Monday, February 27, 2017

Safe and Sound in Marulaon

Sorry for the delay in this update! But, do know that the Choates arrived safely in the village. As of right now, e-mail is working well, and information is coming through for the first blog posts. So, be on the lookout for those very soon!

Until then, thanks for praying for this precious family!

- Ann H.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Weakness and the last hours before getting on the ship...

"God chose me because I was weak enough.  God does not do his great works by large committees.  He trains somebody to be quiet enough, and little enough, and then uses him." 
~Hudson Taylor

We plan to leave SITAG at 6:00 a.m. Sunday morning, which is 1:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon, Central time.  We've been hearing reports that the boat is slower than ever before, and tomorrow is a new moon, so we will likely be unloading people and cargo over the side of the ship in the dark.  This time feels harder than ever before.  Not physically harder, though that it always difficult, but emotionally harder.  I feel weaker and smaller in every way as we try to get our boxes and hearts ready to leave yet again.  Friday night, we took some time to celebrate this special friend's birthday.

Our husbands drove down the hill to get "take out" for a simple evening - chicken and cassava cooked over the fire.  The focus was on the people, not the food (even though the food was delicious).  Our amazing kids washed dishes so the grownups could stay around the table and visit.

The kids also kept us entertained with their antics.
Today, it was back at work doing the last minute shopping and packing.  Thankful that we can take some fresh fruits and veggies out to the village for the first few days.

We got our eggs boiled for the ship trip, too.  Sarah always makes our eggs more fun to spice up the long trip.

After lunch, we drove out for one more airport trip. 

We're excited about the possibilities for the Operations Director role at SITAG.  It's a vital role to keeping things moving smoothly, lots of hidden tasks, but if they don't happen, things can grind to a screeching halt.

At the airport, the grownups conspired and planned one last ice cream run.  When our family returns to Honiara in April, neither of the other two SITAG families with teenagers will be in Honiara.

So we're taking advantage of every possible sweet time together.

That included a lot of "I'll give you a taste of my ice cream if you'll give me a taste of yours!"

We're so grateful for these amazing people that serve alongside us at SITAG.  They are balm to our souls on hard days like today.

Now it's time to go load the truck with our boxes.  But I know, that even in the rain, these guys will be right by our side, strengthening us and encouraging us and praying for us through every step.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Short Ride in a Fast Machine (and some basketball,too)

The next few months are going to feel like a Short Ride in a Fast Machine.  This orchestral piece is one of my favorite to play, but it's not a sustainable way to live.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."  James 1:17
I'm grateful that during our Honiara stay, two other SITAG families with teenagers have also been living in Honiara.  Other MKs (who "get" the life my kids live) have been a balm to all of us.  At the end of the school or work day, you can almost always find some action on SITAG's little basketball court.

We finally have tickets to go to the village this weekend.  As we enter into this crazy wonderful season of our lives (March, April, and May), we ask for your prayers and encouragement.  There are so many good things going on in those months (like consultant checking of Ruth and Jonah in Marulaon and seeing many wonderful people as we travel for a month), but that time period will also be full of much change and transition for our family (like Sarah and Benjamin saying goodbye to Marulaon Village).

"Preparation for [change] is an ongoing experience; when a woman chooses to bind herself to an unchanging God, then she too can live with considerable freedom in a swiftly changing world." 
~Gail MacDonald

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Polynesian Pork

My new favorite recipe?  Polynesian Pork from the 1963 Pillsbury Family Cook Book.  With the gorgeous, cheap pineapple we can buy at Honiara's Central Market, this recipe makes me smile.

Polynesian Pork
(Adapted from the Pillsbury Family Cook Book)
Serves 4 very generously, and doubles easily to feed guests
1 egg
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 pound lean boneless pork, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons cooking oil
3 green peppers, cut in 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup water
13 1/2 ounce can pineapple chunks (or 2 cups of fresh pineapple chunks)
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
1/2 cup pineapple syrup (from the can)

I strongly suggest to have all of the pineapple and pepper chopped before you even begin to brown the meat.  Maybe it's because we only have tiny capsicum here and I used fresh pineapple, but it took me a long time to finish all of the chopping, even with help. 
Beat together egg, flour, salt and pepper in mixing bowl.  Coat pork cubes with mixture Brown in cooking oil on all sides in large skillet.  Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, adding water occasionally to prevent burning.  Drain pineapple; reserve 1/2 cup syrup.  Add green pepper and pineapple chunks to meat.  Cover and simmer 10 minutes. 
Blend cornstarch and soy sauce in saucepan.  Add sugar, vinegar, pineapple syrup and 1/2 cup water.  Cook, stirring constantly, until clear, about 2 minutes.  (The first time I made this, I had no idea what "until clear" meant.  But when the sauce clarifies, it's fun to watch, and you'll have no doubt!)  Pour over meat, stir, and serve with rice.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

