Extra headerMarch 2020

Arizona graduate opens business in native Philippines

Jacel Ramon emigrated to the United States in 2009 with her family in search of a better life, but her homeland of the Philippines was never far from her mind. With extended family still in the island nation, she would visit regularly and enjoy the culture she's known since childhood.

Somewhere along the way, her entrepreneurial spirit, her Wayland education and her sense of adventure all collided, and Jacel celebrated her Jacel Ramon speaks at business openingfirst business venture overseas in fall of 2019. With more businesses on the near horizon and others in mind, it's no surprise that Jacel was chosen as the Sierra Vista campus' Distinguished Alumni Award winner for 2020. She'll be honored at the campus graduation ceremony in April.

"I was so thankful and overwhelmed when they called me. I am very honored and happy," says Jacel of the award. "Wayland means a lot to me. I am very proud to be a Wayland alum. I hope I can inspire other students not to give up on their dreams.

"I'm just a simple girl from the Philippines chasing my dreams in the United States. You have to define your own success and not let others set the standards."

On the educational journey

For Jacel, the standard is to keep growing, keep moving and keep learning, and she's modeled that. When she arrived in the U.S., she already had a bachelor's degree in computer science education from the Philippines. But she didn't feel it was enough.

"Around 2015, I was torn about what to do for my career. I have been in sales for more than 15 years, and I thought there were areas of myself that needed to evolve some more," says Jacel, who by then had moved from California to Sierra Vista, Ariz. "I went back and got my BAS in business administration. Then I immediately did a master's degree with WBU in international management."

A class project in Dr. James Moffett's international management class soon became reality, and Jacel dove into business ownership with an online business called I Luv Purses, drawing on her love for handbag fashion and her entrepreneurial drive. In this venture, she'd purchase authentic designer purses in the states and sell them worldwide through her website. She drew on her marketing education by hosting livestream shows of products through her Facebook page, targeting Filipinos heavily but open to all customers.

"It started with that class, and within six months, I was able to ship all over the world - Australia, Philippines, the Middle East, etc.," she said. "I was surprised at how it took off since I started it as a school project, but there is a market for it in the Philippines since there are so many knockoffs."

A new adventure

While she was still working on her MBA, another business opportunity came to the forefront, and Jacel became the owner of an avocadoria franchise in the Philippines. Located in a large mall in metro Manila called SM Fairview, the business is the brainchild of a Filipino chef who devised various recipes using the superfood known for its nutrients, fiber and healthy fats. Examples are a soft-serve ice cream, a cheesecake, a parfait and shakes.

Avocado sundae"We advocate protecting our natural resources, and the avocado is one of them. It is seasonal in Manila but is grown year-round in the south," she explained. "I traveled to the Philippines to do market research and my business plan. I learned a lot from my Wayland experience, especially Dr. Moffett. I got a lot of insights on marketing and managing a business. They helped make my dream come true."

The two business ventures comprise Jacel's full-time work for the moment. She spends many nights maintaining her social media presence and marketing her businesses to her overseas clients. She has a family member on staff at the Avocadoria to help with mid-level decisions, but Jacel maintains a very hands-on approach to her leadership and visits regularly to be on site.

On the horizon

This month she'll return to open a new venture there, four food carts that will offer traditional Filipino foods in high-traffic locations like the metro station. Each cart will offer one of four specialties: Hong Kong noodles; pao; burgeroo (like a hamburger but with the bread made of pao); and red bowl (rice with various toppings). Yet another business idea for her U.S. home in Sierra Vista is in early stages.

"I have some plans for businesses in the U.S. but am preparing and doing the research needed to make that happen. I'm not in a hurry to expand since I'm doing this by myself. I want to be able to perform what our customers are expecting. We just have to sit down and run the business plan and expectations and see if we can do it," says Jacel of her entrepreneurial leanings.

"You also have to be passionate about the business as well. When you have those feelings about what you do, it's very good. You have to pray as well and trust God that it is really for you."

Jacel is planning to pursue the doctorate degree with Wayland soon. Beyond her work, Jacel is involved with the local Filipino-American Friendship Club and attends Christian House of Fellowship, another reason she chose Wayland for her education.

"The people at Wayland are very approachable. I could go to them for anything and they were so helpful," she says. "I was so afraid of all the documentation but Wayland made it very easy for me. The staff all worked with me so well and were so helpful."


Longtime pastors, WBU friends producing podcast

Serving in churches for several decades has given Alan Small Header for Enduring Churches podcastand Trent Young something more in common than just their alma mater.

