Sunday, April 23, 2017

Graduation

 
 
It's official.  I'm the parent of a high school graduate.  No cap and gown.  No fancy venue.
 

Just some good food and faithful friends under the fluorescent lights and ceiling fans.

 
Surrounded by books about linguistics and translation, we celebrated Sarah's academic accomplishments,
 

and our SITAG family said goodbye to Sarah and Benjamin.


As our kids have moved from being the little kids at SITAG to the big kids, small "cousins" have attached themselves.
 

We are super proud of Sarah and Benjamin and the choices they are making in every area of their lives.


The evening was full of blessings and encouragement given by Aaron and our SITAG family.


Some of you across the globe even participated by sending in your letters for Sarah. 


Thank you so, SO much for taking part in her life.
 

Knowing that Sarah will be upheld in prayer as she starts a new chapter in her life...that's a priceless gift.


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Surprise!

 
 
We helped blow up balloons, but our creative director did all of the work.  See that thing that looks like a big book with funny writing on it?  It's actually hiding a box of hot-off-the-press Roviana Bibles.  Complete Bibles.  And we were getting ready to help surprise the sweet couple who has given the last thirty-years of their lives toward Bible translation in the Solomon Islands.
 

The stepped off the plane to rousing cheers and noise from our SITAG family on top of the airport.  I just love that the Solomon Islands still lets us welcome people this way!
 

After a little bit of a wait to find the luggage, our friends emerged into the heat and humidity to find Sarah's beautiful flower necklaces quickly draped around their necks.


Then it was surprise time as our director steered them into a pavilion where folks from their language group were waiting.  We listened to a hymn sung in Roviana, and then...the big reveal!
 

The big paper Bible was delicately cut open to show the box of Bibles that just arrived yesterday.  The rest of the boxes are coming on a ship in a few weeks. 
 

The new Bible made its way gently and reverently from hand to hand, then we closed with another song sung by sweet people smiling from ear to ear.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Chicken Country Captain as therapy


"The fellowship of the table has a festive quality. It is a constantly recurring reminder in the midst of our everyday work of God's resting after His work, of the Sabbath as the meaning and goal of the week and its toll.  Our life is not only travail and labor, it is also refreshment and joy in the goodness of God.  We labor, but God nourishes and sustains....Through our daily meals He is calling us to rejoice, to keep holiday in the midst of our working day." 
~Dietrich Bonhoeffer  "Life Together"
 

I find myself longing for a little bit of normal routine, and the best way I know find restoration in the midst of chaos is to cook and put a hot, yummy meal on the table at the end of a busy day.  Having a hubby who can quickly whack a whole chicken into eight beautiful pieces helps!
 
 
Chicken Country Captain
(adapted from the Better Homes and Garden cookbook)
 
 2 1/2 to 3 pound broiler-fryer chicken, cut up
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 chopped green pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 cans (14 1/2 ounce) diced tomatoes
1/4 cup raisins
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon pepper
 
 
Skin chicken, if desired.  Rinse and pat dry.  In a large skillet cook onion, green pepper, and garlic in butter till tender but not brown.  Remove from heat.  Stir in undrained tomatoes, raisins, curry powder, salt, nutmeg, sugar, and pepper.  Bring to boiling.
 
Add chicken pieces to the skillet, turning to coat.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Cover and simmer for 35-45 minutes or till tender and no longer pink, turning chicken once.  Serve over your favorite rice or pasta and enjoy gathering around the table with some of your favorite people while receiving God's gift of nourishment and His sustaining power.
 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Resting with intention


Usually the act of lifting weights is considered the moment where strength gains are made, but this would be incorrect.  In fact during a weight lifting session the muscles become distressed and there are little rips and tears made to the muscle tissue.  It is only through rest that the strength gains are made as our bodies fuse together new muscle fibers creating a thicker muscle with a greater capacity for lifting.

Strength isn't gained as we work.  Strength is gained as we rest....

God has created us for both work and rest.  These components function together and one without the other weakens us.  Work is important.  We must expend energy, we must push, we must risk, we must learn; but we are missing a key element to health, both physical and spiritual, if we cannot stop, breathe and rest.  We will not make gains if we don't rest with intention.

