Saturday, May 31, 2014

Modem Problems…Again

Well, friends, the new modem mentioned in the previous post DID arrive and worked for a couple of days…then it, too, died. So, once again our precious friends are out of touch until one of the two modems can be repaired.

They do have radio communication with Honiara and with friends in another village, so that is helpful. But, they still miss being able to interact with friends and family via e-mail. So, please keep praying that the modems will work!

Otherwise, the report is that the family is doing well.

Thanks for the continued prayers.

~ Ann

Marulaon Woman’s Daybook

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Just for today...Monday, May 26

Outside my window...oh, my, I'm missing the tradewinds.  It is sticky and still and so hot.  Usually, this is the coolest time of year here.  God gave us a beautiful rain last night, so we are still maintaining plenty of sun for the solar panels to charge the battery and plenty of rain to top up the rain tanks.  Thanks for the prayers!

From the learning rooms...finishing up the 20th century in American History with some fun picture books like "Salt in His Shoes" by Deloris Jordan and Roslyn Jordan , "Ten Little Rubber Ducks" by Eric Carle, and "Gleam and Glow" by Eve Bunting. 

(Note from Ann: There should be a photo here, but it hasn’t come through yet. I’ll update it when it comes in!)

One of my favorite things...having the whole family back together under one roof again.

From the kitchen...this beautiful big mud crab showed up at our door today, what a great birthday present!  And when I asked how much, all that Kaspar wanted was some rice in exchange. 

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A heart of thankfulness...with both of our ships (Bikoi and Kosco) in for repairs right now, we didn't anticipate getting a new modem any time soon.  Our modem quit working last Thursday, which has shut down communication except by radio.  It didn't take long for me to feel isolated.  Well, some colleagues of ours just "happened" to run into somebody from our village who was in Honaira, and he agreed to carry a box back to us in the village.  He should come back to Marulaon on Wednesday, so we are super excited at how God worked out the details of our little communication problem!

Pondering these words... 

"Age" by Edward Tuck
Age is a quality of mind;
If you've left your dreams behind,
If Hope is cold,
If you no longer look ahead,
If your ambition's fires are dead,
Then you are old.
But, -- if from Life you take the best,
If in Life you keep the zest,
If Love you hold,
No matter how the years go by,
No matter how the birthdays fly,
You are not old.

A few plans for the rest of the's looking pretty normal around here.  Lots of little house chores to take care of, school, teaching Leku how to "snowflake stitch", and finishing the week with a Translation Committee meeting on Saturday.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Sunday, May 25

"Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth..."  Song of Songs 1:2a

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Today is our "kiss-aversary", so we just had to celebrate with Hershey's kisses!

Saturday, May 24

Dysentery is still running wild through the little ones here in Marulaon.  Jude is almost three years old, and not only does he have "belly run", but he also has an ear infection.  I've been going down every 4-6 hours to give him some children's Tylenol to help ease his fever and help him feel better.  The nurse for Marulaon's clinic is attending a workshop in another area of the Solomon Islands, so there is no one else to help.  Last night when I went to check on Jude, I found the house astir as his aunt prepared to take him in a motor canoe to another clinic because he hasn't been eating or drinking for the last several days. 

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This morning, the kids and I popped a big bucketful of popcorn to take over to Laola for the translators.  We went down at the appointed time to meet Hiva, the Translation Committee Chairman, who was going to drive us over to Laola in a motor canoe.  Hiva's wife, Daisy, told us that Hiva had gone to a different village to buy petrol for our trip, but that he hadn't come back yet.  We enjoyed sitting and visiting while we waited for about half an hour, then Hiva showed up, and we were off!

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When we arrived, the kids went off to to play.  After I was sure they were settled (I have the best kids, ever!), I went back to the meeting house to watch Aaron and the translators finish up their workshop. 

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Only two of the four translators showed up, but they are the two who live closer to our village, and they have attended everything, every workshop, every bit of training, even workshops in Honiara.  So thankful for Simon and Ezekiel!

