Monday, July 8, 2019

Puddles

"Comfort became the enemy of community."  ~Christie Purifoy, "Placemaker"


When it rains here in Honiara, this is my morning "wogging" view: a vast maze of mirrored obstacles.  I choose to make it an opportunity to become stronger and more agile.  

"...live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble"  1 Peter 3:8

When I'm pushed into uncomfortable places, my natural tendency is to retreat into myself.  Like the proverbial child who goes and sucks his thumb in a corner for comfort.  But my discomfort offers me the opportunity to build community...to ask for help.  And when I'm kicked out of my comfort zone, I'm more likely to offer help to others and to build tighter bonds of community.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Village Phone Booth




Towards the end of his time in the village, Aaron was able to find a phone signal that was amazingly constant and steady.  Of course, he had to stand on a plank that had been placed across the roots of a tree and hold the phone over his head while using the speaker, but hearing his voice and having regular communication made all the difference in staying connected.  We're hopeful that we can still find this sweet spot for future visits!

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Fourth of July (aka Not Independence Day)


We decided that celebrating America's birthday as expats was worth a splurge.  So, for the first time ever, I bought frozen strawberries in the Solomon Islands to make one of my favorite desserts.


The Americans in our SITAG family gathered on July 4th to enjoy food and fellowship and fire-swinging, but we daily celebrate our dependence on each other and on the Lord.


"I was carefully designed by the Creator to live in a dependent, obedient, and worshipful relationship with Him and in humble interdependent relationships with other human beings....The pursuit of independence always leaves me addicited to a list of things that I've look to for hope, life, strength, and rest."  ~Paul Tripp 


Tuesday, July 2, 2019

He's Home

After visiting the Kosco's office on Saturday and finding nobody there (even though the lights were on and the sign said "Come on in!  We're open.") and calling all three of the phone numbers that were listed on the sign on the door (they were all disconnected), I finally found a real person to answer my questions yesterday.  Yes, the ship was still running.  No, he didn't know when the ship would return to Honiara.  Yes, he knew where it was...loading in Noro, way out West.


After chatting with Aaron and asking the Lord for wisdom, we decided to start Operation "Hurry the Hubs Home".  Aaron will be taking over as SITAG's Acting Director next week.  Or as he likes to say, he'll be keeping the Director's seat warm!  At the rate the Kosco was running we anticipated it returning to Honiara around Friday, and Aaron needed some time to transition and learn the ropes for his new responsibilities.


So, with much help from friends in the village, and much help from our SITAG family, Monday was a day of flurried activity.  Including twenty-five gallons of fuel.  Aaron returned home mid-day over very calm seas in record time.  He's been gone for eleven out of the last sixteen nights (yes, I am counting!), and we're very thankful to have him back. 

Friday, June 28, 2019

Friday Favorite Five


Spiritual - Thanks to a friend's suggestion, I brought back several Bible studies from the Discover Together series.  I need the organization and the thought provoking question these books provide.

Physical - This article challenged me to add a little variety to my stewardship of my body.  Then a friend posted her plank challenge on Facebook, so it made perfect sense to add her routine to our week.


Emotional - It's been a rough week with the hubs gone.  He's a rock for our family, kind of a "Jesus with skin on".  Staying in touch with him by using the new-to-us BGAN unit has been a lifeline.  It's not cheap, but being connected is invaluable.

Mental - I'm trying to make space to read more, even though just living daily life here takes extra time.  I snagged "When Helping Hurts" from SITAG's library because I feel like it has information that we really need to help us make wise choices.


Just for fun - With both girls studying different levels of chemistry this year, this puzzle was a perfect last minute buy before we left America (especially because I had gift cards!).  The periodic table is quickly taking shape...aided by an afternoon smoothie.



Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The view from my porch...



"The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns and evening fades, you call forth songs of joy." Psalm 65:8

As morning dawns and evening fades, You inspire songs of praise...


Sunday, June 23, 2019

Sweet Sabbath


"Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them....Let them give glory to the Lord and proclaim his praise in the islands."  Isaiah 42:10, 12


This guy is Mr. Flexible.  God gave him an INTP personality and made him a puzzle solver who loves to tackle a challenge.  Perfect for navigating our travel situation here!  Aaron loaded up and got on the Kosco this morning.  Changing ships also means changing schedules, so he most likely won't be in the village as long as he had originally planned.  We're so grateful that any ship is going to our area.  Thanks for your prayers and encouragement!

