Saturday, February 6, 2016

Wycliffe's Bibleless People Group of the week is the Talise of the Solomon Islands:
The Talise people live on the south side of Guadalcanal Island which is locally referred to as the “Weather Coast” because it is affected by winds, rains and rough seas more than the rest of the island. In March, a team of linguists will conduct a language survey that will help determine how many distinct languages are spoken by the Talise and other neighboring people. Visit to learn more and pray. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Settling in...

Our first few days back in Honiara have been good.  Katherine was up at 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning, spunky and drinking her tea.  I woke up a little before 2:00 a.m. both Tuesday and Wednesday nights, but last night I slept all the way until the sun was peeking its head above the horizon!
We've unloaded boxes and washed all of the musty clothes and caught up with SITAG's employees.  Sweet Betsy apologized for not bringing some of her beautiful orchids to welcome us back.  She said it has been so dry since December that her orchids weren't blooming.  Thankfully, it has rained three afternoons in a row since we returned!  The rain tank behind our house is now overflowing, which is a good thing since around thirty people will be flooding into SITAG in the next week.
Today has been focused on getting ready for next week.  SITAG's Conference begins on Thursday, and we have lots to do in preparation.  Sarah helped roll out fifteen pizza crusts for a big meal next Tuesday when most of our colleagues will arrive. 


And our family also did quite a bit of cooking and freezing to get ready for less time to cook and more people to feed.  My kids have already been asking when we can have company and when are we going to DO something?  I'm glad they have hearts for hospitality, but I keep reminding them that I just got here.  Next week will bring plenty of people and plenty of things to do.
Aaron serves on SITAG's Advisory Committee (AC), so this afternoon he sat down with the chairman to go over the plan for next week and work out any kinks in the schedule.  I love that God gives us each different gifts - some of us are super organized and detail oriented and some of us see a bigger, more global picture.  It takes all kinds of people to make up the Body of Christ!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Here We Go!

Security in Wichita was super nice.  Even when they had to pull a coil of twine and some small candles in tins out of one of the bags to make sure we weren't plotting to take over the world.  Don't worry, we got them back.  Wichita to Dallas.  Lunch in Dallas. 
In Los Angeles, we had to gather all twelve checked bags and march from the domestic terminal to the international terminal.  Even though everybody was beginning to get tired, I still saw smiles on each of my children's faces.
Getting every bag up the escalator proved no problem for Team Choate.  One person stayed on top with the luggage, one person stayed down at the bottom, and the other four ferried the bags up to the International terminal.  We looked a little bit like a circus, I'm sure!
We arrived at the Air Pacific counter to find the line already extending out into the main aisle.  And the counter didn't open for more than half an hour.

So we made ourselves comfortable and settled in for the wait.  Once the counter opened, the line moved quickly, and the efficient Fiji Air personnel weighed our bags, charged us the expected fee for the extra luggage, and checked the bags through to Honiara.

Our crew was getting sleepy, and it was also way past time to grab some supper.  When SITAG's director showed up to join on us the flight across the ocean, Katherine was snoring on my lap.  By the time we boarded the plane, our bodies felt like it was midnight.

Fiji Air served us supper, and a few hours later they served us breakfast.  Since I wasn't sleeping, I opened up my phone to catch up on my Bible reading since we'd skipped February 1st.  The stars were beautiful, and soon the sun began to flame in the sky, highlighting the clouds below us.
The reading for February 1st was Psalm 18 & 19.  Perfect.  "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.  They have no speech, hey use no words; no sound is heard from them.  Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.  In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.  It is a like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.  It rises at one end of the heavens ad makes is circuit to the other; nothing is deprive of its warmth."  Psalm 19:1-6
The smiles in Fiji were sleepy, but they were still smiles as we were asked to go to the end of the line because of our long layover.  And gratefully, Fiji has redone their International Terminal.  Now, you can lay down on twin size mattresses/lounges in addition to the comfy chairs.  Exactly what I needed after no sleep in more than 24 hours! 

Certainly, no sleeping happened on the last flight from Fiji to Honiara.  The kids got bouncier and more excited the closer we got.  And when we landed, we found two of our favorite people waiting and waving:  Henk and Margreet (you can follow along with their adventures in the Solomon Islands)
What a delight to be in the "Residents" line!
When we finally made it through customs and grabbed our bags, another SITAG couple had arrived with fragrant frangipani leis for each of us.
 After the warm welcome (the welcome matched the heat and humidity!), the kids and bags divided between two vehicles, and Aaron and I drove a third to do some quick shopping to equip the house for the next couple of days until we could do a thorough job.
We couldn't have asked for a smoother trip.  It wasn't an easy trip, but we felt lifted up in prayer every step of the way.  It's good to be home.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Weekend Wonders in Kansas

Our family arrived in Wichita late Friday night, but we were off to an early start on Saturday to go cheer on Clara, our favorite five-year-old gymnast!

