Thursday, December 31, 2009

More Baison pictures

Our family stopped for a picnic of trail mix on top of a hill overlooking Fly Harbour.
Aaron carrying the bag of umalau to give to our friends in Baison.

Pictures from Baison

Notice the canoes paddling into the oncoming rain on the left
The two Olivias - both of them firecrackers!
Katherine and her best village friend, Doris
Aaron storying with Olivia's oldest son

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Marulaon Woman's Daybook

For Today...Thursday, December 31

Outside my window...magnificent sun rising, breeze blowing, the village is waking up, small children collecting molokita that fell to the ground with the wind during the night

I am thinking...about how much we need prayer for wise living and making the most of every opportunity as we try to understand what the Lord's will is in each situation we encounter here in Marulaon (Eph. 5:15-17)

From the learning rooms...Christmas break from school, but we're still learning how to cook foods like our neighbors and use our outdoor kitchen
I am thankful for...our sweet friend, Joy, who has tackled every new challenge with gusto in spite of a cold.  She has been such a blessing to our family:  celebrating Christmas, playing with the kids, mending stacks of clothes, encouraging us and making us laugh.

From the kitchen...lemon poppyseed muffins and yogurt pops for breakfast, leftovers for lunch, and chili with cornbread for supper

I am wearing...cotton pajamas and a ponytail as I sit on our porch

I am reading...still absorbing E.M. Bounds thoughts on prayer and being convicted on every page

I am hoping...and praying for calm seas and an uncrowded "Bikoi" next Tuesday

Around the house...Christmas decorations coming down a little bit early, packing up and cleaning in preparation for leaving Marulaon on January 5
Pondering these words..."The Word of God is the fulcrum upon which the lever of prayer is placed, and by which things are mightily moved."  E.M. Bounds

One of my favorite things...hearing the rain fall and fill up the rain tanks - we like to think of it as "give us this day our daily rain"

A few plans for the rest of the week...packing, big New Year's celebration with feasting and dancing on Friday, lots of cleaning as we prepare the house to be closed for seven weeks

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...
Joy and one of my favorite babies in Marulaon.  Rockleaf (that really is his name) always has a smile and lets me cart him around on my hip.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Monday, December 28
Today, Pogo helped Joy and me make kora.  It's a type of lelenga very similar to scalloped potatoes.  You prepare the "rumit" (thick coconut milk - about ten coconut's worth) like you do for lelenga, but instead of scraping the obikola, you slice the umalau very thinly.  Tonight, the village had a going away party for the bamboo band that came for Christmas.  So after prayer the bell rang to let everyone know that the party was starting and Joy and I took the kora down.
Several of our family and friends have asked why we wanted an outside kitchen.  We wanted to be able to cook some of the same dishes that our friends cook, and they can only be cooked in the motu - hot stones surrounding the food.  However, I don't cook in the outside kitchen everyday.  We have a stove inside the house for everyday cooking.  When we were in Papua New Guinea, we cooked over an open fire every day.  Although I know how to use the outdoor kitchen, it's much easier and faster not to have to split firewood, make a fire, and cook everything outside.
Tuesday, December 29
This morning we walked a little more than two miles over to show Joy Fly Harbour school where the kids from Marulaon go to school.  Then we walked a little bit more to Baison, the village at the end of Marulaon island.  We've recently befriended a cousin of Felta's who lives at the very tip of the island, so we walked over to her house and took a bag of umalau from our garden.  We sat and storied for a while, then we noticed rain coming from the east.  It crossed Marulaon (I had left my laundry on the line), then it came toward us as it showered four small canoes paddling against the wind.  We scurried underneath the house to wait out the quick shower.  Felta has been staying with this cousin and helping in the garden.  Doris was there even though Felta had paddled away to the mainland for the day.  Katherine was thrilled to see her!  The cousin sent us home with a papaya and two breadfruit.  We headed back for the long walk and finally arrived back home around 3:00 p.m.  Katherine fell asleep in her Daddy's arms on the way home.  When we arrived, I found that Eileen had asked her daughter to move our clothes underneath the house.  What a great friend!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Another Christmas

