Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Apple Cake

Growing up, I could count on my mom being home when I arrived after school.  Often, she had prepared a great afternoon snack, and in the fall, apple cake made the whole house smell good.  This recipe smells like home to me and conjures up feelings of love and safety.  So, of course, I like to make it for my family, too!
Apple Cake
(serves 16)
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
 1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 medium apples, chopped
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180 Celsius).  Spray 8x8 square pan with non-stick spray.  Cream first four ingredients, then add dry ingredients and combine thoroughly.  Taste test by licking your fingers often, but don't forget to wash your hands.  Stir in the apples and walnuts.

Spoon batter into pan and cook until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out cleanly and the house smells wonderful.  Best served outside to enjoy the gorgeous fall weather.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

More from Aaron's trip to Lavukalen

Two of the Lavukal translators, Matthew and Ezekiel, and the translation committee chairman, Hiva, met with Aaron for several days on the porch of our village home.

The guys have been writing their drafts of Matthew by hand, and they decided it was finally time to learn some keyboarding skills.  So, part of the time, Aaron was teaching them to navigate the mouse and the keyboard.
They turned in their drafts of Matthew 1-4 and have begun drafting Matthew 5-12.
More of God's perfect timing - Aaron was able to attend a feast day in Leru Village.  He even got to dance again alongside our friend, Leonard.

My hubby also worked hard to finish the termite discouragement program by painting the rest of the house with used motor oil.

On his last day in the village, Aaron made a quick trip to Fly Harbour Primary School where he was pleased to find the rain tanks finally set up on the head teacher's house and the girls' dorm.

And our sweet friend, Gayly, who raised the money for the bookshelf and sent books for the school library?  Her vision is finally coming to fruition.  What you see in the picture is the Fly Harbour Primary School library, featuring books in English, Solomon Islands Pijin, and, most importantly, Lavukaleve, the kids' heart language.

Aaron's trip was full and fruitful.  Because of your prayers and support, he was able to get so many things done, covering a wide variety of areas.  We still firmly believe that the whole family living in Marulaon Village is the very best way to serve the Lavukal, but we're thankful for this quick trip that Aaron was able to make to keep the project rolling and to encourage the translators.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Weekend Wows!

Oh, what a weekend.  Full of so many gifts.  Things like last minute decisions to add three awesome kids to our family for half the weekend.

And then getting to take seven kids to experience the county fair for the very first time.

And my generous parents made it all happen financially.

I felt like a girl in high school again, giggling on the tilt-a-whirl with this amazing guy.  And Olivia, our chaperone.

And funnel cake.  Because if you go to the fair, you must have funnel cake.

Saturday morning began with a trip to the farmers' market.  I'm always delighted by the people and the produce I find. 

Somehow, I have never bought fresh pinto beans.  Now I have!

We're looking forward to taste testing the difference between fresh and dried beans.

I felt like I was pulling off one bow after the other as the weekend continued and I opened more gifts.

Sarah finished my dining-room curtains.  I'm so excited!  I love the embroidered birds that remind me of one of my favorite books, "The Singing Tree" by Kate Seredy.

Then I got to watch my husband remind my son how to tie a tie as we got dressed up to attend the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's season opener.  After we reluctantly returned the extra kiddos to their parents, we drove to meet my parents and a sweet couple (who have served in overseas missions and now pastor a church) for supper before we enjoyed the concert.

Honestly, concerts are still bitter-sweet for me.  Although I wasn't an exceptional musician, I really enjoyed everything about that world.  It's hard to sit in the audience when my fingers are itching to bounce that bow or make that shift.  The concert was fabulous, and we even got to go down and visit with our old cello teacher.  Early every Saturday morning, I used to show up at his house for a lesson.  When Aaron and I could drive ourselves to the lessons, we would be on the road by 6:45 a.m. and I would sleep in the car during Aaron's lesson.  I picked out a handful of musicians that we still knew in the orchestra.  People who have been faithfully performing for thirty years or more.  People who have faithfully poured their lives not just into the music, but into students and young teachers like me.  May I, too, be faithful with the gifts God gives me.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Hair cutting ceremony

God's perfect timing shone during Aaron's trip back to the Solomon Islands.  So many events dovetailed into his timetable.  The most exciting event was a hair cutting ceremony that marked the end of a year of grieving after a family member's death.

