Thursday, March 30, 2017

Wednesday, March 29

The boat arrived this morning around 7:00 this morning, and the three younger kids accompanied James in the motor canoe out to the ship. He made a Lavukaleve Scripture app that can easily be used on any Android device, so we are super excited! When we finally get the recordings made, we can layer the recordings on top and the text will be highlighted as it is read.

Aaron got to shift from working hard with his mind to working hard with his hands. Getting the house ready for a long absence means weatherproofing the porch and the rain tank stands were on the top of our work list today. Aaron was able to finish what Benjamin started last week.

Tomorrow, Benjamin and Aaron plan to replace the leaky gutters on our house so the rain tanks will fill well. And I have been invited to go over to Fly Harbour Primary School on the other end of our island to take pictures and videos of all of the cute kids there

Tuesday, March 28

When I walked down the hill to check on Soima's leg, her sweet mama was thrilled to show me a beautifully healing and drying sore! Telling God "thank you" together was a joy!

This morning, the translation team was still working on checking through Ruth, yesterday went much slower than anticipated and highlighted the need for more literacy skills in our language group. Everybody is near the end of their stamina, but they keep pushing on.

Sarah and Eta paddled our canoe over to another small island to get dead coral washed up on the beach (called coral "gravel") to put underneath our rain tanks to keep the area clean and dry. I'm so proud of Sarah, she is really jumping into Lavukal culture and is earning quite a good name for herself.

The translation team finally finished up all of the little bits and pieces late this afternoon. They have learned a lot about the whole process of checking, and we feel confident that next time the consultant will find a smoother road to travel with the Lavukal team. They didn't have time to make a recording of Ruth or Jonah, and they didn't ever get to checking the beginning of Matthew, but they DID complete so much. When I went down to take a final picture of the team, I told them that people all over the world were praying for them. Oh, how we appreciate the upholding and strengthening prayers that so many of you have offered on behalf of our family and the translation team!

Monday, March 27

Last night, Katherine noticed that her sweet friend, Soima, was limping as she walked and didn't leave for school. So, my tender-hearted daughter asked me to go down this morning to check on Soima and see what was bothering her. Just as Aaron and James were leaving to start their work day with the translation team, and Sarah and Benjamin went to carry bags of sand up the hill for a community construction project, I went down to put my mama skills to work. I found Soima with something embedded in her left heel and with a huge crusty, weepy sore the size of an orange just below her left knee. Her mama was getting ready to take her to the clinic (a long paddle followed by a long walk) to get a shot of antibiotics, so I asked if it was okay if I doctored Soima's leg.

First I shared a small jar of salt and suggested that they soak Soima's foot in hot water with salt added to draw out the hard lump that was forming in her heel. Then I took antibacterial soap and began washing her sweet leg. The soap also was a gift from us because I discovered that she doesn't use soap when she bathes. Then I started in with the hydrogen peroxide and cotton swabs. By this time, I was deciding that I need to take some medical classes when we return to America! After being gentle and careful in my cleaning, I warned Soima that I was about to start poking and prodding and asked her mama if that was okay. We worked together to clean out the gunk, and I dressed her wound with some monster bandaids and some antibiotic ointment.

A huge thank you to those of you who have sent first aid supplies over the years! I finished up by giving her some ibuprofen and praying over her leg. Then, I went to check on the translation team. They are working hard today, making sure to include women in their checking of the book of Ruth. Hopefully, the checking will be finished by the end of the day, and the team can complete all of the little bits and pieces tomorrow morning, followed by recording Jonah and Ruth!


Good morning, dear friends of the Choates! I hope to get Joanna's blog posts back flowing by the afternoon, but I wanted to go ahead and post this quick prayer request immediately.

The Kosco has "died" again. It managed to get back to Honiara - with James, the consultant on it! Yay! - but it will not be traveling back out to Marulaon next week as planned. This leaves our precious friends in quite the bind, as there is not really another viable option for getting themselves and their cargo back to Honiara. Their time in Honiara before leaving the country was already going to be tight, so this is a major concern for them.

