Sting Ray City was inadvertently created in the early 1900s when fishermen anchored in the calm waters of the North Sound to clean their fish and cast their unused bait overboard. These gentle giant stingrays who hunt by smell quickly discovered this new source of “fast food”. The water on the Sandbar ranges from 3-10 feet and regular visitors come to frolic with these magnificent creatures.

Some of the staff at the school arranged to rent a boat for about 25 of us to make the approximately 45 minute trip out to the sandbar. The waters of the Caribbean Sea were calm and beautiful and it was breathtaking to see literally hundreds of rays. It was initially somewhat terrifying to be surrounded by these huge stingrays which fearlessly glide around you but I eventually made my peace with them and even touched one.



From there we headed further across the sound to Rum Point which is on the opposite side of the bight to our little canal. We stopped for a swim and some snorkeling at Starfish Point where the sea bottom is littered with beautiful red starfish. The local kids entertained us by diving down and collecting the starfish from deeper waters.


We finished up the trip with a visit to Kaibo for curry fries and drinks and then partied our way back across the sound.


According to the statistics quoted by the Orality Network approximately 5.7 billion people in this world are oral learners; they are considered to have basic or below basic literacy skills. Others, although their literacy skills are not lacking, are oral preference communicators. These are defined as those who “learn or process information by spoken rather than literate means” and “prefer non-print forms of communication.” Please see:

The vast majority of western missions work and much of the training I saw carried out in SE Asia has been created and delivered to meet the needs of a literate audience. As a result much of the target audience is not able to connect with the material and fully grasp the message of the Gospel. People in oral societies are very relational – they share their lives with one another and communicate with one another in narratives, dialogues and dramas, proverbs, songs, chants, and poetry. Please see:

TWR has been involved in meeting the needs of oral learners through broadcasts over both radio and now the internet and have contributed to discussions on oral communications for many years. The International Orality Network was formed in 2005 as an extension of the Making Disciples of Oral Learners Working Group of the 2004 Lausanne Forum on World Evangelism. The network seeks to increase awareness of orality and oral preference learners and to build a network of churches, missions and individuals who are working with oral communicators. It is also a source of training, materials and strategies that utilize storying programs and art forms. One of the resources available is the Orality Journal which is an international and interdisciplinary online journal published twice a year to encourage discussion through research articles, book reviews and academic updates. Please see:

The people of Cambodia are predominantly oral preference learners and the strategies of Community Health Education that we used in our project are specifically designed for oral learners. My colleague and mentor Dr Su Min Lim and I were recently asked to contribute an article for the Orality Journal which would document the use of the “Ten Seed Technique”. This is a particular participatory tool that we used to assist oral learners to talk about the problem of alcohol abuse in their community and the extent of the social and financial burden related to alcohol use. The article was published in this month’s Orality Journal. Please see:

The Ten Seed Technique with Village Leaders in Southeast Asia……. 49

Lim Su Min and Pam Wise

Two seasoned practitioners document a participatory method used
by an indigenous NGO to engage communities in addressing the
problem of alcoholism.






We have now been in our new home for just over two weeks and are feeling quite settled and comfortable. We marvel at God’s goodness every morning as we sip our coffee looking out over the canal outside our livingroom.


We love the place that we chose; it is everything that we hoped to find. Although we rented a place that was fully furnished and supposedly move in ready it has taken a considerable amount of effort to get it up to our standards. Fortunately, Steve is pretty handy with the tools and I am an experienced cleaner.




We have managed to get driver’s licences, car insurance, bank accounts, phones, internet and utilities established and figured out some of the unique aspects of living on a small island. And we have wheels!! Two sets, in fact.


There has even been time in there to get to know some of the others in the incoming cohort of twenty three new staff. As part of the orientation the staff were treated to an evening cruise on the sound and dinner at a restaurant in Kaibo. A couple of the returning staff who live down the street from us threw a great welcome potluck so we could hang out together on Saturday evening.



Tomorrow (today if I am late getting this posted) we will be on the road again, this time headed to the Caribbean where we will be for at least the next two years; beyond that we don’t know. My teaching contract at Cayman International School is for two years. If I am offered a renewal, chances are good that I would take it. We are itinerant, but transitions are always difficult, and we don’t like to move more than we have to. Besides, I have found that it is easy to get lost in the details of moving and lose track of what is really important.


