Thursday, October 31, 2013

Goodbye again

Once again, it was time for our SITAG family to come out in full force and get a village team packed up and on the boat.  I'm so thankful that our kids get to be a part of something like this!  After a full morning of school and a quick lunch, we drove over to our friends' house to help load up the truck and to do whatever needed to be done.
Our friends had a list of things still to be done, and one of those was a trip to market to buy some fruits and veggies to take out to the village.  So we left Benjamin and Olivia with some SITAG uncles to stay with the truck until it went down to the wharf.  The rest of our family fought Honiara traffic to get to the market.  Can you see the traffic in the mirror?  Katherine needed a little rest, and she had plenty of time while we sat in traffic.

After we bought food, we drove back up to our friends' house and packed up the food, wiped out the fridge, and waited for word that the ship was on its way to the wharf.  Around 4 o'clock, another SITAG colleague called to say he could the ship chugging in, so we all began the descent to the wharf to help unload the truck.

Back in the SITAG van again, we followed the truck carrying boxes, a SITAG uncle, and all four of our kids.  Our cell phone rang while we were stuck in bumper to bumper traffic.  It was our friends trying to catch the ship, and they were desperate for the woven mats in the back of the truck.  They needed to save their places on the boat.  Our ships don't have assigned seats, you just find a spot on the floor and spread out, hoping you have enough room to sleep!  So our amazing colleagues, who are always up for an adventure, decided that the mats would arrive at the wharf faster if they were hand carried!

So the SITAG uncle jumped out of the truck and ran with the mats all the way to the wharf.  (His behavior was acceptable in Solomon Island culture, don't worry!)  Our friends got their mats a little faster,

and when we arrived,we were able to sit with him to help hold their spots on the ship.  These guys were the "Three Musketeers" all day long, backing the big truck all the way down the wharf onto the ship, being on call the entire afternoon and evening, lending their muscles, chatting with the crowd at the wharf while we waited, doing whatever needed to be done. 
We anticipated the ship to leave late, so the families of the Three Musketeers decided to go grab a bite to eat (the first time our family has gone out to eat at night here), then come back to the wharf.  Just after we had ordered our food, the phone rang.  Our colleagues were calling to let us know that the ship had blown its whistle, and they would be pulling out soon.  We were shocked!  Katherine was in tears because she wanted to hug her friend one more time and say goodbye.  But we enjoyed the rest of our meal with the other two SITAG families.  On the way home, we needed to drive by the wharf to pick up the SITAG truck.  What did we find in addition to the truck?  Our friends' ship!!! 
Here is God's perfect timing in action.  Two hours after the first whistle blew, the ship was still at the wharf.  We quickly called our friends, and with the ship's crew standing at the front of the landing craft waiting to lift the front of the ship, we hugged one more time.  Seconds later, the ship began to pull away from the wharf, and we waved until we could no longer see our friends.  By the time we got home, it was way past time for bed, and everybody took quick showers and hopped into bed.  Just another "normal" day in the Solomon Islands.  Full of God's good gifts!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pumpkin Dream Cake

Two lovely ladies have been busy in my kitchen for the last two afternoons after school. 
They've been making a pumpkin dream cake
I first saw the recipe on my friend's blog, then the recipe showed up again on "25 Pumpkin Desserts to Eat This Fall".  If this cake keeps showing up over and over, it must be good, right?!?  My family votes yes!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Kosco Update

Our ship out to Marulaon Village has been delayed, maybe until next weekend.  We're just practicing our flexibility around here!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Kastom Gaden Association

My adventure buddy and I drove out to the Kastam Gaden Association (KGA) this morning.  It was so much more than what we anticipated!  We were hoping to find some seeds and/or some seedlings to take out to our villages.  We found our seeds and plants, but we found a thriving education program as well.
We made a new friend, Thecla, who showed us around the gardens, helped us join the KGA, gave us free seeds, pinched off sorghum (above) because it's good to feed to chickens,
and pinched off dried marigold seeds because their are good to help keep pests away from the garden.  We picked up booklets about choosing and saving seeds, how to keep chickens for income & food, and natural ways to keep the gardens as pest free as possible.  We also learned that the KGA leads training seminars in villages if we provide food and a place to stay.  I will definitely be talking to my friends in Marulaon about this!  Next door, an organic farm had rows of different seedlings for sale.  While we waited to talk to someone in charge, we made new friends.
I was hoping to take home three flats (with 39 seedlings each), one of Chinese cabbage, one of tomatoes, and one of capsicum.  But we learned that the wooden flats have to come right back to the farm, so I only ended up with a handful of plants to take out to Marulaon Village.  But I learned so much today!  I'm excited to share what I learned with my friends in the village, and I think this is only the first of many trips to visit our new friends at the Kastam Gaden Association.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Baseball Games

While the Cardinals and the Red Sox battled it out back in the States, we had a fierce game of baseball in our front yard this afternoon.  Boys from three countries (America, Canada, and the Solomon Islands) mapped out a baseball diamond and roped Aaron and Chief Leonard into playing with them.  First base was at the top of our steps, where Aaron is standing.  To give perspective, I have to shift into first gear and gun the engine to get the car up the driveway.  It's pretty steep.