Fortunately, we serve a God who is not limited in any way! Will you join me in praying for His perfect solution and provision to be revealed? I look forward to seeing how He takes care of every detail for this wonderful family!

Thanks for joining me in prayer,

Ann H.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sunday, March 26

The Lavukal translation
committee met underneath our house for more than four hours this afternoon. While the committee worked their way through the agenda, the rest of us enjoyed walking around the village and catching up with our friends.

Julie and her husband Atkin sang out to me as I walk along the beach. He is the new school board chairman for Fly Harbour Primary School and his term began today. They were wondering if I could go take videos and pictures of the school later this week. We made a plan for Julie and me to go on Thursday morning.

I moseyed on down the beach and found mamas and sisters and nieces and little ones sitting in hammocks in the shade, just waiting for the ship to come while they fixed each other's hair. Olivia and her friends joined in the hair fixing party, too. I eventually made my way over to a friend's kitchen near our house so I could keep an eye on the translation committee meeting. I chatted with a pair of sisters about all sorts of things - what a good daughter Sarah is to sweep the porch each morning (who knew?!?), how we have to start each day giving it to God (especially when we are asking for wisdom with our children), and when she asked me how old I am we chatted about how it is against custom to ask an American woman her age!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Saturday, March 25

I'm always amazed at the bounty and variety of the fruits and vegetables here in Marulaon Village. I was able to buy three kinds of beans this morning, in addition to the rest of the abundance I bought for our family and for the translation team. Sarah was oohing and aahing over the beauty of the food, too, and wanted to take lots of pictures. She was cracking me up by standing on top of the cabinet and trying different angles to capture the generosity of our neighbors.

The translation team was able to clean up all of the last bits and pieces of Jonah by lunch time today. To rest the body and mind, James requested a fishing expedition. Our translation committee chairman, Leonard, took James and our three younger kids out and about the Russells to catch some fish and to see the beautiful cave near Leru Village (the home of Simon, one of the translators).

Sarah and I worked on getting the cassava pudding on the fire while Aaron made the changes to Ruth necessary for the checking with the UNS to begin on Monday morning. The fishing expedition came home just after sunset, happy, but empty handed.

Friday, March 24

The translation team finally got to check Jonah today with the UNS - yippee!

Aaron laughed as I took a video of the checking session because it's anything but exciting to watch a bunch of people sitting around the table reading and asking questions. But it's exciting to us!

After three days of rain, our batteries rejoiced to see the sun peep out this afternoon. Our consultant's computer has it's own little portable solar charger, so he needs sunshine, too. As always, please be praying for a good balance of sun and rain for the Lavukal.

Thursday, March 23

Yesterday morning, we heard the translation team give three happy cheers when they finished the exegetical checking of Jonah. They are hoping to finish the exegetical checking of Ruth by tonight so the Uninitiated Native Speakers (UNS) can come tomorrow and Saturday. Their brains are getting a workout! It's like sitting in a university class all day long. Here's what their schedule looks like today:

8:00-10:00  Ruth exegetical checking
10:00-10:30  Morning tea break
10:30-12:00  Ruth exegetical checking
12:00-1:00  Lunch
1:00-2:30  Ruth exegetical checking
2:30-3:00  Afternoon tea break
3:00-5:00  Ruth exegetical checking
5:00-5:30  Evening break
5:30-7:00  Ruth exegetical checking
7:00-9:00 Supper

Thanks to those of you who have been praying for our kids. Yesterday was the first day nobody took any meds for fevers or headaches. Nice to have a healthy Team Choate again!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Wednesday, March 22

Do all the good you possibly can to the bodies and souls of your neighbors. Be active. Give no place to laziness. Be always busy, losing no shred of time. ~John Wesley

We have two weeks left in the village to do all the good we possibly can to the bodies and souls of our neighbors. For Sarah and Benjamin, it's their last two weeks for a long, long time. Since we love to cook, food is often the method we use to encourage our neighbors. At lunch time, we took a big bowl of potatoes, pumpkin greens, and fish (all swimming in coconut milk and curry) over to a new mama.