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When the guys finished, Hiva sat down at the table and they made some plans together.  The translators plan to meet again at the end of June in a village on the East side of the Russells.  Saturday, May 31, the Lavukal Translation Committee will meet in Marulaon.  At the end of the planning session, I went to find the kids since they had moved down closer to the beach to play on the soccer field.

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This tiny, beautiful village of only a few families provided one last meal for our family and for the translators, and then we had a few minutes of closing speeches.  They also asked me to introduce our children, which I thankfully knew how to do in my halting Lavukaleve.  As we left, I thanked the ladies for taking care of my husband and gave them some seeds for wing bean and marigolds, since both of those are growing in my garden right now.

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So thankful for this generous village who hosted the workshop for three days!  We hopped in the canoe with Hiva, Simon, and Ezekiel, in addition to our family, and made the trip to drop off Ezekiel and Simon in Karumulun before we crossed the short stretch of water to our village.  Home Sweet Home!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Thursday, May 22

This post came via e-mail this afternoon. I don’t know if it means that the Choates’ radio modem has started working again or if it just happened to finally get to me! Keep praying! ~Ann

We got Aaron off in a motor canoe this morning.  He's headed over to Laola Village to hold a review workshop with the Lavukal translators, and he'll return on Saturday evening.

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Pray for the Modem!

Dear Choate friends,

The Choates’ radio modem stopped working last week. They can still communicate via radio with colleagues in Honiara, but they cannot send and receive e-mail. Unfortunately, no replacements are available right now. On top of that, other teams currently in villages are experiencing similar problems.

The e-mail I received from friends in Honiara indicated that the Choates are doing fine. Obviously, we’ll need to always pray for a good balance of rain and sun and for continued health! But, we can also pray that the modem will start working again, both for their sake and for those of us who like to stay in touch with them.

Thanks for praying faithfully!

- Ann H.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Tuesday, May 20

This morning at 7:00, Hilda came by and delivered a stapled piece of paper.  Benjamin was on the porch reading his Bible, so he brought it inside where Aaron and I were making dozens and dozens of banana muffins for a sewing workshop.  The paper was an invitation to attend the opening ceremonies of the workshop, from 8:30-10:00.  We asked the kids how they felt about both of us being gone for a little while, and they responded with a resounding affirmation that we should attend.  I really, really like interacting with my kids through school, and I miss them when I don't get to be home, but I'm so proud of them for encouraging us both to go.  They are very much a part of the team and the reason why Aaron can be the Lavukal Translation Advisor.  And I trust my kids to do what they are supposed to do while we are gone!

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So Aaron and I took banana cake and went down to help set up for the workshop.  Even though it was supposed to begin at 8:30, the bell hadn't rung yet and we knew it would still be a while before everything got started.  Aaron ran back and forth from the house to the workshop venue, bringing tablecloths and mugs and anything else that might be helpful.  I played with kids, helped put food on trays, and untangled string that was being tied up to hold flowers for decorations.  As people begin to arrive, Aaron got to sit and visit with the other "big men" from the village, and I hid amongst the other moms.  After the opening prayer and the speeches, Aaron got to declare the workshop "open" and cut the string to be all official.

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In the speeches, the ladies thanked me for providing material.  Unbeknownst to me, the material and yarn I've been donating from time to time over the last several years had been saved for this very workshop.

As the opening ceremony finished up, we heard somebody shout "Bikoi!"  From our village, we can see the ships coming from far away.  I knew that my friend, Margaret, was planning to catch the Bikoi to go to Honiara for her daughter to deliver her first baby, so I wanted to make sure I hugged her neck before she left.  I checked on the kids at home, then walked down the hill to Margaret's house.  Before I got there, I was stopped by Leku who wanted to borrow a crochet hook.  I told her I would loan her one of Sarah's but that I needed to go to Margaret's house first.  Imagine my surprise when Leku told me that Margaret wasn't at home, she was at the clinic with her daughter who had delivered a healthy baby boy in the middle of the night!  I hightailed it back to the house and grabbed the camera.  Katherine had just finished her school work, so I took her along, too.  She is fascinated right now with babies and being a mom, and I knew she would want to see the new baby.