Saturday, June 22, 2019

What we've been up to...



...visiting a sweet friend in the hospital who is recovering from a stroke and taking her some supper 


...starting back to school.  6th grade


...and 11th grade


...shopping not only to prepare our family for Aaron being in the village for the next week, but also helping out SITAG with some purchasing.  AND discovering that the Nakita has been chartered for the next two weeks, but the Kosco is up and running again.  Plan B it is!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Birds of Melanesia



I've never been much of a bird watcher, but we have so many beautiful species here in the Solomons!  The mangos are ripe and delicious (and falling on our tin roof exploding like a bomb in the middle of the night!) and the cardinal lories fight and scream and throw fits to get to the best fruit.


SITAG recently acquired a copy of Birds of Melanesia, a beautiful book that we've been using to help us identify birds like these cute little olive backed sunbirds.  A large group of them were hanging out on the fence in front of our house and just talking up a storm.  We may yet turn into birdwatchers!


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Happy Father's Day


We finally celebrated a belated Father's Day with Aaron last night.  He was supposed to be home on Monday night, but the Nakita wisely decided to stay at Yandina overnight because of the wind and waves.  

We're entering into the tradewind season here in the Solomon Islands, which means our language group won't get much rain, but they will get the glorious havu nut.  I'm so grateful that the boat's crew made the choice to be safe instead of the choice to be fast, even if it did mean an uncomfortable night of waiting.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Creativity


Soon after we arrived back in Honiara, my girls began making their own version of the classic Clue game (which is one of my FAVORITES!).  They drew intricate weapons, based the characters on their favorite SITAG "aunts and uncles", and faithfully replicated the houses on SITAG property.  Sometimes I want to manipulate the game and create an emergency exit out of the window because the doors are so far apart on the houses, but Olivia assures me that she was very careful to create each house exactly as they stand.  No cheating, Mama.


The weapons reflect our SITAG surroundings.  A coconut scraper, a pineapple, a guard dog, a hammer, egg beaters, and the ubiquitous bush knife.  This game has already provided our family hours of fun, and we love inviting our SITAG family to share it with us, too.


Sunday, June 16, 2019

Sweet Sabbath



After a month of trying, this morning we finally got Aaron on a new-to-us ship, the Nakita.  The plan is for him to follow the ship to Marulaon, pick up the much anticipated school books, make a program with Ezekiel for next week, and be back in Honiara by tomorrow night.  We know to hold our plans loosely!


We have to make a choice:  Am I willing to do so-and-so, or do I dig my heels in and say, "I can't.  I won't"  One thing I have learned:  God never asks us to do something without supplying the needed "tools" for the job, be they physical, intellectual, or spiritual.  You just begin with trust and let Him stay in charge.  "All I have needed Thy hand hath provided.  Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me."  ~Margaret Brand


Saturday, June 15, 2019

"A bar of steel worth $5 when made into ordinary horseshoes will be worth only $10.  If this same $5 is manufactured into needles, the value rises to $350, but if it is made into delicate springs for expensive watches, it will be worth $250,000.  This original bar of steel is made more valuable by being cut to its proper size, passed through one blast furnace after another, again and again, hammered and manipulated, beaten and pounded, finished and polished, until it is ready for those delicate tasks."  ~ M.R. DeHaan


This has been a doosy of a week!  

-Aaron thought he was going to the village on Sunday, then the ship delayed and changed its mind again and again.  

-A dear Solomon Island friend had a stroke early this week, so SITAG has rallied around her, providing the food and toiletries and prayer and physical help that the hospital in Honiara requires.  She has a long road ahead to recovery.

-An international school here in Honiara finally got its certification to offer the PSAT and SAT, saving us a trip to Australia.  But when we met with them on Thursday morning, we learned that they've lost their certification because no students have requested the exams.  At least we got a two hour "date" out of the meeting!


-Today, one of our SITAG colleagues had a wreck on his motorbike while visiting his language group and needed a trip to the hospital.  So Aaron dropped everything, hopped in the truck with a couple other of the SITAG men, and drove off to help.  

My list of "hammered and manipulated, beaten and pounded" looks different than those around me, but we all have those lists.

