Friday, January 31, 2014

A "Normal" Day

 
People often ask us, "What does a normal day look like for your family?"  Today, I started school with the kids around eight o'clock as Aaron left to go pick up a family from the village.  Their language group is on Guadalcanal, so instead of taking a ship, they can ride in a truck.  But they also have to ford rushing rivers during this very rainy season. 


Sarah made a very cute chicken pot pie with heart-shaped biscuits on top to welcome them back to Honiara with a good lunch (yay for "no math Fridays" for Sarah).  After we enjoyed cookies and fellowship, I headed over for an afternoon of committee meetings while Aaron tagged and finished up school with the kids.  While I was plugging away remembering how to input the books from the Educational Research Center into the computer (which also included drinking coffee, munching on snacks, & spending time with my colleagues), Aaron left to take Caroline down to the wharf to catch her ship to return to her village.  We both returned home around five o'clock.  No day is ever the same for us here in the Solomon Islands, and we love the little mundane things that make up our "normal" days.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sweet Caroline


In 2009, Caroline became our Solomon Islands Pijin tutor after Barbara left to attend school in Australia.  She is a JOY and works now in literacy with our friend, Karen.
 
 
Since December, she has been traveling around the United States and Australia sharing about Bible translation and literacy in the Solomon Islands, but she finally came back to the Solomon Islands this week.  We missed celebrating her birthday in December, so tonight we had some belated birthday cake and ice cream while we looked at pictures from her trip.  So thankful for this sweet friend!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

USS Kidd


What began as an article in the newspaper ended up as an amazing field trip today.  The USS Kidd stopped to refuel in Honiara.  So some of us made cookies and some of us made banana bread just to take down as a small thank you to the men and women who serve our country aboard the ship. 


We were told no tours would be scheduled, but we still went down to see the ship close up. Fast forward a couple of hours and throw in a very generous executive officer & commanding officer,  and these pictures tell the rest of the story... 
 




They found our village on the charts!




Monday, January 27, 2014

Honiara Woman's Daybook


Just for today...Monday, January 27
 
On my bookshelf..."Hercule Poirot:  The Complete Short Stories" by Agatha Christie.  Sarah and I are reading it together at night.
 
Pondering these words...wise thoughts from other women experiencing similar circumstances, like living with a foot each in two different worlds and feasting on God's Word in your heart language.
 
Hearing...pounding rain.  Tis the season.
 

Crafting in the kitchen...Aaron had peanut butter banana smoothies just about ready when I came in from walking this morning.  And tonight we'll be enjoying this funny looking fish he found at market this afternoon.
 
 
One of my favorite things...the handsome guy holding the fish above.
 
A few plans for the rest of the week...loads of meetings this week.  Part of life in Honiara.  But when the meetings include coffee and cookies, along with good friends, we get a lot accomplished and have fun doing it!  Friday's meeting is working on adding to our new computer "card catalog" system in the Educational Resource Center.
 
A peek into my corner of the world...Sarah made delicious lamingtons minus the vegemite this time) to celebrate Australia Day yesterday.  We're missing our Aussie friends!
 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sweet Sabbath

"Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new..."
~John Donne
 
Within twelve hours, I discovered both the moving poem "Batter My Heart" and Gerald Finley (one of our favorite baritones) singing "Batter My Heart" (from Dr. Atomic by John Adams).  The Lord knew I needed the reminder, just like the children of Israel needed Jeremiah:
 
My friend, Kayla, is learning how to make pottery & sent me this picture not knowing that God was working on my heart
 
So I went down to the potter's house, and I saw him working at the wheel.  But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.  Then the word of the Lord came to me:  "Oh house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?"  declares the Lord.  "Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel."  Jeremiah 18:3-6
 
Thank You, Lord, for sending sweet reminders like poetry, music, friends, and, most of all, the Bible to teach me about Your faithfulness.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Time for School!

In the Solomon Islands, schools will be beginning a new school year on Monday.  Most of the SITAG national staff have children who attend school, so we gathered this afternoon to pray for each of the students, their schools, teachers, and families.

 
SITAG also presented the students with some school supplies.  For the students that don't live close by, the parents stood in to represent their child.  We're really thankful for each of these families!
 