IMG_2074 - Copy (320x213)On the way to the clinic, we stopped to check on the sewing workshop and the deliver the crochet hook to Leku.  Watching so many women working together made me so excited!  Many of the women already know how to sew using the hand cranked sewing machines because of a workshop held here by SWIM (Short term IMG_2077 - Copy (213x320)Work in Missions) in August of 2011.  SWIM donated the sewing machines that my friends were using today.  These ladies wanted to pass on their skills, and I watched as my friend, Ofoaen, learned to crochet,
while others began sewing food covers (very important to keep off the plethora of flies here).  Even little Lolikia was very interested in the sewing machines, it won't be long before she'll be the one whipping out beautiful clothes and useful food covers. 

IMG_2060 - Copy (320x213)Then Katherine and I walked over to the clinic at the end of our village.  We tiptoed up the steps to find a tired mama and new baby sleeping underneath a pink mosquito net inside the clinic,
IMG_2081 - Copy (213x320)but I couldn't find Margaret.  When I asked, "Margaret vasia?" (Where's Margaret?), her granddaughter just said, "Heaka" (Over there.)  Finally, after I asked several times, the granddaughter clarified by telling me that my friend had gone to use the "facilities" on the nearby beach.  Marulaon has "facilities" on each end of our coastal village.  So, Katherine and I sat down to wait.  Margaret's twin granddaughters and her youngest son waited with us.  They kept trying to go get Margaret, but I felt a little awkward about interrupting her.  The kids begin to pull leaves off the bushes and play with them, and then we got tickled and started laughing and playing.  They made what looked like sunglasses out of some of the leaves that had a natural curve to them.

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Margaret eventually came of the bush and greeted me enthusiastically.  She kept thanking me for the "text", and I couldn't figure out what she was talking about (I certainly hadn't sent her a text message!).  Finally she said something about Hebrews, and I remembered that last week I had given her one of the sheep with the reference of Hebrews 13:20-21 written on the back.  She said that those verses were powerful.  She was so thankful that she didn't have to go to Honiara hospital for the delivery and that God had strengthened her daughter throughout the birth.  Here's the best part:  the little boy's name will be Hebrews!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Marulaon Woman's Daybook

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Just for today...Monday, May 19

Outside my window...gray and rainy, thanks to lots of people praying for rain.  The wind is blowing, too, so it's a nice, "cool" day here in Marulaon.  Clothes are drying underneath the house, because if I wait to do laundry, our dirty, sweaty clothes make the house too stinky.

Noticing that...I'm missing the NBA playoffs.  Go Spurs!

Praying for...a dear friend from college who is having surgery today to remove a brain tumor.

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From the learning rooms...Benjamin starting Algebra I; reading about John Williams (the composer, not my brother) as we finish up "A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers"; flying through the 1970's and 1980's with Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan, the Cold War winding down (Peter Sis has written a great picture book, "The Wall", that is very appropriate introduction to the Cold War for children).  The school year is rapidly coming to a close!

A heart of gratitude for...Leku and Vauma who took this crazy woman fishing today.  We got soaking wet, stayed out for four hours, laughed a lot, and my arms got a good workout as we paddled around two islands.

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Crafting in the kitchen...our "bounty", fifteen tiny fish.
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On my bookshelf...still enjoying "Soul Survivor" by Philip Yancey.  I don't have much time to read when we are out here in the village, and this book requires some ruminating.

