From January 15

Aaron and I woke up before the sun this morning.  As always, the sun coming up over the mountains of Guadalcanal created gentle purple streaks in the morning sky.  We finished the last minute preparations, woke up the kids, washed a couple of loads of sheets to give Betsy a head start, sent out the February prayer calendar, and headed out the door a few minutes after seven in a loaded van driven by a SITAG friend.

Aaron hopped on the ship to look for a good spot for our family while the rest of us unloaded the van on the crowded wharf.  Then, with the help of a few Solomon Islanders, we passed all of our cargo (including lots of plants from my Lavukal friend, Mary) up to our spot on the second deck of the ship.  You can see Olivia and Sarah leaning over the edge...

but to give you a better idea of the size of the ship...

Can you still see them?

We still had over an hour to wait before the ship's scheduled departure, so the kids began to play cards,

and Aaron and I people watched.  Some of our SITAG friends were actually brave enough to get on the boat when they came down to the wharf.

We saw a pretty bird being carried onto the ship in a local bird cage.

 Eventually thirteen people from SITAG showed up to see us off - we felt so loved!  Some of them we won't see again until next year when we return from furlough.  Saying goodbye never gets any easier.

The ship was scheduled to leave at nine o'clock, but it pulled out a few minutes before ten.

Just as the boat began to move, somebody decided to get off the boat, so he jumped back onto the wharf and friends began to throw his cargo to him. 

A bucket missed the wharf and landed in the water...

I think every passenger on the boat and every spectator on the wharf was giggling!  As far as I know, he fished his bucket out of the ocean, but the Kosko was chugging away, so I didn't see the end of the story.  After we pulled away from the wharf, the captain must have decided to test out the Kosko and see what she could do, because the ship did a couple of 360s in the middle of the ocean.  But we were soon chugging away toward the Russells.

We spent the trip napping and reading...

and when we arrived at Yandina in the East Russells, Aaron hopped off and bought us some ring cake (donuts), a green coconut to drink,

 and some pineapple.  Yum!

Since today is Sunday, the villages in the West Russells choose not to market the ships that come through.  So, Yandina is the last chance to buy fresh foood until the boat finally reaches the western part of the Solomons on Monday.

The last hour sped by as we recognized the villages the boat passed on its way to Marulaon.

Finally, we arrived in the waters between Marulaon and Karumalun.  We had been visiting with a family just beside us, and as we got ready to leave the boat, they asked why we were in the Russells.  When I told them that Aaron was advising a Bible translation, they said, "We KNEW you were in Bible translation!"  Turns out, they are really good friends with a SITAG colleague and very familiar with SITAG's work in the Solomons.  Never know who might be watching!

One of our friends from Marulaon, Oliver, was on board, and he told us that he had phoned his brother with the news that we were coming.  No matter how hard we work to communicate and let our neighbors know our schedule, we never quite know if they will be surprised when we show up.  Oliver's brother's canoe loaded up the kids and me, in addition to lots of our cargo and the group that was traveling with Oliver. 

We sped back to Marulaon and unloaded so the canoe could return to the boat for the rest of our things, Aaron, and the rest of Oliver's things.  Everybody and everything had to unload down the rope ladder on the side of the boat.

We walked into the house a little before five o'clock, took off our backpacks, and went back to carry more boxes up the hill. 

I'm so thankful for our kind Marulaon neighbors who help us!  While we waited for Aaron and the second load, I sat down with Ofain and caught up on the local news.  Two new babies had been born to sisters while we had been in Honiara, and we missed both Christmas and New Year's in Marulaon.  So, we had lots of catching up to do.

The canoe finally returned to shore, and we began bringing up the last of our cargo.  I've never been so thankful for boxed macaroni and cheese, but it's our traditional "first night in Marulaon" meal.  Did you see in the clock picture where Aaron had already written "welcome home" and "macaroni and cheese" for the meal plan on the chalkboard at the end of the last trip?

Paper plates made the meal a snap, since we haven't washed all of the dishes yet to remove the spider webs and ants that accumulated while we were gone.  We crashed as soon as we were clean.  We are so grateful for calm seas and a smooth trip back to our beautiful home in Marualon, but we are especially thankful for all of the people who pray for us as we make the transition once again out to the village.


Ann said…
The beauty and color in some of these pictures is absolutely breathtaking!

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