Friday, October 31, 2014

Wednesday, October 29

Having older children helps us unpack and clean so much faster.  We still have a few deep cleaning items left, like scrubbing the walls with bleach and cleaning each and every school book, but we were settled enough to start school today.  Aaron still needs to crawl up on the roof to see where we have a leak in our water pipes connecting the rain tank below to the barrels on top.  Being almost settled also means I get to go out and play with my friends! 

Marulaon - Mary and baby Rodney WED
My friend, Mary, had a baby boy while we were in Honiara.  She named him after her brother, Rodney, who died in June.  Four baby boys have been born to Marulaon women in the last few months.  One of them was just born Monday night, so I stuck my head in the door to find Melody feeding her new little boy under a pink mosquito net.  I only stayed long enough to tell her I was happy for her.

Marulaon - cutting kino WED
School aged kids are all at school during the week, but lots of younger children are running around Marulaon.  I found some boys playing in the shade and cutting kino (cutnuts) for a snack.  Mamas and aunties are often nearby, and I really enjoyed catching up with friends I haven't seen in three months.

Marulaon little girls WED

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tuesday, October 28

Benjamin and funny eggs TUES
My sweet Sarah makes everything around her fun and beautiful.  We boiled eggs to bring with us on the ship and to eat for breakfast after we arrived, and Benjamin picked the egg on which Sarah had drawn a funny face.

Monday, October 27

Aided by our amazing SITAG family, we arrived at the wharf about 6:00 yesterday morning.  We quickly found our favorite spot on the second level of the Kosco, and soon all of our boxes, plants, backpacks, and mats were settled on the boat.  Ten SITAG kids ran around while the adults visited and enjoyed our downtime before the boat left.  Olivia expressed it well: “It makes me feel so special when our SITAG family comes down to the wharf to tell us goodbye.  With everybody laughing and talking, it's a little easier to deal with the sadness of the farewell.”

Kosco - Olivia reading (400x267) MON

Some of our colleagues brought us a fabulous breakfast of cinnamon rolls, breakfast casserole, juice, and coffee.  I felt spoiled rotten.  Then everybody circled around, prayed over us, and disembarked.  As we pulled away, several of them stayed on the wharf waving goodbye.  We would not be able to go back and forth to the village if we didn't have the Body of Christ to help us through the transition. 

Kosco - Benjamin reading MON
Another ex-pat was on board the ship.  He is a medical student taking several years to travel around the world and volunteer his knowledge and skills in undeveloped countries.  We enjoyed visiting with him from time to time. 

Kosco - Katherine eating ringcake MON

Hours of reading pleasure belonged to us as the boat chugged through the ocean toward Marulaon Village.  The ocean was calm and glassy, very much an answer to the prayers of people around the world!

Kosco - Yandina wharf MON
We arrived at Yandina and stayed at the wharf for about two hours while the crew unloaded bags and bags of rice, sugar, and flour.  Watching the line of men tossing these huge bags like clock work made us smile.  Yandina also has a nice market for hungry ship passengers, and Aaron picked up some pomelo, green coconuts, and ring cake for us to enjoy.

Kosco - Yandina wharf unloading cargo MON
This trip was the first time we haven't unloaded at Marulaon Village.  Instead, the Kosco bypassed our village for another village a little bit farther West.  The sun was sinking rapidly by the time the ship slowed to a stop, and we were so thankful to see our friends in two motor canoes!  Unloading everything into the small boats took a long time.  Our drivers told us that we were running on fumes, so ten liters of petrol went into each engine - so glad we brought it!  It was dark when we finally sped off toward Marulaon, Aaron in one canoe, and the kids and I in the other.  The phosphorescence in the water glowed, but that was about the only light.  A thin crescent moon hung low on the horizon, beautiful but not illuminating.  I was really thankful that Sarah tucked her flashlight into her backpack, Benjamin and I took turns holding it up so our driver could navigate around the rocks in the shallow channels. 

