Thursday, March 31, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Thursday, March 24
Today, Eta came and helped me harvest about half of the umalau close to the house. Eileen and her daughter Naris asked if they could come cut some of the vines to plant in their gardens. Eta and I weeded the ubikola (cassava), dug the holes to plant the new umalau, and dug up two huge bowls of umalau. I sent some home with her early and asked her to come back late in the afternoon to plant the new vines. Around 5 p.m., she returned, and the two of us cut the ends of the umalau vines and shoved them into the newly dug mounds. It still amazes me that they grow so well!
Saturday, March 26
Last night, a group from Louna in the East Russells came to present a drama of the history of the Lavukal. They also presented custom dancing and singing. For supper, each family in the village sent some food to provide for the group, and we sent a bowl of umalau motued with rumit (thick coconut cream). Sarah, Benjamin, and Olivia asked if they could go. So, Katherine and I stayed home while the others went about 9 p.m. Aaron brought the kids home around 11 p.m. and went back to enjoy the rest of the show. He finally came home around 1:30 a.m. because he couldn't stay awake any longer, and the show ended about the time he crawled in bed!
Sunday, March 27
The new District Priest came to Marulaon today. He led communion and initiated some church discipline, then after church he held a program about tithing. Our kids were thankful that the service only lasted three hours. They have certainly adjusted to the length of the services here! After the service, the "big men" gathered to eat breakfast with the priest, so we sent lelenga (cassava pudding) made with our own ubikola with Aaron as our contribution to the breakfast. We also sent some lelenga to Grace who lives on the point and to Daisy since they both said they were too tired yesterday to make lelenga!
After the breakfast, the community held a meeting to discuss many things, one of them being the selection of Marulaon's nomination for a Bible translator. Each of the communities was supposed to nominate someone from their community and bring it before the Translation Committee last February. This didn't happen, so Aaron held another meeting a couple of weeks ago, and it still didn't happen. Now, Aaron is traveling to each of the village and explaining the process in person and asking each community to send in the name of their nominee. He went to Baison last week, and this week, he will travel over to the East Russells to speak with several villages. He is enjoying building relationships with lots of people, but finding the petrol, canoe, engine, and driver is a headache! Marulaon has nominated Janet, Chief Leonard's wife, to be a translator. She is a busy mother of five, but she is full of energy and knowledge about her language. Aaron finally got home about 3:30, ready to rest for a while. However, Ezekiel dropped by and the two of them discussed the upcoming trip to the East Russells. God continues to grace my husband with stamina!
Friday, March 25, 2011
Aaron left about 2:30 yesterday afternoon to walk the two miles to Baison with Hiva and Ezekiel. They made the trek because no one from this village showed up to the most recent translation committee meeting. After Evening Prayer, the men met with the community to explain the translator selection process. Instead of returning home on foot through the bush, the three guys returned by motor canoe after waiting for the almost full moon to rise so they could see where they were going. Aaron got home around 10 o'clock.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Around the house...loads of bananas. Between market Saturday and gifts from friends, we'll be making lots of banana cake this week.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Foia iru raine eluluri mea heo
O tunae ga e ena tuna
Ngolar ga e ema
And it daily guides us;
We, its truth believing,
Are your light receiving.
-1st day of Spring (Sarah)
-pizza with American pizza sauce (Aaron)
-friendly geckos (Sarah)
-rain last night (Joanna)
-full moon (Sarah)
-new toothbrushes (Benjamin)
-shower bags (Aaron)
-white citrus shower gel (Joanna)
-good friends (Sarah)
-chocolate hamantashen (Joanna)
In a large mixing bowl, beat:
1 1/3 cups butter
with mixer on high speed until butter is softened.
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
and beat until thoroughly combined.
1 1/2 cups more flour (may want to do this by hand as the dough is quite stiff at this point).
Divide dough in two, cover with plastic wrap, smush into flat disks, and chill until easy to handle, perhaps a couple of hours or as long as a couple of days. When ready to bake, mix together for filling:
1/2 cup of a thick jam
1/4 cup chocolate chips
Set filling aside.