 
The house smelled good when we returned from the gathering because I left lemon honey chicken cooking in the crockpot.  We found the recipe in "Sonlight Cooks" (have I mentioned how much I LOVE our curriculum?!?).  Since whole chickens aren't cheap here (between US $11-12), it's a special Friday night treat to share chicken with friends who are coming over for supper.  I loved reading all of the comments last weekend about everybody's weekend activities, and I'm looking forward to whatever this weekend brings!
 
Lemon Honey Chicken
1 lemon
1 whole roasting chicken, rinsed
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup honey
 
Pierce lemon with fork.  Place in chicken cavity.  Place chicken in slow cooker.  Combine orange juice and honey.  Pour over chicken.  Cover.  Cook on low 8 hours.  Remove lemon, and squeeze over chicken.  Carve chicken and serve


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Morning


The town was glad with morning light; places that had shown ugly and distrustful all night long, now wore a smile; and sparkling sunbeams dancing on chamber windows, and twinkling through blind and curtain before sleepers' eyes, shed light even into dreams, and chased away the shadows of the night.  ~Charles Dickens, The Old Curiosity Shop


At six o'clock this morning, we discovered that friends coming back from the village were ready to be picked up at Honiara's wharf.  Aaron and I quickly woke the kids, grabbed some bananas, and drove down to welcome back our dear friends.  The morning was bright as the sun came up, and we knew that whatever troubles they had experienced during their eighteen hour trip would now "wear a smile", especially since we also brought a press of coffee down to the wharf.


There are big ships and small ships.  But the best ship of all is friendship. 
~Author Unknown
 


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Research Papers

Sarah is working on a research paper about the advantages and disadvantages of using coconut oil.  Because we live in the Solomon Islands, coconut oil is easily and cheaply available.  In the midst of Sarah's research, she discovered some recipes, one of which she tried immediately so she could experience the benefits of coconut oil herself.  Chocolate Almond Bark is a new family favorite, and it's fun to share, too! 

 
Chocolate Almond Bark
 
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
1/2 cup pure honey
1 cup of crushed almonds
 
In a saucepan, combine cocoa  powder, virgin coconut oil.  Melt on low heat, stirring continuously.  Add honey and stir for 1-2 minutes or until combined.  Remove from heat.  Let cool for 1-2 minutes.  Add in almonds.  Line a 8x8 glass dish with parchment paper.  Pour chocolate mixture into the dish.  Put into the freezer for 30 minutes (or until hard).  Remove from the freezer, break into squares, and enjoy!  Store in the fridge, otherwise chocolate bark will melt.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Babra

 
It's been a few years since Babra introduced us to Solomon Islands' Pijin as our language tutor.
 
 
But she is still lovely as always, and tonight we were so thankful that she was able to catch a ship to Honiara (even with the crazy weather) after visiting with her family over the Christmas holidays.  She'll be on her way back to Australia soon to continue her studies at a university there, and we enjoyed sharing a meal, chatting about cross-cultural living, and eating a little early birthday celebration brownie with her before she leaves the Solomon Islands.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Honiara Woman's Daybook



Just for today...Monday, January 20

Outside my window...a different view than last time we stayed in Honiara.  This time, our SITAG house is in the valley, so we've traded our ocean view for a lush, leafy vista.

On my bookshelf..."The Sacred Romance:  Drawing Closer to the Heart of God" by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge

From the learning rooms...starting back to school today after a week off for moving.

Hearing...Mendelssohn's "Elijah".  How Aaron and I missed this gem, I don't know.  The last few chords at the end of the overture build and build until they climax with the chorus's entrance, "Help, Lord!"  We are so hooked.

A heart full of thankfulness...for a little bit of sunshine poking through today.  The hot water heaters are solar powered, so a little bit of sun means a little bit of warm water for a shower tonight!

Crafting in the kitchen...I'm loving being a full-time homemaker again.  I made cottage cheese this afternoon and chopped veggies to my heart's content.  We're having spaghetti pie tonight, and the rest of the cottage cheese will go into a dilly cheese spread to eat with crackers for lunch tomorrow.


One of my favorite things...love, love, LOVE these thermoses my mom had made for us for Christmas.  One heart is on top of our hometown in Arkansas, the other heart is on top of our village in the Solomon Islands, and a dotted line connects the hearts.


