Monday, June 30, 2014

Thursday, June 12

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.
 IMG_3534 - Copy (320x213)

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 IMG_3558 - Copy (213x320), 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.

IMG_3586 - Copy (320x213)

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.  

IMG_3625 - Copy (320x213)

After everybody had full tummies, the program began.  The students of Fly Harbor School sat on boards arranged in rows on the ground. 

IMG_3687 - Copy (320x213) (2)

To those of us from an American education system, the program IMG_3742 - Copy (213x320)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.

Wednesday, June 11

We were waiting at the beach by 6:00 to catch a ride over to Karumulun. 

IMG_2898 - Copy (320x214)

Belza drove us and a few of our village friends over in about five minutes in his motor canoe.  When we paddle, we are much slower!   Once again, Gayly was our official photographer, and she documented the day through fresh eyes.  The "beautiful feet" of the catechists coming from all over the church district to take communion together, 

IMG_2978 - Copy (320x125)
the fish and cassava pudding spread out on the table after church while we waved the flies away, 

IMG_3009 - Copy (213x320)

Olivia eating rice from its leaf parcel like a good village girl,

IMG_3098 - Copy (320x213)

and being very happy about it!
 IMG_3099 - Copy (320x213)

I love how Gayly captured the beautiful eyes of a child from Laola 

IMG_3137 - Copy (320x213)
and Karumulun's men and women dancing in to begin the festivities. 

IMG_3172 - Copy (214x320)

Gayly even recorded the sights from the beautiful facilities and learned that a "bathroom stall" next to a big fallen tree is the best spot.  

IMG_3152 (213x320)

Ezekiel radiated joy as he danced along with the men from Karumulun.  

IMG_3176 - Copy (213x320)

We are so thankful for him and the ways he has worked to keep Bible translation alive for over twenty years.  We watched as each group took its turn dancing, 

IMG_3340 - Copy (213x320)

anticipating Aaron dancing with the District Priest and catechists from our church district.  Chief Leonard is still mourning and growing his hair out from his mother's death in April, so Aaron's main dance partner was absent.  Aaron made up for it by making everybody laugh as all of the church leaders danced together. IMG_3412 - Copy (320x213)
Just before all of the dancing began, Skita asked Sarah to join the Marulaon ladies in some dances that Sarah already knew from Christmas.  She was such a good sport and jumped in to dance and represent Marulaon women.  

IMG_3394 - Copy (320x213)
I think we finally got home around 4:00, in time to bring in the solar shower bags and wash off the day's sweat and stink.  Tomorrow, we will have another long day as we attend the local elementary school's mid-year closing at the other end of our island.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sunday, June 8 - Sweet Sabbath Through Gayly's Eyes

Gayly and I have both have birthdays in May, and we were able to celebrate together in America both in May 2012 and May 2013.  This year, we delayed our celebration a wee bit, and Gayly flew all the way to the Solomon Islands!  My family's gift to me was doing lots of chores so that Gayly and I could have some time to just sit on the porch and visit, drink coffee, and revel in the fact that, once again, we were celebrating another year of life together.  We've never lived anywhere close to each other, but God knit our hearts together almost ten years ago, and we've been making the effort to spend time together ever since.  

Here's our Sunday through my friend's eyes:

Marulaon sunrise

IMG_1890 - Copy (320x213)

Barnabas and Aaron in church

IMG_1978 - Copy (213x320)

Moses reading prayers in church

IMG_1968 - Copy (320x213)

Esau counting church attendance in shells

IMG_1996 - Copy (320x213)

Skita and Joanna at the bottom of the house steps

IMG_2004 - Copy (213x320)

flowers brightening the table

IMG_2022 - Copy (213x320)

Katherine with a papaya

IMG_2069 - Copy (214x320)

little treasures

IMG_2143 - Copy (320x213)

Janet's glasses

IMG_2158 - Copy (320x213) 

IMG_2190 - Copy (320x213)

Bethany asleep

IMG_2200 - Copy (320x213)

Tuesday, June 10

When we were visiting Gayly and her family back in America, we attempted to make cassava pudding using frozen cassava that had already been scraped, banana leaves a colleague found at a specialty store, and canned coconut cream.  It was a disaster!  So today, we showed Gayly how REAL cassava pudding is made.  Before we could get started though, my sweet friend, Margaret Rasol, came by bright and early to bring a shell necklace for Gayly.  