Remove dough from refrigerator. Roll out one disk at a time on floured surface, to 1/4 inch thick. (Keep flouring the rolling pin and your work surface if the dough sticks.) Using a two-to-three-inch round cookie cutter, cut dough into circles. Place two inches apart on wax paper-lined cookie sheet. Plop 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of the jam/chocolate chip filling into the center of cookie. Lift up three edges of the dough round and fold toward center, pinching the three outer points together tightly so not much jam is showing. (Here's where they should look like three-cornered hats.) Reroll scraps and continue until all dough is used. Bake at 350 degrees for eleven to fourteen minutes.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
As long as I've known my amazing husband, he has recharged by spending time alone. He just isn't a people person. For example, he learns language best by studying his notes, where I learn better by going out and visiting with my friends. He has learned to adjust since going into full-time ministry, even fooling some of our friends. Yesterday, Aaron left the house about 6:45 for morning prayer and came home for a bowl of granola about 8:30. Then, he quickly left again to attend a farewell gathering with lots of singing and dancing. He came home for lunch, and we were just finishing when Ezekiel showed up to visit a little before 1 p.m. Aaron and Ezekiel talked for more than four hours - shooting the breeze and discussing Bible translation for the Lavukal. As soon as evening prayer finished, Moses came by to ask for some nails. Aaron had recently been looking for him to discuss some things about translation, so the two sat on the porch for a while. When Aaron came back in, I told him I was surprised he wasn't mute with all of the talking and interacting with people he had done. I'm so proud of him!
Today, we enjoyed a market with great variety. Lots of bananas showed up. I guess my comments about not having any bananas to make banana cake finally caused some action! When I came back to the house, Fosta was sitting at the bottom of the steps with Katherine, Benjamin, and Sarah playing "market" or "elav" as Katherine calls it. Elav is the word for "how much". Fosta was holding Katherine's baby doll in her lava-lava. It was so cute!
Since gas for our oven (gas also fuels the fridge) is so expensive and not refillable here in Marulaon, we try to bake with a full oven whenever possible. This morning, Sarah and I made banana cake for the neighbors, a couple of loaves of banana bread for us, bierrocks for lunch, and granola bars. Sarah also mixed up a batch of chocolate Hamantashen to let the dough chill for Purim tomorrow. Now, I'm getting ready to put the lelenga together and get all smoky in my outside kitchen. We'll enjoy sharing the lelenga tomorrow after church.
Friday, March 18, 2011
I went down to Kiko and her sister Grace's kitchen this afternoon to try baking peanut butter cookies (with some of our precious butter). Kiko began the fire like a motu, with hard wood and dry coconut shells to make it nice and hot. She built the fire in a small portion of an old barrel that she always uses for her motu. We traded phrases in English and Lavukaleve as we waited for the fire to die down.
I learned that it's rude to tell honored guests to "come eat" (euiba). You have to say, "Come look at the food" (eleba), instead. When the sisters thought the fire was ready, they put a small piece of roofing copper on top of the fire and placed the cookie sheet on top. They covered the barrel with it's lid and placed more fire on top. Within a minute, Kiko checked the cookies and announced they had burned. We decided to try again after the fire had cooled down and little more, and the second batch was a little less burned. The last batch was almost perfect, just a little too brown on bottom after only four minutes in the "oven". We decided to try again next Wednesday morning and tweak the fire a little bit more to create the perfect batch of cookies. But now I know how to say something has burned (hoieb)!
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Our yard still isn't back in good shape yet, especially around the fence, so I asked Leku to come and help today. In addition to weeding, she helped us harvest some umalau for potato soup and plant some green beans, too. We dug up the umalau in the field close to the house that had been dug up by a pig last September and then left to reseed itself. Leku found the hugest umalau I've ever seen!
Umalau and Sarah
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Marulaon hasn't had any petrol (gasoline) since we arrived. Aaron brought some from Honiara for the translation committee, and we also have a reserve for ourselves as a part of our emergency plan in case we need to evacuate quickly. The nearest place to buy petrol right now is Pipisala, a village on the Russells' biggest island. It's not too far away, but the petrol sells for $115 (about US $15) a gallon. It normally sells for $100 a gallon here in Marulaon. We've already been asked for petrol for a priest who ran out of petrol before he reached his destination. Last night, a young boy came and asked for petrol to run his family's generator. We don't have enough petrol for Aaron to be the "village businessman", as the men who sell petrol are called. We don't sell anything, since we value our visas and hope to stay in the Solomons for a very long time. Please pray for wisdom for us to know the best way to use the translation committee's petrol and to use our own.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Is this a fast, to keep
The larder lean,
From fat of veals and sheep?