~Joy Smalley, from "The Anatomy of Rest"
 
Honiara sunset
 
It's about to be anything but restful around here.  That's why, come the beginning of June, I'm going to hide away.  A little bit of "resting with intention".  Just a couple of weeks of being still and quiet and listening to my Jesus in my backyard, or maybe on my front porch, before I jump back into life in America again.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Basketsful remaining


I begin in weakness and end in strength.  I discover all over again that this is exactly what God loves:  to make his power perfect in our weakness, to show up in splendor when we show up in faithfulness, obedient but inadequate, trusting but inept, with nothing in our hands but our need for him.  "You feed them," he tells us, when we have hardly enough to feed ourselves.  We give what we have anyway and find afterward that everyone has had his fill.  There are even basketfuls remaining. 
 
~Mark Buchanan, "The Rest of God"

 
In the midst of the packing and all of the emotions that go along with leaving your heart in pieces around the world, I'm so grateful for the love and laughter that constitute the "basketfuls remaining".
 
 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter Monday Fun Run

 
 
Unlike previous years, for this year's Easter Monday Fun Run, SITAG only sent four participants.  The moms and some of the kids walked over to the race to be cheerleaders and take pictures.
 


Running up Cemetery Hill ain't for sissies!



One of our colleagues paused for a round of high fives from his kids and wife.


We found our friend Barbara in the midst of the runners as a sweet surprise!



After we watched the runners go by, we walked back to SITAG to wait for our conquering heroes to return.


Finally we saw them down at the bottom of Tanuli ridge on top of which SITAG perches.


Their final obstacle was "Jacob's Ladder", a very long and step flight of stairs along SITAG's border.  Benjamin carried Timmy piggy back all the way up, and the dads showed their stamina by running up the steps to meet their adoring fans.



Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Traditions

 

"Crucifixion and Resurrection"
 
O Lord, I marvel that thou shouldst become incarnate, be crucified, dead, and buried.  The sepulcher calls forth my adoring wonder, for it is empty and thou art risen; the four-fold gospel attest it, the living witnesses prove it, my heart's experience knows it.
 
 
Give me to die with thee that I may rise to new life, for I wish to be as dead and buried to sin, to selfishness, to the world; that I might not hear the voice of the charmer, and might be delivered from his lusts.  O Lord, there is much ill about me -- crucify it, much flesh within me -- mortify it. 
 
 
Purge me from selfishness, the fear of man, the love of approbation, the shame of being through old-fashioned, the desire to be cultivated or modern.  Let me reckon my old life dead because of crucifixion, and never feed it as a living thing. 
 
 
Grant me to stand with my dying Saviour, to be content to be rejected, to be willing to take up unpopular truths, and to hold fast despised teachings until death.  Help me to be resolute and Christ-contained.  Never let me wander from the path of obedience to thy will. 
 
 
Strengthen me for the battles ahead.  Give me courage for all the trials, and grace for all the joys.  Help me to be a holy, happy person, free from every wrong desire, from everything contrary to thy mind. 
 
 
Grant me more and more of the resurrection life:  may it rule me, may I walk in its power, and be strengthened through its influence. 
~ from "The Valley of Vision"


What a joy this weekend to be able to pause and remember Christ's gift to us as we shared family traditions like dying Easter eggs and making resurrection cookies and attending the sunrise service at the US War Memorial.
 
 
Once again, when our flesh and blood family was far across the Pacific Ocean, our SITAG family stepped in to fill in the gaps and to celebrate alongside us.
 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

 
This girl.  Every time I looked at her pixie face, she was licking the chocolate icing off of her fingers.  Growing up, we always made "Easter Basket Cupcakes", and now my kids consider it a tradition at our house, as well. 
 

We didn't have colored pipe cleaners for handles, but the cupcakes were still delicious and we had plenty to share.


I pulled the last of the village laundry off the line this afternoon.  Now it really feels like we are packing and preparing to leave.  Only ten days left until our departure, then four weeks on the road (including our re-entry seminar) before we finally arrive in Arkansas.
 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

 
During SITAG's morning tea, the uncles and aunties gathered around Sarah and Benjamin to give brief speeches and then to pray blessings over them.  We're so grateful for the faithful men and women who work here. 
 
 
This is just one more step in helping our teenagers finish well here in the Solomon Islands and begin to transition to their next phase of life.  Sarah made a chocolate peanut butter cake to go along with the chocolate ice cream. 
 
 
I loved how Aaron explained that the delicious food was to help make us happy after expressing our sadness at Sarah and Benjamin leaving SITAG.  We also received the good news that our cargo is on its way back to Honiara this afternoon!  I see many loads of laundry in my future...