President's Day

Sarah made us a lovely Lincoln Log for President's Day yesterday afternoon.  And she doesn't do anything halfway.  Peanut butter playdough became shelf fungus and some leftover, soggy candy corn became another type of orange fungus (that we often see in the village) perching on our log.

I delighted to hear our kids immediately say that in addition to eating cake, we should also be praying for our president to celebrate President's Day.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Belated Weekend Wonders

 "Life is an exciting business and most exciting when it is lived for others."  ~Helen Keller

If there is anybody who lives out this quote by Helen Keller, it's our sweet Betsy.  She serves SITAG faithfully and quietly, cleaning with integrity and keeping the homes at SITAG running smoothly.  And she always has a smile on her face.

To celebrate Olivia's cast coming off (and the great job she did taking care of her wrist) we took our family and a couple of extras to the pool. 

I'm grateful for the free pool pass and for a fun bunch of kids to rejoice with us.  Kids who demonstrate that life is most exciting when it is lived for others.

Of course, another form of excitement is the stomach bug, which hit Aaron Saturday night.  Thankfully, it stayed away from the rest of us, and by this morning he was feeling back to his normal, chipper self.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

"I must reaffirm before God that I am ready for the ways in which he is going to shape me through the circumstances and the opportunities of the hours ahead."
~ Gail MacDonald, High Call High Privilege

No ship available again this weekend.  Just another circumstance through which God is shaping me and my family.  May we be faithful with our extra time in Honiara and use our opportunities wisely as we follow each step of the path God lays out for us.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Saying Goodbye

This morning we got to take Henk and Margreet to the airport.  Seems like only yesterday that we were picking them up!

Saying goodbye isn't quite so hard this time because we know we will see them again at the end of April when we fly through Canada on our month long journey to return to Arkansas.

Thank you, Henk and Margreet, for being good friends, servants for SITAG, and especially a fun aunt and uncle for our kids!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Olivia's Wrist


 Olivia hasn't slowed down at all with a broken wrist, in part because she had people around the world praying for her healing.

Over the past six weeks, we've been so proud of her as she diligently obeyed the rules to take good care of her arm.

We know that the healing is in God's hands, but Olivia had a responsibility to do her part in protecting the arm. 

When Aaron contacted the doctor about coming back down to the hospital for the x-ray, the doctor asked Olivia to remove the cast ahead of time.

Yesterday Olivia began her day with her Bible in one hand
and a bowl of water soaking the other hand.
The doctor displayed both x-rays and showed Olivia how well her arm had healed in the last six weeks.  This one is the "before".
And early this morning, a smiling girl plopped down in bed beside me to say her scripture memory.  Minus a cast.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day

Although Valentine's Day has morphed into this mushy day to celebrate romantic love, our family likes to remember the friends and family that God has placed across our path.
Olivia and Katherine enjoyed making cookies to share with their friends while I made coconut custard in heart shaped muffin cups to share with my friends.  Nothing fancy, but I didn't want to pass up the opportunity to let people know that I love them.

When our goodies were in the oven, Katherine and I snuggled up and read "Valentine" by Carol Carrick.  I especially love the sweet illustrations as the grandmother and granddaughter bake cookies together.
My little Valentine cuties are growing so fast.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Iron Sharpens Iron

 We have the best colleagues EVER.  What you see in these pictures is only a small slice of the high caliber men and women we work with every day.  People who hold quality and integrity in high regard.  People who give sacrificially of their time and energy.
This weekend we were the beneficiary of two different colleagues helping Aaron become more comfortable with the software that Bible translators use.  The laughter was the "cherry on top".  We all tend to have a similar sense of humor around here.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Not Yet

When Aaron called this morning, the Kosco still didn't have the part it needs.  So, we won't be going to the village this weekend.  Instead, I'm sitting on the porch watching the next line of wind and rain roll in, enjoying the coolness, and being grateful I'm on land.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

 I am so grateful that our kids (and their friends) have a place where they can run around and play outside.
They joyfully swing out over the ravine in complete trust and surrender and encourage me to follow their example.