A few plans for the rest of the week...continuing to settle in, welcoming two more village teams back to Honiara (yay!), meetings for Aaron, just reminding ourselves of what life looks like in Honiara

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Today has provided us with some of the refilling we needed after a very busy stay in Marulaon Village.  We've listened to God's Word preached in a fabulous Georgia accent, sung lots of hymns together as a family, played games, chatted with friends and family back in America, cooked up some yummy food in the kitchen (some for now and some for later - like an overnight coffee cake for breakfast tomorrow), and these two young ladies spent their Sunday afternoon


 
making a chili pepper concoction to deter pests in their small SITAG garden.  I know it looks like orange soda, but it's really a fiery mixture that would knock your socks off.  Hopefully, it will knock the little critters off the beans that are trying to grow.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

As Cyclone June moves slowly out of the Solomon Islands and on to attack New Caldonia, we continue to wash our clothes:  some sour from our wet trip, some musty from storage in Honiara, some sheets from the village.  We're still getting rain here in Honiara, so all laundry goes hung out on the porch.  We tried sunning the backpacks this morning during a brief spot of sunshine, but the rain came back.


When I pulled my flip-flops out of the box this morning, I found the soles had molded.  Guess that's what happens when you live in a place that births cyclones!  We've been working hard all morning, unpacking and organizing, now Team Choate is going to pause, make a pot of decaf coffee, and play Carcassonne.  Great way to start the weekend!  Would love to reconnect and know how everybody else is spending the weekend...

Friday, January 17, 2014

Cute as a...Squid?


Meet Translyn, Skita's daughter.  Mama and daughter are both spunky.  Getting a picture of this little bundle of energy challenged me because she never stops moving around!

 
When we were back on furlough last year, my brother's girlfriend taught us the finer points of fist bumps.  Between living overseas and my "advanced age", somehow I had missed out on the many types of fist bumps available.  One of our favorites was the "jellyfish".  Early in our stay in Marulaon, I told Skita about fist bumps as I was sharing stories about my family back in America.  I couldn't remember the word for jellyfish, but I could remember squid:  "hoviga".  So I taught Skita the hoviga, and she taught Translyn.  Every time I saw this little spitfire, she yelled "Hoviga!" and I got a sweet little fist bump out of her.  Who knew that a fist bump would cross cultures so well?!?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Our Kosco adventure continued...


 
Immediately, friends began to show up and carry boxes down to the shore. The rain began to let up, so they piled the boxes underneath a big tree that would shelter them a little bit. We finally got everything down the hill, poured some yeast down the toilet to feed the septic system, and locked the house. We had secured two canoes to help us move everything to the Kosco, but only one of them showed up. Belza (Kiko's brother) and his guys loaded our boxes and Aaron into the canoe and headed off into the drizzle to unload onto the Kosco.   What a gift that the pouring rain and driving winds from last night had slacked off!
 

Our neighbors huddled underneath the tree draped in towels and sporting a couple of umbrellas. What a great bunch of friends to stand out in the rain with us while we waited for the return of the canoe.    Ofoaen was one of the first people at our house to help, and now she stood with her grandson, Rube, and chatted while Benjamin teased about putting Rube in his basket and taking him to Honiara along with our family. We watched the Kosco chug out of sight around the corner, and we guessed that it was moving to waters that were a little less choppy to make the loading easier. Many people were loading their bags of copra onto the ship to go into Honiara where the price is much higher, even when you have to pray freight charges for each bag.


Finally, we saw Belza's canoe come speeding toward us, so we hugged necks one last time and loaded ourselves into the canoe (nothing ladylike about standing in knee high water and crawling over the side of the canoe which is rocking wildly). We always have a set of bags that we keep with us at all times, things like the blue cooler bag with lunch inside, the backpack with the computer, and each child's individual backpack with precious things (like books and dry clothes) inside. Finally, we zoomed off to the Kosco, waving goodbye to Marulaon's shore. Belza certainly knew how to steer the canoe through the swells, and we really appreciated his efforts!  Once we reached the Kosco, we climbed on board and began searching for a good place for our family to sit for the next several hours.
 

The kids really like sitting on top, and the breeze was nice to drive away the cigarette smoke and diesel fumes, so we ended up on top of the ship. Bonine helped us deal with the rolling and tossing of the ship, but the Kosco really handled the waves quite well.  We all got settled in on the benches underneath the tarp which would keep off the sprinkles, but we knew if any big squall arose, we would have to go back down to a lower level.