I am hearing...Suite from "Memoirs of a Geisha" for Cello and Orchestra, by John Williams

Around the house...Olivia staged a puppet show this afternoon to complete her Language Arts assignment of writing a script
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Pondering these words...I belong, with Robert Coles, to a privileged minority.  Everyone reading this sentence belongs, in fact, for only a small percentage of the word's people has the ability and leisure to read and the resources to buy a book.  [We've found this to be SO true!]  How do we, the "privileged ones," act as stewards of the grace we have received?  We can begin, Coles tells us, by ripping off the labels we so thoughtlessly slap on others unlike ourselves.  We can begin by finding a community that nourishes compassion for the weak, an instinct that privilege tends to suppress.  We can begin with humility and gratitude and reverence, and then move on to pray without ceasing for the greater gift of love.  ~Philip Yancey, on his chapter about Dr. Robert Coles in "Soul Survivor"

One of my favorite things...a birthday box mailed in December that arrives in May.

A few plans for the rest of the week...making banana cake early tomorrow morning for the opening of a women's sewing workshop, going to the garden on Wednesday to harvest umalau for Aaron's trip to Laola Village on Thursday morning.  He'll be holding a review workshop for the four Lavukal translators and should return on Saturday evening.

Sunday, May 18

Weekend Wonders in Marulaon

"How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you."  Psalm 31:19 

Little bits of His goodness this weekend:

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Sharing nice hot lelenga (cassava pudding) with friends and receiving fish in return 

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Little ones who giggle when you ask, "Fofor hae ngoliki?" (Do you want to fly?) because they know you are about to throw them up into the air.

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Friends who bring TWO beautiful flower arrangements when you only ask for one

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Sunday afternoon family games, with a trophy for the winner

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Rain tanks overflowing because people all over the world are praying.  Prayers for a good balance of sun and rain are always needed!

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Lovely young girls who practice their writing in the sand

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday, May 16

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Last Sunday, the scripture readings emphasized Jesus as our Shepherd.  So Katherine and I made fluffy cotton ball sheep with Hebrews 13:20-21 written on the back in Pijin to share with our catechists to let them know that we are praying for the Good Shepherd to equip them as they look after Marulaon Village.  Our creation got lots of laughs!

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The whole language area is so dry right now.  School was dismissed on Wednesday until further notice because their rain tanks are empty.  And Chief Leonard told Aaron that every tank but ours is either empty or has only a few inches of water left.  Karumulun's rain tanks are empty, so they are coming over to Marulaon for water now.  Please continue to pray for a good balance of sun and rain for our area.

Aaron finally got over to Laola this morning and talked with their village chief to set up the accommodations for their workshop.  The translators will meet with Aaron for a review session from Thursday morning (May 22) through Saturday afternoon (May 24).  He returned around 10:00 and finished the morning by joining the village work day, grass knife in hand.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Thursday, May 15

In the middle of school this morning, the kids started hollering something incoherent about a bird.  I came into the room to find a baby bird clutching the screen. IMG_1979 - Copy (214x320)

The bird began to slowly claw its way up, fluttering its immature wings and slowly moving up the screen.  IMG_1983 - Copy (320x213)
It finally fluttered a few feet and landed on our porch where he found a nice soft perch on my rocking chair. 

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We stayed in the house for the rest of the morning so we wouldn't disturb the bird.  It chirped from time to time, and Olivia had quite a cute little conversation going with it.  Soon, an adult bird began flying through our porch and perching nearby protesting loudly.  Aaron ended up moving the rocking chair to the edge of the porch after lunch.  While I was reading "Miracles on Maple Hill" aloud to the kids (love that book!), I noticed that the chirping had stopped, and sure enough the bird was gone.  Watching the pretty little baby bird this morning was a sweet gift.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wednesday, May 14

I'm so thankful that our neighbors hold a small market twice a week for us.  IMG_1974 - Copy (320x213)

This morning, there were loads of mangoes and eggplant.  We also bought slippery cabbage, both dry and young coconuts, papayas, sugar cane, and cutnuts.  Little girls lined up on a coconut tree trunk to sell me their bowls of already opened cutnuts.  IMG_1976 - Copy (320x246)

Leku is coming this morning to finish cleaning up our yard, and I'm hoping to transplant the rest of the Chinese cabbages, prune the hibiscus, and plant some wingbean and pumpkin seeds while she is here.  We really could use some rain, too.

