Saturday, November 29, 2014

Wednesday, November 26

What a day!  Edi had no idea what was in store for her today, but her amazing boyfriend made plans to surprise her in Marulaon with a proposal this morning.  Aaron left in the dark before the kids were up, and he left a cryptic message in magnetic letters on the fridge.  Something about going to get Thanksgiving surprises, which was true because our thoughtful director was sending us a nice big chicken for our Thanksgiving meal.
Edi & Choate kids WED
So, we shortened the school day just a little bit and worked on a nice lunch to welcome Aaron back home.  I had already asked Prisca if Aaron could call her cell phone when they reached Hae Village, and Eta was working in our yard on purpose so she could tell me when Prisca came up with the message.  Both of these young ladies were in on the secret!
Katherine & Edi & starfish WED
I told the kids that I wanted to get some pictures with them and Edi playing with the starfish on the only little strip of white sand beach on our island.  When lunch was ready to pop into the oven, Edi, the kids, and I sauntered over to the beach and began to take some pictures.
Edi & Sarah WED
After I took a few pictures, the kids noticed that a motorboat was headed our direction.  I had been listening to the engine for several minutes, anticipating the timing of Aaron's return because of his phone call.
Brennen in boat WED
Sure enough, here came our favorite driver, Belza, with Aaron and Brennen.  Their arrival  reminded me of a knight in shining armor on his trusty steed!  Edi and the kids were SO surprised.  Aaron hustled the three younger children into the boat to drive closer to our house to unload, Sarah and I retreated into the bushes with cameras, Edi said, "What are you DOING here?!?", and Brennen began his earnest proposal to the lovely Edi.
Brennen on his knee WED
She said yes.  I snapped photos while Sarah took a brief video, then we walked on home leaving the newly engaged couple chatting on the beach (in full view of our community).
Edi & Brennen WED
We love this couple and are excited to share a few days with them in our home before they both return to America next week.  God has some exciting things planned for them in the future, but He is already using them now to bless our family.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Tuesday, November 25

Our family enjoys using the "Thanksliving Treasures" box year after year to help us celebrate Thanksgiving.  This resource from Family Life combines history, Scripture, and fun activities to prepare our hearts for Thanksgiving.  Edi has jumped into the spirit of things, too, and she let us wrap her up in toilet paper to represent how sin hinders us in the race of life.
Our thankful turkey is sprouting several new feathers every day, and our basket of Thanksgiving books holds our old favorites like Louisa May Alcott's "Old Fashioned Thanksgiving" (which we read aloud every year) and "Thanks for Thanksgiving" by Julie Markes.

Monday, November 24

Just to give you a glimpse into the challenges and experiences of some of our colleagues, here is a newsletter sent out by our friends Ron & Roxanne Gebauer after an attempt to leave for their village home last Saturday.
Hi. Well, we packed our town things into storage. Cleaned the stove and refrigerator for the next renters of the dorm we've been living in this time. Packed up all the things for the village, carried them up three flights of stairs and loaded the truck with boxes, bags and gas
cylinders. When I (Ron) say "we," actually it was pretty much Roxanne and Ethan, Matthew, Robyn and Claire. Because of my injured back, my contribution with regard to carrying things was minimal.
By then it was about 2PM, and Roxanne and the gang of four drove the truck into town and down to the wharf. They offloaded the things from the truck onto the ship, the Baruku. Then they headed to the central market to buy some veggies and fruit to take to the village (where they aren't available).
I was alone at the dorm, doing last minute packing of personal items. At about 4 PM, the phone rang. It was the owner of the ship. Emphasizing how sorry he was, he said (summarized):
1. Plans have changed.
2. The Baruku will not be going as far as your port, Wairokai. Instead it will terminate its trip three ports to the north, at Kiu.
3. This has something to do with the dissatisfaction of some people with the outcome of the parliamentary election (the results for W. Areare constituency/district were announced just today).
4. There is no petrol available, so you won't be able to get from Kiu to Wairokai by motor canoe. [my note: this was one of Neil's options, that they would use his 23' bray boat and 55 hp engine at Kiu to take us and our stuff down to Wairokai - though it's doubtful we could have done it in one trip. He was also concerned about weather.)
5.Therefore, please bring the truck back to the wharf and get all of
your things off of the ship.
6.Your tickets will be refunded.
So, Roxanne and the boys went back and retrieved our things.
What additional things to pray for? Here are a few that come to mind
right away:
* Calmness and good attitudes after the election.
* Ships to carry the many people who went to the village to vote back
to Honiara where they have jobs or school awaiting them.
* That we somehow get safely back to the village. (I wonder, are
Roxanne and I too old to take up parachuting?)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sunday, November 23

