Tuesday, November 18, 2014

No E-mails

Hello, friends!

I just wanted to give you a quick update. I have not received an e-mail from Joanna since Thursday. That is a pretty good indication that UUPlus is not working. Let’s get back to praying, friends! E-mail connection is a lifeline to this precious family, and that becomes especially true during the holiday season.

Thanks for the prayers!

~ Ann H.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Wednesday, November 12

I decided to stay inside to read my Bible this morning, since we got rain yesterday and the mosquitos would be busier today if I were on the porch.  As we head towards summer, the days are getting longer, and the sun is beginning to make its light known by 5:00.  So, the bell for morning prayer rings early, often around 5:50, meaning our whole family is up early. 

sunrise WED
Sarah came into my room about 6:00 saying, "Mama!  You've got to go outside and see the rainbow!"  Sure enough, a rainbow shone against the clouds in the west that promised more rain.  I never get bored of God's creativity.

Katherine blowing science experiments WED

Katherine's science experiment today was to test her lung capacity by blowing the water out of an upturned bottle.  The biggest available bottle I had was only 1.8 liters, but this little girl could blow it all out!

Edi & Katherine (WED)
Of course, everybody was pulled into the experiment, especially Edi.  We're so glad she is here to share life with us.

Edi & Katherine grinning WED

Market this morning was small, the only green thing that showed up was a small parcel of long green beans.  So before school started, Sarah and I traipsed off to the garden to see if any of our green beans or pineapple were ripe.  We found one ripe pineapple, but the ripe beans had the strangest thing all over them.  It looked like somebody had taken a tiny pair of nail scissors and neatly cut out each seed from several beans.

Green beans WED
I asked my friend Ofoaen what might have done that, and she told me that the culprit was the red parrots that are so beautiful.  Those stinkers!

Edi Playing
After school, the kids went out to play and took Edi along.  She has been quick to learn village games, and all of the kids love her.

Mama and baby WED
I came down to visit with neighbors and found my friend, Mai, and her little one resting in a hammock underneath the house where the kids were playing.  This mama has a sweet smile and a joy that every single one of her five children inherited.

Tuesday, November 11

A huge thank you to everybody who prayed for our trip to the police station in Yandina yesterday!  We got off a little bit later than we anticipated, but that meant that the sun wasn't quite so hot on our backs.  After 45 minutes on VERY calm seas, we arrived at the police station.  The guys stationed there knew we were coming because our hard-working director had called them.  Yandina used to be the center of a coconut plantation, so the village is equipped with both a cell-phone tower and a land line phone.  Unfortunately, the station didn't have the "police clearance" form we needed for our residence visa, so the policeman called the main police station in Honiara to see if we could use a regular fingerprint form.  The first person he talked to said we would have to come into Honiara because Yandina didn't have the forms.  But then, the policeman called a different department, and the officer there said that we could use the regular fingerprint forms.  I'm so thankful that people were praying for us!  The whole time the policeman in Yandina was on the phone with headquarters, we were on the cell phone with our SITAG director, finding out new details and bumps on the road to completing our visas. 

We watched the policeman fill in two forms for each of us.  By hand.  He got a kick out of the name of the "village" where I was born - Little Rock.  Then Aaron and I made a set of fingerprints for each form.  We were encouraged to hear lots of Lavukaleve around the police station.  Yandina has traditionally been a melting pot of people working on the coconut plantations.  My watch said five o'clock by the time we finished, and I asked what time they usually closed.  The answer - four thirty.  I was really glad that we brought banana cake as a thank you for these hard working policemen!
Then we headed off to Hae Village to find Matthew, one of the Lavukal translators, and Stanley, one of the members of the translation committee.  They didn't know we were coming.  Just as we pulled up to the beach, we heard a boat behind us, and up pulled several guys who had been campaigning for the upcoming elections.  Matthew and Stanley were both in the boat - God continued to work out the details of our trip!  Aaron was able to quickly chat with them to set up a meeting for the entire Lavukal Translation Committee to be held on November 21-22 in their village.

spider TUES

Last night it began to rain, a lovely soft rain, a little bit heavy at times, perfect for the rain tanks and for the garden.  I found a beautiful black and gold (Steelers fan?) spider among the pineapples next to the house.  And Katherine and I dug a small spot and planted some green bean seeds this morning, too.  It has rained all day long today.  Much needed as the rain refills our rain tanks and our souls.