Alan earned his bachelor's degree at Wayland in 1991, and Trent earned his degree in 1989. The two shared a few years on campus and worked together sparsely at Wayland's radio station. They also attended the Baptist Student Union together, striking up a friendship that has lasted since graduation.

And while the two are geographically far apart - Alan and his family live in Parker, Colo., while Trent and his family live in Comanche, Okla. - that didn't stop them from collaborating recently on a podcast venture that features content on what they know best: church life.

Something to talk about

Called "Enduring Churches," the podcast came out of simple conversations about the challenges of pastoring, aspects of church life in general and the desire to share the knowledge they've gained over the years.

Alan Small and family"I reached out to Trent to do the podcast with me," says Alan. "I can't make a living at being a podcast host but we have a lot of fun doing this. It's the highlight of my week."

The podcast format is simple: usually the pair just pics a timely topic or an issue that churches face and just discuss it together. Occasionally they have a guest interview on the show to bring in outside topics or information.

"We did one on Generation Z, one on critical conversations," recalls Trent. "Most is from personal experience and things we visit with pastors about all over the country. We realize if they are dealing with it, someone else is as well and we get to talk through it and give some insight."

They started the podcasts in April 2019 and have more than 50 episodes in the vault to date, with new episodes releasing every Monday. All are available for replay and downloading at www.enduringchurches.com.

Alan and Trent love to draw on the hands-on experiences they got in the radio and television area at Wayland while students for their present-day venture. They record together over the phone and then mix the recordings into the final product.

Lending a hand

The podcast is actually just one piece of the Enduring Churches portfolio. Alan and Trent also do consulting and coaching for pastors and churches who may need a little outside insight. Alan received his certification as a church consultant to keep his skills sharp and relevant.

"We do general consultation about giving trends and attendance trends, demographics and Trent and Dana Youngother research and can even have someone 'secret shop' their church services and give them some feedback," says Alan. "Trent also works with churches on conflict mitigation if that is needed."

Their assistance also applies to filling the church pulpit.

"If churches have lost pastors, we can also help them find a good new pastor," says Trent.

"Churches are often horrible hirers, and we can help them know what to do," adds Alan. "It's not because they are bad people but because there are bad processes."

Trent pastors the Patterson Avenue Baptist Church in Comanche, where he has been for nearly 12 years after serving for seven in Yuma, Colo. He earned his Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Seminary in 1994, then served as a BSU director for 15 years at several institutions.

Alan has pastored at Creekside Community Church in Colorado for 12 years after spending five years as a church planter in the state. He also pastored in Oklahoma after earning his MDiv degree at Southwestern in 1995. He added the Doctor of Ministry degree in 2013 from New Orleans Baptist Seminary.

For more information on sponsoring the podcast or the consultation services, visit www.enduringchurches.com.


Devotional: New year brings good time for introspection

Isn't it interesting that we can hear something over and over, and then all of a sudden it makes sense or finally has meaning? Maybe one of the most profound things for me lately is the idea that when God redeems us, His redemption is complete. In January of 1986 something happened to me that crushed me. It was devastating for me at the time and until the last few years I felt the weight of that devastation. I finally came to terms with it, but not until a few years ago did I understand the extent of God's grace in this situation.

Earlier I talked about living through the circumstances Suffering statueall the way to the end, always going to the light, and not stopping in the middle. In the analysis of this truth I am reminded of Job. I often wonder how he lived through such heartache and brokenness. He lost all he had: land, livestock, servants, family and finally his health. How could he not charge God with these atrocities? Yet, in Job 1:20-22 it says, " At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.' In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing." In the ensuing 30 chapters he asks why! What had he done? He could think of no sin he had committed that would cause God to punish him so. During this time God was silent.

Finally, when God spoke He did not answer Job's question of "Why?" God spoke to him of creation, patterns of the fish and the falling of rain. He never answered the question "Why?" He told Job who He, God, was/is. The answer to devastating circumstances, heartbreaking situations is God. At the end of the road there is God. He is the foundation of all creation. He is the end to all suffering. No matter what you believe about suffering, God is the answer. Only He can bind up the wounds and heal a broken heart. Only He has the remedy for the causes of our suffering. Only He can redeem the brokenness of our lives. (Michael Kelley; The Gospel Project; "Suffering"; Winter 2013-14.)