Caroline even jumped in and batted, but after running up those steps to first base, she decided that home was where she belonged on a Sunday afternoon!

Chief Leonard covered third base (the tree) like he had been playing baseball all of his life!  For several hours, I heard shrieks of laughter and cheers in three languages (Pijin, Lavukaleve, and English).  What a fabulous way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Morning Grumpies

-The boom of the bass notes began at 5:30 this morning.  A Saturday morning.  Somebody was throwing a BIG party just down the hill.
-All of our village sheets (five sets) trying to get dry on the porch because it has rained yesterday afternoon and all day today.
-Kosco has changed its schedule and we don't know when we'll be going out to Marulaon.  The uncertainty presents a challenge for me.
My morning grumpies began to change when I read:
"We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near;
men tell of your wonderful deeds."  Psalm 75:1
-Yummy pumpkin spice donuts that Sarah made for breakfast as we pretend it's Autumn here
-I found a bloggy friend who mirrored my own feelings.  Her insights about surrender gave me the kick in the pants I needed.
-The realization that we really could use a few more days to pack and that God's timing is always perfect!
-A phone call with a SITAG colleague.  By the time we finished chatting, this edifying friend had woven enough "telling of God's wonderful deeds" into the conversation that my whole attitude had changed.  I'm still amazed that praising God and reflecting on who He is makes my heart turn around 180 degrees and draws me near to Him.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Teeth stories

Benjamin in November 2006

With Katherine missing her two front teeth, we've been interested in what our Solomon Islands neighbors do when they pull teeth.  The Lavukal throw their teeth up on their leaf roof and sing a song (two notes, a minor third apart) to the geckos to bring the new tooth back quickly.  "Kokomita de ngoneo, nam nganeo"  (Gecko, take your tooth, give me my tooth.)
We asked some of our friends from different languages what they do with their teeth.  Some of them throw the teeth on the roof, too, but sing different songs, like to the rats or to the toads.  Our friends from Malaita told us they put the teeth in a banana tree where new fruit is growing.  Why?  I asked.  Because bananas grow fast, and you want your new tooth to grow in quickly, too.  I am amazed at the creativity and variety that exists among the different languages in the Solomon Islands!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Choate crew was working in the kitchen preparing supper when Aaron came scurrying up the concrete steps and into the house hollering, "There's a rainbow outside!"  We all scrambled out the door and up the hill to our neighbor's porch to catch the lovely view.

We tried one of those new pumpkin recipes:  marbled chocolate pumpkin brownies.  It's a keeper!

Food is always more fun when it's shared.  So, we invited some friends over to eat and play 1000 Places to See Before You Die.  It was a great way to finish a Tuesday!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

More Goodbyes

Our lives are incredibly transient.  We are always coming and going, saying hellos and goodbyes.  And so are our colleagues.  It's one of the hardest parts of our job.
Last night, SITAG held a farewell dessert for some dear friends of ours who will be leaving the Solomon Islands shortly after we go back to the village.  Sarah made a moist carrot cake.  Every November we make a birthday carrot cake for this "Uncle", and this year he won't be here to enjoy it.

I caught these two sitting in the floor deep in conversation before the program began.  I wondered, what kinds of things are they discussing?  So thankful for their friendship.

This couple fills in as grandparents for our kids, and our kids fill in as grandkids for this couple.  It works well that way!  Katherine loves them so much that she overcame nerves to write and sing a song to her adopted grandparents.

The SITAG kids also prepared a couple of songs as a tribute.

You can almost always find kids piled on this lap!  And see Katherine wiggling those two front teeth?  Any day now, any day.
After all of the fun and games, we held a time of prayer for this precious couple.  Oh, how we love them, and we're looking forward to watching God continue to work in their lives.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Honiara Woman's Daybook

Just for today...Monday, October 21

Outside my window...rain, lovely rain.  I've heard several people say they think rainy season has begun early.  I love the coolness it brings here in Honiara.

