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A Time for Tea: Professor Douglas Trimble returns from Pakistan

 

“Before we start, would you like a cup of tea?”

Making time for tea has become a daily ritual for psychology professor Douglas Trimble. “There’s something very civilized about it. Everyone in Pakistan drinks tea.”

For the past five years, Trimble has been serving and teaching in Lahore, Pakistan, a city of about 10 million. He held a full-time position at Eastern from 2003-2008 until God introduced a new plan: serving as a missionary in Pakistan. “God called me to go and when he calls, it’s time to go,” Trimble says.

Trimble became a missionary through Presbyterian Church USA. What is typically a 2-3 year process, Trimble was registered to serve in only 6 short weeks. “God put everything into place,” he says. Consequently, he was introduced to Forman Christian College in Pakistan through his church. What was an initial year-long stay as a missionary became five when a position for Director of Assessment in Institutional Research at Forman opened, also Trimble’s job at Eastern. “It’s like God had written my name in that ad.” Approaching the period where he would apply for sabbatical, it was the perfect opportunity. Through prayer with his wife, Margy, the Trimble’s made Pakistan their new home for themselves and their three children, Anna, Kate and Calvin.

At Forman, Trimble introduced student satisfaction surveys to gage student’s learning. He also oversaw one psychology class in the spring to keep his toes in the waters of teaching. While there is an 85-15% ratio of Muslims to Christians at Forman, Trimble says the religions mesh together well. “There was a real harmony on campus. It stood as a testament that these two religions can interact together without killing each other.” As missionaries, the Trimble’s ran bible studies and served as youth group leaders. “We really enjoyed being the presence of Christ there,” he says.

It was Eastern that reached out and brought Trimble and his family back to the states. Trimble was contacted when Professor Van Leeuwen of the psychology department was set to retire, and was asked to assume her position. Other factors aided in his return, including his father’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease last year, and his growing concern for his daughters. At ages 11 and 14 in a repressive culture, young women do not have many opportunities to discover themselves in Pakistan. While his children were initially afraid to move to a new country, returning proved harder than expected, especially for Calvin who thrived at a Christian boarding school.

All in all, Trimble feels that coming back was another part of God’s plan. “We didn’t come back with a sense of regret.” Trimble is thankful for a renewed sense of stability on his native soil. However, what he has brought home from overseas is the sentiment of taking time, which he plans to integrate into his new routine. “Running and doing isn’t always the best thing,” he says.

Back at Eastern with a 4-class semester course load, “I’m not drinking as much tea as I would like,” Trimble says. However, he’s glad to be home and waits with open arms for God’s next call in his journey.

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