What is really important to us is our family and the those friends who have shown us by their care and faithfulness over the years that they are truly our friends. We count ourselves fortunate to have as many as we do, and this trip to Ontario has been all about renewing and restoring those family and friendship connections. We started off this visit to Ontario in the best way possible, by greeting our daughter, Liz and her husband and two year old son at the London, Canada airport. Despite the lateness of the hour, little Russ was as friendly and game as he could be, and apparently had been a little trooper on the plane. We would have been happy just to let Liz and Greg have some time together after their long flight from Calgary, but they were up for a walk through Victoria Park and eating a mountain of poutine before hitting the sack.


On the Saturday we went to our niece Megan’s wedding – which was absolutely beautiful – and met up with several members of Pam’s family, some of whom have also married during the time we have been in Malaysia. It was great to hear brothers Ben and Joe thank their sister Megan for her godly influence in their lives. It was another late night for Liz and co, who then had to catch an early morning flight back to Calgary while we went to church to meet several friends who greeted us with love and warmth and offers of lunch and coffee. We accepted as many offers as we could pack in.


We also took in a few local events, such as the Home County Folk Festival, now in its fortieth year, and a nostalgic visit to St. Thomas. We limited most of our visiting to the London area, but we did get in a great visit with missionary friends and colleagues from Asia, Beth and Stephen Laur in Cambridge, and a whirlwind visit with my family in Toronto.


After a few days we settled into a routine of doing course work for our Master’s in the morning at the Byron Public Library, the afternoons doing banking, storage, and other maintenance chores, and then visiting in the evening. This evening as I write this has been the first we have been alone the entire month! We are very grateful for our son’s foresight in providing a vehicle – an Audi A4, no less! – for all this driving. It was an absolute joy, and we have kept the good vibe going by gifting it to Pam’s younger brother who is feeling a little pinched with three of his children’s weddings in three years!


The end of all of this visiting has been a deep appreciation and gratitude for all the people who have affected our lives for the better. We didn’t see everyone we would have like to see on this trip home, but those we did see were so very encouraging and supportive that it has done our heart a great deal of good to be here. If you are reading this post and you were one of those, thank you. Eight years is a long time to be on the other side of the planet. We are looking forward to being a little closer in the future and being able to share with you the journeys that we are all taking.


Our journey is taking us to the Caribbean next. We are most serious in suggesting that perhaps the next visit we have would be in our new place in Snug Harbour, Grand Cayman Island. We have a guest bedroom and it is a ten-minute walk to one of the best beaches in the world. We won’t even charge you for the room!



This will be my last English class in Asia, and I could not have asked for a nicer group of students to finish out my time at Taylor’s. They were bright, motivated, and kind. They were willing to take chances and push their own boundaries. They were also extremely faithful in their attendance, which is a huge factor when your class comes at the end of what is always a long day in the CPU program.

We did not get off the best start as I was in the States for the first three weeks of the term and the unit had to be covered by a colleague. Fortunately for me, Daniel Layng knows a lot about Critical Approaches to Literature and covered the unit well. I was around long enough at the beginning of the term to get the ISU novels assigned, and get the kids started on a reading schedule, and that was easy enough to pick up when I got back. The ISU essay is always a tricky bit of business, and I decided this time around to divide it up into two parts, rather than tackle the whole monster by itself at the end of the term. This allowed me to block out the essay into digestible parts for kids for whom the whole idea of a research essay in literature is an alien concept.

I have always maintained that the only way to properly edit your own work is to write it and put it away for at least a week. In our case, we researched and wrote the essay and even marked the first half of it, and then we put it away for two months. When we came back later to do the comparative past with a film that had the same thematic interest, the kids had a better perspective on the essay they had written, and a better idea of what movie fit for comparative purposes. I had kids doing Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby, Landis’ Trading Places, James McTeigue’s V for Vendetta, and even one able student doing Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Ii made for some good essays, and even better seminar presentations. In the past, I have found kids had a hard time filling the twenty minutes they had for their ISU presentations. This time around, I was forced to cut some kids off after thirty minutes! It was awesome!