For the translation team's afternoon tea break, we provided banana muffins. And for part of their evening meal, we made pisu. As much as we love to eat pisu, it is a labor of love. But we love these guys who are working so hard and giving their all towards Bible translation. The work began while I read aloud to the kids and they peeled cassava. Then Sarah scraped twelve coconuts and squeezed the thick, beautiful coconut cream out of the meat.

While the coconut cream boiled and boiled and boiled, the house began to smell marvelous. The oil and fat separated, and the fat began to caramelize and float to the top. When the color changed to a beautiful brown, Sarah took the pot off the stove. She and I took turns smashing the cooked cassava. It is a full body workout, and we joked about the extra salt from our sweat making the pisu taste even better.

Sarah smoothed the pounded cassava on a tray, slathered the caramelized coconut curds on top, and rolled it up. We ended up with enough for the translation team, our chief's family, the head chef's family, and our own. And it was delicious!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tuesday, March 21

In the last two weeks, three new babies have been born in our village! The newest one, a little girl, was added today. I dropped off some laundry detergent as a "welcome home" present. I know of four other mamas that are expecting babies. Population growth is good for a tiny language group like ours!

When the guys get home after a long day of working through the texts, James helps Aaron continue to learn Paratext, the software that many translation advisers use. Neither Aaron nor I are very good at keeping up with technology and all of its gizmos, but James patiently teaches Aaron in baby steps.

This morning we had four different people come ask for fish hooks. The conservation ban on fishing was lifted for this week. In addition to the translation team working in Marulaon, another big workshop is here all week long. With all of the extra visitors, the community leaders felt like the best way they could offer hospitality was to go fishing. I anticipate some fish coming our way tonight in appreciation of our gift of hooks.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Monday, March 20

Anytime somebody tries something new, there will be bumps in the road. The translation team discovered some of those bumps today, but with our encouraging translation consultant, nobody threw up their hands and quit.

After evening prayer tonight, Benjamin chatted with Ezekiel and Matthew about how their day had gone. Their reaction? SLOWLY. Thanks for praying for these guys, and please add encouragement to your prayers!

Sunday, March 19

Because our village is at the northwestern group of islands in our language group, and the Kosco comes from its stop in Yandina, in the southeastern group of islands, we can see the ship long before it arrives at our village. And today we had good reason to excitedly anticipate the arrival of the ship because our friend, James, was coming to do our first consultant checking of scripture!

We watched the ship get closer and waited on the shore alongside our neighbors. Olivia and Lucia had each other laughing like crazy.

Leonard took his boat with three of our kids to meet the Kosco when the ship finally chugged around the corner of one of our little islands. Watching it come towards us dodging the shallow areas, we smiled and said it looked like the ship was make figure eights!

Finally, "Uncle Fudge," as all of the SITAG kids have dubbed him, arrived on dry land, and our Marulaon community welcomed him with a beautiful garland, a welcome song, and a speech. Aaron woke up this morning muttering how today had actually arrived. That the consultant checking was really here!

We appreciate this team of guys so much, they are unsung heroes to us. And we appreciate those of you who are "holding the rope" for us around the globe. We know that God uses your prayers to strengthen the work here. The guys will begin with exegetical checking tomorrow. Would you please continue to pray?

-For protection from distraction as James, Aaron, Ezekiel, Matthew, and Simon work together.
-For good cross-cultural communication.
-For the Holy Spirit to give spiritual eyes of discernment to each of the participants as they check.
-For the Choate kids who have been running fevers for the last few days.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Friday, March 17

Today has been full. That's just the best way I know to describe it. The bell for penance rang at 7:00. Our family joined the Marulaon community in their regular Lenten practice of an hour of silent physical labor to ponder Jesus' sacrifice and to ponder our own sins. By the time we got home, we were absolutely soaked and exhausted. Our neighbors can run circles around us!