We left Marulaon around 10:00 and arrived in Yandina (in the East Russells) around 11:30. They have a wharf which provides much easier loading and unloading, and also makes a nice place for a small market. Aaron went down to the wharf (can you find him?) and bought a few slices of watermelon for our family. 


The Russell Islands are so beautiful We watched people paddling their canoes to and from the ship with the coconut plantations as a backdrop. 
 
 
After another hour, we began to putt-putt our way toward Honiara. We began to see storm clouds piling up, and as the ship left the refuge of the Russell Islands and headed into open sea, we began to roll even more. We never felt unsafe. The Kosco and its crew are top notch (as long as you ignore the rust and the state of the bathroom!), and we are super thankful for them. As the rain picked up, Aaron and the three big kids went downstairs, but Katherine and I were cocooned with the umbrella and layers of water resistant mats so we stayed on top to sing hymns and enjoy God's amazing creation. However, when the cheap umbrella folded inside out, and the rain began to soak through every single layer I was wearing, I was thankful that Aaron decided to check on us. Katherine stayed toasty warm and dry throughout the whole ordeal, but the rest of us ended up soaked and cold. For the very first time during the daylight hours in the Solomon Islands, I was cold. We ate trail mix and shivered and looked through the pouring rain out from under the tarps on the side of the ship. I visited a little bit with one of our neighbors from Marulaon who was also going into Honiara.
 
Finally, around 6:00, we pulled into the wharf and spied our directors waiting to whisk us and all of our boxes away to SITAG. The girls and I went first in one vehicle with one colleague, while Aaron, Benjamin, and the other colleague stayed to get all of our cargo loaded. The girls took showers, got into dry clothes, and enjoyed some hot chocolate that another colleague had provided (I love my SITAG family!). About 7:20, the guys arrived at our SITAG house and began bringing in the boxes. Our director's family brought supper, yummy chicken pot pie and chocolate pudding cake, and we enjoyed visiting with them until we couldn't keep our eyes open any longer. The hot water in the showers is solar powered, but since nobody has been living in this house for several weeks, we had a little warm water despite several days of tropical storms. Thank you, Lord, for a safe journey despite the weather, for safe cargo, for friends who provide food, for a solid house to call home for the next little while. Falling into bed warm and dry has never felt so good!



The surf was pounding yesterday, and little boys were having a blast riding the waves, which are usually so gentle here in Marulaon. When we heard the updated position of the ship at 5:00, we decided to go ahead and defrost the fridge and freezer, one of our kids' favorite things to do.
 
 
 
Aaron and I each slept with one ear open in case the ship came in the middle of the night, but when daylight began creeping into the sky, the Kosco still hadn't come. We ate bananas from Ofoaen and slathered them with peanut butter. Moses came by asking for some oil since the little village stores were out, and he had heard that the ship had made it to Sege, which is out West, but a little closer to the Russells. So I walked over to Skita's house because her sister had borrowed my big 1.5 liter container of coconut oil (which is liquid at Solomon Island's room temperature!). Skita was still asleep, but I found Daris peeling potatoes for breakfast in their outdoor kitchen. Eta went to find the oil for me while I chatted with Skita's family, who thought the ship was still in Noro, way out West. I came home under skies that were only spitting rain, poured a water bottle full of oil for Moses, and sent Benjamin down to deliver.

 
When everything was tidied up in the house, we decided that we might as well play a family game since it had begun pouring rain outside and we couldn't go visit with our neighbors. While the kids set up the game, I tried to check radio/e-mail again since it hadn't worked earlier in the morning. This time I connected and discovered the tropical storm warning in my inbox! Almost all of my messages came through, but the program kicked me off before it was quite finished. Since we have six adults out in villages right now, we sing out on the radio before we tie up the radio waves with checking our e-mail (sometimes a process that takes 30-60 minutes). I always turn down the volume when we are checking, because it's that lovely dial-up sound when the radio/e-mail is working. So, I turned up the volume, sang out to my colleagues that I was going to try to connect again, and lo and behold, the SITAG director replied from Honiara! She heard us trying to connect and thought she might try and talk to us. She didn't have any updates on the ship, and neither did we, but after only a few seconds of chatting, we heard an unmistakeable, “Koscoooo, Koscooooo”. It was 8:30, perfect timing for a day trip...


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

One More Travel Update

An email just came in with this update:

Please pray for the Choate Family as they are boarding a ship right now (8:30 am Thursday morning - 3:30 pm US - Central). Joanna says it is raining buckets out there and the seas are rough.  They have to walk down a slippery slope with their cargo to board the ship.  Pray for calm seas and tummies. The trip usually takes about 6 hours, this time it will undoubtedly be longer.

