This will be the first of a series of some thirteen blogs written in Southern California. To be exact: written in Loma Linda, a small town at about 90 minutes driving East from Los Angeles. Loma Linda has given its name to the Adventist university that is located there and which has made a name for itself because of its faculties in medicine, health care, dentistry, pharmacy and related disciplines. In fact, to a large extent, the university with the hospitals that are part of the medical complex define the town of Loma Linda. The town has almost 25.000 inhabitants, but, because of the 15,000-plus employees, the hospital patients and the people who visit the day clinics, this number more than doubles during the day.
My wife and I arrived here four days ago. By now we have just about overcome our jet lag caused by the time difference with the Netherlands of eight hours. As I mentioned in an earlier blog: I have come here to teach in the religion department of the university during the Spring Quarter. I could not have imagined that one day I would be a (temporary) colleague of such esteemed theologians as e.g. Jon Paulien, Roy Branson, Richard Rice and David Larsson.
I should say that this process of becoming a colleague of these people is quite complicated and I am glad I have arrived here a few days before my actual work starts (next Monday). There is a sizable amount of administrative hassle before I can receive the badge that certifies that I am indeed a ‘visiting professor’ and can have access to all facilities. With the badge I will be allocated an LLU e-mail address and a code that allows me to use ‘Canvas.’ This is an advanced computer system that provides the students with all the information they need when they follow a particular course and gives the professor the relevant information about the students who take the courses he is teaching. The students receive a digital warning when a certain assignment is due, and by consulting the system they can discover what grade the teacher has given them for their work. Yesterday a member of the support staff of the department has unveiled the secrets of ‘Canvas’ to me.
I have now also been assigned an office where I can work and I have discovered a nearby place in the Centennial Complex (where the religion department is located on the third floor), where I can heat water—a not unimportant aspect for a Dutchman who is used to having his hot drinks at regular times.
We have settled into a small but quite adequate apartment. The first expeditions to the local supermarkets have been successful and we have the first necessities for our daily life. It proved to be a little more difficult to find the post office. This has recently been relocated to just outside the city limits of Loma Linda. The former location (in the center of the campus) was vacated because of the commotion that resulted from the decision of the US Postal Service to end the exceptional status of this post office. In the past it was closed on Saturdays and open on Sundays, in order to accommodate the predominantly Adventist population. The decision to end this peculiar situation met with much protest. The Postal Service then decided to simply move the office to a different location. (We found that they had no stamps for European destinations. For Europe one has to combine three stamps of different values.)
Apart from many short visits to the United States, this is the third time my wife and I actually ‘live’ in America. The first time was in 1965-1966 when, newly married, we went to Michigan, where I studied at Andrews University for my masters degree. We returned to Michigan in the 1991-1994 period, when I worked in the Mission Institute that was part of that university. And now, once again, we are in the ‘promised land.’ Right from day one it feels quite familiar. I have the fullest confidence that we will have three pleasant (though probably quite busy) months.