Sunday, April 19, 2009

Psalm 121

We will pass these mountains as we boat out to Marulaon. They are just across the bay from our home in Honiara.

Psalm 121 is one of Benjamin's memory passages this year for school. I've also been chewing on it as part of a Bible study (thanks to a fabulous group of ladies at Woodland Height Baptist Church). This psalm has become more real to me as we prepare to travel, again, and as we are living (for the first time ever!) near majestic mountains. I look out the window at the mountains of the Solomon Islands, and I am reminded that the same God who created these mountains and the vast Pacific Ocean is the God who watches over me and my family. He protects each step of this amazing journey. Nothing can reach us that hasn't already been sifted through His fingers and allowed to come our way. He strengthens us and enables us to be victorious on this adventure of life.

Friday, April 17, 2009

So long, farewell...

This is the last post from Honiara for a while. If the radio works (and we think it will), we will be able to post from Marulaon. If you don't hear from us for a while, assume that the radio didn't work! Just a reminder, when you e-mail us, please keep your messages VERY small. No forwards or attachments. I won't be able to check any of your blogs while we are away. But I am looking forward to catching up with you when I return to Honiara! We are soooo thankful for the technology to keep in touch with each of you while we are away learning a new language and beginning to make new friends, and your prayers and care packages are precious to us. I've scheduled a few auto-posts for the next few days. See you in a month!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

And the winner is...

Arin, another transplanted Georgia Peach! (Maybe some of you should move to Georgia.)
A quick prayer request, we're having lots of trouble getting our computer and the modem software to "talk" to each other. We would really like to continue keeping in touch with friends and family while we are out in Marulaon. Thankfully, we have great technical assistance here at SITAG. Pray for the knowledge and parts that we need as well as for the wisdom and patience that we need. Thanks!

You know it's been a good day when...

After supper tonight, I went in to the bathroom to find that the last kid to bathe hadn't drained the tub. I thought my children had enjoyed a great afternoon consisting of playing outside with friends for hours, and the tub provided conclusive evidence. Wish you could have seen the layers of dirt on the bottom of the bathtub!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Giveaway (last one for a while)

This exquisite necklace (modeled by Sarah E. Choate) can be yours if you comment on this post before noon (CST), Thursday, April 16. The next to last name we draw will receive a package in a few weeks!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Just call me Georgia...

As part of our study of the American artist Georgia O'Keeffe, we decided to paint our own watercolor masterpieces of flowers. We grabbed some empty toilet paper rolls (an essential in the craft bin!) and went outside to choose our subjects.

I took pictures of flowers and the kids each brought in a flower. They gazed at it through the tube to help them shut out distractions and see the intricate parts of the flower as Georgia might have seen them.

Then the painting began! The kids were very diligent and detailed with their paintings, must get the artistic genes from their dad.

Sarah's creation

a close up of Benjamin's painting

and Olivia's masterpiece

Monday, April 13, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

Please, take a moment to visit the other daybooks from around the globe at Peggy's.

For Today...April 13, 2009

Outside my window...sunshine (and lots of it), a very turquoise ocean today

I am thinking...that I really want Sarah to take me up on my offer to teach her how to "snowflake stitch" on a scrap of red gingham

From the learning rooms...Sarah is studying ratios and the Venn Diagram, Benjamin is learning how to research a topic and multiplying/dividing by eight, Olivia is discovering mixed up stories to put in order and solid shapes, and Katherine loves "Put the Fish in the Boat" and "Where is the room" from "Slow and Steady Get Me Ready"; we are all enjoying painting in the style of Georgia O'Keeffe, stories of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and mass production, figuring out electromagnetism, and new piano books for all

I am thankful for...the work of the Holy Spirit in my children's lives, convicting them quickly of sin and bringing them to repentence

From the kitchen...meatloaf, mashed kumara, green beans, papaya, and chewy brownie cookies for desert

I am blue flowery dress, a red flower that Sarah just stuck behind my ear, bare feet, and beads of sweat

I am reading...finishing up Elisabeth Elliot's "The Shaping of a Christian Family"

I am hoping...that I can scrub the red "Marks-a-Lot" permanent marker off of Katherine's face and hands, she was helping Daddy label boxes this morning

I am creating...a sense of routine in a very chaotic household

I am hearing...the munching of the kids as they eat their "rice crispie treats" for tea time, keys jangling outside as somebody gets into the office, ceiling fan whirring, the hum of boats in the harbor

Around the house...many, many boxes as we are in the home stretch of packing

One of my favorite things...the plea of "Read just one more chapter, Mama!"

A few plans for the rest of the week...loading the boat on Saturday, leaving early Sunday morning for Marulaon

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Weekend

Good Friday afternoon, the sky turned black and dumped buckets of rain which lasted all night. Even on Easter Saturday, the rain continued to pour. The weather helped us to appreciate the beautiful sunshine to which we awoke on Sunday morning.

On Saturday, we enjoyed dyeing our brown eggs beautiful colors (thanks for the dye, Nanny!).