Edi & Sarah singing TUES
Having Edi in the house has renewed our love for all things musical.  What a joy to hear her humming, to enjoy watching operas with her, and to observe her teaching Sarah voice every morning!

Edi & Sara TUES

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Saturday, November 8

Market this morning was wonderful!  Our friends are so gracious to bring us the fruits and veggies we need to keep our bodies strong and healthy.

market SAT(Joanna at market - photo credit to Edi)

After market, I had some great chances to visit with friends.  One of my friends wanted a sewing machine needle, one needed a band-aid, another wanted an onion.  I was also asked to give some material to make shorts for her grandson, and I got to check up on a friend to whom I gave medicine for tinea a few days ago.  We've had the opportunity to share lots of things in our short time in the village!  I also heard good feedback about our willingness to share banana cake with our neighbors, and I was able to remind my friends that sharing banana cake is a good way for me to say thank you for all of the ways my neighbors give to me.

Edi Scraping cocounut SAT
As always, Saturday means making lelenga at our house!  Edi got her first taste of scraping coconut - she did a great job.  In fact, she was scraping one after another until I warned her to stop so she didn't get blisters on her hands. 

Edi's hands SAT
We ran out of cassava close to the house, so Sarah, Edi, and I made a quick trip out to the bush garden to dig up a few more heaps.  While we were there, we found that a nice big pineapple we left to ripen had been taken in the last 36 hours.  I was a little bummed.  In the midst of making lelenga, we made lots and lots of copies for Fly Harbour School's exams next week.  Edi did most of the work, freeing up Aaron and me to work on other things.  I don't think Edi included scraping coconuts or making copies on her job description when she was getting ready to come to Marulaon Village, but we are so thankful she is here!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Friday, November 7

God gave us glassy, calm seas for today's adventure over to Karumulun Village.

Everyone in boat FRI
We arrived mid-morning and introduced Edi to everybody before thJanet & Julian FRIe kids whisked her off to play.  The ladies and I went to Janet and Ezekiel's house to record the stories of the boy Jesus in the temple and the temptation of Adam and Eve, while the men stayed in the little shelter next to Janet's kitchen.  Ezekiel's plans had changed, so he was available, and the translation committee chairman, Hiva, came over with us.  Aaron got to have a much-needed meeting with the committee members from Karumulun.

Aaron & Ezekiel FRI
After I finished with the recordings, we visited some about a book written by a former SITAG member.  This book, written in Pijin, is the story of a Solomon Island mother who is teaching her daughter about the changes she can expect in her body and how to glorify God with her body.  Every time the mom makes a point, she doesn't point to her own thinking, but to the Bible as the source of information.  We really need this book in Lavukaleve, and one of the Lavukal translators has crafted the first draft.  This will be the next project for the women in our area.  The more our neighbors can practice reading in their heart language, the more prepared they will be when the scriptures are finally translated.

Three ladies FRI
After all of the meetings were finished, the ladies who made the recordings graciously prepared a lunch of fish and rice for our family and the translation committee chairman.  Fish cooked in coconut milk is SO delicious!  Because all of the women who met today have names that begin with "J", we joked that we should form some sort of singing or dancing group.

Edi & Sima FRI
Edi made lots of little friends, and one of Ezekiel and Janet's grandchildren fell asleep on Edi's shoulder.

And another one of their grandchildren (they have thirteen so far) was a little bit frightened of me and would only peek around the post when I tried to take his picture.

FRI pic

We paddled back home mid-afternoon, and Aaron and I got right to work while the kids went out to play.  Our stapler wasn't working well, so I ended up hand-sewing the spines on the little Bible story booklets.  God continued to bless our day when I discovered that the man who had done the drawings for the story of creation was now a teacher at the local elementary school.  And, he happened to be at his parents' house in Marulaon today!  So, I gave him a copy of the story of temptation found in Genesis 3, and he promised to draw some pictures soon.  He and another teacher also requested us to make copies for each of the students taking an exam next week at school.  They provided a ream of paper to help.  Each of the exams has been written by hand, including drawings for science.  I can't even imagine writing out 16-20 tests by hand.