Saturday, December 26th
Today, we celebrated Christmas American style and Thomas finished our kitchen.  After morning prayer and market, we enjoyed gingerbread waffles, hot apple cider and hot chocolate while Aaron read from our Advent book.  Then, he read some more from Dickens' "Christmas Carol".  The kids then handed out their presents.  Sweet things like:  Benjamin connected three handmade potholders to make a coffee cup cozy for Aaron's favorite mug, Sarah sewed a cover for Aaron's computer using squares of material, Olivia drew lots of pretty pictures as gifts.  Each child has worked for weeks to make just the right gift for each of their family members (including Joy).  Joy surprised us by bringing gifts from our POC friends in Papua New Guinea!  We were humbled that people we hadn't seen in over a year would take the time to send such thoughtful gifts.  We were abundantly blessed by the amount of gifts under the tree, and we still have several boxes waiting for us in Honiara.  A big thanks to those of you who cared about us and showed us with your generous care packages. 
The biggest gift of all came at dusk when the Lord brought the rain!  Sarah ran to tell our neighbors to bring buckets, pots, whatever they had.  We filled the washing machine and all of our buckets and still filled every container that our friends brought to hold underneath the downspout.  When we were finished, kids lined up to take a shower!  Thank you for your prayers for rain.  Our big tank is now about 2/3 full, and we are still being very careful with our water usage. 
Our kitchen is finally finished, and everyone around us keeps telling us how nice it is.  Melissa and Pogo even said they wanted to come sleep in it.  Aaron worked on sewing the leaf earlier this week, and the kids loved to climb around inside before it was all finished.  We're planning to use it at least a couple of times each week as we hone our culinary skills here in Marulaon.

Christmas Day


Friday, December 25
Christmas Day began early with the bells ringing in the dark to awaken everyone for prayer.  The service was a long one with all of the bells and whistles, and the girls and I were ushered up to the front where the leaders of the community were seated.  Extra boards had been laid on the floor in the back and along the sides of the building so everyone could have a place to sit in the very full church.  Katherine and I ended up leaving the service to join the other mothers with small children who were standing outside to watch the service.  She loves everyone she meets and chatted away with some of the other children her age.

After church, Melissa and Pogo came back again to help us remove our parcels of lelenga from the motu.  We loaded them into a basket and took them over the area for feasting and dancing.  Sticks had been cut and lumber laid on top of them to form tables all around the edges of the square.  Banana leaves were laid on top of the tables.  All of the food was sorted into piles of lelenga parcels and fish parcels and a small amount of rice parcels.  Then it was distributed evenly around the tables.  The women and girls from Marulaon (including Sarah) spaced themselves around the tables and waved the flies away until it was time to eat.  We were asked to come join the table where the village chiefs were eating.  After the prayer, everyone stood and ate with their fingers.  Again the cleanup was easy, just throw away your leaf!

When everyone was finished eating, the speeches began.  One of the leaders asked Aaron to make a speech to introduce our family and let everyone know why we were here.  Each of the leaders made a speech, then the dancing began.  It was beautiful and fun and joyous!  Each village had group of men, a group of married women, and a group of young girls dance.  Everything finally finished up around 4:30 that afternoon.
Our water supply is very low in Marulon.  The big tank at the clinic was emptied today, and only one other tank in the village besides ours still holds water.  The chief is keeping tank locked.  We've had a few friends come and ask for water this evening, how can we say no?  We are continuing to pray for rain, lots of it.