Our good friend, Chief Hensy, hadn't cut his hair in a year as a part of this thoughtful custom.  He was one of six relatives of the deceased, three men and three women, chosen to grow their hair.  And the ceremony was scheduled during the time Aaron was back in Marulaon Village! 
My hubby rode with several of our friends early one morning to Kiolen Village to celebrate the end of the mourning period.  He found pigs waiting to be killed and cooked up for the feasting.  Pigs are a large part of Solomon Islands' feasting, but we don't see them in our area as often other language groups do.

Abundant food sprawled across the banana leaves and roofing iron to share with the family and friends who came to celebrate.

And I think our friend cleaned up pretty well!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Apple Picking

Yesterday, the skies were bright blue and the apples were calling out, "Pick me, pick me!"
 Our precious friends drove to our house, and we played fruit basket turnover - dads and kids in one vehicle, moms in the other.

Cadron Crest Orchard boasted several different types of apples: Fuji, Arkansas Black, Golden Delicious, Stellar, Braebern, and Granny Smith.

The kids couldn't wait to sample the bounty.  By the time we pulled out of the orchard, every child had a big smile on his or her face and an apple in hand.

And now my table is covered in apples, and I have a box of apples in the floor.  We are going to have so much fun enjoying God's gift of apples!!!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Happy Birthday, Katherine!

Eight years ago yesterday, we were getting ready to welcome a sweet little girl into our family.

We had no idea what a joy Katherine would be.  Her name, Katherine (purity) Abigail (father is rejoicing),

has proven to be true.  Her pure little heart is tender and compassionate and wants everybody to get along and do what is right.

And both her father and mother rejoice at the precious gift God has given us, wrapped up in this eight-year-old.

Aaron practiced cello while we waited for dinner guests to arrive
Katherine's special day was simple and quiet.  We drove to Barnes and Noble to redeem her free birthday cupcake and to enjoy browsing through the books.  And lots of family members called to wish my girl happy birthday.

At least you know she brushed her teeth from the toothpaste she dribbled down her front!

Aaron's niece got to come celebrate with us at the last minute, and the three girls had a blast playing with baby dolls and hanging out together while the boring grownups visited.

I'm blown away all over again at how very blessed my kids are to have great-grandparents who can come celebrate special days together. 
Makes me want to vote "yes" for arranged marriages and having children early so I can have grandchildren while I'm still young and spry.  Just kidding. 
But I do love being the oldest child of the oldest child of the oldest child.

Sarah's gift of a decadent birthday cheesecake made everybody's tummy happy at the end of a sweet birthday celebration.  Thank you, Lord, for the gift of family,

especially this little brown-eyed girl who bears her daddy's dimple.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Aaron's trip back to the Solomon Islands

Thank you so much to everyone who prayed and gave to help Aaron's trip back to the Solomon Islands be so successful.  Our dear friends in Florida provided most of the funds for this trip through generous memorials for Mike.  Aaron tackled a huge list of goals while he was away.  He attended many meetings in Honiara and worked on the village e-mail system, and I have no pictures from those exciting activities.

But he documented his trip out to the Russell Islands so our family could see what was going on back home.  Aaron rode our beloved Kosco and God gave him wonderfully calm seas for the trip.
The ship's first stop is the wharf at Yandina, and the second stop is in the ocean in between our village, Marulaon, and Ezekiel's village, Karumulun.
This lovely tree in front of my kitchen blooms every September, and I have yet to see it because I haven't been in the village in September in years.

Evidently our house wasn't as rat proof as we had hoped, but the rats really liked the poison we left.  Aaron had more sent out while he was in Marulaon, to leave for the next batch of hungry rats.

Eta brought Aaron a pineapple from our garden out in the bush.  Yay for fresh fruits and veggies to keep my hubby healthy while he was in Marulaon.  Eta has worked so hard to keep the yard in good shape in our absence, and Aaron said she has done a great job!

One of the first things Aaron did was tour the Russells over several days, trying to raise awareness about the Bible translation in each of the eighteen villages in our language group.  Set in a coconut grove in Tain Village, this lovely little church is one of Aaron's favorite places to visit.