Sarah and Benjamin finished the school year today. They have been working ahead diligently to be free for the consultant checking next week. We will still all sit down for read-aloud after lunch so we can finish God's Smuggler together, though. It's hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that Sarah is finished not just with the school year, but with every bit of school under our roof.

I met with Chef Kiko today and got a grocery list from her. James is bringing some treats from town to kick off the consultant checking (like a watermelon!), but there are still some practical things I need to buy for her at the little stores here in Marulaon. I shared some of our lunch today with her as a "taste test" for a recipe that I thought we could bring to help feed the guys next week, too. Kiko thinks the red lentil and ginger curried pumpkin is a keeper!

After school, I went down the hill to hold another little cooking school for banana cake and chocolate cake (also known as birthday cake). It's always such a fun time to hang out with the ladies and get good snuggles from the babies. While we waited for the cakes to cook in the drum oven, the conversation turned to family and marriage. We swapped questions about each other, and I had a chance to talk about God's plan for marriage. Being married is hard work, but soooo worth it!

Thursday, March 16

My friend, Julie, recently sent me an email that included this phrase:
Tolkien wrote in The Hobbit, "Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyway."
I found Tolkien's insight to be so true for our family! We've settled into a routine here. Our good, boring, normal routine. Aaron paddles over to work with Ezekiel or stays at home working to input data into the computer. The kids and I charge ahead with school, then go out in the afternoons to enjoy the company of our lovely neighbors.

But exciting (hopefully not uncomfortable, palpitating, or gruesome) times are ahead! Sunday, the translation consultant, James, will arrive to begin the checking. Would you go ahead and begin praying now for a few things?

-for James' trip on the Kosco all day Sunday
-for the protection of each marriage represented in the checking process while spouses are separated
-for my friend, Kiko, as she cooks for the team for more than a week
-for good rest each night to encourage mental clarity for the entire team: James, Aaron, Ezekiel, Matthew, Simon, and a UNS (Uninitiated Native Speaker)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Tuesday, March 14

Thanks for praying for the translation team work last week, here is Aaron's report:

 On March 9, the Lavukal Bible Translation Team gathered at Nono village in the west Russell Islands. The mission, to clean up the books of Ruth and Jonah, along with the first four chapters of Matthew, in preparations for our first ever Consultant Check. Even though no-one on the team has ever been to this part in the translation process before, attitudes were high and nerves seemed to be well under control.

 As we worked through Jonah, we began to get past the text, realizing as we looked through it again, that we have a pretty nice story! Months of hard work digging in God's word to truly understand the fullness of its meaning were paying off. I was delighted to read several passages where we intentionally put in more idiomatic Lavukaleve, so that the text does not just seem accurate, but really zings, like authentic Lavukaleve.

 Moving on to Ruth, we delighted in many of the same features we had found in Jonah. In addition, we remembered we had wanted to add some features to the text, like some section headings and possibly some pictures (like a stalk of barley and a pottery water jug) to make a few foreign concepts that much clearer.

 We worked on Matthew our final day, Saturday. Matthew was actually the book the translators worked on first. This section was started long ago, but got set aside for a while. Recently the team, Aaron especially, has felt scrambling a bit to get these chapters ready for the Consultant Check as well. Ezekiel and Simon, the drafters of Ruth and Jonah respectively, did not want Matthew (who is almost finished with the first draft!) to feel left out. One step we needed was a village comprehension check. We were not sure we had enough time to get that in before our Consult on the 20th. But Nono village came through in a big way.

 Saturday morning we were joined by four willing participants who were so excited to help that we had to set aside some of our other checking so we could do some comprehension checks with them. We had good feedback from the group and were very encouraged that this text was in good shape as well.