Kosco - time home MON
We pulled up to Marulaon to find happy neighbors waiting to help us carry all of our things up the hill to the house.  I don't know what we would have done without all of them.  It would have taken us all night long to carry each box up.  We walked in the house just before 8:00, and the family split two apples with peanut butter while we took turns taking a quick shower to wash off the grime of the ship.  Thank you for all of the prayers offered up on our behalf.  When I think of the magnitude of the trip, the path that we and our cargo must take (SITAG to truck to wharf to ship to motor canoe to shore to house), I'm in awe of all that God does for us.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Your Prayers are Working!

Please keep them up!

This morning I was absolutely delighted to see a blog post from Joanna in my inbox! She usually has to e-mail blog post components in batches, so I don’t have it all yet. But I’ll publish as soon as I do.

In the meantime, thank you for your prayers, and please don’t stop!

~Ann H.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Safely in Marulaon

I just received word via the Gebauers that the Choates arrived safely in the village around 8:00 Sunday night after an 11 hour trip. Thank you to all who prayed for smooth seas!

Prayer needs:

- Continue to pray over the e-mail situation.

- There is water in the tanks, and it rained again overnight. But, the water need continues to be a prayer point…the balance of rain and sun, especially.

Thanks for the continued prayers!

~Ann H.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

And we're off...


With lots of people pitching in, Team Choate is on the way to Marulaon.  One of our colleagues told me the story of an ex-pat who bought tickets for a Solomon Islands ship.  As everyone got on board, my friend overheard this man say, "I didn't know I was buying a ticket for a refugee boat!"


We plan to leave SITAG at 5:30 a.m., Sunday morning, so we can get our favorite spot among the many people who will be laying their mats and bags on the deck of the Kosco.  The ship should pull out to sea around 9:00 a.m. (5:00 p.m. Saturday night, Central Daylight Savings Time).  We would appreciate prayers for calm seas and no rain, especially since the ship won't stop at our village.  We will have to take a motor boat ride from several villages away.

 
Although Aaron has spent many hours working on the village radio e-mail, he has been unsuccessful in getting it to work.  We will NOT have e-mail, which means I will NOT be able to update the blog from the village. 


We plan to be back in Honiara around Christmas.  If you need to get in touch with us before then, please e-mail the SITAG deputy who will be talking to us on the radio every day, Monday through Friday:

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Creativity

What do you do when your brother wears out a pair of denim shorts?
 
 
You sew them up into a really cute skirt for baby Karen!  Sarah whipped this up to greet baby Karen when she returned to Honiara this afternoon.  I think I may have a seamstress on my hands...
 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Odds and Ends

Yesterday was the last day of cooking before we move, so we really made it count.  Sarah was the primary chef, and she churned out tons of cookies to share around the community as thank you gifts.  Aaron took some to the doctor who helps us get the meds we need to take to the village, some to the Kosco office, some to the church office, and some to the SITAG office.  And we still have some more to deliver today!  Sarah also made several loaves of banana bread to share and to take with us to Marulaon to make the transition a little bit easier.

 
After all these years, Aaron is still my knight in shining armor.  Right now, he is sitting in the ERC, fighting the UUPlus village radio/e-mail dragon while he instant messages with a guy in America who knows more about the system.  Still no village e-mail, but Aaron is working hard to get it fixed as soon as possible.


And our friend, Edi, will be on her way to the Solomons next week.  We really appreciate your prayers for her as she makes the long trek to come live in the village for a month. 
 
 
She'll leave on a Tuesday and arrive in Marulaon on Friday, if the weather is good.  Not only will she have to adjust to the Solomon Islands' culture, but she will also have to adjust to our family's culture in the small apace of about 900 square feet and zero privacy.  We are excited about what God is going to do in all of our lives while she is with us - will you please pray for us all?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Aaron came down with a mild stomach virus yesterday, so the kids and I finished up school while he stayed in bed.  But thankfully, today he is up and about and packing like crazy today.  I sure do love "Team Choate"!
 