We also had a new novel this year. As much as I love Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, I was frankly getting a little seasick! In my absence, the department had moved on to Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns, a fitting follow up novel to The Kite Runner that is also set in Hosseini’s native Afghanistan and deals with the issue of the treatment of women in that part of the world. It is an important book for Asian students – especially females – to be studying in a culture that lags at least a generation behind the West in its understanding of the place of women in society.

We also studied Shakespeare’s Othello, again a pleasant change from the melancholy Dane, Hamlet, who quite frankly gets on my wick, despite the soaring soliloquies of Shakespeare’s most famous play. Othello is far more visceral and personal; a devastating examination of the demonic in all of us. Not nearly as accessible as either Hamlet or Macbeth (the latter being the Bard’s best, imho), I was forced to use film to explore the play’s nuances, and found Olivier’s 1965 version, blackface and all, to be a most faithful and useful version; with one glaring exception.

The 1995 version with Lawrence Fishburne and Kenneth Branagh does a much better job of examining the oppressive victimization of women that Shakespeare so eloquently explores in a pivotal scene with Desdemona and her bff Emily. We then had the fun of staging that scene, and the final one where Emily just goes ballistic all over male entrenched privilege and the murderous implications of their ‘ownership’ of women (“Oh, you idiot! You stupid fool! As dumb as dirt!”). Feisty and fascinating to see the young women of my class come to grips with their own issues of oppression in a patriarchal hemisphere through the persona of their characters.

It was exhausting to try and cover this class to the standards I set for myself in thoroughness and comprehension while trying to wrap my responsibilities up as Project Coordinator for CSR. It was also rewarding and enjoyable and deeply satisfying, and pleasant to be back in class with a really nice group of kids. I am looking forward to getting back into a full teaching role in the Caribbean. It is, when all is said and done, the heart of who I am.


As our time here in Asia comes to an end we get to thinking of what we would like to do one more time. Near the top of that list was one more visit to our favourite city in this part of the world, Singapore, which is always such a welcome treat. One of the nicest places in that very nice city is the Botanical Gardens, a little easier to get to now that Singapore has completed the extension to the Circle Line. We woke up to a cool and rainy Saturday morning but decided not to let that deter us. So we bought some cheap umbrellas and strolled through the Gardens enjoying those fabulous trees and flowers. After an hour, and still only half way through, we stopped and had coffee in a little garden café and listened to the splash of the water in the fountains nearby.

Birthday10As it was Steve’s birthday – my they do seem to come thick and fast anymore, don’t they! – we had booked reservations for dinner at the Equinox Restaurant on the 70th floor of the Stamford Hotel. The food was fabulous, much nicer and much more affordable than the pretentious and overpriced fare at the Marina Bay Sands, and the views of the city from this vantage point were spectacular. How pleasant to sit and reminisce about our time together: the walks through the park in the East End, the Christmas we spent at Blossom and McDaniel’s place, the meetings with friends and co-workers in the Lord. After dinner we strolled one more time to the river and walked along Clarke’s Quay just taking in the sights and sounds of the pleasant evening air.

Fullerton We ended up in the lobby of the historic Fullerton Hotel, once the Asian residence of Joseph Conrad, and presently home to a very funky display of scenes from The Little Prince, a book Steve had the joy of teaching to his beginning English students the first semester he was at Taylor’s. Steve had to return to KL mid afternoon on Sunday but before he left we did manage to get in a visit to Wesley Methodist Church for their Sunday morning service.

This is the home church of our friends Su Min and Sing Yu who have been great co-workers, mentors, encouragers and colleagues not only to us but also to our entire TWR team in Cambodia as well. Along with many others we have come to know and love, we will miss these dear servants of God and their warm fellowship. It was fitting that our last time together should be over lunch at one of their favourite restaurants, as during our time over here our best times together have been sharing one of the fabulous Asian meals that we are going to sorely miss! Su Min gave us a keepsake of a book he and his fellow urban sketchers have just published. It will be a treasured remembrance of happy days in Singapore.



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