Olivia & Katherine in Canoe
While I was out and about, I checked on the kids who were swimming and paddling around.  I found my tender-hearted Benjamin rescuing a lizard from a canoe that had turned over and was full of water.  He was swimming toward shore with the lizard propped on his hand while the canoe and paddle drifted away.  So, Olivia and Katherine went to rescue the canoe!

Moon Rise FRI
Our day finished well, too.  After church, I was visiting with Margaret, and as we walked back to the house in the dusk, I noticed that the moon was just rising blazing red over the horizon.  I ran up to the house and interrupted the others who were singing, and we all stood in awe in the dark as the moon continue to come up.


The Lord was with us every step of the way yesterday.  Seas were flat, and since we didn't leave until 3:00, the sun wasn't too fierce.  We arrived at the police station at 3:45 to find that they expected us because our director had called.  However, they didn't have the "police clearance" form, only the regular fingerprint form.  Yandina used to be the center of a huge coconut plantation that collapsed with the ethnic tension, but they have a land line phone.  So, the officer was able to call the main police station in Honiara.  The first person he called told him that Aaron and I would have to come into Honiara to get our fingerprints on the correct form.  Then, our new friend called a different department and got permission to use the regular fingerprint form :-) 

After we got our fingerprints, we putted over to Hae Village to look for a Lavukal translator and a member of the translation committee.  A meeting is scheduled in Hae for November 21-22, and we needed to clarify some things with them.  We pulled up to shore and stepped out, and seconds later another canoe pulled in from political campaigning with the two guys we wanted!  Aaron was able to talk to them while I handed out roasted local nuts to the kids, and we zoomed off to Marulaon a short time later.

The kids did great while we were gone, Sarah grated coconut to complete the soup I had ready to go before we left, they brought in the shower bags, made it to evening prayer, and were singing hymns with Edi playing the guitar when Aaron and I walked up the steps to the house.

The fingerprinting is only one of several steps toward the renewal of our permits, so please continuing praying for every piece to fall into place.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Prayer Request

Due to a lack of personnel in the SITAG office, our residence permits expired in October.  Our hard-working director has filed for a 21-day extension, but Aaron and I still have to get the police clearance and finger prints finished before our paperwork is considered completed.  This afternoon (around 10 p.m. Central Standard Time Sunday night), we will take a 45 minute motor canoe ride to the nearest police station in Yandina.  Aaron will also use this opportunity to stop by Hae Village and visit with Matthew, one of the Lavukal translators.  We're so thankful that Edi is here at this time to help!  Please pray for us as we travel and for the paperwork to be completed so the residence permits can be renewed quickly.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Thursday, November 6

IMG_3775 - Copy (267x400)
One of our favorite coffee shops is in Texas, White Rhino Coffee House.  Edi brought a bag of "Texas Delight" coffee, sent by my friend from church, Margaret.  We ground the coffee and began enjoying it today - a little taste of "home", thanks!

White Rhino mugs

After church last night, Edi asked my friend Hilda if she preferred singing hymns in English or Lavukaleve.  Lately our services have been almost entirely in English, and English is a "high" language in this country.  We've been working to help raise the prestige of Lavukaleve, because it really is the heart language of our neighbors and communicates better than any other language.  So, I was very happy to hear Hilda response to Edi.  Hilda said she preferred to use Lavukaleve, and then she gave a specific example of one of the hymns that has been translated from English to Lavukaleve.  Her words were a real encouragement for all of the work we are doing here.

Marulaon Woman's Daybook

Marulaon house
Just for today...Monday, November 3

Edi cleaning books MONAround the house...we began cleaning each of the school books today.  The biggest chore is not reading while we clean!  Edi has a such a servant heart.

From the kitchen...crab!  One of Olivia's friends sent up a plate of crab - with the legs all pulled off. 

crab MON

Edi got to try a new food tonight and had to figure out which part was the correct part to eat.  She's such a good sport.

Opening crabs MON

A heart of thankfulness...that the rain tanks have made it to the school.  The plans have changed, though, and our whole family will be present for the official "hand over" at the school graduation on November 28.

Rain tanks SUN

From the learning rooms...I love the way Sonlight's Cores often correspond in their studies, all three of my older kids are studying genetics this week in various levels of difficulty.  We've pulled out the wonderful picture book "Gregor Mendel:  The Friar Who Grew Peas"  by Cheryl Bardoe, so Katherine can follow along, too.