As I considered all that Job went through and the answer God gave, I realized that the brokenness in my life had been mended. On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded a few seconds after lift off. I was watching it live on TV, and I was devastated. Here was a visual reminder of my life. It was shattered in millions of pieces. I could not even find all the pieces, much less put my life back together. I merely existed for several months, just going through the motions of life. The only thing that kept me going was the realization that God's love for me had not diminished. I relied on Psalm 51 for comfort, and Romans 8:35-39 became my solace. But, I never felt complete.

Finally, as I was teaching in 2014 it hit me. I am not incomplete. God has redeemed all that happened to me. There is nothing that He has not healed. His grace has made me whole. I am no longer burdened by the thought of being less than I was before January 1986. In fact, like Job, God has restored all that I thought I had lost and given me more than I could ever ask for. Second Corinthians 4:8 gives me great hope. Paul states, " We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair…" In this I have hope.

Judy Williams is a 1980 graduate and former registrar at Wayland. She is a partner with JM Estate Liquidators and is active at First Baptist Church in Plainview. She and husband Ken have been married 30 years and have three grown children: Jared, a graphic designer; Sarah, BA'15, who lives in Brazil; and Katie, a senior at UMHB.

From the History Files

This month's historic glimpse is the second installment in a submission by Don Roberts, who experienced childhood at Wayland while his father pursued his degree in the 1950s. His memories are reflective of many who came to the university as a family, lived in the tiny homettes and called the campus their home too. The first half of his memoir is included this month; the conclusion of his memoir will run in the March issue.

Between the housing area and Old Main was a large open space with an old red cedar picket fence around it. The kind of fence where the narrow pickets were held in place by wire, and required some sort of posts to hold it up. This weedy, ant infested area was our baseball field.

Teams were created from whoever was available. Pieces of wood, stones, jackets, or whatever was available became the bases. Most of our Homettes from WBU historybaseballs had long since lost their leather covers and the exterior was several layers of black tape. That worked great except the tape tended to collect stickers and other debris when it rolled on the ground. We learned pretty quickly to catch or field a batted ball with caution. The ants we just tried to avoid. We let the horned toads have them.

One sacred ritual of our baseball games was "claiming" the name of a famous pro player. Once claimed, no one else could use that name. Unless we were playing baseball, most of us gathered around a radio each Saturday afternoon to listen to "The Game of Week" announced by Dizzy Dean. I had, and still have, a book that showed a drawing of all the major league fields, and the specifics of the field.

It was on our hard, weedy ball field that I had my first "sports related" accident. I was fetching a ball from the other side of the picket fence, and lost my footing. I fell backward, driving one of the pickets into the back of my knee. Luckily, the picket broke from my weight, and I landed on my neck with a thud, 6 inches of picket still lodged in my leg. My buddies came to check on me, found me still alive, and suggested I go home to have my injury checked out. I did. They continued playing baseball.

Upon arrival at our house, I presented my young mother with my dilemma. There was little blood, but the injury looked fearsome. Mother pulled out the piece of picket and flooded the open wound with rubbing alcohol. I can declare with some authority that her first aide was the most painful experience of my young life. There was, however, never any infection.

Digging tunnels was another favorite activity for my friends and me. There were frequently large piles of dirt dumped in the homette area, supposedly for various maintenance needs. Until that need was met, these piles were our private playing and tunneling areas. When we were not playing "King of the Mountain" we would spend days digging through a mound of dirt with whatever tools we would find. Each tunnel was only one body wide, so only one kid at a time could dig. Sometimes we would start another tunnel on the opposite side that was intended to meet up with the original. Most of the time that never worked out. Once dug, we just crawled into the tunnels and relaxed, at least for a bit. The shade provided some cooling from the summer sun. A cave-in never occurred to us.

Another favorite summer activity was running after the ice truck. Several of the families in the homettes did not have an electric ice box. So, every few days the ice truck came around to deliver the ice required for these families. We would beg the ice man to chip us off a chunk or two of ice. He usually complied by letting us pick up slivers from the bed of the truck. First come, first served.

Soon the lazy days of summer would come to a close. That meant school starting, and long hours of play time ending. In the summer we came home when Mother called, or when it got too dark to play. During school months we had to come in earlier. I don't recall much homework, but a shower was almost always required before bedtime. After supper we got to stay up awhile, then retired to our bunk beds. Life was good.

Don Roberts retired in October 2019 after serving 45 years in music ministry across Texas. He is a graduate of Hardin Simmons and Southwestern Seminary. He and wife Carol Ann live in McKinney, Texas. His father, Neal Roberts, earned his degree in 1953 and returned to his hometown of Lamesa, Texas, to teach and later to serve as school principal. He died in 2007.

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