More Christmas Eve

Thursday, December 24...continued
We finally got a little bit of rain today, so we quickly grabbed buckets and held them underneath our one downspout with no rain tank.  We filled enough buckets for one load of clothes, but we still need lots more rain.  Aaron has started locking the big rain tank because people are coming at night while we are asleep and taking water.
After we finished putting the lelenga and umalau in the motu, I took a quick shower (I had coconut milk all over me) and headed down with the family to welcome the other villages.  We watched the canoes accumulate in the ocean just off the shore and everyone from Marulaon began dancing and singing along with the PVC pipe band.  It was a beautiful and joyful noise!  While everyone was still singing, the canoes began to come ashore.  Suddenly, four young men wearing traditional dress and holding bamboo poles came running down to the shore.  They shouted at the people in the canoe and slapped the water with their poles.  I asked one of the ladies what was going on, and she said it was a traditional welcome.  I'm glad they didn't welcome us this way!  One of the village leaders asked if he could borrow our woven mat that we had purchased from his sister to provide a place to sleep for a guest, so he followed us home to grab the mat.
After everyone was distributed to their host houses, we all attended the Christmas Eve services at church around 6:00.  Then Pogo and Melissa came by to help us take our umalau out of the motu and deliver it to the visitors.  We're part of Group 2, the middle section of the village, so we took our 9 x 13 pan overflowing with umalau and watched as our food was distributed evenly across the table covered with leaves.  Eventually, all of the food was set out and everyone was able to get a leaf plate with a little bit of everything on it.  Talk about easy cleanup!
About 9:00 p.m. the bell rang again, and all of us walked down the hill to listen to the Christmas caroling.  Aaron is part of Marulaon's choir, and they sang first.  We sat on our mat and listened as a group from each village sang several Christmas carols.  While each group sang, those in the audience walked up to small table and laid down small gifts for the members of the choir.  Thanks to our sweet neighbors, we knew to expect this, so we brought bags with sugar, tea, and coffee mix inside.  Everybody finished a little before 11:00, and we dragged ourselves back up to hill to await the early bell for Christmas morning.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Even more lelenga

Each family was supposed to bring 30 parcels of lelenga and 30 parcels of fish.  Since we didn't have any fish, we prepared almost 60 parcels of lelenga.

more lelenga


Christmas Eve and Lelenga

Thursday, December 24
Today we began our preparations for the big Christmas dinner tomorrow.  Just after breakfast, we began scraping coconut (we ended up scraping 24 in all) and obikola and peeling umalau.  We'll cook our parcels of lelenga on the bottom of the motu and put our umalau on top.  Then, we'll share the umalau for supper tonight and save the lelenga for tomorrow.
Melissa came about 9 a.m. to help, and Pogo showed up soon afterward.  Our porch was full of scraping and peeling and laughing!  To prepare the umalau, we took spoon  handles and carved out holes in the umalu.  Then we filled the holes with the "rumit" (coconut milk) that we had boiled and then put the scraped out umalau back in the hole.  When we put the umalau in the trays, we poured the leftover rumit on top.  We've made lelenga several times, and we're beginning to become familiar with how to make it.  But we've never made it in small parcels.  So, Pogo taught us how to take two leaves, pour in two spoonfuls, fold the leaves and tear a little bit of leaf to wrap around and tie the parcel.  We took a popcorn break (see the picture with Pogo and Melissa show off their bowls), and Joy played with some of the neighbor kids.  They loved the stickers she brought! 
We took the stones to our new kitchen and set up the oven while the guys worked around us.  Melissa made all of the small children leave while the stones heated.  Because this was the first time the stones were heated, they popped and broke and threw small pieces of hot rock around the kitchen.  When the coconut husks and wood were reduced to ashes, the stones glowed with heat and we put the lelenga in the "oven".  It was mid-afternoon, about time for the other villages to arrive, so Melissa and Pogo quickly cleaned the porch while we cleaned up the dishes.

More gardening

The tall bushes in the back are obikola.  When the leaves turn yellow and fall off, they are ripe.  We were told to leave the other ones to get really big while we are in Honiara.