Aaron returned home last night from Hae Village around 6:00 in the midst of lots of wind and rain.  He was only gone a little more than 24 hours, but it still was so nice to get him home!  He said that none of the committee members or the translator from the East side of the Russells showed up and that many of the committee members from the other areas stayed home as well.  Obviously, he was discouraged about what seems like a lack of interest.  But they have scheduled a key terms meeting on the East side for December 13, and we would appreciate prayers as the two different denominations (Catholic and Anglican) get together to hammer out the words they will use.
Edi husking coconut TUES
Edi is continuing to add to her resume of accomplishments.  Husking a coconut can be very difficult and requires strength.
Edi succeeding in husking coconut TUES
My friend Ofoaen's daughter, Nako, showed Edi how to husk a coconut, and Edi quickly finished one like she had been doing this all her life!
Crown with Scripture - WEEKEND
Today was "Christ the King" Sunday, so our family made a few crowns and wrote verses on the inside.  Mine had Philippians 1:6 in Pijin inside.  I gave it to Eta.  We really want our neighbors to realize that God's Word is applicable for every day life!
sisters - WEEKEND
It's starfruit, also called five corner, season around here.  This pair of sweet sisters, Daris and Mariska, brought a shirt-full of fruit into the kitchen where I was visiting with Eta and several other young women.  I love the life that sparkles in their eyes!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thursday, November 20

Edi is getting a taste of the "glamorous" work of Bible translation and literacy.  She and Aaron spent a large part of today cutting and pasting (literally), copying, stapling, and coloring books written in Lavukalave.
Edi & Aaron THURS
This afternoon, I walked down to Margaret Rasol's house to continue working on the translation of "Dota blong King", a Bible-based tool for moms to use in teaching their daughters about purity.  One of the Lavukal translators used this book, written by a former SITAG colleague, as practice for his translation training.  As we work and laugh together, I'm learning all kinds of new vocabulary and reinforcing words that were buried in the corners of my brain.  I'm also discovering that the translator has used older Lavukaleve words that many people don't use any more.  Being involved in a minority language that is growing and changing is a very good thing!

Wednesday, November 19

Election Day!  Marulaon Village is a polling center for five different villages, so our village was full of people today.
Aaron reading Lavukaleve to kids
My awesome husband took advantage of the visitors and set up a table for translation and literacy awareness. 
(Can you find Aaron?)
Aaron surrounded by kids WED
He and our translation committee chairman sat at the table asking people to draw pictures, reading picture books to anyone who wanted to listen, and answering questions about the Lavukaleve translation and literacy work.
kids sitting on boards
I had fun reading to some of the kids in my halting Lavukaleve and taking pictures of the cuties that will one day be the leaders of these amazing people.

