Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

We are so thankful for the men and women who have served our country in the armed forces. People like my great-grandfather, who fought in France in WWI and watched his best friend die. (Now, my grandfather bears the name Harvey in his memory.) And people like Aaron's grandfather, above, who served General MacArthur in WWII.

In a foreign country, we celebrate quietly, replacing the fireworks and riverside festivals with sugar cookies and Wee Sing America, instilling in our children a love for the United States of America and the amazing people who live there.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sweet Sabbath

"Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice." Psalm 105:1-3

-finding a little bit of beauty in a cucumber slice that Sarah rescued from the bowl
-a group of Wycliffe Associates coming this week to help out around Honiara

-paper mache projects that work (meet "Killi", a character from The Hobbit)
-my two year old walking around and singing hymns

-kids walking down the hill, hand in hand with Daddy who arrived earlier than expected at the airport
-the truth of God's Word

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

Piano Recital

Here are the "proud mama" pictures from the SITAG kids music recital today. Please ignore the poor hand positions. Who teaches those kids anyway? Oh, I do.

I'm super proud of my kids and how hard they have worked to prepare for today. (Note to my mom: All of those years of piano lessons for me are paying off. Notice that the kids are using my old piano books and recital pieces!)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Language Learning

Whenever people ask us how they can pray for us, I always say, "Please pray for our language learning." More than anything else, this is the key to being able to start on translating the Bible and to building good relationships with our neighbors in the Russell Islands. Aaron and I use "The Language Learner's Proficiency Scale" (a modified ACTFL - taken from Terry Marshall's "The Whole World Guide to Language Learning") to self-evaluate. Currently, I'm a Novice-Mid, but I'm hoping to be a Novice-High by Christmas. So, here's what I can do:

-I can respond to simple commands such as "stand up" and "come here."
-I can greet people and take my leave correctly.
-I can ask basic questions, using who, what, when and where.
-I can make simple statements and commands such as "it's hot" and "turn on the light"
-I can thank people and make simple requests.
-I can use at least fifty words in apropriate contexts.
-I can sing one verse of a fold song or popular sing-along tune.
-I can perform at least one task at the novice-high level.

The scale also says:
-Can express very simple needs in polite language. Uses mostly memorized words and phrases. Can say short phrases if given time to think about what she/wants to say.
-Speaks in a heavy accent with many erros and confuses sounds that are similar.
-Speech is difficult to understand, even to teachers used to working with language students.

And here's where I hope to be by Christmas, by God's grace:
-I understand and can make simple statements about family, age, address, weather, time, and daily activites.
-I understand some words when the context helps explain them, e.g., in a cafe, the marketplace.
-My vocabulary includes names of basic concepts: days, months, numbers 1-100, articles of clothing, body parts, family relationships.
-I can use a least one hundred nouns and verbs in appropriate contexts. I am beginning to know what's expected of me in simple social situations.
-I can perform at least two tasks at the intermediate-low level.

In addition:
-Can ask questions and make simple statements based on memorized sentences. Understands conversation fragments and simple commands. Can deal with simple topics of daily need. Speaks mostly in short, direct sentences, but can say some longer phrases and sentences if given time to think about them first.
-Still makes frequent errors in pronunciation and word use. Frequently asks speaker to slow down or repeat. Communicates with coworkers but has difficulty with others.
-Behaves considerately in dealing with host country nationals. Understands some nonverbal cues.
Finding time to try and learn the language continues to be a real struggle for me. If I can carve out some time between school and supper preparation, I tend to be exhausted and "brain-dead". How I appreciate the prayers of friends and family around the world!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


We found this beautiful little butter dish and knife made from a shell. (I just noticed that my foot made it in the picture, too!) The shell really catches the light and refracts it into a rainbow of color on the back.

