Thursday, March 25, 2010

Just to Let You Know...

...the Choates did arrive safe and sound on Marulaon as planned. Email has been exceedingly slow for them of late. Although they have been able to maintain communication via email, the posts that they have tried to send to the blog have not posted as expected. Joanna said she's going to keep trying to send updates as frequently as she can, but in the meantime just know that the whole family is fine and staying busy. They are looking forward to the coming week as their village prepares for Easter with a week of rest.

~a mutual friend

Saturday, March 6, 2010

For Your Reading Pleasure

While we sail the ocean blue, I though you might a little travelling entertainment provided by one of Sarah's writing assignments last week:
The Chiastic Structure of Life in the Solomons
By Sarah E. Choate

Once upon a time, in the far away land of the Solomon Islands, there was a family called the Choate family. They had a house in the village and a house in town. They were in town and realized they should go to the village again soon. So, they started to sort and pack. They started to clean house. People invited them over so that they didn’t have to cook much.

The day before they left, the kids’ daddy drove their baggage to the boat, Bikoi, and put it in the roachy hold ‘cause there was nowhere else to put it. Next morning, their SITAG friends drove them to the Bikoi. As the Choates got on the boat, everyone said bye. Then, the Bikoi left and the Choates got wet, salty, filthy, and seasick.

They soon were at Marulaon and as usual, some motor canoes were there to pick them up. When everything was ashore, neighbors carried their things to their house. Then, the Choates began to unpack and scrub. Then they settled in for a long stay in Marulaon.

They had a great time in the village. After 2 months, they got ready to leave. They packed and scrubbed. When it was time to go, neighbors helped load the canoes. Someone drove them out to the Bikoi, and they left Marulaon. On the way to town, they got wet, filthy, and seasick.

Soon, the Bikoi arrived in town. Their SITAG friends welcomed the Choates back and drove them back to SITAG. A few of the men helped carry the boxes to the house. People invited them over so they didn’t have to cook at first. The Choates enjoyed a pre-scrubbed house and finished unpacking. The End

Friday, March 5, 2010

Load 'em up, move 'em out!

We're loading up the truck to take down to the wharf soon. Please pray for our family as we travel on the Bikoi early Sunday morning. The boat should leave around 3 p.m. CST on Saturday, March 6th, and arrive six hours later in Marulaon. We'll begin e-mailing blog posts as soon as we get settled in!
"Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea -- the Lord on high is mighty." Psalm 93:4


With all of the chaos this week, we've found it very nourishing to throw in a little creativity. So, we've been enjoying making our own forsythias (Benjamin's turned out lovely)...

...and weaving colored strings into patterns. Sarah wants to use hers as a picture frame since it's just the right size to tuck in a 4x6 picture.

Olivia decided to stop when hers looked like a butterfly!

And we tried a yummy new recipe for breakfast as a treat: Holy Moly! Strawberry Jam Roly Poly from "Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids"

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBSP granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
10 TBSP (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, frozen
2/3 cup (or more if needed) ice water
3/4 cup strawberry jam
1 TBSP whole milk for brushing

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and 2 tablespoons sugar. Set aside.
Using the large holes of a box grater, grate the frozen butter into the flour mixture. Using your hands, lightly toss the flour and butter together. If the butter starts to soften, pop the mixture into the freezer for about 5 minutes to allow the butter to harden.
Stir enough ice water into the flour and butter mixture to form a soft, shaggy dough that come together to form a loose ball. If dough is too dry, add more ice water by tablespoons.
Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured board, gently kneading it just to combine (5 or 6 turns), but not allowing the butter to melt.
Rub a rolling pin with flour and , on a flat surface lightly sprinkled with flour, roll the dough quickly into an approximately 9-by-13-inch rectangle.
Spread 4 or 5 tablespoons jam over the surface of the dough, leaving a 1-inch border on all sides. Starting from one long end, roll up the pastry like a jelly roll, brushing excess flour off the pastry as you go.
Seal the end seam with a little water and tightly pinch the ends to prevent the jam from seeping out. Place the pastry, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Brush lightly with milk and sprinkle liberally with granulated sugar.
Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, and little rivulets of jam are bubbling out the ends, about 30 minutes. Let cool briefly on the baking sheet and slice into 6 portions using a serrated knife. Warm the reserved jam in a small saucepan, or in a bowl heated in the microwave, and drizzle over slices of the pastry if desired.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Some more answers...

*As I read your blog, I'm always feeling a mixture of awe and envy... not a bitter envy, maybe more of a longing? I'm not so naive as to assume that your life is a vacation (!), but still, the freedom to drop school and go fishing or swimming, to experience a different culture, to enjoy the tropical climate and foods, etc....

Oh, Julie, you made me cry! Some days I wish I was in your shoes to enjoy things like being close to family and observing the seasons change. This answer may be way too personal, but here goes....We would not be here if we didn't very clearly see the Lord's hand directing us here. People often ask me if I dreamed of being a missionary when I was a little girl - the answer is a big, fat, NO! In many ways, my life is very much like yours. My primary responsibility is to my family: feeding, clothing, encouraging, loving, educating, etc, then I get to serve in my community. I just have to adjust to the resources available here and learn a foreign language while I'm at it!

I'm glad you don't think our life is a vacation, because it isn't, but one of the joys of living in a Melanesian society is participating in their concept of time. Being flexible is difficult for me, I lean toward a very scheduled approach with life and school. Somehow, we find a happy medium in between the bells that ring around 5:45 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. and order our day. We plan my expeditions with neighbors (great culture and language learning) when Aaron can be home and teach the kids, and the kids get to swim when school is done.