IMG_2701 - Copy (320x213)
I had already planned to ask her to make one, but thoughtful Margaret beat me to it!

Water is getting low, so we decided that today would be the last day to wash sheets until we experienced a big rain to help refill our rain tanks.  Sweaty, stinky sheets are no fun, but they are much better than not having any water to drink.

The tool we use to scrape cassava is called a “maio” and it looks like some medieval torture device. 

IMG_2724 - Copy (213x320)

We were able to get an early start on scraping since we brought back cassava from the garden yesterday.  

IMG_2729 - Copy (320x213)

We also had lots of very ripe bananas today, so we decided that it was time to make another big batch of banana cake to share with our neighbors.  We've almost completed the entire village, and we hope to have enough time (and bananas!) to get through the whole village again before we leave for Honiara.  When we reached theIMG_2764 - Copy (320x213) first house for banana cake delivery, we found a large family group gathered to shell havu.  Tis the season!  Katherine sat down to take her turn  while the rest of us visited and held babies.

IMG_2778 - Copy (320x213)

I took my turn trying to crack open these very tough nuts, too.  It's very humbling when small children can shell the nuts twice as fast as I can.  But sitting and working together and chatting away builds special memories, too, even if I am slow!
We wanted to show the kids the starfish we discovered yesterday, but the only path I knew was from the cemetery, and we found ourselves on the other side after delivering all of the banana cake.  Thankfully, Leku came to my rescue.  I asked for directions, but she offered to come along and show us the way.  I wasn't sure she would want to, since we had to walk through the bathrooms to get there.  But she was willing and even called me back when I took a wrong turn through the bush.  I don't know if anybody ever uses this sign at the start of the bathroom beach, but I was thankful to find it turned to the “girls” side as we walked through.
The starfish were still there on that little strip of sand, and Benjamin especially enjoyed playing with them.

IMG_2807 - Copy (214x320)

Katherine's favorite thing to do was flip over the starfish and watch them perform gymnastics feats to get right side up again. 
 IMG_2818 - Copy (213x320)

Sarah found a little hermit crab and nestled it in the palm of her hand.  

IMG_2836 - Copy (320x213)

What a beautiful piece of God's creation, right here in Marulaon! 

We had to hustle home to start the cassava pudding cooking.  Aaron had already started the fire, and the sun caught the smoke as it streamed out of our little kitchen.  

IMG_2874 - Copy (320x213)
IMG_2887 - Copy (213x320)The kids and I quickly showed Gayly how to put together the cassava pudding, alternating the thick coconut cream with the grated cassava,  then wrapping the whole thing up in banana leaves to cook on the hot stones.  We will have a VERY early start in the morning to go over to Karumulun Village and celebrate St. Barnabas' Day.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Monday, June 9