beautiful baby

Monday, November 24, 2014

Tuesday, November 18

After several rainy mornings and the lack of canoe, we finally got our trip to take Edi diving for shellfish yesterday morning.  God gave us the perfect weather, a little bit cloudy, a light breeze, and low tide.
Edi holding starfish
Sunday night, Ruthie (our diving guide) came over to say that her sister's big canoe wasn't going to be available and that we needed to take a fiberglass canoe so we would all fit.  I was sorely disappointed, but God worked out everything, and when I went down yesterday morning to see if the sprinkles were going to delay our trip again, Ruthie said that we COULD take her sister canoe.  Yipee!
(Jayli peeking over the canoe)
Jayli peeking over canoe
So, we loaded up a canoe full of girls, Ruthie, her niece, Jayli (one of Olivia's good friends), Edi, Sarah, Olivia, Josa, and me, and began to paddle out to the beautiful place where we find a bounty of God's creation of kalimeta.
Joanna & Olivia by canoe
I never get tired of how beautiful the Russell Islands are.  We swam around, scanning the sandy bottom of the ocean for the little critters we were hoping to eat for lunch, but they were hiding or had changed addresses.  Finally, when I was about ready to call it quits, Ruthie shouted, "Kalimeta vutia!" to let us know that she found their new home!
Katherine holding lunchWe loaded up a couple of flour sacks with kalimeta, Josa added some clam shells (suta) and another critter or two, and we paddled back to Marulaon.  Paddling back home is always a little harder after you've been fighting the current and diving down in water over your head for several hours.
Girls cleaning shellfish
Ruthie and Katherine helped clean the clam shells, and we divided the kalimeta between the three households represented in our diving crew.  I think Edi was a little bit grossed out by the slimy, black contents in the clam shells.
But she was a really good sport and ate them for lunch when I cooked them up with some green papaya.Edi & Joanna holding suta
After lunch, we worked on preparing the kalimeta.  They are much more labor intensive.  First you boil the shells to kill the critters and to wash off the sand and grime. 
Aaron grabbing a kalimeta
Then, you pull each little critter out of the shell and clean off the parts you don't want to eat.
Katherine pulling out kalimeta
Finally, you rinse them off again and cook them up in some fresh coconut milk with curry and salt.
group showing off kalimeta
And when God gives you plenty to eat, you always share with your neighbors, so I took a small bowl over to my friend, Ofoaen.  On the way back, I got into a great discussion with a pregnant mama and another friend who has six children.  We discussed how God gives our children personalities while they are still in the womb and what a gift those children are to us!

Monday, November 17

Benjamin carrying wood
After morning prayer, the bell rang insistently calling strong muscles to come carry the timber from the beach up to the District Priest's new house. 
Aaron carrying wood
Benjamin and Aaron responded to the call and hauled boards up the hill until the job was done.  I love my guys' servant hearts!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Weekend Wonders

Sunday, November 16

I'm still getting used to the fancy-dancy new camera that Gayly brought me in June. I have to think about so many things, and I often forget some aspect of picture taking. When I took this photo of Olivia watching her siblings play, I forgot to check the light meter, but I love the way the overexposure really focuses on her beautiful brown eyes.
Olivia - day uncertain
God often takes my "goofs" and makes beautiful things, too, and I'm so thankful!
Edi digging heaps MON
Since my cassava isn't ripe yet, we used our Saturday morning to dig heaps and plant more cassava instead of making lelenga. Edi learned very quickly with my kids as teachers.
Katherine hoeing
The small garden plot next to the house was the perfect place to plant the new batch of cassava, but we needed to weed it first. Everything is done by hand here, and clearing the ground of weeds took most of the morning.
everybody working in the garden
One of the nicest things about having Edi around is the beautiful example she sets for my children. I often find Katherine snuggled up with Edi as they both read their Bibles during their "Jesus Time" early in the mornings.
Edi & Katherine reading Bibles
In the Solomon Islands, church and state merge together, and last night our church held a thanksgiving communion service for one of the candidates for MP (member of parliament). He is from our village and brought a large campaign team with him to participate in the service. Our district priest stayed around for the morning service as well, so we had another communion service. Normally, we are out of church around 8:00 on a Sunday morning, but today it was closer to 11:00 by the time we got home. My friend, Margaret, mentioned that she didn't have any lelenga, and I told her I didn't either. When I asked her what she WAS going to eat for breakfast, she said "dry rice". I asked, no fish? no greens? no potatoes? She shook her head sadly, so I invited her to come cut some of my slippery cabbage. She has quite a few people in her family, including a nursing mother and some grandchildren, so they need more than just dry rice to eat!
worm eating cabbage
While I was giving some greens to Margaret, I noticed a beautiful green worm eating my freshly planted slippery cabbage. He was so pretty I needed to take a picture. God gave me the gift of ministering through food, and at the same time, Edi was praying for another one of my friends outside the church. He has given Edi the gift of prayer. I love how He makes each one of us different!

Friday, November 21, 2014


E-mails started flowing through from Joanna yesterday morning! Thanks for the prayers! I’m processing through them and hope to have a new blog post up very soon.

Thanks again for the prayers!

- Ann H.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

No E-mails

Hello, friends!

I just wanted to give you a quick update. I have not received an e-mail from Joanna since Thursday. That is a pretty good indication that UUPlus is not working. Let’s get back to praying, friends! E-mail connection is a lifeline to this precious family, and that becomes especially true during the holiday season.

Thanks for the prayers!