Please leave a comment by midnight (CST) on Friday night if you would like to enter the drawing for the butter dish. I continue to be amazed at God's beautiful creation and the way our neighbors make more beautiful things with God's good gifts!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Twenty years ago, I stood in a church parking lot with the cutest boy I had ever seen. And then he kissed me. The very first kiss for either of us. He began as the brown eyed cellist who shared a stand with me in orchestra, and now he is the sweet, wonderful, intelligent, talented, and handsome man who shares the adventure of life with me (and has passed his dimples on to most of our children).

Tonight, he sits in Papua New Guinea, and I sit in the Solomon Islands, miles apart, and our lives are miles from where we dreamed and planned we would be. But his kisses get sweeter every day, and as God unfolds the plan for our lives, the days get sweeter, too.

And the winner is...

Brenda! You'll be getting some mail at your new house soon. And since I bought an extra pair of earrings, we'll also send the runner-up a pair. So, Lisa, be looking in your mailbox in three to four weeks, too. We love saying thanks to our friends and family who keep up with us through the blog!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Honiara Woman's Daybook

Please visit Peggy who hosts this daybook

For today...Monday, May 24

Outside my window...Benjamin hacking on a piece of wood trying to turn it into a model of a Chinese junk, clothes flapping on the line, sun shining hotly as usual

I am listening to...ceiling fans, SIWA water pouring into the tank outside (yay!), Olivia asking for help with vocabulary words, Katherine cutting

I am thankful for...a friend to watch Katherine in the early mornings while I walk since Aaron is gone

Pondering these words..."If we have a godly thirst, it will appear by diligence in frequenting the place and means of grace; brute beasts for want of water will break through hedges, and grace-thirsty souls will make their ways through all encumbrances to come where they may have satisfaction." Thomas Pierson

I am let the Holy Spirit control my tongue (even when I have a headache and Benjamin breaks a glass or when Katherine is screaming because she is so tired) and extending grace to myself when my tongue and my temper think they can do a better job than the Holy Spirit

I am wearing...turquoise sleeveless shirt that Aaron's mom brought, khaki skirt, turtle shell earrings (like the ones for the give-away), barefoot, hair in a coconut shell clip

Noticing...that it's much harder to fall asleep when I'm the only one in the bed

I am reading..."My Kids Are My Best Teachers: The ABCs of Parenting" by Bill Butterworth

From the kitchen...camper's oatmeal for breakfast, fruit & yogurt smoothies for a snack, leftovers for lunch (Benjamin commented how many more leftovers we have when Aaron is gone!), bar-b-que meatballs tonight

I am creating...some art cards, playing catch-up and trying to work ahead a little, too

From the learning rooms...reading "The Hobbit" and enjoying some cross-curicular activites, kids flying along in math books (how did they get so advanced so fast?), language learning as we listen to recordings of our neighbors in Marulaon, cursive practice, lots of reading, typing, playdough & alphabet cookie cutters, playing games with our art matching cards, same normal but wonderful habits of learning that we attempt to build day by day

One of my favorite things...the sunrise, always beautiful over the Pacific, but always different, too

A few plans for the rest of the week...SITAG ladies dessert on Wednesday night, WWII tour for the SITAG school-age kids on Friday, piano recital on Saturday afternoon, picking up Aaron from the airport on Sunday

Sharing a picture with big girls painting their paper mache characters (they finally dried!)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pentecost Sunday

My day began early. I thought I'd try to sleep a little later than usual, but Katherine (who needs an alarm clock?) poked me on the shoulder at 5:15 while whispering, "want coffee, want coffee!" I pulled her into bed with me and snuggled for a few minutes, then we went to turn on the coffee pot, read our Bibles, and start breakfast. Yesterday, I picked up some dates on the "day-old" rack (even though they won't expire until June 12), so I decided to make a date-nut-ring that I've had my eye on for some time. It turned out so yummy - especially with the scrapings from the Nutella jar warmed up and spread on top.
Knowing that Pentecost was fast approaching, I've been pondering the Holy Spirit and how to give the kids something to chew on, too. So, we talked about how the Holy Spirit has always been and briefly traced His work through the Old Testament. Then, we tackled the New Testament and Jesus' gift of the Holy Spirit to us as believers. We focused on the symbol of fire so frequently used to represent the Holy Spirit because His work in our lives purifies us and reveals the path that we should take. I was wondering if all of this was just going over their heads, when Sarah said, "Yeah, Mom. I need the reminder to let the Holy Spirit work in my life when it's really hard to be a peacemaker with Olivia." Bingo!

