Friday, August 29, 2008

Pacific Orientation Course

Family and friends,
There is so much we could tell you! Our 37 hour trip to the other side of the world went well. The children were great, and God gave us many blessings along the way. Thank you for your prayers for our travels. We also were excited to spend a few days with some friends in the southern part of PNG. We got to experience a bit of the rainy season there, and the kids had fun in the rain. Our friends serve in the Maritime Ministries here in PNG, and they helped us learn a lot about water safety on an island outing we took last Friday.
This week has been orientation week at POC. We are all settling into our classes, making new friends, and learning to sleep under mosquito nets. We started our Tok Pisin lessons today. Our camera is currently broken, so we will be getting photos to you as soon as we get the camera issue worked out. Please pray for our wisdom in decisions like replacing our camera, good brain power for our language learning, and physical stamina for things like hikes and ocean swimming.
We received our first snail mail letters this week – what a treat! Because of the large number of students here, we have limited time on the internet. So even though we may not be able to always tell you, we appreciate your prayers and your encouragement more and more every day.
Lukim yu (see you)

"He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure." Isaiah 33:6

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Alotau, Papua New Guinea

Not a lot of time to write, we're leaving early in the morning to catch a plane. But I wanted to share pics of our trip to Boiaboiawaga, an island off of the East Cape of Papua New Guinea, as well as some of the other things we've been learning this week in Alotau.

Sarah learned how to scrape a coconut.

Aaron practicing with a bag designed to hold in body heat for survival in the water.

A lady from East Cape village who took a fancy to Katherine (notice her red lips from chewing betel nut)

Sarah's new friend (can you believe it?)

Jumping into the Pacific Ocean from the top of the boat

Notice the beautiful clear water and the blue star fish - the island was fabulous!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Week in Review 2

Around 4:00 a.m., we made some more memories when Aaron pulled Olivia's first tooth somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. We landed in Fiji around 4:30 and watched the Lord work in our favor yet again. We couldn't find our baggage claim checks from all of the chaos in Fiji, so the lady behind the counter had pity on our sleepy family. Instead of having to pick up all of our luggage and recheck it through security, she checked it all the way through to Port Moresby, Papua New Guninea. Woohoo! We watched the sun rise over the mountains of Fiji as we waited for the next flight.

After a very pleasant flight, we arrived in Honiara, Solomon Islands for a very brief stop to pick up more passengers. We only had time to stop by the restrooms once (again) before we had the leave our beautiful new home for the next leg of our journey. However, we were surprised to find some of our colleagues boarding the plane with us! Another family serving in the Solomons was also travelling and spending the night in the guest house in Port Moresby, so we took the opportunity to get to know them a little better when we arrived. We took an SIL bus from the airport to the guest house, and who should greet us coming out the door but our next door neighbor from Dallas! The Lord knew we needed to see a familiar face and get some hugs upon our arrival in Papua New Guinea. We settled in, ate some supper, and went to bed on Papua New Guinea time.

The next morning, the kids enjoyed playing with some new friends on the trampoline and playground at the guesthouse while the grownups sat and learned as much as we could about the Solomons and our upcoming training at POC. After lunch, we took the SIL bus back to the airport and went through the process of checking in all of our baggage. We noticed a big difference between the airports in PNG and those in the States - the flights aren't called over the intercom! There is just a little screen that tells you which flight is boarding. When the words "BOARDING" flash up on the screen next to your flight, you'd better be paying attention! This makes the waiting area much quieter (and nicer for sleeping babies). Whole sections of the seats just empty all of the sudden!

Our flight to Alotau was brief and uneventful (and not a little bit hot!). Katherine slept the whole way in my arms with a cool infant seat belt attachment. Our friends met us in the rain to drive us to the SIL center in Alotau. They also have four children almost the exact same ages as our kids, and he is involved in the maritime ministry in this part of Papua New Guinea (as well as the acting center director).

To be continued...

Week in Review

WOW! The last week has been amazing! I've had some trouble getting pictures to post, so let me just tell you how we've spent the last week, and later I'll try again with the pictures. Blogging takes a lot longer on this side of the world.

We left Memphis on Saturday, and the kids were such troopers! Our families were granted boarding passes, so they were able to see us off at the gate. What a treat! When we flew into LA late Saturday night, our plane was late, so we hustled to pick up our luggage to transfer to an international flight. We waited a while, picked up two of our action packers, and then we waited some more. Finally, we asked about the luggage and were told that the "oversized" baggage came into a different place! So Aaron went to find the rest of our luggage, and our wonderful kids loaded up with their backpacks and luggage carriers. When Aaron returned, we began our wagon train of Choates through the LA airport: Aaron in the lead pushing two action packers and some carry-ons, followed by Benjamin pushing another two action packers. Olivia and Sarah (carrying Katherine) came next, and I brought up the rear pushing the last of the luggage. We filed through the buildings until we finally found the Air Pacific counter.