Pondering these words..."I have always been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I slowly discovered that my interruptions were my work."  ~Mark Buchanan

From the learning rooms...John Adams, Sequoyah, Thomas Jefferson (Katherine is enjoying "Revolutionary John Adams" and "Thomas Jefferson" by Cheryl Harness, "Worst of Friends: Thomas Jefferson and John Adams" by Suzanne Tripp Jurmain); Sarah is using congruent triangles in geometry (glad Aaron is good at math!), only three days of school as we pack up the books

One of my favorite things...Skype chats!  I'm so glad my parents made me take typing in high school and that those years of piano lessons helped me type really fast.

A few plans for the rest of the week...some company coming before we shut down the kitchen on Thursday, school finishes on Wednesday, need to make some more granola for the village (the last batch had 24 cups of oatmeal), and just lots of packing and sorting.  And write Christmas cards, too.
Crafting in the kitchen...I stumbled across this link to 25 Pumpkin Desserts.  We're shutting down the kitchen in a few days, but I think we will try as many of these as we can!

A heart of gratitude...Friends who help me experience Autumn through their eyes.

A peek into my corner of the world...celebrating a SITAG "uncle's" birthday yesterday morning with breakfast before church


Friday, October 18, 2013

School Pictures (Thank you, Naomi!)

"Behold, children are a gift of the Lord;
The fruit of the womb is a reward.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,

So are the children of one's youth."
Psalm 127:3-4

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Like Sun Behind the Clouds...

Yesterday, the kids and I drove Naomi and her dad to the airport to fly back to Australia.  Their presence in Honiara was like sunshine.  We loved having them be part of our family, borrowing ingredients, walking up and down our long hallway, combining loads of laundry, sharing meals.  It's been almost two years since the last time we had to say goodbye.  Without them, it's like the sun has gone behind the clouds and we miss their brightness and warmth.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Honiara Woman's Daybook

Just for today...Monday, October 14
Around the papaya seeds drying to take out to the village to plant, an ice cube with salt melting a hole in it as Sarah and Benjamin do science experiments
From the learning rooms...George Washington becomes president, so we've got lots of great picture books in the basket:  "George Washington" by Ingri D'Aulaire, "George Washington and the General's Dog" by Frank Murphy, "George Washington's Breakfast" by Jean Fritz, "Farmer George Plants a Nation" by Peggy Thomas, "George Washington" by Cheryl Harness, "George Washington's Teeth" by Deborah Chandra & Madeleine Comora, "George vs. George" by Rosalyn Schanzer, "George Washington and the First Balloon Flight" by Edmund Lindup, and "Everyday Dress of the American Colonial Period Coloring Book" by Peter F. Copeland
On my bookshelf... "The Whole World Guide to Language Learning" by Terry Marshall.  Not pleasure reading, but it helps me make a plan for learning Lavukaleve in the village.
Noticing that...I'm forgetting it's autumn.  Last week, we got a care package from a sweet friend with Dunkin Donuts "Cinnamon Spice" coffee inside.  I haven't done a very good job at celebrating the changing of the seasons, except for giving everybody new toothbrushes.
One of my favorite packages!  We received one today from our S.S. class in Texas.  Olivia found a hug from one of her friends,
and I was super excited to find my favorite coffee from my favorite coffee house, White Rhino.  We sure do miss those guys.  A huge thank you to our S.S. class for encouraging us, especially as we are only two weeks away from going back to Marulaon Village.
Crafting in the kitchen...Naomi and her dad are coming for their "last meal" tonight.  We're having comfort food, homemade mac and cheese.  SITAG won't be the same without their cheerful smiles.
A few plans for the rest of the a couple of times this week (what a joy!), making lots of granola to take out to Marulaon, Aaron doing big shopping trips for everything we'll need in the village, trying to finish the school schedule so things can run smoothly while we're in Marulaon, and making a language learning plan
A peek into my corner of the world...I love school at home.  Sarah was making "rain" at the stove for a science experiment
and Benjamin was reading history on the porch.  Katherine often tells me "thank you" for schooling her at home so she can snuggle me!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Race Day

Team Choate participated in the 5K (Aaron, Joanna, Sarah, and Benjamin) and the 2K (Olivia and Katherine) this year in the Fly Solomons races.

As always, I had my faithful exercise buddy to keep me company and spur me on toward the finish line.

Thirty-two people raced for team SITAG (half marathon, 5K, & 2K) and several more helped by running with the little ones in the 2K, cheering, and watching the ice chest with cold green coconuts and water bottles.

After the race, we enjoyed a time of yummy food, sweet fellowship, and singing praises to God who made our bodies able to run races.

Finally, many of the group went back for the awards ceremonies.  Our kids did especially well!