Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sweet Sabbath and Spiders

While Olivia and I were outside hanging clothes on the line this morning, she noticed some spiders hanging in a huge web between the mango tree and the starfruit tree.
She counted ten of them, and we think they are banana spiders or some type of Golden silk orb-weaver.  "Larger relatives occur in the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, and Madagascar.  Banana spiders like high humidity and relatively open space."  We've certainly got the high humidity!

We also discovered that, like many other animals, these spiders exhibit sexual dimorphism.  The male and the female are drastically different in size and in coloring.  What a beautiful way to start our Sunday morning, reveling in God's creation.

"There is no grudging in God's benevolence; He does not measure out his goodness as an apothecary counts his crops and measures his drams, slowly and exactly, drop by drop.  God's way is always characterized by multitudinous and overflowing bounty." 
~F.B. Meyer

Saturday, October 22, 2016

This is happening outside in the driveway right now...


So grateful to our SITAG colleagues who share life with us here in Honiara.

Friday, October 21, 2016

PSAT Trip to Brisbane

Benjamin needed to take the PSAT, and the closest place for him to take it was Brisbane.  So once again, the family drove out to Honiara's airport Tuesday morning.
 Aaron and the girls waved us through the door for passengers,

then they headed upstairs to the roof

to do school and to wait for Benjamin and me to walk across to the plane.
There's something about hearing somebody cheer for you that just makes your day!  Benjamin worked on physics homework while we flew across to Brisbane.

Early Wednesday morning, one of our colleagues drove us to the testing site where Benjamin took the PSAT alongside seven other students.  God worked out all of the details to have this American test offered in a place and time where we could attend. 

While Benjamin used his brainpower, I sat and visited in a coffee shop with an American couple whose daughter was also taking the exam.  There are so many interesting people in this world!  When Benjamin was finished, we ate a quick lunch and he enjoyed a caramel milkshake. 
Then we caught the train over to the eye doctor's office to pick up our new glasses. 

Thursday was full of shopping for exciting things like printer ink and silicon muffin pans.  I'm especially thankful for a nice apartment to rest our weary heads and for the amazing woman, Liz, who keeps it ready for people who work in Bible translation around the world.  I really enjoyed the quiet mornings as the sun peeked in the kitchen window.

Then it was time to turn around and come back home to reunite Team Choate.

Friday afternoon, we stepped off the plane to a loud welcome from on top of the airport.

And since public display of affection isn't socially acceptable here, we hopped in the vehicle and hid our "welcome back" kiss behind Aaron's hat.  It's good to be home.

Monday, October 17, 2016


Sometimes we might think we're doing okay if we aren't experiencing spiritual blowouts, yet the less-discernible slow leaks can lead to the same result. Often Satan's methodology is to slowly wear us down, spiriting away larger and larger parts of our hearts until we eventually look and think like the world and those who deny Christ.”
~Sandra Glahn and Crickett Keeth,
Sumatra with the Seven Churches”
I ran across this quote a few mornings ago, and I wondered what a “slow leak” would look like in my life. Immediately, I heard “discontent”. Not out loud. But I know that my lack of contentment often pricks a hole in my life and slowly siphons my joy away.  And I don't think I'm alone in this dilemma.  No matter where you or I live (even when it looks like a tropical paradise!), our hearts are easily lured by discontent.  Grab your mug of coffee, pull up a comfy chair, let's camp out on this topic and talk a while...

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Things I love: Apples, Books, Recipes

This time of year, I get really hungry for the changing of seasons, for friends and family, for familiar tastes and environments.  Who knew that books with familiar handwriting would preserve family stories and bring such comfort?!?

So we are reading the same books that we pull out year after year at this time,
we're remembering sweet times picking apples together with friends, and we're making familiar recipes with apples that conjure up memories of growing up.

Just as the handwriting inside the cover of a book combines with the book and memories to bring me joy, the handwriting on a recipe card combines with the food and memories in a special way.  Praline apple bread is the newest apple recipe (pecans are precious here!) to jump into our "making memories" recipe box. 
Praline Apple Bread
from Ava
1 1/2 cup pecans, divided
8 oz sour cream
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups finely chopped Granny Smith apples

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).  Bake 1/2 cup pecans in a single layer in shallow pan 6-8 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring after 4 minutes.
Beat sour cream, sugar, eggs & vanilla at low speed 2 minutes or until blended.
Stir together dry ingredients.  Add to sour cream mixture and beat just until blended.  Stir in apples and toasted 1/2 cup pecans.  Spoon batter into greased and floured 9x5 loaf pan.  Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup chopped pecans.  Lightly press pecans into batter.
Bake for 60-65 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Shield with foil after 50 minutes to prevent excessive browning.  Cool in pan 10 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

In the midst of the long, all-day speeches yesterday, I caught these two best buddies whispering.