Here's where we began to see the Lord work in even more small miracles! Eleven of our twelve locks had broken on the action packers, but we only had an hour until our plan was to leave. So we hurriedly checked in, where we were informed that our luggage was quite overweight. Thankfully, the sweet lady at the counter waived our fee (maybe it was the tired looks on our faces - our bodies thought it was 12:30 a.m.), and pointed us in the right direction. We were at her mercy for our seats on the 10 1/2 hour flight to Fiji, but we didn't pause to look at our seating assignments, we just waded through security and ran as fast as we could to our gate. No time to buy new locks, either! We arrived at the gate as they were boarding, so we all quickly filed through the restrooms and loaded the plane. Imagine our amazement when we found our seats and discovered that the Lord had provided a bulkhead row for the girls with the boys only a section over and behind us! Katherine got her own little basinet and slept beautifully on the majority of the plane flight.

To be continued...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

These are a few of my favorite things...

We are walking out the door in just a few minutes, but I wanted to share just a few more pics of our time with family in Conway.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you, tomorrow...

Tomorrow is the big day! We have been training for six years...all pointing toward tomorrow when we step on the plane and fly out to the place God has carved just for us. I still hope to post some more pictures from our last week in Conway, but since I don't have access to those right now, I did want to share this website.

You can track our flights if you are interested, and I think you should be able to watch video as well. The times are local.

FL 524 leaves 1:13 p.m. August 16th - from Memphis
FL 40 leaves 6:51 p.m. August 16th - from Atlanta
FJ 811 leaves 11:30 p.m. August 16th - from Los Angeles
PX 85 leaves 10:00 a.m. August 18th - from Fiji
PX 85 leaves 1:40 p.m. August 18th - from Honiara
PX 158 leaves 4:00 p.m. August 19 - from Port Moresby

We'll spend a few days in Alotau, Papua New Guinea with friends while our bodies adjust to a new time zone. Then we'll fly back up to Port Moresby to catch a plane to Madang where our Pacific Orientation Course will be held.

PX 955 leaves 7:20 a.m. August 24 - from Alotau
PZ 112 leaves 12:40 p.m. August 24 - from Port Moresby

Our communcation will be limited, but we will try to e-mail and blog when we can. Please keep your messages short with no attachments. Time to hit the sack, tomorrow will be long but sweet.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Conway, Arkansas

Last week, we visited Aaron's mom who celebrated a different holiday each day! The kids were so excited to wake up and discover how the table was set. Mimmie even came over and helped us celebrate.

Proud mama and son

Somehow, I missed any pictures of Papa. I guess he was always behind the camera like I was.

On the day we celebrated everyone's birthdays, Nahna bought mylar balloons for each person in our family. The next day, we attached our information for the Solomon Islands and let the balloons float away. We hope to hear from whomever finds our balloons!

Carlisle, Arkansas

Last Sunday, August 3, we visited at Woodland Heights Baptist Church (in Conway, Arkansas) in the morning and Pleasant Grove Baptist Church (in Carlisle, Arkansas) in the evening.

My uncle happens to be the pastor in Carlisle. They had never seen Katherine, so there were lots of hugs and kisses as she was passed around.

Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Aaron served at his first church in Pine Bluff, so we went back to visit some families whose kids we taught at church and in school orchestra. Their kids are grown up and getting married now!

We also had a blast catching up with some of the orchestra teachers who brought us under their wings as we started our first teaching jobs.

Our 90+ year old landlord wouldn't let us take a picture of her because she had her hair in rollers, but she did allow Katherine to hang out in a rocking chair that belonged to her son. What a treat to go back and see the little house where we added Sarah and Benjamin to our family. Today happens to be the eighth anniversary of the TREE.

Our last day in Pine Bluff, we enjoyed breakfast with another old friend who has watched three generations of women grow up in my family.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Bartlett, Tennessee

On the Choate side of the family, there are five birthdays in July (and three anniversaries!). So, we always have a big birthday bash.

We got to feed the geese at the pond and admire the new gosling.

Four generations of Choate men.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

More Memphis

Another one of our many adopted families housed for several days while we were in Memphis last week.
They helped us celebrate Sarah's birthday...
...and taught Katherine to clean up.
We also learned how to make omelets in a bag while we were there.