Spunky Clara works so hard to make up for her "little arm" that you never notice anything but her sparkling personality.
I love this man.  He is the best husband, dad, friend, and "uncle".  Wesley thinks Aaron makes a good bed, too.

After the gymnastics meet, the Choates and the Conards took a picnic lunch to a local park and played hard.  The dads gave the moms an opportunity to grab a cup of coffee and visit one last time, and when we returned, we found two pairs of glasses had been sacrificed during a football game.
So, away we went again, this time to learn how to use test 25 fishing line and a lighter to fix Benjamin's rimless glasses.  With two repaired sets of glasses in hand, the moms returned and gathered up ten children and two dads to return to the hotel so we could finish stuffing and weighing suitcases.  I can not imagine a better way to relax after the chaos of the last few weeks.  Sweet fellowship and staying in the tidiness of a hotel room was exactly what we needed to finish up our time in America.
After supper together, my laundry helper and I washed some clothes so our crew would have clean clothes to wear just in case something happened to our checked bags.  These friends are such a blessing.  They've loaned us a vehicle for both furloughs, and they love us through the hard parts of transition.  Does doing something twice make it a tradition?

Once again, our friends loaded us up and took us to the airport at 8:00 a.m. to begin our journey across the Pacific Ocean.

These guys are so good for each other.

I think Aaron is still winning the hair loss competition!

We're already talking about how to celebrate our May birthdays together again...

Friday, January 29, 2016

Final Goodbyes

Wednesday night, the youth group threw our teenagers a sweet going away party and sweetened it with some Blue Bell ice cream.  I'm so glad Blue Bell returned to our area before we left the country!
The youth minister shared from Acts 1:8 and challenged the group to be willing to consider going to the "uttermost parts".  He also focused on the image of the beautiful feet that bring God's good news to people.  I wondered what he would have thought if he had ever seen our feet in the village.
I'm so grateful for the friends our kids have made while we've been back in our passport country.

Some of the those friendships span generations.  Sweet Abby is the daughter of a dear friend of mine who grew up in church and choir and orchestra alongside my sister and me.

 And Macy is the daughter of another friend from long ago.  (Both girls look so much like their beautiful mamas that sometimes I have trouble calling them by their own names!)
In between packing and cleaning and all those last minute things like returning books to the library, we've been saying goodbye to places like Stoby's.
We also dropped by to visit with my Gran and to hug her neck one more time.
And today before we pulled out of the driveway, I walked around our yard and said goodbye to the broccoli that I think might actually make it.  My daffodils are swelling and getting ready to bloom a wee bit early, so I said goodbye to them as well.  We'll have hundreds of bulbs blooming in the next few months.

One last stop to say goodbye to Nahna and Papa, and then we were on the road to return the vehicle to the precious Conard family.  God has been so gracious to give us the strength and energy and mental stamina and encouragement we needed to pack up and return to the Solomon Islands!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

More helping hands and more goodbyes

 I'm continually amazed at the people God is placing across our paths.  Moving is hard.  Moving overseas is even harder.  I feel so fragile every minute of the day.

Then God plops friends and family into our midst to help share the burden.  Friends who were supposed to just drop by to pick up the gerbil but end up staying for several hours and helping pack bags.

Family members who enter into the chaos and don't judge, they just get to work.  And they bring donuts.

We've also entered into the season of goodbyes.  I don't do goodbyes well.
 My thoughtful aunt and uncle drove a couple of hours just to take us out to lunch

 and to inject our lives with a little bit more laughter to fuel us through the rest of the day.

They even invited my grandmother to come along.  I love that all four of my grandparents knew each other long before their children ever married and that both sides of my family have their lives intertwined.
Hanging out with this side of my family brings us great joy!
And we weren't finished with the Schalchlin joy!  Some of my cousins couldn't come for lunch, but after classes were over they drove up to lend some muscle.
We spent the afternoon weighing bags and deciding what couldn't go with us, but having extended family around cushioned those hard decisions.

And we laughed a lot, too!

So you know it's really time to move when the piano leaves the house.  My brother offered his skills this morning to help load the piano into the trailer.
And I cried as I had to say yet another goodbye.  This friend is my lifeline.  When nothing in me wants to do the hard parts of moving and heading back overseas, she reminds me of God's truth:
"Even when it's not your will, you're surrendering your will.  That's not selfish.  That's just acknowledging where your heart is instead of lying and saying it's all good."