Thanks for the prayers!

Tuesday, January 14

Storms in the Solomon Islands (the birth place of tropical storms in the South Pacific) have delayed the Kosco out West in Gizo.  Most people in Marulaon expected the ship to come sometime today, but according to our colleague in Honiara, the ship says it expects to arrive in Marulaon sometime on Wednesday.  So, we were able to get completely packed & have time to visit with several friends.   GFS planted back umalau and came to the house where I helped them transplant Chinese cabbage and tomatoes, sprinkle sawdust around the base of each plant to help keep it cold, and build a shade out of coconut branches surrounded by mosquito nets to keep out the dogs, chickens, and frogs.

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We would appreciate prayers for calm seas as we ride on the Kosco.  We will be traveling at a very busy time of year as people return back to Honiara after going home to their village for Christmas and as students return to Honiara for school.  When our family gets on the boat, we will have to try and find a place among the people who have already been on the boat for hours and hours.  They have always been very gracious to scoot over a little bit and make room for us, but we often have to split our family into three groups of two to find a spot on the ship.

Travel Update

Wednesday, January 15
We just got off the radio with SITAG, and the Kosco is still delayed out West because of the high winds and storms.  Our surf is still pounding on our normally quiet beach, and the brisk breeze has been so refreshing!  The contact person on the ship says it should reach Marulaon "tonight" but that usually means sometime in the dark.  Everybody we've talked to thinks the ship will come early in the morning.  So, we're unpiling the mattresses, remaking the beds, enjoying one of our easy box mixes for supper, and going to bed early in anticipation of a middle of the night shout of "Koscooooo".  Please keep us in your prayers, especially as we will probably go out in canoes in the dark and load the ship.

Monday, January 13

It's January 13th.  That can mean only one thing in the Choate household.  Rocky road ice cream.  It's our “proposal-versary” today!  When Aaron proposed to me, he told me that he knew our past had been rocky, but that the Rocky Road ice cream (Yarnell's, of course, because his mom is a Yarnell) was our rock of the present.  Then he pulled out an engagement ring and said that it was the rock of the future, and would I marry him?  Obviously, I said yes!  So every year on January 13, our family finds a way to eat rocky road ice cream.  This year we saved treats from care packages to be able to make and enjoy the precious treat of ice cream.  I think it's a great way to celebrate!
Yesterday, during the speeches, Chief Leonard extended the holiday festivities one more night.  So last night was full of drunks walking by our house, groups sing-rolling and banging, and very loud music with a thumping beat.  It lasted until almost 7 o'clock this morning.  The Girls' Friendly Society (GFS) was supposed to come help me dig heaps in the garden, plant back umalau, haul dirt for the Chinese cabbage beds, cut down coconut branches to build shade for the Chinese cabbage, and transplant the cabbage.  The whole family planned to work with them to tackle the work.  But Leku was sent to tell me that they all partied the night away and needed to sleep.  GFS would come tomorrow.  So our family hauled dirt all morning in preparation, and then God gave us an absolutely lovely day of soft rain.  Good for the rain tanks, good for the gardens, good for my dry heart.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sunday, January 12

Last night we heard that the District Priest was coming this morning to lead a communion service, something that doesn't happen very often since he has seven villages in his district.  In addition to the longer service this morning, we also had a “closing” feast for the Christmas and New Year's season of festivity.  So after church, the kids went and got the lelenga out from under the stones, and we cut it up to share with our neighbors at the feast. 

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It is perfectly acceptable to eat a little before you go to the feast, and even to keep some back for yourself is expected.  The first time somebody told me this, all I could envision was taking a 9x13 casserole to a church potluck in the States.  And the casserole had ¼ of its contents removed.  We truly do live in a different culture!