~ Ann H.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Wednesday, November 12

I decided to stay inside to read my Bible this morning, since we got rain yesterday and the mosquitos would be busier today if I were on the porch.  As we head towards summer, the days are getting longer, and the sun is beginning to make its light known by 5:00.  So, the bell for morning prayer rings early, often around 5:50, meaning our whole family is up early. 
sunrise WED
Sarah came into my room about 6:00 saying, "Mama!  You've got to go outside and see the rainbow!"  Sure enough, a rainbow shone against the clouds in the west that promised more rain.  I never get bored of God's creativity.
Katherine blowing science experiments WED
Katherine's science experiment today was to test her lung capacity by blowing the water out of an upturned bottle.  The biggest available bottle I had was only 1.8 liters, but this little girl could blow it all out!
Edi & Katherine (WED)
Of course, everybody was pulled into the experiment, especially Edi.  We're so glad she is here to share life with us.
Edi & Katherine grinning WED
Market this morning was small, the only green thing that showed up was a small parcel of long green beans.  So before school started, Sarah and I traipsed off to the garden to see if any of our green beans or pineapple were ripe.  We found one ripe pineapple, but the ripe beans had the strangest thing all over them.  It looked like somebody had taken a tiny pair of nail scissors and neatly cut out each seed from several beans.
Green beans WED
I asked my friend Ofoaen what might have done that, and she told me that the culprit was the red parrots that are so beautiful.  Those stinkers!
Edi Playing
After school, the kids went out to play and took Edi along.  She has been quick to learn village games, and all of the kids love her.
Mama and baby WED
I came down to visit with neighbors and found my friend, Mai, and her little one resting in a hammock underneath the house where the kids were playing.  This mama has a sweet smile and a joy that every single one of her five children inherited.

Tuesday, November 11

A huge thank you to everybody who prayed for our trip to the police station in Yandina yesterday!  We got off a little bit later than we anticipated, but that meant that the sun wasn't quite so hot on our backs.  After 45 minutes on VERY calm seas, we arrived at the police station.  The guys stationed there knew we were coming because our hard-working director had called them.  Yandina used to be the center of a coconut plantation, so the village is equipped with both a cell-phone tower and a land line phone.  Unfortunately, the station didn't have the "police clearance" form we needed for our residence visa, so the policeman called the main police station in Honiara to see if we could use a regular fingerprint form.  The first person he talked to said we would have to come into Honiara because Yandina didn't have the forms.  But then, the policeman called a different department, and the officer there said that we could use the regular fingerprint forms.  I'm so thankful that people were praying for us!  The whole time the policeman in Yandina was on the phone with headquarters, we were on the cell phone with our SITAG director, finding out new details and bumps on the road to completing our visas. 
We watched the policeman fill in two forms for each of us.  By hand.  He got a kick out of the name of the "village" where I was born - Little Rock.  Then Aaron and I made a set of fingerprints for each form.  We were encouraged to hear lots of Lavukaleve around the police station.  Yandina has traditionally been a melting pot of people working on the coconut plantations.  My watch said five o'clock by the time we finished, and I asked what time they usually closed.  The answer - four thirty.  I was really glad that we brought banana cake as a thank you for these hard working policemen!
Then we headed off to Hae Village to find Matthew, one of the Lavukal translators, and Stanley, one of the members of the translation committee.  They didn't know we were coming.  Just as we pulled up to the beach, we heard a boat behind us, and up pulled several guys who had been campaigning for the upcoming elections.  Matthew and Stanley were both in the boat - God continued to work out the details of our trip!  Aaron was able to quickly chat with them to set up a meeting for the entire Lavukal Translation Committee to be held on November 21-22 in their village.
spider TUES
Last night it began to rain, a lovely soft rain, a little bit heavy at times, perfect for the rain tanks and for the garden.  I found a beautiful black and gold (Steelers fan?) spider among the pineapples next to the house.  And Katherine and I dug a small spot and planted some green bean seeds this morning, too.  It has rained all day long today.  Much needed as the rain refills our rain tanks and our souls.
Edi & Sarah singing TUES
Having Edi in the house has renewed our love for all things musical.  What a joy to hear her humming, to enjoy watching operas with her, and to observe her teaching Sarah voice every morning!
Edi & Sara TUES

