I practice...being entirely where I am, glamorous or not, and what I find is that it's better to be in one place, wholly and full-heartedly, than a thousand splintery half-places, glamorous as they may be. ~Shauna NiequiestHUGE thanks to everyone who was praying for our trip on Sunday! God answered with one of the best trips we've ever had.
We left SITAG a little bit after 6:30 with a truck full of boxes and extra kids. The Kosco was filling up rapidly when we arrived, so we didn't get our favorite spot, but we found a space nearby where we could all sit together and keep an eye on our cargo. As the boys handed the boxes up to the deck of the ship, Roxanne played Tetrus getting the boxes to fit just right together, and soon everything was settled. Right now, our SITAG family is very small, but they all showed up to encourage and provide support. Our directors brought a nice hot breakfast for us. Lots of people (maybe ten?) from Marulaon were also on the ship. Ten people is like 3% of our population!
At 8:30, the ship blew its whistle to let visitors know they needed to leave the boat, and just then, Patson and Judy's family (SITAG employees) showed up to shake hands and hug necks. We were thrilled that they came down, too! Even though the ship blew its whistle, it still operated on "Solomon Time" and didn't leave until 9:40 (which really isn't late at all). Some of our friends from Marulaon were sitting nearby, and we enjoyed chatting with them and catching up on the news from the month we had been absent. God gave us calm seas and overcast skies - we couldn't have asked for better traveling weather.
We arrived in Yandina, the first port, around 2:30, and Aaron went to scout out the market. He brought back a handful of bananas and some green coconuts. Usually, we stop at Yandina for a couple of hours, but this time, cargo was unloaded quickly, and we only stayed for an hour. One more hour brought us to Marulaon. Thankfully, Kosco switched its port back to Marulaon, which saved us a lot of time and money! The girls and I went with the first load of cargo with a smiling Belza driving the motor canoe, and Aaron and Benjamin stayed on the Kosco to finish unloading and bring the two rain tanks we brought with us. What a joy to see so many smiling faces and helping hands! When we arrived on the porch around 5:30, a little winded from climbing up the hill with loaded arms, I found two beautiful wreaths of flowers with a Happy New Year message written in Lavukaleve for our family. God knew I needed that little shot of encouragement. I'm trying to soak up every little thing, knowing that this will be our last visit for a while. Eta's smile as she looks over her shoulder while carrying a heavy load up the hill, Ofoaen's big hug and "Happy New Year!" as she filled me in on the big wind that had toppled all of the heavy laden banana trees in the village, all of the older kids home from school who will be leaving very soon to begin a new school year.
Monday, we spent almost the whole day washing clothes, mopping, washing every dish, cleaning up gecko poop, unpacking. But we always make time to pause and play, this time we played a round of Bohnanza in the morning, and we stopped mid-afternoon to walk around and visit before radio sched. Having older children who know the routine of moving into the village house and who are capable workers makes settling in so much faster and easier. I feel like we've hardly been gone, one of the reasons is that I got lots of "askims" on Monday! Bandaids, antifungal meds, sinus meds, and pain reliever, all in one day.
During Evening Prayer, the cloudy sky began to let loose its heavy burden, and the rain intensified throughout the night. Heavy winds rose, too, and I found myself praying for my neighbors whose homes aren't as sturdy as mine. My outside kitchen sustained quite a bit of roof damage from the cyclone a couple of weeks ago, but my neighbors were already battening down their houses in December because they knew that rainy season was ahead.
This morning, Eta came by after breakfast, dressed in long sleeves and layers. I asked her, "Inu vevea?" (You cold?) Her response? "Veveare!" (I'm cold!) She did a great job of keeping our yard looking nice while we were gone, and she was bringing four hands of bananas that had been on our banana tree when the cyclone came through. Eta told me how she distributed any ripe food to the widows in our community, including some of the slippery cabbage that had also been damaged by the heavy winds. I made sure she had kept some of the food for her own family, and she had. She is just such a sweetheart!
The Choate team worked hard again today. Aaron had a long meeting with Hiva, the chairman of the Lavukal Translation Committee. Benjamin went up on the roof to fix a small plumbing problem and found a nest of baby birds. He left it alone. All of the window louvers are now cleaned. We were going to begin washing the dusty curtains, but since it was still raining, we decided to wait for some sunshine. But we did get almost all of the books in the house wiped down and checked for insects. God has been so good to protect our books here. We've seen some awful damage in other books in Honiara - tunnels bored through books, mildew and mold that have taken over - but thankfully ours have experienced only minimal damage (mostly that musty Solomon's smell!).
We'll be back at school tomorrow and our normal, everyday lives here. It's really nice to be back in our sweet, peaceful village. Wherever God puts me is the best place to be, glamorous or not.