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The routine is familiar now, gather all of the food in one big place.  Distribute it among the tables, wave the flies away, bless the food, and grab what you want as quickly as possible.  Then we all eat while we listen to speeches.  As a “big man”, Aaron was asked to give a speech, and we shared our mat with Janet and her adorable little girl, Lolikia.  IMG_0740 - Copy (320x213)

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We got home around 12:30 and began the packing process again.  We did make time to observe our Sunday afternoon traditions of making pizza and playing games.  All work and no play, you know.  It's also important to us to observe the Sabbath and rest some, even among the chaos of packing.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Jan 10 & 11

Friday, January 10
The kids have worked hard to finish up the semester a little bit earlier than planned so we can pack up the school books and get ready for our departure to Honiara next week.  Today was the day to tackle every single book in the house.    We take a barely damp cloth and wipe every outside surface of the book, then flip through the book looking for signs of mildew or bugs.  For the first time in our five years in the Solomon Islands, we found some bug damage, but not much.  We love our literature rich curriculum, and as Sarah loves to say, “Home is where my books are!”.

 

Saturday, January 11
Market this morning was a little sad since it was our last one before we head back to Honiara.  I was telling everybody thank you for providing fruits and veggies for our family, and they were coming back with how much they were going to miss the money that we provided for the community.  I guess it's a win-win situation.
After market, we all went out to the garden to harvest uvikola.  Since the kids all have their own bush knife now, nobody has an excuse not to work. We weeded, too, in preparation for planting back umalau, hopefully Monday late afternoon. Everybody here seems to think that the ship will come Tuesday. I sure could use an extra day.

After working hard in the garden, we came back to the house devoured a pineapple, papaya, and pomelo, along with lots of water, then began to haul dirt to fill up a Chinese cabbage bed. My leg began to throb, so I came in to fix a good lunch for everybody, and about 1:00 we all fell on the table like ravenous wolves. So thankful for the red papaya and the slippery cabbage that showed up at market this morning. Our bodies were craving fruits and veggies!
Then we began the peeling and scraping uvikola for lelenga. At 3:30 I shooed the kids off to play. Aaron just finished scraping and squeezing twelve coconuts, I still have a mountain of cassava to peel and scrape. About time to get the fire going, too. God has been faithful to give strength each minute of today, there's no other explanation! Looking forward to falling into bed tonight! Smile

Jan 8 & 9

Wednesday, January 8
What an amazing group of ladies gathered today to check the story of the serpent tempting Eve!  My friend, Margaret, chose a compatible bunch.  Some grandmothers, some mamas about my age, and a young single mama worked together, asked questions, laughed a lot, and made a few changes to clarify the story.  This group knew me well, so they weren't afraid, and I knew them well so I didn't mind looking stupid when I didn't know the meaning of words.  I brought popcorn and kool-aid again, the ever popular duo!  And after we finished checking the story, we enjoyed snacking and visiting.  I would work with this bunch of ladies any day, doing just about anything!

Last night, Olivia began showing signs of malaria, and this morning she continued to exhibit classic symptoms, so we began a round of anti-malaria meds.  She still did school this morning, just from her bed.  We expect her to be up and about again tomorrow.

 

Thursday, January 9
Moses came to ask for water tonight.  Seems that the big 2,000 gallon tank on the church is empty, and most of the other tanks in the village are empty, too.  We've been hot and sunny with no rain for a couple of weeks now.  The two tanks in front of our house still have plenty of water, but the traffic has increased dramatically in the last 24 hours.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Tuesday, January 7

Chief Leonard's brother, Piru (which also means fishing line), teaches school in the Russell Islands.  He and his family are home in Marulaon for the Christmas break.  So yesterday, I met with Piru, his wife, Emma, and Emma's sister, Skita, to check the story of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the temple.  I took a big bowl of popcorn and grape kool-aid (my favorite flavor) I bought on sale for $.11 a packet before we left America.  One of the phrases really bothered Aaron and me, “le rugi ena tulav makuruv male eluguham”,  according to our translation, that phrase meant, “the big day when they went to prepare to kill the children they looked after”.  We knew that couldn't be quite right.  My awesome group of checkers were a little puzzled, too, but they quickly figured out that the phrase was trying to describe the Passover feast.  Instead of describing when the angel of death came and killed the firstborn children in the houses that didn't have the lamb's blood on the doorposts, we think maybe the group was confused with the time that Herod had all of the baby boys killed in Jerusalem.  Anyway, we got it straightened out. 