We lit tealights and floated them in a bowl of water throughout the morning to remind us of the Holy Spirit's role in our lives, and the kids each chose a verse to post in a prominent place this week to remind them of the lessons learned today. This was Benjamin's choice:

"Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground." Psalm 143:10

I think it's obvious that we like to celebrate with food, so we finished our day with rainbow-themed baking to remind us of the rainbow around God's throne in Revelation 4. Olivia had already mixed up "rainbow cookies" (with M&Ms from a care package), and we used the best cookie dough scooper ever (thanks to Aaron's mom!).

Sarah mixed up a rainbow cake all by herself, and we took both goodies to a SITAG potluck to share. I'm so thankful for God's gift of the Holy Spirit and for a day set aside to celebrate!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Giveaway Time Again!

One of our favorite things about being back in Honiara is being able to find beautiful things and share them with our family and friends. These earrings are intricately carved turtle shell. Turtle is a common food out in our village, and we think it is delicious! After enjoying the meat, then the shell can be used to create beautiful carvings.

If you would like to wear these earrings, please leave a comment by midnight (CST), Monday, May 24, and our random generator (four pairs of small hands) will choose a winner.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Week in Pictures

Getting back to school this week after three weeks of "Spring Break" created some challenges for our family, but we're back in the swing of things now!
The road grader that came last week left a smooth dirt road. It also created quite a canvas for fingers to draw on the dashboard of the van!

Always bring a good book wherever you go! (Don't worry, Sarah took this picture while the van was parked.)

Since I still can't find my curriculum notebook, we're reading "The Hobbit" (one of our read-alouds for this year anyway) and following a cross-curricular study guide I found in the Educational Resource Center. We began a paper-mache project this week. Our goal is to sculpt and paint some of the creatures from the Hobbit, but we've been warned that paper-mache never dries here, it just molds. We'll see what happens!

One rainy day, it was even cool enough to enjoy hot chocolate while we studied.
A new shipment of food came in this week, and you've never heard kids squeal until you've heard mine excited about the crisp celery and broccoli that just hit the shelves!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sweet Sabbath

"Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you." Psalm 63:3-5

-new babies (my sister's first baby, Shannon Matthew, born at 9:48 last night)

-books for me to read from the Educational Resource Center (from Olivia)

-morning light bathing everything in its path with a rosy glow

-having enough water to rinse all of the shampoo out of my hair

-friends from Marulaon who unexpectedly drop in at SITAG

-apples and cheese (from Sarah)

-care packages from a sweet church in Tennessee

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Motu Party

One of our goals while in Honiara is to continue with language learning. But another goal is continue to hone my cooking skills. So, we asked a friend if we could come over and practice on her motu.

We brought a huge fish, a watermelon, and some umalau, along with lots of coconut for scraping and milking.

Everybody helped!

When all of the food was on the stones and cooking, it was time to kick back in the hammock and relax.

Some watermelon seed spitting contests also kept us busy.
Then it was time to take off the stones,

and feast on the bounty.

Gotta love those Solomon Island plates...easy cleanup!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Fundraising - Solomon Islands Style

Last week while we were still in Marulaon (was it only last week?!?), we learned that one of the young ladies from Marulaon attended a school in Honiara that would be holding a fundraiser. Sarah Kiko is one of her aunties and George Hensey (or "chairman" as we all call him since he's the church district chairman) both came in and brought shellfish and crab to help make money at the fundraiser.
We've never seen fundraisers like the ones they have here. Each class in both the primary and secondary schools had a booth where they sold food that the parents prepared. There was rice and chicken and cassava pudding and fish and green coconuts and cake and lots more. The booth for our friends was the only one that had shellfish, so we hoped they would raise extra money. After the opening speech and prayer by the school board chairman, each booth opened for business.