Fishing and gardening

Tuesday, December 22
Melissa took Joy and me fishing today while my sweet husband stayed home and taught the kids again.  I had asked Grace if we could borrow her big canoe, so around 8 a.m. Melissa came by the house to get us.  She showed me how to tie my fishing line, and we grabbed the paddles and headed over to Grace's.  When we got there, we learned that Chief Leonard had borrowed the canoe that morning.  While we waited, Melissa showed us how to crush the shells to get to the kokovan (hermit crabs) inside.  We found lots of mama crabs with eggs - I didn't like that too much.  After we took off the shells, we ripped off each leg to leave the body for bait.  I didn't like that either.   After we finished preparing the bait, we began to fish from the shore.  Lots of laughter rang through the air as we tried to keep from tangling our line.  The wind was brisk, so we went to fish around the corner of the point (where the water becomes Fly Harbour instead of the Pacific Ocean).  Melissa caught two small squid.  One of them inked her as she yanked it out of the water!
Melissa decided to get her small canoe since the big canoe was still gone, so Joy and I continued to practice our casting.  About the time Melissa came back with her canoe, the chief showed up with his big canoe.  So, we all loaded up into the big one and paddled out into the harbour.  I had never sat with the board on top of the canoe.  Last time I went, we put the board down inside the canoe.  It was a whole new balancing act and oblique workout!  I was in front this time as lead paddler and anchor mover.  Joy sat in the middle, and Melissa steered from the back.  The first place we tried, the fish didn't like our bait.  So, we hoisted anchor (a challenge to my balancing) and tried another spot.  In the second spot, the fish liked our "all you can eat buffet".  We watched the fish through the very clear water.  They knew how to nibble the bait without taking the hook - it was so frustrating!  But we ended up with 17 small fish.  Joy caught 2, I caught 3, and Melissa caught the rest. 
We headed back toward shore, but about 20 yards from shore we finally lost the battle of the balancing and turned over the canoe.  Thankfully, the three of us were the only things that fell out of the canoe - our fish and equipment stayed in.  I hung on to the front of the canoe and kicked while Joy and Melissa (the expert swimmers) pushed the canoe from behind.  We soon touched bottom and pulled the canoe up to shore.  As I dripped my way back to the house to fetch the knife, many women asked "Did you catch lots of fish?".  We soon had the fish cleaned and headed back home to eat a very late lunch and take a shower.
Wednesday, December 23
Melissa helped us harvest one patch of umalau and some of our obikola today.  The ground was really dry (still no rain), so the root crops were difficult to extract from the ground.  For the obikola (cassava), you just hack off the trunk, then pull out the roots (it's harder than it looks).  We only needed two obikola to make lelenga tomorrow, but we had LOTS of umalau.  After we finished harvesting, the kids and I finished school and Melissa weeded.  Christmas break starts tomorrow, and we'll celebrate by making lelenga!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Motu Stones

Monday, December 21
Last night the choir practiced again and more groups practiced their dances to very loud music played on PVC pipe.  Aaron sang with the choir, then he headed over to watch and learn from the dancing until midnight.  I think the Christmas festivities have begun.
Joy and I left around 9:30 this morning to go find motu stones on the big island of Pavuvu.  With a motor and a big canoe, our trip took about 1 1/2 hours.  Several others (including Sarah Kiko) came with us to pick up stones, too.  First, we stopped at the chief's wife's parent's house, picked up one of the chief's sons, and chatted with them for a little bit.  Then, the canoe headed up a river until it got too small and we had to get out and pull the boat.  We began looking for rocks and checked to see if they were solid by banging them on another rock.  The stream was beautiful and cold!  The tide began to come up while we searched for stones, and the river rose rapidly.  Most of our neighbors took advantage of the freshwater and took a dip before we turned the canoe around and headed back.  Once we got back to the mouth of the river, we again stopped to visit and eat some cassava.  Before we headed home, we received some green beans, tomatoes, starfruit, and a crab.  We got home with a very heavy boat around 4:30.  I'm really tired, and I have a sunburn, but my kitchen is closer to complete, and it was a great day!

Sunday, December 20

Sunday, December 20
What a busy, exciting day!  We celebrated Benjamin's 9th birthday today.  He asked for baked French toast for breakfast, grilled ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch, chocolate cake with coffee ice cream and pepperoni pizza (with American pizza sauce!) for supper.  We also enjoyed playing Loot, a new card game.
Today, the married women and the "young girls" (anywhere from Sarah's age through adult) continued to practice their dancing for Christmas.  Two girls came and got Sarah to go practice with them.  She did a great job of following their continually moving feet!  Each group practice in the shade to get out of the hot sun, so the pictures are backlit, but everyone seemed to have a great time.  I saw lots of smiles and heard lots of laughing.
Our friend Joy arrived on a very full Bikoi today.  She said that the Bikoi staff was moving people around to balance the boat because it was so full.  We met Joy at POC last year, and she has remained a very special friend.  It's a good thing she's not afraid of adventure!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