Just for today...Monday, June 9
Outside my window...the “school bus” parade of canoes as the kids return to school after their three day weekend…
IMG_2685 - Copy (320x213)
… and Patrick making a paddle in the midst of the group of houses just behind us.
IMG_2608 - Copy (213x320)
In the book school this week, but we have some lovely books to help us anticipate Flag Day:  F is for Flag by Wendy Cheyette Lewison, Purple Mountain Majesties: The Story of Katharine Lee Bates and America the Beautiful by Barbara Younger, The Flag We Love by Pam Munoz Ryan, The Star Spangled Banner pictures by Ingri & Edgar Parin D'Aulaire, and The Flag Maker:  A Story of the Star Spangled Banner by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
On my bookshelf...Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa Jo Baker, sent with Gayly from a friend in Florida.  It's a sweet, thought-provoking, easy read exploring motherhood.
From the kitchen
IMG_2414 - Copy (213x320)
Umalau and pumpkin greens smothered in thick coconut cream and cooked on the hot stones.
IMG_2431 - Copy (320x213)
Margaret Rasol gave us some gorgeous, huge umalau on Saturday when we visited, and today we cooked up those beauties and feasted. 
IMG_2433 - Copy (320x213)
I shared some with Ofoaen, and I have never, ever seen a friend dive into a plate of food so quickly before!  Her husband hustled over to where she was sitting, grabbed a fork, and told her to save him some.
IMG_2481 - Copy (320x213)
One of my favorite things...being surprised by beautiful starfish that are camouflaged beautifully on a little strip of sand in between the bathroom and the cemetery.
  IMG_2622 - Copy (320x213)
A heart of thankfulness...for my friend, Gayly, who is just jumping into life with us and taking pictures every step of the way to document our time together.
Pondering these words..."Have you thought that you were running dry?  God's grace is like the widow's jar:  if you keep pouring, it will not run out.  (2 Kings 4:1-7)"  ~Mimi Wilson "Holy Habits"
A few plans for the rest of the week...making lelenga tomorrow, going across the bay to Karumulun Village early Wednesday to celebrate St. Barnabas Day, walking across our island to Fly Harbour School on Thursday to celebrate the mid-term break, then putting Gayly in a motor canoe that will take her back to Guadalcanal very early on Friday morning.
A peek into my corner of the world...we crossed paths with my friend, Sylvester, on her way back from making copra.  We were on our way out to the garden to harvest overripe cassava to make into lelenga tomorrow. 
IMG_2490 - Copy (213x320)
And I almost walked into this cute little spider, a type of spiny orb spider, on his web.  He would
have landed right on my nose! 
IMG_2510 - Copy (320x213)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Saturday, June 7

Saturday morning always means market!  This morning, we were happy to find plenty of havu, that lovely nut that is ripe this time of year.  IMG_1389 - Copy (320x213)
Market meets immediately after morning prayer, usually around 7:30, and after we came back up the hill to the house, we began harvesting cassava from the small plot next to our house.  IMG_1372 - Copy (213x320)
I asked Skita if she would come over this afternoon to help us make maki, a mixture of cooked cassava and roasted havu smashed together in a big kolkol and nago (mortar and pestle), so we had to get all of the ingredients ready. IMG_1376 - Copy (213x320)
I also needed to plant some cassava to expand and garden and ensure that we would have plenty of cassava for later in the year, so we grabbed the very heavy pickax and the rake and begin to dig heaps of dirt pull weeds, and rake up the rubbish.
IMG_1420 - Copy (320x213)
Gayly joined in the fun, too, and all the girls worked hard in the garden while Aaron and Benjamin joined our friend, Dawa, to cut down a coconut tree.
We've been trying for a while to make underneath our house look IMG_1428 - Copy (213x320)more acceptable in the eyes of our neighbors, and finally today we were able to get together with Dawa (and his huge chainsaw) to cut down an old coconut tree in our front yard and a couple of coconut trees near the soccer field to line the edges of the area under the house.  Benjamin climbed nimbly up the tree to secure the guiding rope  and it didn't take long before the first tree came crashing down.

IMG_1460 - Copy (213x320)
The guys moved on to the soccer field and hauled log after log to a new home under our house.  
While they worked, the ladies switched from the garden to peeling cassava on the porch, and Gayly learned the fine art of peeling those muddy roots.  IMG_1424 - Copy (213x320)It was a messy job, but we really enjoyed chatting and singing as we worked.  IMG_1509 - Copy (320x213)
Coconut leaves are so useful!  When the tree fell, I asked a couple of girls to make some baskets for me to collect leaves and yard waste.  They were quick workers, and soon I had two new baskets to help me keep my yard clean  IMG_1553 - Copy (213x320)We laughed and worked in the yard into the early afternoon, and neighbors kept stopping by.  Nancy stopped by with the newest addition to their family, baby Annie.  Annie is Katherine's favorite baby, so they enjoyed some special time together.IMG_1606 - Copy (320x213)

Often, little ones are afraid of our family, because, honestly, there aren't a lot of non-Solomon Islandsers in the Russell Islands.  Annie isn't afraid, though, and readily comes to any of us!  