 
Still no advances in the UUPlus village radio/e-mail system, so I'm enjoying the last days of technology and staying in touch with family and friends.  We also discovered that the Kosco no longer stops at Marulaon Village.  The ship will make a stop at a village about a ten minute motor boat ride away from our village, so we will be buying a little bit more petrol and praying that we have clear skies to unload our cargo.

Monday, October 20, 2014

 
Just for today...Monday, October 20
 
From the kitchen...we have friends heading to the village this week, too.  So the two families are combining to clean out our refrigerators and eat leftovers together tonight.  Aaron bought our tickets for the Kosco today, so the departure is official for Sunday morning at 9:00.
 
Pondering these words..."When we let go and just soak up love from the Lord and others, we have a whole new power to go on again.  When we get burned out, it isn't usually because we're doing to many things but often because we're not letting ourselves be loved." 
~Richard Anthony Carter from "In Search of the Lost"
 
A heart full of gratitude...for my new glasses that finally arrived today.  Headaches - be gone!
 
 
 
One of my favorite things...this dynamic duo.  Absolutely love my teenagers.
 
 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Community

This cloudy Saturday found Sarah and me busy in the kitchen cooking tons of granola (okay, really only two gallons) to take out to Marulaon.  This trip will be shorter than most, only about eight weeks.  We also made banana bread and cookies to share, and I worked on supper prep as well.  But all of this cooking got me thinking about community.
 
 
Quite often, I run out of ingredients.  In the last few days, I've had to borrow garlic, soy sauce, and eggs from my sweet neighbors.  But thankfully, it's a two way street.  I loaned out yeast and onions today.  Part of the joy of living at SITAG is the sense of community it provides for our family.  One of my colleagues dropped by with a cantaloupe she picked up at market because she knows I love cantaloupe.  (They remind me of my grandparents who still keep a garden at their home on Lake Conway.)  And tonight, another colleague mentioned that she had seen a 20kg bag of onions for sale because she knew that we were looking for a big bag to take out to the village.  Aaron promptly went out and bought the onions!


Obviously, our SITAG community is built in.  We desperately need each other if we are going to survive and thrive here.  But back in our passport culture, it's very easy to live independent lives, never even meeting our neighbors much less going to borrow an egg from them.  We struggled on furlough as we tried to create community, be involved in other people's lives, and encourage people to drop by our house.
 
 
My friend, Gayly, sends me the Urban Farm magazine.  I think it's my new favorite.  In the May/June edition, the magazine ran an article about living in intentional community.  For most people I know, that concept would immediately be labeled "weird".  But it's a Biblical concept!  Loving your neighbor as yourself.  God made us all different, and you may not want to go buy a house with three of your best friends and their families. 
 
 
Our family likes to cook.  So, for us, building community looks like taking cookies and thank you notes to fire fighters or the dentist or church staff when we are back in the States, and here we take banana muffins to the district priest and the catechists in the village.  I have a friend in Mississippi who is gifted artistically, and she shares her skills to bless people with art lessons for children or with a keepsake for our children's librarian.
 
 
But might you be willing to use whatever gifts God has given you to interact with your neighbors?  Could you adopt a widow?  Volunteer at a food pantry or crisis pregnancy shelter?  Run in a race that is fundraising for a good cause?  I'm curious, what does look like for you?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Odds & Ends

Yesterday, we said goodbye to a volunteer from Australia.  She's been helping out SITAG for almost five months, doing whatever little things have fallen through the cracks and giving her time and energy to be a good "Auntie" to all of the SITAG kids.  She'll be missed!
 
 
In August, she also helped us build a small raised bed to plant our Chinese cabbage, tomatoes, and buna, a leafy green that has become one of our favorites.  We've been trying to use up the Chinese cabbage because it's getting old and because we are leaving next week.  One newly discovered recipe is brown rice, chicken, and cilantro salad, but we tweak the recipe by adding a lot more Chinese cabbage than the recipe calls for.