If I lived in the States, or even if we stayed in Honiara all of the time, I would lean towards prideful self-reliance, I think. God knows that I need to be stretched out of my comfort zone, and so we move back and forth. When we are in Marulaon, I'm kept in constant need of God's wisdom and God's strength to an extent that I never experience in Honiara or the States. I'm learning that discontent in my life is a sign that I don't trust God - just like the Israelites in the wilderness.

Thank you for your kind words and prayers - we need both to survive. You and your sweet family are welcome to come and share life with us any time. We love visitors at the Choate Bed and Breakfast (as long as you don't mind roughing it a little bit)!

*Why do you move from one island to another?

Here is my answer from a similar question in January, and I think it's still true in March:

We can't buy anything but a few fresh fruits and veggies with an occasional fish while we live in Marualon, and even those are unpredictable. So we have to come back to Honiara to restock the pantry.

Aaron also has responsibilities to SITAG that he needs to come back to Honiara to fulfill. We enjoy the contact with the other SITAG members as well.

Language learning and living in a "glass house" begin to wear on us after a while. We are certainly not "super missionaries"!

Nine and half weeks seems to be a good amount of time for our family. We begin to wear out physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually towards the end of that time. We've been told that once we learn Lavukaleve, it will be easier to stay for about three months, and then Aaron's work in the Russells will begin to resemble "office hours" a little bit more.

It's REALLY hard to pack and move every two months, but we do love living in both places and we enjoy our neighbors in both places.

*Yes, also curious about your "Path to the Cross"...

We make a "Path to the Cross" similar to an Advent calendar to help us observe Lent. During Lent we practice dying to self, but we also "intentionally choose things that help us become the kind of people God desires us to be" (from the Lent 2010 Experiential Calendar). So as a family, we open a small piece of paper each day that makes a path to a contruction paper cross. Nothing fancy or original (if you want to see a pretty one, check out Dawn's), but each paper helps us choose to either die to self or to serve somebody else.

One day might be to make a placemat with the armor of God and specific verses to fight personal temptations. Another day might be to abstain from coffee (believe me, this hits all six of us pretty hard). We have a neighborhood trash pickup planned, and a day where we each illustrate what Proverbs 28:13 means to us. Since we will be spending the majority of Lent in Marulaon, our activities will be very different than if we were living in the States or even in town, but I think following this path will help us grow more like Christ and help us appreciate Easter more.

This just in...

Aaron just arrived with a rain tank to take back to Marualon. It's 800 more gallons to help supply clean, fresh water for our neighbors!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

More answers...

I guess nobody has any more questions, but if you think of some, please let us know. We're happy to share about this amazing place we call home!

*Am really interested in your menu comments. Is the veggie protein what takes the place of beef? What about chicken? Do they raise chickens on the island?

The TVP we use in place of ground beef because it won't take up room in the freezer (which is very small) and it lasts almost indefinitely. We usually bring a little bit of frozen chicken with us for a special treat, but we love it when chicken in pouches arrives in care packages because it also stays good for so long. We bought a chicken last time we were in Marulaon, and it is waiting for us and getting fat while running around and eating the bugs in our garden.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook

Please drop by Peggy's to read other daybooks from around the globe. Please consider adding your own. (This will be the last week I will be able to link until May.)
For today...Tuesday, March 2
Outside my window...pouring rain for the fourth day in a row, I can't tell where the ocean ends and the sky begins this morning

I am thinking...that I am tired of friends dying. The last several months in a row, we have lost a friend every month to death. We grieve now, and we will grieve again in a few years when we go back to the States on furlough and that beloved friend is no longer there. This is a choice we willingly made when we moved to the Solomon Islands, but it doesn't make saying goodbye any easier.

I am thankful for...the big three kilo bags of "canned in a bag" apples we found for a great price, now I don't have to can apples and we will enjoy a treat while in Marulaon

I am wearing...a denim skirt, green t-shirt, sweet little jade earrings from a master-gardener friend in Memphis

I am beautiful forsythia and japonica bushes are

I am give the kids a holiday from school on Thursday and Friday so we can finish packing and load the Bikoi on Saturday

I am currently reading...nothing extra, the books are being packed

I am hoping...that we don't have too many late nights this week

On my mind...our "Path to the Cross" for Lent and the few days I still have to fill in

Noticing children sacrifice more easily and willingly than I do

Pondering these words... "Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness." Romans 6:13 (working on offering my tongue as an instrument of righteousness - especially during the stresses of packing and moving again)

From the out the fridge and the pantry, enjoying the last bits of beef before we switch to TVP for the village

Around the house...boxes, lots of them; colorful string weavings hung up on display

One of my favorite things~ a clean and clutter-free house

From my picture journal...

Sarah's version of a Monet painting

Monday, March 1, 2010

Busy Weekend

Saturday, several of our friends joined Katherine and me for a trip to Central Market...

and then we all chowed down on fish and shellfish accompanied by coconut rice...yum!

Sunday night, SITAG hosted a talent/variety show. Each of our big kids got to perform their piano pieces (first time for Olivia!), and Sarah participated in some skits and sang Psalm 91 as well. We applauded each other, laughed together, and enjoyed snacks -- even cookies and brownies now that Honiara has flour again!