Aaron left extra early this morning to walk to Fly Harbor School in time for Mass. The rest of us are dragging so much from yesterday that we decided to eat breakfast and walk the two mile trek a little bit later. Katherine snapped a photo of my beautiful friend and me in the middle of our sweaty walk. It ended up being the only picture of the two of us from Gayly's entire trip!
The kids did a great job of hustling down the trail , through coconut groves and some denser portions of bush. We passed Hiva on the trail coming toward us, and he told us that church had just let out and everybody was getting ready for "family breakfast".
We gave Gayly a quick tour of the little school with its combination of leaf and timber classrooms, dorms, and staff houses.
Fly Harbor School is the only elementary boarding school in the Central province. We really like the headmaster, he's from Marulaon. And several of the teachers are Lavukal. Hopefully, in the future, we can include the school in the government's fledgling mother-tongue education project.
Our family, plus Gayly, was invited to eat with the "big men", but this was one of those times when I knew I could decline. So Aaron went to eat with the other leaders while the rest of us stayed sitting on our mats. Each family brought food for themselves, and we all spread mats underneath a big mango tree. Our friends on either side of us shared the food we brought, some delicious maki, and Margaret tried to share some tinned meat. I know how expensive that meat is, and what a special food it is to my friends, so I declined. We had plenty of our lunch, some taco rice with TVP and canned tomatoes, to share in return. Katherine walked over to join her daddy, and the two of them were so very cute as they chatted, carbon copies sitting next to each other.
To those of us from an American education system, the program might seem a little strange. First, we listened to several speeches from leaders, including Aaron. Attending the school closing is an important part of Aaron's job here with the Lavukal. Then each teacher got up and read out student's names according to class rank, not grades. After all of the report cards had been handed out, we began the long walk home. Again, we arrived just in time to grab our solar shower bags and rinse off the day before supper.
Tomorrow, Gayly, Aaron, and couple of the kids will leave Marulaon around 5:00 a.m. and take a motor canoe to the end of Guadalcanal so some of our colleagues can pick Gayly up from there and return her to SITAG. What a breath of fresh air and encouragement she has been to our whole family. Everything from teaching Katherine how to do a handstand to taking pictures of the whole trip to bringing me a camera and teaching me how to use it to hauling lots and lots of buckets of water up to the house. Many people were behind her, supporting, encouraging, praying, and financing her trip. But none more than her husband and five young children. A HUGE thanks to everybody who sent my sweet friend to spend time with us in Marulaon Village.