 
And this is sweet Betsy.  Betsy is a "house girl" at SITAG.  She keeps the group's houses in great shape with her servant spirit, no matter who is coming and going throughout the year.  She and the other employees are a trustworthy constant at SITAG, and we are so thankful for them.  Earlier this week, Aaron was down at the wharf picking up a colleague, and I saw a strange guy walking around behind our house.  I went to find one of the employees to ask if SITAG had any visitors.  As soon as I told Patson and Silas that I didn't recognize a man walking around SITAG, they dropped the lumber they were carrying and were off like a shot up the hill.  Happy ending - the guy was from the Solomon Islands Water Association and was just checking meters.  But he had zero identification, so nobody knew that he was "official".  Patson and Silas both got cinnamon rolls the next morning as a "thank you" for going above and beyond their job descriptions.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

 
 
The SITAG directors returned today!
 
 
So we all showed up to welcome them back.  Aaron has done a fabulous job holding down the fort in their absence, but now he gets to turn his attention back to being a translation advisor and preparing to go back to Marulaon. 
 
 
 
One of our colleagues had the bright idea to make signs saying, "Welcome back to the zoo!"  Very appropriate indeed.
 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Honiara Woman's Daybook

 

Just for today...Monday, October 13
 
On my bookshelf..."In Search of the Lost:  The Death and Life of Seven Peacemakers of the Melanesian Brotherhood" by Richard Carter.  A really good peek inside the culture of the Solomon Islands and the tension that existed in the country in the first years of the 21st century.  Also relevant to our ministry because we serve among the Church of Melanesia.  It's hard to believe that these events happened in 2003.
 
One of my favorite things...cool hairdos that make me smile all day long.
 
 
A heart overflowing with thankfulness...for this trio of girls, my "pineapple princesses".
 
 
Crafting in the kitchen...we tried gingerbread oatmeal in the crockpot last night.  I think it needs a little bit more milk for a good consistency and some raisins for flavor, but it was a great way to start our Monday.  I love being able to use the crockpot when we are in Honiara!
 

One of my favorite things...The rich history we have here in the Solomon Islands.  This weekend marked the anniversary of the Battle of Cape Esperance.  That's where we live - the top corner of the Russell Islands.
 
Pondering these words..."The theme is everywhere in Scripture.  The wise person lives for what cannot be seen.  the fool lives to build another barn to store away what is perishing and useless in the world to come.  The wise person longs for spiritual blessing, the fool craves physical reward.  The wise person looks to eternity, the fool lives for the moment."  ~Paul David Tripp
 
A peek into my corner of the world...this amazing man has kept so many balls juggling in the last week.  Holding down three office jobs and still packing for the village while he continues to be a fabulous daddy and husband, I've never met anyone with more of a servant's heart.  But I won't be disappointed when he hands those office jobs back this week and can be just the Lavukal Translation Advisor again!
 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Fun

After school and after Aaron had payroll ready for SITAG employees, we all piled in the car for a quick bite of lunch (and a check of the sale racks at a Western grocery store - score on outdated orange juice and some outdated ice cream toppings!). 
 
 
Then we hustled to the airport and arrived just as the Solomon Airlines flight was taxiing up to its parking spot.  We were excited to welcome a new friend to Honiara today.
 


She must be either crazy or absolutely wonderful to fly all of the way from Germany to the Solomon Islands to volunteer her time and energy for two months to help in the office while SITAG is shorthanded.
 


On the way home, we noticed the clouds gathering and racing from West to East.  That means they were coming from the direction of our village!  As we pulled in the driveway, Savo began to get rain, and before too long, we were experiencing sweet, cool rain, too.
 


And rain always means a perfect evening for a sleepover, right?  We traded Benjamin for two girls and an "auntie" and enjoyed cucumber masks, banana splits, a movie, and lots of giggles to end a really fun Friday.
 


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sunset over Honiara

"From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.  The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens."  Psalm 113:3,4
 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Lunar Eclipse

 
The Choate household stayed up late to watch the lunar eclipse tonight.
 
 
God's creation amazes me. 
 

And sharing His wonders with friends makes everything more special.
 


No matter if those friends are close by or far away.