Is it to quit the dish
Of flesh, yet still
The platter high with fish?
Is it to fast an hour,
Or Ragg'd to go,
A downcast look and sour?
No: 'tis a fast to dole
Thy sheaf of wheat
Unto the hungry soul.
It is to fast from strife,
From old debate
To circumcise thy life.
To show a heart grief-rent
To starve thy sin;
And that's to keep thy Lent.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
At market this morning we learned that a tsunami warning had been in effect for last night. Many of our neighbors who live on the beach moved to higher ground to spend the night. We saw lots of people walking around around 9 o'clock last night and noticed that people were unusually active early this morning. Most of our village stayed up all night long just in case the tsunami came. They told us they didn't want to disturb our sleep since we were already on high ground. The tide was abnormally high this morning, but thankfully we have heard of no damage or loss of life in the Solomons.
Aaron had asked the translation committee to be ready for transportation at 8 o'clock this morning, but they finally began trickling in around noon. Gotta love that "Solomon Time"! Not all of the committee showed up, even though Aaron had gone to visit the East Russells and taken them money for petrol last Wednesday. He was a little bit frustrated because it's hard to accomplish tasks when people don't show up. As a result, the new translators still haven't been chosen. Obviously, this isn't something that should be rushed, because we want the translators to be prayerfully chosen.
I asked Kiko to help me prepare food for the translation committee. At market this morning, I bought green beans, slippery cabbage, and eggplant to use for serving the committee. Earlier this week, we bought noodles (like Ramen noodles) at Marulaon's small store, and I set a bag with all of the food on the porch. Janet, chief Leonard's wife, came by to see if we had any noodles since the store was out. I gave her a package, and when she asked for some of the slippery cabbage I bought, I told her she could cut some that grew in our yard. A little bit later, I took all of the food down to Kiko's kitchen, and she and I prepared the veggies with coconut milk, noodles, and canned tuna. She had just finished cooking "bun cake" (what I would call yeast rolls) in her little open fire oven. I bought the remainder of the rolls to serve to the translation committee.
After we served supper to the committee (and all the mosquitoes that have been enjoying the abundance of rain), our family came home, read our Lenten devotions, and crashed early, anticipating the early bells for Sunday morning.
Friday, March 11, 2011
Tomorrow is a big day for the Lavukal translation project. Aaron is meeting with the entire committee to finish selecting translators and to review some training. Please pray for Aaron as he organizes transportation for committee members all over the Russells and as he leads the meeting and continues to build relationships with these men.
Wednesday, March 9
Everybody was up a little after 5 o'clock to get Henk and Margreet out the door in time to catch the Kosko in Yandina. Aaron went with them, made sure they got on the ship, then traveled east to Louna to talk with some members of the translation committee there. While he was gone, Katherine and I attended the Ash Wednesday morning prayer service. After the service, we went down for a late market with loads of green beans, papaya, and green coconuts. Today was the kids' first day back at school in over two weeks, and they did a great job of getting back into the routine. Aaron got home just in time for lunch, and the afternoon was spent in continuing to unpack and finishing school work.
Tonight, we all fell asleep really quickly, but Aaron and I were awakened at some point by the choir practicing, "Up from the grave He arose!". We finally drifted back off to sleep only to be awakened again when choir practice finished and everybody walked by our bedroom window visiting loudly. Our neighbors think we are crazy that we go to bed so early instead of staying up half the night and then taking long naps during the day. I guess it's just a part of this culture to which we haven't been able to adapt yet!
Thursday, March 10
Today was the third of three work days at the church. While we were in Honiara, our neighbors finished painting the inside yellow and began plastering the outside. Aaron was able to help out today, even in the rain.
We are still learning about this culture's different value of time. Tuesday night, the bell for evening prayer rang at 4:20. Last night, it rang at 6:40, and tonight it rang at 5:30. Flexibility is the key to living here! Leave that watch at home and enjoy life on "Solomon Time".