We also continued another Choate family tradition, Resurrection Cookies. Katherine is beating the nuts which represent the soldiers beating Christ.

Sarah is tasting the salt which represents the salty tears that people cried.

And Olivia is sealing the tomb/oven after we put the cookies inside. The kids love waking up on Easter Sunday morning and checking the cookies. The oven here in our apartment didn't finish cooking the cookies before church, so we reheated the oven and the cookies finished while we went to church. It was a beautiful service! We arrived a little early, but the first (6:00 a.m.) service hadn't gotten out yet so we had to wait. When the 8:00 service finally began, the big building overflowed and many people sat outside under the trees. Lovely way to start this special day!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

A few years ago, I found a marvelous book in a bargain bin. "Queen of the Castle" by Lynn Bowen Walker continues to be one of those books that I pick up over and over again. It's a hodge podge of encouragement, recipes, prayers, books lists, ideas, creativity... (you get the picture). We borrow her idea for a combined Bible reading and scavenger hunt each night during Holy Week. For Maundy Thursday, we read portions of Scripture about the Last Supper, foot washing, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the betrayal. Aaron and I had already hidden some bread, a hand towel, a BIG knife (since we have no sword), and three sets of lip-sticked lips on squares of toilet paper. (Sarah looked at me funny after I had created these. "Mama, are you wearing LIPSTICK?!?" Makeup was a part of my former life.) The kids had a blast finding each symbol, then we settled down to sing some hymns.

Olivia cracking the eggs for the dough

Benjamin rolling the dough...

...and decorating the cookie

Katherine sampling and pondering whether she should try another bite

the finished product!

Good Friday here is a bigger deal than anything we ever observed in the States. Several families here warned us that no shops (including the market and the bank) would be open, and the churches hold many services. The same is true for Easter Monday. So, today is a day off from school, a day to enjoy spending time together, and a day to reflect on Christ's sacrifice for us. We dug out the cross and egg cookie cutters to help make my Mama's famous sugar cookies, and we used the recipe from "Queen of the Castle" for chocolate truffles since we got some baking chocolate in the mail (thanks, Brewers, we've been saving it for today!).

Chocolate Truffles

Over very low heat, melt 5 oz. unsweetened chocolate
Remove from heat. Stir in, small pieces at a time:
1 stick butter, at room teperature until butter is melted.
Add 2 cups powdered sugar and stir well.
Roll into small balls (or egg shapes) and place on wax paper.
If desired, roll truffles in toasted coconut, chopped walnuts, or pecans.
Serve at room temperature. Makes about twenty-six.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Jelly Bean Rainbow

Another Easter tradition for the Choate family (from the book "Celebrate Jesus at Easter" by Kimberly Ingalls Reese):

Orange is the twilight night He prayed.

Black is our sin stain for which He paid.

Red is His own shed blood so bright.

Yellow is the Son's warm, healing light.

Purple is His head crowned with thorns.

Pink is hope risen on Easter morn.

Brown is the ground where He was laid.

Gray is the stone that was rolled away.

White is God's grace we freely receive.

Green our eternal life when we believe.

All of these colors represent something true:

Jesus Christ, God's own Son, died for me and died for

We brought some cute bags with us so the kids could deliver the jellybeans to the neighbors. It's a sweet way to spread the joy of Easter!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Easter Basket Cupcakes

My sweet Sarah continued the family tradition of making Easter Basket Cupcakes, minus the chenille stems for handles. She kicked me out of the kitchen (again), and whipped up these treats with the help of another SITAG friend. We even had Jelly Bellies, thanks to some sweet friends from Texas (thanks, Brenda!). The coconut is freshly grated and it was hard not to munch as I checked up on her creativity from time to time.
Here's the recipes she used:
Devil's Food Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup shortening (she used butter)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
In a bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Add milk, shortening, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed till combined. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs and beat 2 minutes more. Pour into 2 greased and floured 9 inch round baking pans or 24 muffins cups. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes or till a toothpick come out clean. Cool on rack 10 minutes. Remove from pans. Cool on racks. Serves 12
No-Cook Fudge Frosting
4 3/4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened
1/3 cup boiling water
1 tsp vanilla
Mix powdered sugar and cocoa. Add margarine, boiling water, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed till combined. Beat for 1 minute on medium speed. Cool for 20 to 30 minutes or till of spreading consistency. Frosts tops and sides of two 9 inch cake layers.

Monday, April 6, 2009


Roland, a local craftsman, comes by from time to time to see if we want to buy any of his carvings. Aaron snapped up this bracelet, and if Roland has any more next time, I'll buy one for me! Put in your comment by midnight (CST) Tuesday, April 7, and the 5th name we draw will win this beautiful bracelet.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

Please swing by Peggy's to explore the other daybooks.

For Today...Monday, April 6

Outside my window...a beautiful sunshiney morning, workers carrying things to and fro (there's always work to be done on the SITAG property)

I am thinking...about the amazing Palm Sunday service yesterday - hundreds of people marching down the street and waving palm branches while singing praises, choruses that brought tears to my eyes because we learned them at our sweet church in Dallas, a responsive reading through Jesus' trial and conviction that brought the congregation to life as I've never seen them before, communion offered to an overflowing building and people sitting outside, Katherine making new friends that helped me practice my Pijin, all totaling a three hour service

From the learning rooms...lots of stuff as we study the late 1800s, and maybe Good Friday off!