IMG_1618 - Copy (214x320)

Even Gayly got some snuggles from Annie. I wonder what God has planned for this precious little girl? 

IMG_1632 - Copy (213x320)

Dawa showed us where to find yet another edible part of the coconut tree, the very heart of the tree where it is soft and sweet.  And my wonderful, goofy husband had Dawa's family, our family, and anybody who walked by laughing out loud with his antics imitating a rabbit.  

IMG_1608 - Copy (214x320)

The guys finished up under the house, and the girls had all of the IMG_1667 - Copy (320x213)food prepared, so I went to find Skita to tell her that we were ready to make maki.  Skita brought along her sister and niece, so our kids had another baby to play with while Gayly, Skita, and I smashed cassava.

IMG_1686 - Copy (214x320)

We smashed, and smashed, and smashed some more. And the kids played more with baby Muna.

IMG_1671 - Copy (320x213)

Ezekiel and Janet paddled over from Karumulun and walked up to our house.  Ezekiel and Aaron had a quick business meeting at the bottom of the steps while Janet helped us put the finishing touches on the maki with her experienced hand.  

IMG_1760 - Copy (320x213)

Gayly and I especially liked the way she grasped the kolkol with her feet, like she had been doing this for sixty years (which she probably had).  

IMG_1768 - Copy (320x214)

Gayly brought lots of reading glasses with her, donated by her Ladies' Bible Study, and Janet needed a pair, so we had an impromptu (and very inadequate, I'm sure) glasses fitting with the Lavukaleve prayer book to discern which pair was the right strength for Janet.  

IMG_1773 - Copy (213x320)

IMG_1774 - Copy (213x320)

She sent me to get some leaves to smooth the top of the maki, I refused to climb a tree, so I cut down a banana leaf as Janet and Ezekiel called down directions from the porch.  We just think they are the best thing ever! 

When the maki was finished, we cut it and put some on a paper plate for Ezekiel and Janet and on another plate for Skita.  It was delicious!  Then, we put some on another plate, Gayly and I walked down to Margaret Rasol's house to deliver some to her.  We found her shelling havu , so we sat down to offer our very meager assistance. 

IMG_1791 - Copy (320x213)
I hit my fingers more often than I hit the nut, and Gayly got a chance to try her skills, too.  

IMG_1802 - Copy (320x213)

We stayed for a while and visited with her and some of her nieces, then walked back up to the house for another paper plate of maki.  We delivered this plate to the other Margaret, the one who had just lost her son.  

IMG_1848 - Copy (320x213)
Several relatives were still around, and I had the opportunity to share Gayly's family pictures again.  One of my favorite things about this trip out to the village is that my friends are finally willing to correct my Lavukaleve!  I tried to say “sanGine”, and Margaret quickly corrected me that it wasn't a hard G, but a soft “ng” made in the back of the throat.  It was good to just check in with her again as we are still learning the appropriate things to do and say when somebody dies. 

Coming back from Margaret's house, we saw a huge stick of bananas leaning in a kitchen doorway.  It was so pretty, and I'm glad that Gayly thought so, too, and captured the image with her camera. 

IMG_1872 - Copy (213x320)

Just before we reached the house, we met Kate who was also making Maki.  Havu are only ripe for two months out of the year, so their will be lots of maki around during June and July.  

IMG_1874 - Copy (213x320)

I am pretty much wiped out!  But it's been such a good day.  A day to get lots of physical work done, to sit and visit with friends, laugh, cook, a packed-to-the-gills kind of day, full of God's gifts.
To hear about Gayly’s trip from her perspective, be sure to click here to visit her blog!