Pondering these words..."Spending my time sighing over what I've given up doesn't impress God; obeying Him with joy does."  ~Joshua Harris

A few plans for the rest of the week...making lots of banana muffins to share with our neighbors and paddling over to Karumalun to record some Bible stories on Friday.

A peek into my corner of the world...I took Edi to the small spit of white sand beach on our island and she got to experience starfish for the first time.

Edi & Starfish SUN

Monday, November 3, 2014

Saturday, November 2

Late yesterday afternoon, Edi and I were walking around the village meeting people when Hensi asked if Aaron would be attending the celebrations at the school for All Saints' Day.  None of us had planned to attend, but evidently the school's headmaster had wanted Aaron to come so he could do the official handover for the rain tanks from us to the school. 

Edi opening a coconut SAT
After talking it over, Aaron and I decided it would be a very culturally appropriate thing for him to do.  So, for the second morning in a row, Aaron left the house while it was still a little dark outside and walked to the school to participate in the festivities.  The rest of us stayed home to teach Edi how to cut open coconuts, harvest cassava, and make cassava pudding.

Edi & Benjamin SAT
She was a champ at trying new things, and our kids were fabulous teachers.  Edi got to use Aaron's bush knife since he was on the other end of the island.  She hacked open coconuts.  She pulled up cassava and chopped it off the stalk. 

Edi & Knife SAT
Edi got dirty and sweaty with the rest of us and made everybody in the village love her because she was willing to jump into their lifestyle.

Edi & Kathering SAT
She even learned to peel cassava and scrape it without scraping her fingers in the process (something I still don't do well!).  We decided that she had a little more time to learn how to scrape coconut.

Edi & Sarah SAT
Aaron got home early in the afternoon and finished squeezing the scraped coconut for us.  The kids whisked Edi away to learn how to play village games while Aaron and I finished getting things ready to cook the cassava pudding.  We're really enjoying having an extra member of the family!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Friday, October 31

The day we've been anticipating for months finally arrived, and Aaron left around 5:00 this morning to go pick up Edi from the tip of Guadalcanal.  Our amazing SITAG colleagues picked her up from the airport yesterday and took really good care of her before they brought her to meet the motor canoe from Marulaon.

Edi arriving FRI
We can still hardly believe that God has allowed us so many visitors this year, or that Edi actually WANTED to come live with us for a month.  The canoe arrived in Marulaon a little bit after noon, and we have enjoyed talking Edi's ear off, showing her around the village, and generally flooding her with information.

Katherine giving Edi flower necklace
Please be in prayer for Edi as she adjusts to Melanesian culture and to our family culture.  We're excited to see things through new eyes.  She and I walked around the village a little bit, handing out gum sent by a sweet church staff wife in Texas, playing with children, and answering everybody's questions as they tried out their English on her.

Edi & Baby Muna
We just think that Edi is one of the neatest people we've ever met, and we love the way that Jesus shines through her!

Thursday, October 30

"Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.  Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.  Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples."  Psalm 96:1-3

IMG_3534 - Copy (267x400)
Today has been a day to enjoy the wonders of God's creation!  Aaron climbed up on the roof this morning because he needed to reconnect some of the water pipes that gravity feed into the house to give us running water.  While he was up there, he found a perfectly sheltered birds nest.

Aaron on roof THURS
Normally, we would have tried to preserve the nest and the beautiful blue eggs he found inside, but these birds are nesting on our roof which gives us our water supply.  Our neighbors call this kind of bird "rubbish" birds, and they really do make a mess.  So, Aaron tore out the nest and let the kids see the beautiful eggs.  As Aaron worked on the hot roof, God sent some great clouds to shadow the roof and cool it down.  And just as Aaron finished working, the clouds let loose with some rain.

clams THURS
Last night, some of our friends gave us three big clamshells, thankfully, they were already cleaned.  Today, I cut them up into little pieces and we enjoyed some soup at lunch.  They aren't very pretty to look at, but they sure taste good.

Kingfisher THURS
As we were cleaning up the lunch dishes, Sarah noticed a beautiful blue kingfisher sitting in a kino tree on the other side of our outdoor kitchen.  So I ran for my camera, and the bird was patient enough to wait for me to take some pictures before it flew off.  Here in Marulaon, we have so many beautiful examples of God's creation.  I hope we never get accustomed to the plants and animals that display His splendor!

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.