 So, Aaron is now busily taking all the comments and edits from this last work session, and working to get the texts ready for the Consultant Check next week.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Monday, March 13

"Dear Lord, You be the needle and I be the thread. You go first, and I will follow wherever You may lead." ~Congolese believer

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Saturday, March 11

Did you ever read the sweet preschool book, "I Went Walking"? Each page begins, "I went walking, and what did I see?" Here's my Marulaon village version...

I went walking, and what did I see? Katherine and Laitima in a hammock, smiling at me.

I went walking, and what did I see? Donuts cooking over the fire, yippee!


I went walking, and what did I see? My friend, Ofoaen, making donuts for me.


I went walking, and what did I see? Kino blossoms, hanging from the tree.

I went walking, and what did I see? Back at my house, Olivia working hard as can be.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Friday, March 10

While I chatted with Kiko about what we need to do to feed the translation team well during the consultant check, I watched Kiko's sister Daisy peel and wash cooking bananas with her spunky granddaughter, Laitima.

Kiko and I made plans and grocery lists, then we observed some of their family members returning from the clinic. Kiko's sister-in-law, Nancy, had been admitted to the clinic for Dengue Fever. I had seen Nancy's husband applying a paste of cooling leaves to Nancy's forehead earlier in the day to help relieve her headache, and I am so thankful they took the time and energy to paddle over to the clinic.

Nancy's little girl, Annie, was quiet and missing her mama, so she snuggled up to me while I finished discussing the catering with Kiko (I loved every minute!).

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Thursday, March 9

Nobody in the village anticipated the Kosco chugging around the corner at 5 o'clock yesterday morning! We had boxes of school books (and a few pineapples from our garden to share with our SITAG family) waiting on our porch to go back to Honiara on the ship. In December, we had the same books (for the 2017-2018 school year) boxed up and ready to go back, but then the ship canceled its trip, and we ended up coming back in the motor canoe with limited cargo. We didn't want to get caught again if the ship decided to change its schedule, so it was important that we spring into action when we heard the ship's engine chugging and all of the motor canoes revving to go out to meet the ship.

Aaron went down the hill to find somebody with an available vehicle, and I started the kettle with water for coffee. When he came back up and said that Leonard would paddle out in his dugout canoe, I woke up Benjamin, told him we needed his muscles, and handed him a flashlight to navigate the path in the dark while carrying big, heavy boxes. The canoe filled up quickly, there was only room for the boxes and Leonard, with Benjamin wedged up front in the canoe. Aaron passed money to pay the cargo charges to Benjamin, and Leonard paddled like crazy to get the heavy canoe out to the ship. I'm so proud of Benjamin and the way he handled the responsibility. I had the coffee ready by the time the adventure was over, and the sun was rising to give us a beautiful start to the day.

Eta and I were supposed to meet on Monday afternoon, but Barnabas's death postponed our fun. She is gifted in working with young children, and she wants to hold a kindy to teach little ones basic school concepts in their heart language. I took over some of our watercolor paints and had fun teaching her how to paint and how to make self correcting puzzles out of index cards. We garnered lots of questions when people walked by the mogea/bush apple where we were working in the shade. Especially when we started making paper bag puppets of Adam and Eve with glued on googly eyes! I always have a hard time finding the balance of the best materials for a project like this - do we stick with materials that are readily available here in the village, or is it okay to bring in outside resources (like fun googly eyes!)?

As we worked, we talked about the books of the Bible that are almost completed in Lavukaleve - Ruth and Jonah. Eta is excited about using them for story time in her kindy. Because of the way the Scripture readings are set up in church here, we rarely hear the Old Testament stories that I grew up hearing in Sunday school every week. Ruth and Jonah will be new information for the kids in Eta's school.

This morning, Aaron printed copies of Ruth, Jonah, and the first four chapters of Matthew. The translation team will be meeting today, tomorrow, and Saturday in Nono Village for the final preparations for the consultant checking which begins March 19. Aaron got good reports from both Ezekiel and Simon that the village checking of Ruth and Jonah went well and generated lots of excitement. I'm so thankful for these men and for the time, hard work, and energy they spend to get God's Word into their own language.