Thursday, March 10, 2011
My neighbors have all been telling me that my umalau are overripe. So, Margreet, Benjamin and I went out to my bush garden to harvest all that we could salvage. Naris and her four-year-old, Soima, went, too. We came back filthy after digging the umalau out of the dirt, but we had four bags full! I asked Eileen and Naris if they thought it would be appropriate to market the umalau to help raise money for the Translation Committee, and they both thought it was a great idea. So, this morning, I went down to Eileen's and gave her the umalau to sell to help pay for things like petrol to pick up the members of the committee. We set up 15 heaps of umalau, and once word got out, they sold quickly. All of the money went into Eileen's little jar, and she raised $75 (about US$10). I'm so thankful for her willingness to donate the ground and so much of her own time and energy to help the Lavukal Bible Translation.
Henk & Margreet coming to Marulaon.
Henk and Margreet have been so busy helping us. What a blessing to have an extra pair of eyes to help little ones push their drinks back from the edge of the table and an extra set of hands to tackle the mending pile that has been growing. I feel like I have a big sister here! Henk has been installing new "closets" for us - open shelves with a bar to hang our clothes. No more digging through plastic baskets and trying to avoid the spiders while fishing out a clean shirt! He has also worked on some plumbing and electrical issues to help things run a little bit more smoothly around here. We will be sorry to see them leave early in the morning to catch the Kosko in Yandina.
Monday, March 7, 2011
We just came in from church a little bit ago, so I thought I would try e-mail. Thankfully, it's been working fairly well!
Yesterday was a great day. Leku came and helped us motu (or burn, as they say, since we don't use any water or coconut cream) umalau (sweet potato) and ubikola (cassava). When I went to take the munuv leaves for the motu, I made a foolish mistake. I KNOW that kukuia, those nasty little acid ants that burn like fire, live in the munuv tree. But I still whacked at the branch while I stood underneath, just as Isabella walked by. Suddenly, I had a shower of ants all over my face and chest. I was thankful to be wearing my glasses! I quickly passed the knife to Benjamin and raced inside for a quick shower. When I came back outside, Leku and Isabella both exclaimed at how red my neck and chest were. I guess they aren't used to seeing skin react quite so brilliantly!
Later in the afternoon, I took a break from cleaning to walk around and visit with several of my friends. I got lots of language data and laughed a whole bunch.
This morning at church, Aaron officially handed over the rain tank to the community. Now it will be up to them to build a platform and install the tank. In just a little bit, he will be leaving to go pick up Henk and Margreet in Yandina on the other side of the Russells. The Bikoi still isn't running, so they took a different ship which only stops in the East Russells on its way to the West. The motor canoe ride is about 45 minutes one way, and Aaron was able to find someone else going already to split the price of petrol. We're really looking forward to their visit and to all of the little things they fix while they are here. They have been a huge blessing to all of us at SITAG, and we are so thankful for them!
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Whew! Yesterday and today we have scrubbed and washed and unpacked and we are so close to being settled again. When we arrived in Marulaon, we learned that Barnabas's wife had died in January, so we were thankful that he dropped by to visit for a couple hours yesterday.
We found full rain tanks and a garden that was not well tended. Once again, my root crops and the papaya trees are the only thing that did well. I learned that the young lady we hired to tend the yard went to Honiara for a while, but it's always an experiment to leave things in somebody else's hands. So, we'll start over with the tomatoes and the Chinese cabbage and the green beans. We should be here long enough to eat the fruit of our hands if we plant right away. This morning at market, we found a couple of small pineapple, much to our delight! Also, a parcel of wing bean, one of green beans, loads of eggplant (as always!), several heaps of capsicum, a few papaya, some sugar cane, cassava, and a few coconuts showed up. I'm always so thankful for any fresh fruits and veggies!
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Moving Day by Helen M. Hartman, edited by the Choate family
The moving is all over, The ship has chugged away,--
And I stand in consternation
Where confusion holds full sway.
Around me heaps of boxes
Bulging -- bursting -- gaping wide!
As I look, I wish to blazes
I could run away and hide.
Oh! the days that lie before me
While I clear away the mess
And endeavor to establish
Law and order, more or less,
Seeking spoons and hunting dishes;
Where's the towel? where's the soap?
Salt and pepper, tea and coffee?
Why, you're sitting on them, dope!
Now we've put away the kettles,
But there's still much to be done;
Countless errands keep us busy
Inside, outside, on the run;
Hauling buckets, finding spiders,
Where's the bug spray, my yard is lush!
Hurry, hurry; do keep busy!
We can finish if we rush.
Then at last the house is cosy,
Tables polished; windows shine;
Books are gleaming on clean bookshelves --
The effect is really fine.