Aaron plans to spend the day working at the other end of our island at the local elementary school.  They are building new classrooms, and Marulaon is responsible for one of them.  I sent some green coconuts with him and a bucket about two thirds full of popcorn for the guys to munch on throughout the day.  Aaron is pretty good at sewing leaves for the roof "shingles", and I'm looking forward to hearing all about the school work day.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tuesday, May 13

Yesterday, thirty-five bongs on the old gas cylinder at 6:00 a.m. announced that the new District Priest was holding mass for the village.  I had already talked with friends about staying home since it was our first day back at school, but Aaron ate a quick bite and walked over to the church after the third set of bells at 6:45.  When he returned around 9:30, the kids and I were going strong on school, and I paused to fix some food to take down to the District Priest, his family, and the other big men of the village.  Aaron took it down and stayed to visit while the rest of us continued with school, knowing that a farewell get-together was coming soon.  When the bell rang to call the village, Aaron walked over to join the festivities.  He's great in group dancing!  Olivia and Katherine soon followed, and as soon as I got lunch cooked, everybody but Benjamin went down.  During the singing and dancing, each person followed the line that moved past the District Priest's table and dropped their gift (like money or bars of soap) in front of the Priest's family.  IMG_1967 - Copy (213x320)

Then the speeches began, and everybody found a shady spot to rest.  When the speeches were finally finished, we sang a few more songs together (picture of group dancing and singing) and ended with three happy cheers, led by my amazing husband. 

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When the kids finished with school, I took a bag of Katherine's too-small underwear and walked around the village sharing them with the little girls.  They really prefer the bright colors over the plain white!  I had my very simple "script" ready in Lavukaleve, so it was good practice for me to try and communicate what it was that I wanted to accomplish. 

This morning, the trade winds were blowing strong, so I went on the porch to watch the sun rise with a cup of coffee in my hand and my Bible in my lap with no concern for mosquitos.  Love mornings like that!  School got off to a better start now that we are back in the swing of things, so Katherine and I took half an hour to walk over to Ofoen's house to take popcorn and to teach Bernadine (her crippled granddaughter) how to use some uppercase and lowercase alphabet cards I had given her.  Bernadine doesn't go to school because she can't walk, but she is a smart cookie!  We played a matching game with about half the deck, and we included Bernadine's three-year-old little brother, Rube, and my friend Ofoaen.  Then we tried "Go Fish" with the other half of the deck, which was a little bit more difficult to explain.  "Ngonam "D" atula lea?  (Do you have a lowercase D?)
Almost time for our radio sched with SITAG now and kids should be coming in from playing very soon...

Monday, May 12, 2014

Monday, May 12

Around Marulaon on a Sunday afternoon

IMG_1958 - Copy (214x320)Marulaon's "parking lot"

IMG_1961 - Copy (320x213)Sarah and her friend, Muna, enjoying a game of cards

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Mogea (bush apple) blossoms covering the ground

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Aaron and our good friend, Hensi, discussing the plan for the next few months of the Lavukal translation program

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Grandmother Volikia holding her sleeping grandbaby. That is, the baby was sleeping until I showed Volikia her picture.  Then she burst out laughing and woke up the baby!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother’s Day!

I came out of my room to find Sarah's little "mogea" guys on the dry-erase board this morning.  IMG_1954 - Copy - Copy (320x213)

Happy Mother's Day to all of our amazing mothers and grandmothers - we're so thankful for you and the heritage you have built for us! IMG_1956 - Copy - Copy (213x320)

Friday, May 9, 2014

Thursday, May 8

Yesterday, our SITAG family mustered in full support to help our family get on the ship.  After a lovely lunch provided by some of our colleagues, people began to show up to load the truck while the ice chests were loaded and Aaron and I sorted and packed the last few things.  One of our colleagues even swept the house and checked all of the drawers this morning.  He found many interesting things we would have left behind - like my pajamas!  I love the humility and the servant hearts that shine in SITAG whenever a family goes out to the village. 