Please pray for protection, spiritual insight, and good mental clarity as the team meets together for three days. The kids are big enough now that Aaron's absence doesn't create quite the hole that it used to, but we still miss him when he's gone.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Tuesday, March 7

Barnabas' death is opening doors for me to have spiritual conversations with people like never before. We knew that after a visit to the graveyard, everybody went to wash their feet in the ocean to rinse away any evil spirits, but today I saw something new. As we walked back from the burial people were grabbing leaves and breaking them in pieces as they rubbed the leaves on the palms of their hands. I finally pulled aside a friend to ask, "What are they doing?"

At first she told me they were just making their hands smell nice, but when I asked again, she admitted that they were cleaning their hands from any evil spirits in the cemetery. When I asked about the name of the leaf, I wasn't surprised to hear that it is roroyo, the same leaf that will often be carried into the bush as protection from evil spirits. When Naomi lived with us in 2011, she told us that the same leaf was used in the area of the Solomon Islands where she grew up.

Monday, March 6

The wails began at 9:30 this morning while Aaron was working with Ezekiel in Karumalun, and the kids and I knew that our friend Barnabas had died. Yesterday morning was the first time we learned that he wasn't doing well. He had stopped eating and drinking, and we knew that he wouldn't last very long. We took down some lelenga/cassava pudding and spent a little bit of time with the family after church. Elderly people die quietly at home here in the village, and death isn't sanitized.

When I finished read-aloud, I went down to spend a couple of hours with the women from different villages who had gathered inside the house around the body. We would be visiting and laughing about some funny story, then all of the sudden the ladies would scoot back against the walls to make space for somebody new, and the wailing would start all over again. The Lavukal excel at allowing grief. In addition to the wailing as an external sign of grief, some family members will grow their hair out for up to a year and then go through a hair cutting ceremony to end their time of grief.

One of my friends asked about our American customs, and I told her that often people are expected back at work immediately following the funeral, but here the whole family sticks around for a week before returning home. When I mentioned how much I appreciated the Lavukal's awareness of the grief process, my spunky friend Anna from another village mentioned that she thought it was boring and everlasting long!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Sunday, March 5

We've been in Marulaon for a week, and it feels good. Aaron working hard at the translation desk, kids and I digging in to school until mid-afternoon when we enjoy going out and interacting with our sweet neighbors. I've been struck yet again with the kinds of requests we've received this week: glasses, band-aids, cold water, needle and thread, antibiotic ointment for "red eye," change for a $100 bill, medicine for an upset stomach, money for fuel for the church leaders. They are all requests for physical things. When Aaron and I were taking education classes in college, we learned about Maslow's hierarchy of needs. "Maslow identified several levels of human needs, the most basic of which must be satisfied before the next levels can be fulfilled." (World Book, 2009)

On this rainy Sunday afternoon, I'm pondering spiritual needs. I watch my neighbors make poor choices that have deep consequences for themselves and for their families and friends. We enjoy helping people here meet their physical needs, but their spiritual needs are so vast. I understand not being able to move past the most basic physical needs. Somehow, we want to help them understand God as Somebody who is interested in their everyday lives and longs to have a relationship, not just a far away, impersonal being that spouts lists of "dos and don'ts."

Aaron is meeting with Edwin this afternoon to work on the back translation of Ruth. We had high hopes that both Ruth and Jonah would have finished back translations in Honiara, but that didn't happen. So Aaron made some tea, and the two guys are working together in the church. I'm praying that as the scriptures begin to be used and as we have more and more spiritual conversations with people here, our neighbors begin to see God at work in the Bible and realize that He wants to work in their lives, too.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Tuesday, February 28

There are times when life in the village seems to be a series of events that have little connection to one another, other than that they are pictures of life in the village. This is one of those times. So here are your little pictures of life in the village.