catching up

Oh, it's nice to be almost healthy again!  I'm amazed at how much I take good health for granted.  We've been trucking along with school and language learning.  Last Friday, Aaron participated in a community cleanup to hack through the bush behind the church.  It turned into a lovely clearing shaded by towering trees.  From some of the trees that were cut down, short logs were set on end to create seating for the Christmas program arena.
One afternoon early this week, I was visiting with Eileen when several neighborhood boys carried up a big sea turtle from the shore.  I hustled to get Aaron so he could learn how they catch and prepare the turtle.  Later that evening, we enjoyed some yummy turtle soup!
Thomas started our kitchen Monday, but he hasn't been back since.  He is Felta's brother, and she has asked our family to pray for him.  He has converted to Islam.  Would you please pray for the Lord to soften his heart toward Jesus again ?  Eileen told me that Thomas was cutting poles to put on our roof to hold the leaves in place.  We're hoping he can finish the kitchen quickly because I need some practice before cooking for all of the Christmas guests.  Marulaon is expecting hundreds of visitors next week as all of the villages in our district come to celebrate Christmas together.
Our front rain tank is empty again, so we again ask for your prayers, especially with the extras coming next week.  Everyone in Marulaon has been working hard to prepare for the visitors.  I've seen lots of sleeping mats being made, the weeding and burning has increased, and Melissa came to borrow thread because she was making a pillow from Kapok seeds for her guests.  Nobody knows for sure who will stay with them.  Our village is divided into three groups, and each group will care for specific villages.  The umalau and obikola that I planted last summer will be harvested next week to help provide food for the extra Lavukal, and everybody has been bringing extra coconuts and root crops home to feed extra mouths.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today...Monday, December 14, 2009

Outside my window...really dark with no moon, the church is lit with a kerosene lantern for Christmas choir practice and Aaron is singing with them
I am thinking...about our "glass house" again.  Maybe it's just because we've been here seven weeks.  I'm thankful that a few people are comfortable enough to come by our house at any hour of the day (even if they intentionally wait until after dark so nobody will see them ask us for things).

From the learning rooms...We started Cores 5 and K today!  The material is fun, especially since we are studying the Pacific Islands right now.  Our school day just expanded by more than an hour, though.
I am thankful body finally crawling out from under this cold after being sick for almost a week.

From the kitchen...campers oats again for breakfast tomorrow, local food for supper (fresh tuna, green beans, eggplant, and umalau - all milked!)

I am wearing...cotton pajamas and sitting under a fan that Aaron rigged over the bed

I am reading...lots of Christmas picture books with the kids

I am hoping...that's Benjamin's birthday will be a special celebration
Pondering these words..."An earthbound, earth-satisfied spirit cannot pray." E.M Bounds

Around the house...prints of some of Monet's paintings, the third candle lit on our Advent wreath, the book basket filling up with a new Christmas picture book every day

One of my favorite things...Christmas carols sung by my children and accompanied by my husband on guitar

A few plans for the rest of the week...finishing the outdoor kitchen, going with Sarah Kiko to find the stones for my motu, community cleanup for Christmas, choir practice for Christmas, a friend coming on the Bikoi to spend Christmas with us, Benjamin's 9th birthday next Sunday

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...
Aaron helping the guys dig the holes to sink the posts for our kitchen