We bought pudding, fish, watermelon, and green coconuts for our family to eat and to share with Sarah Kiko. We visited for a while with them and met a couple of other people from the Russells who live in Honiara. Then, Aaron had the great idea to buy lunch for each of the four ladies who work as staff for SITAG. In this culture, everything has to be fair - if you can't do it for everybody, you don't do it for anyone. We constantly have to guard against seeming to play favorites, yet being generous at the same time.

So, we bought some fish, pudding, and shellfish strung on a stick (both the halea and the bei were from the Russells!). We also discovered that the crab (kafol) was still alive and kicking, so we bought two to take home and enjoy later.

Yet another step outside the realm of the familiar as we attended our first fund raiser and everybody gawked at us. We had a blast, though, and hopefully cemented some relationships with Sarah Kiko and Chairman.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Progress Report

The new training center for SITAG flies toward completion! Wycliffe Associates are keeping this building running ahead of schedule.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Almost every morning, Katherine wakes up around 5:30. She sweetly bebops around and asks for her coffee. As I mixed up breakfast today, I found her asking for a refill of coffee. While she waited, she grabbed another cup and placed both over her ears, listening intently. Then, she removed one cup and listened again. She kept this up for several minutes - I love to watch her learn! God's design of little brains never fails to amaze me.

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139: 13, 14

Monday, May 10, 2010

Honiara Womans' Daybook

Please visit Peggy who encourages us to record our days.
For today...Monday, May 10
Outside my window...bright sunshine drying the clothes on the line and giving the kids a beautiful afternoon in which to enjoy playing with friends
I am thinking...about the amazing lunch we enjoyed today with Nahna and Papa. The restaurant where we wanted to eat for lunch was closed, so we went to an "Oriental" place we had never tried before. One of the things we ordered some crab cooked with ginger and shallots, and I don't know why I expected the crab to be already taken out of its shell. Guess I still think like an American. When it arrived, it was our favorite kind from Marulaon (kaful), and it sat there whole in all of its glory (they had tapped it apart to make it easy to get to the meat). Yum, yum, yum!
Noticing that...Honiara feels like a luxury resort after living in the village, especially with internet access. I love catching up with everybody!
I am thankful for...the grader that came down our road today making tomorrow's walking path much easier to navigate
I am wearing...a new, blindingly white t-shirt (thanks, mama), and a Laura Ashley skirt with embroidered details that I found at a second-hand store here in Honiara for a little more than a dollar
I am reading...Victoria's March/April edition, a birthday present courtesy of a sweet friend in Kansas. What a treat!
I am hoping...and praying that we can find my curriculum notebook (containing twelve weeks of curriculum for three children - school for Honiara and things to prepare for our next trip to Marulaon)
Pondering these words...To want what we don't have is impatience, for one thing, and it is to mistrust God. Is He not in complete control of all circumstances, events, and conditions? If some are beyond His control, He is not God....Spiritual victories are won in the quiet acceptance of ordinary events, which are God's "bright servants", standing all around us. --Elisabeth Elliot
I am hearing...ceiling fans, kids playing games inside and outside
Around the house...still unpacking boxes and restocking the pantry
One of my favorite things...fresh strawberries. No such thing here in tropical Honiara, so I'm living vicariously through a friend in Texas.
A few plans for the rest of the week...take Nahna and Papa to the airport tomorrow, finish unpacking, take a new SITAG couple grocery shopping Wednesday morning, start back to school with the kinds
Here is a picture thought I am sharing with beautiful flowers brought to me by my amazing husband for Mother's Day

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

What Rules the World
by William Ross Wallace
They say that man is mighty,
He governs land and sea,

He wields a mighty sceptre
O'er lesser powers than he;

But a mighty power and stronger
Man from his throne has hurled,

For the hand that rocks that cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.