When I called their names, these were the faces that turned to face the camera.

How I love them.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Selwyn College graduation


This is the third time we've been able to attend the graduation ceremonies at Selwyn College.  We're so grateful for the opportunity to support the students from Marulaon Village who attend this prestigious school.

This year we have four students from our tiny little village who attend Selwyn College - in Forms 1, 3, 5, and 6. 
Our friend Leonard, who is now the Lavukal translation committee chairman, has the best smile.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Thank you

In November of 1978, this guy brought his family to the Solomon Islands and began working in translation for the Cheke Holo language.  Throughout the years, he has served Bible translation around the world in various ways, and this week was his last visit to the Solomon Islands. 
Sarah somehow found time in her day to make a lovely citrus cake, and this afternoon SITAG gathered around to celebrate, say thank you for the years of service this colleague has offered, and to pray for the road ahead.  I love working with these people!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Yesterday, we anticipated the Lavukal translation team to arrive on the Kosco.  When Aaron called the office, he discovered that the ship was still way out west and hadn't reached Marulaon yet.  The ship's office didn't expect the ship to arrive in Honiara until late Thursday night because the engine was having problems again.

The translation team had only scheduled a few days together to work before the ship returned on Sunday.  But if the ship's engines need time for repair, then most likely the Kosco won't be returning to the Russells on Sunday, and the guys would be stuck in Honiara indefinitely.  So Aaron has made the wise choice to cancel to be a good steward of both time and money.  

Monday, October 10, 2016

Honiara Woman's Daybook

Just for today...Monday, October 10
On my bookshelf...finally finished "The Inextinguishable Symphony" by Martin Goldsmith.  Yep, that Martin Goldsmith.  If you grew up listening to "Performance Today" like I did, this book will hold a special place in your heart.  Now I want to listen to Mahler symphonies.  Really I want to play them, but since that's not an option, I'll settle for listening.
Pondering these words..."In our book, busyness is next to godliness.  We idolize Thomas Edison, who claimed he could live on fifteen-minutes naps.  Somehow we forget to mention Albert Einstein, who averaged eleven hours of sleep a night." 
~Max Lucado

From the learning rooms...Olivia is studying powers and exponents in Algebra, Sarah and Benjamin are reading "Selecting a President" (perfect timing!) in government, Katherine will be performing the ubiquitous science experiment with gelatin and fruit whose enzymes won't allow the gelatin to set. 
A heart of gratefulness...for my kids.  They continue to delight me as they blossom into the people God created them to be.  Hard to believe Sarah is a senior.  Where has the time gone? 
Cooking in the kitchen...we got our week started off right with Willow Bird's Maple Double Crumb Coffee Cake.  Then we made seven dozen peanut butter cookies for the Trauma Healing workshop that closes tomorrow.

A few plans for the rest of the week...trying to get the FAFSA finalized for Sarah and anticipating the Lavukal translation team arriving on the Kosco Wednesday night.  The guys will be here through Sunday, so Aaron will be super busy working with them and the rest of us will be busy cooking for them.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Friday Festivities

Tonight, our house filled with laughter as we once again welcomed friends around the table.

We've been hanging out with these ladies since we first came to the Solomon Islands, and they never fail to bring smiles to our faces and joy to our hearts.

They even braved the ships and came to visit us in Marulaon Village in 2010.

Now the spunky small one adds to the life and love, and we're so glad God gave us another opportunity to spend time together.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

International M&M challenge

We haven't seen our sweet friend, Joy, in way too long.  In fact, the last time we saw her was when she came to visit us in December 2009.  But God has a way of knitting hearts together across the miles!

While Joy and her husband prepare to move to Australia, they included us in the international M&M challenge.  It's a taste test including one package of Belgian M&Ms and one package of American M&Ms.  We've discovered that all kinds of brand name food and drink are made around the world, but one made in Papua New Guinea (Coke, for example) will taste very different from one made in America.

Our taste testing team was split right down the middle - half chose the Belgian M&Ms as their favorite and half chose the American chocolate.  And only half of us were able to correctly label the origin of the candy, as well.

I think more research is needed!  You can find the results of the challenge in a few weeks when all of the results from around the world are tallied on Joy's blog.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Around SITAG...

Even though we work in a tiny branch, SITAG always has something going on!  We are only the smallest part of the big picture of how God is working here.

Yesterday, Aaron and the kids picked up some colleagues from the airport and brought them back to SITAG.

 Some other colleagues are helping facilitate a Trauma Healing Workshop.

We get to help just a little by providing food for morning tea twice. 

And tomorrow we get to pick up even more colleagues at the airport.  We sure do love the team God has assembled here in the Solomon Islands, and we're thankful to be one piece of the puzzle.