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Point Six Market

Wednesday, December 9
At six o'clock this morning, Melissa surprised me by knocking on my door and asking if I was ready to go to market.  I didn't even know she was going with us!  I finished gathering my things, and the two of us walked down to Grace's house.  When we got to Grace, we found that her sister-in-law had borrowed her big canoe, so we got to travel in the small canoe.  We loaded our things (including my 3 dozen banana muffins) and began to paddle over a still sea.  The water was only inches below the edge of the canoe. 
When we arrived at Pipisala after our short paddle, I found my legs had gone to sleep sitting crosslegged in the canoe, so I had a little bit of trouble getting out of the boat.  Rows and rows of beautiful coconut plantations greeted my eyes.  We walked through them for about a mile and then arrived at the little community of Point Six.  As we approached one of the young men we passed asked if I was selling what I had in my box, and he bought two muffins before I ever reached the market.  It was a foreshadowing of things to come!  I approached the fringe of the small market and was suddenly mobbed for my banana muffins.  Hands reached in and grabbed three at a time, and I laughingly told everybody that I hoped they were honest!  They are (as I well knew), and so after the mad rush each person paid for their muffins.
The two ladies with me answered lots of whispered questions about who I was.  Did I come on a sailboat?  No, she's the Bible translator's wife.  Did I speak Lavukaleve?  I answered that one as I asked for food.  We arrived a little late, and almost everything but beetlenut was gone.  But I found a pineapple and bought four donuts for my kids.  Then, Grace and I walked over to the small store and bought some more hooks and fishing line so I can practice fishing.  After visiting with some familiar faces for a few minutes, we started the walk back across to our boat.  I was surprised when both Melissa and Grace sat down on the shore and said, "Let's rest!"  So, we visited while the sun rose higher and hotter. 
Finally, we got back in our boat, and I tried to match Melissa stroke for stroke as she paddled.  We saw another canoe in the distance and heard something shouted across the water.  My friends told me that the guy was commenting on my good paddling!  The waves were a little rougher this time, and several times they came over the edge of the boat.  Once, Melissa's paddle bumped my plastic box which once held the muffins.  It flew into the water, but I was able to snag it as it floated past.  We arrived safely home, a little wet and laughing. 
Everybody things I should make 150 muffins and go back to Point Six on Saturday, but I told them that I will be at the market at Marulaon.  So, if they want to buy any muffins, they can just come to my village to buy them!


Tuesday, December 8
The Bikoi came early today because it is making extra runs to get everybody home for Christmas.  So, the kids and I went down while Aaron stayed home to study and watch the banana cake cooking very slowly in the oven.  The kids swam, and I walked around and storied with the neighbors.  Hilda had just collected loads of three different kinds of shellfish.  Suta (clams) were in the pot already cooked, and she offered me some - yum!  Then, she offered me some kalimeto.  I know no English equivalent, but they were a little bit like snails. 
She told me to boil them in salt water, and then pull them out of their shells.  Each critter had a tiny hook that it used to pull itself around on the ocean floor, and you just grab the hook and out slithers this small marine animal.  Eileen had to show me how :-) If you can't reach it, you take the back of your knife and crack the shell until you can take hold of the hook.  Then, you clean off the intestines and break off the hook.  After you wash the kalimeto well, you stick it back in the pot with some thick coconut cream, onions, and curry and boil it a while longer.  Our pot full of shells made enough to fill a very small bowl with soup.  I have to say I was skeptical at first, but it was delicious! 

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today...Monday, December 7

Outside my window...a new path through our yard to the water tank that Aaron created this morning, mango trees in bloom with lacy red flowers, sunshine, & wispy clouds in the blue sky, kids going out to swim now that they've finished their school work

I am thinking...about Pearl Harbor and the many veterans I know

From the learning rooms...finishing up Sonlight's Core 4 with a day off on Friday to celebrate and regroup
I am thankful  From my family, from my friends, from the Lord.

From the kitchen...we've enjoyed lots of green coconuts as people have realized that we really like to drink them and then scoop out the soft white flesh to eat

I am wearing...comfy work clothes saturated with sweat

I am reading..."The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds on Prayer", it's a deep and slow read

I am really learn some more Lavukaleve this week.  Life is keeping me busy and leaves little energy for the mind or body to engage in language learning.
Pondering these the spirit of Advent - "Be silent, and listen to God.  Let your heart be in such a state of preparation that His Spirit may impress upon you such virtues that will please Him.  Let all within you listen to Him.  The silence of all outward and earthly affection and of human thoughts within us is essential if we are to hear His voice."  Francois Fenelon
Around the house...a clean bathroom, clean windows, and a clean floor (evidence of a hard morning's work by Naris and me)

One of my favorite things...friendship: old, new, faraway, or close at hand

A few plans for the rest of the week...paddling across to Pavuvu and then walking to Point 6 to Wednesday's market so I can meet more people, a community weeding day on Thursday to prepare for the big Christmas celebration here, starting to build our new outdoor kitchen with the help of Felta's brother, Thomas

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...
Sarah was inspired after reading Jan Brett's "Gingerbread Friends", so yesterday she followed the recipe in the book and whipped up a batch of gingerbread men all by herself.  The others decided to join her (like the "little red hens" they are) to decorate and eat their treats.