After we finished checking the full story, we visited and enjoyed the snacks I brought.  Emma asked me how in the world I didn't burn the popcorn because she burns it every time.  I had to admit that the pot I used made all of the difference.  It's an ugly old pan we inherited with the house.  The pot even has a broken handle, but it never burns the popcorn and ¾ cup popcorn kernels exactly fit the pot.  When Piru tasted the kool-aid, he asked what flavor it was.  I told him grape, and he asked, “Isn't that a flavor they use for children's liquid medicine?”  I laughed and told him that it WAS a common flavor for medicine, and Emma quickly replied that she was going to tell all of her kids that the kool-aid was medicine and that they shouldn't drink it.  That way she could drink all of it!

So, today, Aaron and Dawa went to cut down some coconut trees to build a new Chinese cabbage bed and to line the space filled with coral gravel underneath the house.  We're hoping to get all of our little seedlings planted before we leave for Honiara next week.  That will involve a whole lot of dirt hauling to fill up the beds, but we're really trying to check this off our list.

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When I went down to visit after school, I stopped by a different Margaret's house.  She's been in Honiara much of our time here in Marulaon, so it was really good to catch up with her and find out how her kids are doing.  She and her sister, Rebecca, always have loads of questions for me, usually about America.  Today, they wanted to know if we arranged marriages in America. 

Later, I walked over to the other Margaret's house to take her a copy of the Bible story we'll be checking tomorrow morning and to return Moses's handwritten copy of Lavukal Christmas carols.  Visiting at this house is always a treat.  Margaret is convinced that the reason she lost so much weight last year is because someone used custom magic against her and poisoned her.  She said that no matter how much she eats, she can't seem to gain weight now.  We also talked about how we name children and we each got our own names.  It was really fun to find out that her in-laws named her oldest son, Ragi (which means dance, he hates his name!) and to tell her that my mom had a dream before I was born in which somebody called out my name.  We talked about family names, too, like my sister who has two of her great-grandmother's middle names.  I always learn so much about my neighbors and their culture whenever I go out for a simple walk!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Marulaon Woman's Daybook

Monday, January 6

Outside my window...bananas ripening next to my outside kitchen, a messy porch in need of a good sweep
From the learning rooms...we've finally arrived at the Civil War, so the book basket is filled with fun extras:  “Harriet Beecher Stowe and the Beecher Preachers” by Jean Fritz; “Two Tickets to Freedom:  The True Story of Ellen and William Craft, Fugitive Slaves” by Florence B. Freedman; “Naval Battles of the Civil War”, “A Soldier's Life in the Civil War”, & “Civil War Uniforms” all coloring books by Peter F. Copeland; Just a Few Words, Mr. Lincoln:  The Story of the Gettysburg Address” by Jean Fritz;  “Old Abe, Eagle Hero:  The Civil War's Most Famous Mascot” by Patrick Young; “Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt” by Deborah Hopkinson (one of my favorite children's authors); “The Last Brother:  A Civil War Tale” by Trinka Hakes Noble; “Behind Rebel Lines” by Seymour Reit; “The Drinking Gourd: A Story of the Underground Railraod” by F.N. Monjo; “Secrets of a Civil War Submarine:  Solving the Mysteries of the H.L. Hunley” by Sally M. Walker; “The Blue and the Gray” by Eve Bunting; “Young Abe Lincoln:  The Frontier Days, 1809-1837” and “Abe Lincoln Goes to Washington:  1837-1865” both by Cheryl Harness (National Geographic books, full of maps and great illustrations); and “Abraham Lincoln” by Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire
On my bookshelf... “Seven:  An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess” by Jen Hatmaker.  Yes!  This book addresses the feelings that nagged at my soul while we were on furlough.  The author attacked seven areas in her family's life to make better stewardship choices:  clothes, shopping, waste, food, possessions, media, and stress.  I think EVERYBODY should read this book!!!
From the kitchen...sloppy joes to use up some of the shiny green capsicum I bought at market on Saturday morning
I am praying...for our unexpected return to Honiara next week and all that needs to be done before we leave Marulaon.
Pondering these words...”A genuine study of the Word results in believers who feed poor people and open up their guest rooms; they're adopting and sharing, mentoring and intervening.”  Jen Hatmaker, “Seven”
Around the house...boxes as we pack up Christmas decorations and begin to prepare for Honiara
One of my favorite things...snuggles from my Katherine.  That girl is such a delight!
A few plans for the rest of the week...checking a couple of Bible stories, finding illustrators, and maybe recording the stories this week will keep me on toes; wiping every book that we own to help prolong the life of each one and ward off bugs
A peek into my corner of the world...Sarah made a fabulous “Three King's Cake”, and I found the almond!
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