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We arrived at the wharf around 2:30 and began transferring cargo from the truck to the ship.  IMG_1911 - Copy (320x213)We got our favorite spot again, so we quickly spread mats and backpacks to hold our place. 

Sarah and one of her friends came with me to market to buy a few fresh fruits and veggies to take out to Marulaon.  IMG_1915 - Copy (320x213) Prices are still double since the floods washed away so many gardens, the pumpkins were triple what I expected, so I only bought one instead of the three I initially planned to buy.

After a quick stop for an ice coffee treat and the last nice bathroom for a while, the girls and I returned to the ship and visited with the others who were still there.  Around 5:00, more of our SITAG family Pizza party1916began to trickle in, some of them with pizza and grape kool-aid, and some of them with banana smoothies.  We had a huge pizza party  and our entire Honiara SITAG family gathered around us to pray.  This was the first time they have ever prayed over our departure and our time in the village, so special! 

Finally, it was time for some tearful goodbyes because the ship was reaching its scheduled departure time, 6:00.  Two of these families we don't anticipate setting foot in the Solomon Islands again, so the parting was a little bit more difficult than usual.  Wharf 1923

Around 7:00, the captain came over the loud speaker apologizing for the delay.  The Member of Parliament from the Russells was delivering ten rain tanks all around the Russells.  This happens in election years all the time!  And since this trip was the "short trip", the boat would take each tank directly to the each village.  Chief Leonard's sister, Kathleen, came up and greeted us, and we invited her to stay and visit.  She is one of two Lavukal families that we know who live in Honiara.  It was really good to chat with her, but we learned that her mom had died just before Easter.  Her mom was a twin, and the last of an amazing big set of siblings through whom most of our village can trace their family trees.  She was seventy-seven years old, the last person we know from our village that lived through WWII.

After Kathleen left, we continued our card game until the ship finally pulled out at 8:24.  We each got settled on our own little spot.  Katherine's spot had the most cushion because she slept on the bench.  Katherine's bed 1928I don't know how to explain what a trip on the Kosco is like.  It's one of those things you just have to experience.  I know that we have one of the nicest ships in the Solomon Islands and that it handles the IMG_1946 - Copy (213x320)waves really well and that it has a flushing toilet. I know that we aren't the only ones where the "Sol Brew" flows freely or where the lights stay on all night or where people are smoking just a few feet away.  I know that we had a beautiful evening with calm seas and that we had plenty of room and that the people around us were very friendly.  As we reached each village in the Russells, the Kosco unloaded whatever rain tanks and store supplies were headed for that destination.  The cargo went into a motor canoe with a forty horsepower engine and roared away for speedy delivery service.  
We woke up to a hazy morning, but it was still beautiful.  ship sunrise 1930Since I didn't plan for us to be on the ship for breakfast, the banana bread and hard-boiled eggs I prepared ahead were deep in the ice chest under many, many boxes.  So, we pulled out the leftover pizza and enjoyed the "breakfast of champions".  breakfast 1942

Kosco continued to unload rain tanks (picture looking into the hold with a few rain tanks) and we continued to enjoy the beautiful scenery that the Russells have to offer (picture of a village with a canoe in the water).

rain tanks 1935[8]

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We finally pulled in front of Marulaon and enjoyed the delivery service of the Kosco ourselves.  Our stuff took two trips, so Aaron, Benjamin, and most of our boxes went first, and the girls and I came behind with the last few things.  I think we were in the house by noon.  We ate a quick lunch of bierrocks from our ice chest, and then we tackled unpacking boxes and cleaning up the dusty house.  Since Aaron was in Marulaon only six weeks ago, the house wasn't nearly as filthy as it usually is when we arrive.  We decided to push through the lack of sleep instead of taking a nap, and by 7:00, we were all snoozing in bed.  Thanks for all of the prayers for a smooth trip back to our home in Marulaon Village, and thank you, Lord, for smoothing the way in front of us!