Sweet Sabbath

Sunday, December 6
In addition to celebrating St. Nicholas Day, we enjoyed a sweet Sabbath today.  Last night, I took Katherine to visit her best friend, Doris (Felta's daughter).  While I was there, I noticed that Felta was making lelenga, so I asked her if she had any bananas.  She didn't, so I quickly ran up to the house and grabbed a bunch for her.  We have soooo many bananas because people know we need them to make banana cake for market.  This morning while the kids were in Sunday School, Felta knocked on our door and handed me some of her lelenga.  Just a few minutes later, Naris brought me some, too!  The three of us with our three youngest daughters (Doris, almost 2, Katherine, 2, and Soima, 4) sat on the porch and talked and laughed and played for a couple of hours!  It was such a sweet time, I really felt like it was a gift from the Lord. 
Katherine has had a runny nose for the last few days, and I've had a hard time keeping it wiped.  Sweet Felta took care of Katherine just like she would take care of Doris.  She reached over, sucked the snot out of Katherine's nose, and spit it over the edge of the porch :-)


Saturday, December 5
One year ago today, I limped off the plane at Henderson Field and went straight to the doctor for my cellulitis.  Our first year in the Solomon Islands has been amazing!  It doesn't feel like we've accomplished much, until I look back on how much more I know now than when I stepped off the plane.  My Solomon Island Pijin is much better than it was a year ago, and I'm beginning to understand more Lavukaleve.  I can now wield a bush knife to open a green coconut to drink or to plant umalau or to weed my yard.  Our family feels at home here, due largely to so many people around the world praying for us.  We've learned to slow down, be a little more flexible, and let God take the reins (and when I forget, I just look at the purple scar on my left leg).  Looking forward to learning the lessons of our second year here!

Fly Harbour School

Friday, December 4
Aaron, Benjamin, and Olivia left a little bit after six this morning to walk to the other end of our island.  Today is the last day of school for all of the students in the Solomon Islands, and Fly Harbor School held its closing program.  It's about a two mile walk, and they took a lunch with them.  Aaron surprised everybody by walking - they think he needs to go by motor canoe!  He was invited to help hand out prizes for the students, and he filled his role as one of the "big men" by eating lots of food with the other leaders in the community.  The three were gone for over twelve hours, and arrived home sweaty and hungry as it began to get dark.  (The building in the picture is the school's chapel.)