All my life, I've been taught the truth of Matthew 10:42: "And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward." Honestly, I don't make my choices based on the reward I'll get. In addition, I've never lived in a place where anybody needed or asked me for a cup of cold water. Until we moved to Marulaon Village.

Yesterday afternoon, Sarah discovered that our sweet friend, Leku, was sick and asking for some cold water and some medicine. We've been told that the closest clinic has been out of medicine for several weeks. So, I went to visit Leku with a cup of cold water. She kept saying over and over again how nice it tasted and how it made her belly feel better. I shared a little bit of Tylenol and some chewable Pepto Bismol with her and prayed over her.

While I was hanging clothes out to dry this morning, I noticed smoke pouring out from the eaves of the church. Even though I know there are no electrical wires up there, my first thought was still "Fire!" I walked around to the other side of the church to find the church care taker burning last year's palms to make ashes for tomorrow's Ash Wednesday service. The fire was built up against the concrete block church, and the smoke was going straight up the wall, hitting the eaves, and billowing out the ends of the church. I'm glad I was mistaken.

We are back to school this morning. So proud of my hard working family! Yesterday we washed windows, mopped, wiped out the kitchen cabinets, and washed all of the dishes. All we have left of the deep cleaning is to wipe our books and flip through them for bugs. Since we'll be packing them up in just a few weeks, we'll just wait to clean the books. Now we are free to go ahead with school, especially knowing that Lent begins tomorrow and brings a few extra demands during the school day.

Aaron has paddled over to talk with Ezekiel. Our family was delayed three weeks because of the Kosco's engine problems, and the translation team missed some important time to work together. This morning's meeting will be a chance to figure out the new schedule and get things working smoothly again.

Monday, February 27

Monday, February 27

Our amazing SITAG team took such good care of us over the weekend. They helped us load the truck Saturday afternoon, fed us Saturday evening, and got up early to help us load the truck on Sunday morning.

We arrived at the wharf in clouds and rain, but it was light enough to unload the truck and move the cargo on to the ship.

The inclement weather meant we were almost the first ones aboard, and we were able to quickly secure our favorite spot on the ship and get our boxes lined up neatly against the wall.

Many hands DO make light work!

We've enjoyed our time in Honiara with the other two SITAG families that have teenagers.

When we return to Honiara in April, both of those families will be back in their villages, and we're not sure when we will see any of them next.

We have never seen so many drums of fuel lined up and ready to go out to the provinces!

After we unloaded the truck, we still had two hours to enjoy spending time together before our ship left.
One of the things that I like best about this job is that we enjoy working with our colleagues, but we enjoy playing together, too.

Can you spot the "big kid" who leaped into this picture at the last minute?

We finally had to call a halt to the fun and games as the time for our departure neared.

Our colleagues gathered around us and prayed for us. They prayed for the challenges we would face and especially for Sarah and Benjamin's last trip to Marulaon Village.

Goodbyes are just hard on the heart. We took pictures and waved goodbye as long as we could.

And then the whistle blew and our ship pulled out, leaving a line of ships pulled up to the wharf like a bunch of piglets feeding at the mama pig's side.

We couldn't have asked for a better trip. The skies were cloudy and cool, and as we left the shores of Guadalcanal we plowed through a line of rain with thunder and lighting. It was beautiful and pointed us to the creator of the wind and the rain.

We arrived at Yandina after six hours, and Aaron was able to buy some green coconuts and a slab of cassava pudding. On the wharf, we found a few friends and shouted down greetings to them before another round of heavy rain forced everybody under cover.

I think the rain also shortened our time in Yandina, which was a huge blessing! We often stay for two or three hours waiting for the cargo, but this time we only waited an hour. By the time we arrived at the area in between our village and Ezekiel's village, we had clear skies and sunlight to help us unload our cargo.

One by one, we crawled over the side of the boat and down the rope ladder, and our friends helped ferry us back to shore. Our family and our cargo were all back at the house with time for me to go hug some necks and say "Happy New Year!" to a few friends before it got dark. Thank you for your prayers for a safe trip!