I am thankful for...the technology that made it possible for us to hear snippets of my sister's senior cello recital yesterday (played on my old cello, thanks, Rachel). Even though we heard very little, and my heart was breaking because I was the only one not there, my brother tried again and again to connect as Skype kept kicking us off. It was a sweet few minutes, and I'm grateful.

From the kitchen...loads of Easter baking this week to share with friends, French Breakfast Puffs for breakfast, and tonight, red snapper, pumpkin (think squash), papaya, and slippery cabbage

I am wearing...khaki skirt, blue t-shirt, a beaded bracelet from a friend in Memphis, bare feet

I am reading..."The Shaping of a Christian Family" by Elisabeth Elliot

I am hoping...that the rest of Katherine's teeth break through soon!

I am creating...a chart to tell me how many eggs, packages of pasta, cups of flour, sugar, milk powder, TVP, etc. I need to take out to Marulaon

I am hearing...dishes being washed, Katherine jabbering, Sarah whistling, birds chirping as they welcome the morning

Around the house...stacks of books with their color coded labels patiently waiting to be loaded into boxes for their trip to Marulaon

One of my favorite things...the sun setting over the mountains of Guadalcanal

A few plans for the rest of the week...making enough granola for our time in Marulaon, packing, organizing a load of books donated to the Educational Resource Center next door, celebrating Easter with my family through special devotionals, crafts, and cooking

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

Katherine loves to snap green beans (and she is good at it, too!), here she is helping Sarah and a neighbor prepare green beans for supper

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Early this morning, we discovered a beautiful rainbow in the Western sky as the sun came up (with the beginnings of a double rainbow!). We were chatting with friends in Georgia and promised them we would post the picture, so here it is! Obviously, the picture can't even begin to show you how beautiful it was. God's creation still amazes us.

Friday, April 3, 2009

SITAG Update

In December, one of our colleagues stopped by the Christian radio station and dropped off a copy of the beautiful new Pijin Bible Story book for kids. She told radio station staff that she would leave the book for them if they promised to read the Bible stories on the air. Recently the station has started reading a Bible story each afternoon.A couple of weeks ago, she dropped off a set of CDs that contain the dramatized Pijin New Testament that was produced by Faith Comes by Hearing. Last week the station started playing one chapter a day at three different times during the day! That's exciting!

On March 20th at the National Parliament, we dedicated this special Solomon Islands Bible Display. It contains the Pijin Bible that was presented to the Prime Minister on the 30th Anniversary of Independence in July of last year. On the shelf up above are all (except 1) of the Bibles and New Testaments in vernacular languages that have been published since Independence. Standing in front of the display is our friend Patson who helped make the cover the display. It was really great to see people walk up to the display and look at all the Bibles in the vernacular languages and try and see if there was a Bible in their own language. Clearly those who didn't have a Bible in the display were disappointed.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Pony Express

Today is the 149th anniversary of the Pony Express! Next year will be a big year, but until then, here are some great books and links to help you celebrate.

-Fast N' Snappy by Pattie L. Schnetzler
-They're Off: The Story of the Pony Express by Cheryl Harness
-The Sweetwater Run: The Story of Buffalo Bill Cody and the Pony Express Ride by Andrew Glass
Riding the Pony Express by Clyde Robert Bulla
-Riders of the Pony Express by Ralph Moody
-Buffalo Bill by Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire

Two fun websites: Pony Express Home Station (with an AMAZING book list!) and the Gold Rush Chronicles

Hymn Study

I have always loved hymns. Nestled between my Mama's alto and my Daddy's bass, I grew up knowing not only verses 1, 2, and 4 but also the page number for many hymns in the blue "Great Hymns of Faith" that our church used. Our last Sunday of village living in PNG, we attended a little Baptist church, and imagine my joy when I saw a well-worn copy of that blue hymnal in the hands of one of the ladies. I wanted to run up to her and ask to flip through the book, but I didn't.

Last Christmas, Aaron's mom gave Benjamin (my singing boy) a copy of "Hymns for a Kid's Heart" by Bobbie Wolgemuth and Joni Eareckson Tada. In all of the chaos of last spring, we never got around to looking at it. But after we settled in Honiara, I opened the book and loved what I found! We began using this book as the foundation for a hymn study with our children. To help us prepare for Easter, we ordered "Passion Hymns for a Kid's Heart" by the same authors. Now, I frequently hear children singing "Holy, Holy, Holy" or "Man of Sorrows" as they sweep the floor or complete their handwriting. We all look forward to gathering after the dishes are washed and teeth are brushed. Then, we know that Aaron will pull out the guitar and we will join our voices together (even Katherine). We're planning to invest in another from this series when we finish learning the hymns in these volumes. As an added bonus, each book contains a CD with children singing the hymns. Just had to share this jewel!