Friday, December 4, 2009

fishing and rain

Thursday, December 3
I awoke this morning a little after 3:00 a.m. to the sweet sound of falling rain.  It has been cool and rainy all day today.  Our rain tanks are slowly filling again, a big thanks to all of you who have prayed for our village!
Yesterday, Felta and I enjoyed our time together.  My comfort zone has expanded once again.  First, we smashed the shells we collected on Tuesday.  Inside were small, slug-like animals.  We left the bottom of the shell intact to provide weight.  I caught on quickly, but I didn't like tearing up the slug's home and I felt like apologizing every time I cracked into one.  Then, we pushed the boat out into the water and climbed in.  Felta borrowed a big wooden canoe from Grace so it would be harder for me to dump us into the ocean.  We began to paddle over the beautiful water beneath us.  Felta told me I could rest if I got tired from paddling, but I wasn't about to quit!  I just switched sides when my triceps and back began to ache.  (I'm only a little sore today much to my surprise.)  The water changed from blue-green to almost black as we paddled over deeper water.  We paddled past a small island just north of Marulaon, then the water began to turn back to the beautiful turquoise color again.  Felta through the anchor, and I just stared down below the boat.  I felt like I was fishing with Jacques Cousteau!  I never knew coral grew in so many different formations.  As we fished, Felta told me about some of the different kinds of fish and how to catch them.  My fishing line was wrapped around an empty water bottle, and Felta's was wrapped around a piece of wood.  You just toss your line out as far as you can throw it.  It took me awhile to get the hang of it.  I baited my own hook and removed the hook from the fish whenever I reeled it in.  I ended up with four small fish, and Felta caught eight nice ones.  At one point, one of my fish swallowed the hook so deeply that Felta had to cut into the fish to remove the hook.  It made me sick at my stomach.
Felta had told me that we would only fish for an hour since this was my training, but we headed back to shore more than four hours after I left the house.  I hadn't taken my knife or anything to drink, so after I helped pull the canoe ashore, I hustled back to the house to fetch my knife and some green coconuts to drink.  All of the way back, women stopped me to ask about my fishing expedition.  By the time I returned to the canoe, Grace had already begun to gut the fish.  She showed me how to scale and gut the remaining ones.  I learned to cut a slit from the gills back toward the belly and then to stick my finger inside to pull out all of its guts.  The hardest part for me was when the fish was still flopping around as I was trying to disembowel it.  Again, it made me sick at my stomach.  Aaron and the kids came as the sun was setting and cheered me on.  Felta sent me home with most of the fish, and Grace sent me home with two dry coconuts so I could boil the fish in coconut milk. 
As I was tucking Sarah in after eating some of my catch, I told her it was a good thing that my family didn't depend on my fishing or gardening skills for their only food.  I really enjoyed my time with Felta, but I'm certainly not the "hunter/gatherer" type!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Wednesday, December 2
Yesterday, Felta and I went hunting for bait, or "sugi" (the "g" is a velar fricative, for you linguists).  We trekked a little way through the bush and past gardens until we reach a mangrove swamp close to the shore on the northern side of the island.  The tide was just beginning to come in, so little trickles of water ran in between the old coral.  Felta showed me where to look for the shell, and we split up to find bait for our fishing trip.  She was surprised at how few of the shells we found, but told me that there is a place on the southern side of the island where we can take a canoe next time to find plenty more.  From her description, our spot was just picked over because it was an easy walk from the village.
Felta should be here in just a few minutes to take me fishing in the canoe.  She told me that we'll bang the shells on a rock to expose the animal inside, but we'll leave some shell on to serve as weight.  So, we'll take a bag of shelled critters into the canoe with us and hopefully bring back a canoe full of fish (if I don't dump the boat!).

A December Day

Dawn turned on her purple pillow,
And late, late, came the winter day;
Snow was curved to the boughs of the willow,
The sunless world was white and grey.
At noon we heard a blue-jay scolding,
At five the last cold light was lost
From blackened windows faintly holding
The feathery filigree of frost.
-Sara Teasdale
Our first day of December was more like this:
Dawn turned on her purple pillow,
And early, early began our day;
Fruit was curved to the boughs of the mogea tree,
The sunny world called all to play.
At noon we heard the mina scolding
At five the sun still shone bright
Through dusty windows warmly glowing
With ornaments of cheerful sunlight.
One of the neighbor boys climbed up high into the mogea tree in our front yard and tossed down the fruit for Sarah to catch in her dress.  We enjoyed eating some mogea cake for dessert!

Monday, November 30, 2009


"Bibisav" (the "b" sound is a cross between a "b" and a "v", and the "v" on the end of the word indicates plural) abound here.  Everywhere we turn, we find flowers of some sort.  The beautiful orange one is in our backyard, one of the many planted by Pogo. 
The delicate red flowers were a real surprise to me.  We've been cultivating several of the plants whose broad leaves are used for the motu (cooking with hot stones).  When I took a walk around the island over the weekend, I discovered that they produce a lovely big red flower.  I'm looking forward to the time when our bushes get big enough to flower.
The white bushy flower (I think they look like exploding hot dogs) will become kino (cutnut in English or galip in Tok Pisin).  These blooms are abundant - fifteen or twenty on each tree - and they affect our sinuses like crazy!  Our kids really like to open and eat the nuts, and the trees produce nuts every few months here in Marulaon, yum.