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Saturday, November 8

Market this morning was wonderful!  Our friends are so gracious to bring us the fruits and veggies we need to keep our bodies strong and healthy.
market SAT(Joanna at market - photo credit to Edi)
After market, I had some great chances to visit with friends.  One of my friends wanted a sewing machine needle, one needed a band-aid, another wanted an onion.  I was also asked to give some material to make shorts for her grandson, and I got to check up on a friend to whom I gave medicine for tinea a few days ago.  We've had the opportunity to share lots of things in our short time in the village!  I also heard good feedback about our willingness to share banana cake with our neighbors, and I was able to remind my friends that sharing banana cake is a good way for me to say thank you for all of the ways my neighbors give to me.
Edi Scraping cocounut SAT
As always, Saturday means making lelenga at our house!  Edi got her first taste of scraping coconut - she did a great job.  In fact, she was scraping one after another until I warned her to stop so she didn't get blisters on her hands. 
Edi's hands SAT
We ran out of cassava close to the house, so Sarah, Edi, and I made a quick trip out to the bush garden to dig up a few more heaps.  While we were there, we found that a nice big pineapple we left to ripen had been taken in the last 36 hours.  I was a little bummed.  In the midst of making lelenga, we made lots and lots of copies for Fly Harbour School's exams next week.  Edi did most of the work, freeing up Aaron and me to work on other things.  I don't think Edi included scraping coconuts or making copies on her job description when she was getting ready to come to Marulaon Village, but we are so thankful she is here!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Friday, November 7

God gave us glassy, calm seas for today's adventure over to Karumulun Village.
Everyone in boat FRI
We arrived mid-morning and introduced Edi to everybody before thJanet & Julian FRIe kids whisked her off to play.  The ladies and I went to Janet and Ezekiel's house to record the stories of the boy Jesus in the temple and the temptation of Adam and Eve, while the men stayed in the little shelter next to Janet's kitchen.  Ezekiel's plans had changed, so he was available, and the translation committee chairman, Hiva, came over with us.  Aaron got to have a much-needed meeting with the committee members from Karumulun.
Aaron & Ezekiel FRI
After I finished with the recordings, we visited some about a book written by a former SITAG member.  This book, written in Pijin, is the story of a Solomon Island mother who is teaching her daughter about the changes she can expect in her body and how to glorify God with her body.  Every time the mom makes a point, she doesn't point to her own thinking, but to the Bible as the source of information.  We really need this book in Lavukaleve, and one of the Lavukal translators has crafted the first draft.  This will be the next project for the women in our area.  The more our neighbors can practice reading in their heart language, the more prepared they will be when the scriptures are finally translated.
Three ladies FRI
After all of the meetings were finished, the ladies who made the recordings graciously prepared a lunch of fish and rice for our family and the translation committee chairman.  Fish cooked in coconut milk is SO delicious!  Because all of the women who met today have names that begin with "J", we joked that we should form some sort of singing or dancing group.
Edi & Sima FRI
Edi made lots of little friends, and one of Ezekiel and Janet's grandchildren fell asleep on Edi's shoulder.
And another one of their grandchildren (they have thirteen so far) was a little bit frightened of me and would only peek around the post when I tried to take his picture.
FRI pic
We paddled back home mid-afternoon, and Aaron and I got right to work while the kids went out to play.  Our stapler wasn't working well, so I ended up hand-sewing the spines on the little Bible story booklets.  God continued to bless our day when I discovered that the man who had done the drawings for the story of creation was now a teacher at the local elementary school.  And, he happened to be at his parents' house in Marulaon today!  So, I gave him a copy of the story of temptation found in Genesis 3, and he promised to draw some pictures soon.  He and another teacher also requested us to make copies for each of the students taking an exam next week at school.  They provided a ream of paper to help.  Each of the exams has been written by hand, including drawings for science.  I can't even imagine writing out 16-20 tests by hand.
Olivia & Katherine in Canoe
While I was out and about, I checked on the kids who were swimming and paddling around.  I found my tender-hearted Benjamin rescuing a lizard from a canoe that had turned over and was full of water.  He was swimming toward shore with the lizard propped on his hand while the canoe and paddle drifted away.  So, Olivia and Katherine went to rescue the canoe!
Moon Rise FRI
Our day finished well, too.  After church, I was visiting with Margaret, and as we walked back to the house in the dusk, I noticed that the moon was just rising blazing red over the horizon.  I ran up to the house and interrupted the others who were singing, and we all stood in awe in the dark as the moon continue to come up.