Everything has been remembered;
Our address is in the mail
And we wait for friendly callers
Who are coming without fail.
But I think, Oh, may I never
Never, never move again!
In this house I'd like so much Forever to remain!
But to this life God's called me,
His grace lifts me when I'm down,
So I'll gladly keep on moving
Back and forth to Marulaon.
Friday, March 4, 2011
Thursday, March 3
Yesterday afternoon, Aaron went back down to the wharf to load while the kids said their goodbyes to the friends and I finished cleaning up the house. One of our colleagues stopped by to help and another called with the offer of supper. About 5:20, our friend with supper called to say that the food was ready. Ten minutes later, she called back to tell us that Aaron had called (expecting us to be at our friend's house) to say that the ship planned to leave at 6:00. She quickly put the food into portable containers, and we loaded into a van and drove to the wharf.
Thankfully, the "six o'clock" was Solomon Time, and we didn't actually get on the boat until around seven. We got to watch them load the rain tank, though! The Bikoi finally pulled out around 7:30 as we waved goodbye to friends who had stayed on the dock until the bitter end. We sat in the harbor for about 30 minutes, then we finally began to chug away toward the Russells.
The captain's wife had convinced the captain to stretch a tarp across the deck since Bikoi 2 was carrying about 15 passengers, including our family. The hold was underneath us, covered with wooden planks and a plastic tarp. We just climbed on top with our mats and back packs, but the ride was much smoother than the Bikoi 1. Rain began to pelt the boat around 8:30, so we were very thankful for the foresight of the captain's wife.
Sol Brew (the local beer) flowed freely among the crew, and the radio blasted all night. Around 4:30, the ship pulled in between Karumalun and Marulaon and waited for a canoe to pick us up. Aaron had given the crew an itemized list of our cargo, and they brought the list back with details of our shipping charges. We were shocked that they charged about three times the rate of the Bikoi 1, but at that point, there was nothing we could do but be thankful that they allowed us on the boat! Finally, we saw a light approaching, and Ezekiel and the new District Priest, Wilson, pulled up. Dismounting the Bikoi 2 was quite different from anything I've experienced before! Thankfully, we had a ladder to climb down into the darkness and the waiting canoe below. The rain paused long enough for the kids and me to get loaded with a few things, and we sped back to Marulaon. A new moon and lots of clouds made the night pitch dark, and I was soooo thankful that several of our friends were standing on the shore with flashlights guiding the boat!
We unlocked the door to the house right at 5 a.m. and began sweeping and wiping off gecko poop and spider webs while we waited for Aaron and the rest of our cargo. The rain picked up while the rain tank was dumped overboard and corralled by two canoes all the way to Marulaon. Aaron decided to leave all of our stuff underneath Eileen's small shelter until daylight. The kids and I crashed about 6 for a little nap while "super-man" stayed up and began to unpack.
After a couple of hours, we began to emerge from our haze and began to clean and carry boxes with a vengeance. Our neighbors helped get everything up to the house. It was a little disheartening to hear them say things like, "The rain tank is awfully small," and, "You only brought one?" We tried to explain where we got the money for the rain tank so they didn't think we were independently wealthy. Once again, a big thank you to those of you who contributed towards the rain tank. On Sunday, Aaron will make a public gift of the rain tank to the community.
The rest of the day was spent in cleaning, washing clothes, and unpacking. Ezekiel came by and stayed for a couple of hours in the afternoon and caught Aaron up with the Translation Committee. No translators have been selected yet, but a meeting is scheduled for next week. We're hoping that things will move forward quickly now.
We appreciate your prayers so much for things like calm seas and safe travels. Only one container of petrol (with fuel for the translation committee) went missing, and we are so thankful to be home again.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Dear Friends of the Choates,
I just got off the radio with the Choates. They arrived safe and sound in the village around 4:30 am this morning. (Thursday) They arrived to find their rain tanks full to overflowing so that is a blessing that they don’t have to worry about water at this time. They brought out a new 2,000 gallon rain tank to go on their church’s roof and it was dropped off and floated to shore without a problem. Once filled, that tank should help ease their village’s water concerns even more.
Joanna said that once they get settled they’ll try out the HF email system to see how that is working. Until then, she wanted everyone to know that they have safely arrived.
PS. As always, if you’d like any messages passed along to the Choate family via radio, please feel free to write to firstname.lastname@example.org.