Winter Hall are finished and open for class
After nearly 2 years of construction, Adams Center and Winter Hall are now complete. Together they offer nearly 80,000 square feet of new space for students and professors. Read More...
Westmont Impact tells the story of us!
Why is the world different because Westmont College exists? For the answer go to westmontimpact.org.
Westmont and your job search
WestmontLink is Westmont's free online job site for alumni. Sign up to search for jobs. Or if you'd like to share an opening with Westmont alumni, click here.
Facebook for 1984
You may already be a member of our group called "Westmont Class of 84," but in case you aren't, here's the link.