"These [trials] have come so that your faith -- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even through refined by fire -- may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."  I Peter 1:7 (NIV)

Thankfully, I also have people in my circle who remind me not to be selfish.  They remind me that these hard things are simply tools to help me be more ready for the tasks the Lord has for me.  Those friends remind me that the whole point is for my life to "result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed", even if I don't understand how.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Goodbyes

Last night, we felt like we were on the wrong side of the ship.  For ten years, Patteson and his sons have taken us down to the wharf and helped us load our cargo on the ship.  They've stood on the pier as our ship slowly pulled away and waved goodbye.


This time, we were the ones who took a bag of precious popcorn and handed it to Judy to help fuel her twenty hour ride on a ship.  We were the ones carrying huge bags of rice down the pier.  We were the ones in the outer circle praying for the inner circle of precious friends.



And we were the ones driving back up the hill to SITAG, sniffling and fighting tears by remembering all of the laughter we've shared with this family.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Miraculous Community

"The wisdom of true community often seems miraculous...and is more a matter of divine spirit and possible divine intervention.  This is one of the reasons why the feeling of joy is such a frequent concomitant of the spirit of unity."  ~Scott Peck


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Ship Update


We were all in our pajamas last night, I had just finished reading a couple of chapters of Postern of Fate with Olivia and Five Little Peppers and How They Grew with Katherine, and we had already brushed our teeth.  Then the phone rang.  The clerk from the Kosco wanted to let Aaron know that the ship was leaving at 10:00 p.m.  So, we went into ship prep mode and got Aaron down to the wharf.  Whew!


As I came down the SITAG driveway from my morning exercise today, I saw Olivia on our porch talking on the phone.  It was Aaron.  He was still sitting on the ship in Honiara's wharf.  We decided to wait a little bit longer to see if the ship would go, but by mid-morning it became clear that the Kosco wasn't going anywhere.  After twelve hours on the ship, Aaron called our Operations Manager to come pick him up.  So, we fixed a nice breakfast, poured an especially big cup of coffee, and gave my hubby some refreshment after a rough night.

Our next best option for transport seems to be the Nakita on Sunday.  Stay tuned!

Ship Update


Soooo...the Kosco changed its plan and isn't sailing tonight.  But nobody knows when it might go out to our area.  Aaron walked down to the ship's office this afternoon, but couldn't get any confirmation of their plans.  We understand that they are trying to fill up their hold to make their trip financially profitable.  The Nakita says their engine is fixed and they plan to go out on Sunday.  So we're being super flexible around here!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Honiara Woman's Daybook



For today...Monday, June 10

From the kitchen...Meatless Monday.  Baked oatmeal for breakfast, and my splattered and well loved Laurel's Kitchen for a dilly cheese spread with crackers for lunch as well tamale pie for supper.

On my knees in prayer...for our visas to be stamped inside our passports.  We've been trying for two weeks, and they still aren't ready.  Feels a little bit funny not to have our passports in hand.  Hoping after this long four day weekend (Queens Birthday Observed plus WhitMonday) that we'll be able to pick them up.


My kids prefer homemade cottage cheese to the store bought stuff (which I prefer).

Swissy Spread
(from "The New Laurel's Kitchen")
1/2 cup grated Swiss
1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese 
1/4 chopped green pepper
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
salt and pepper to taste

In the learning rooms...we're still waiting for Aaron to get out to the village where all of our school books are stored.  We've started listening to The Golden Goblet, and Katherine has begun reading Story of the World, Volume 1, and Mara, Daughter of the Nile as she begins to study World History.

On my bookshelf..."Blackberry Winter" by Margaret Mead.  A fascinating look at her early life through the lens of her adult anthropologist self.


A heart of thankfulness...so grateful for my hubby and his willingness to come along each morning as my "security" as we sweat and  navigate the dogs and the potholes along the road.

Pondering these words..."Telling someone to change makes it less rather than more likely that they will.  This is because people almost never change without first feeling understood."  ~Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen

A few plans for the rest of this week...we're hoping to put Aaron on a boat tomorrow evening.  The Kosco keeps delaying their return to our language group, and the Nakita is having engine trouble.  An always delightful and productive CHED committee meeting on Wednesday afternoon.  A meeting with Woodford International School on Thursday to talk about the possibilities of Olivia taking the PSAT and SAT in Honiara instead of having to fly to Australia.


One of my favorite things...my kids.

Outside my window...the rain has just started falling and the temperature is falling, too.  Makes me so happy.

A peek into my world...last Friday night's SITAG barbecue.  That kingfish was worth the wait!

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Sweet Sabbath

"When you're totally honest about the pain, what's at the center?  Could it be that you're not getting what you want?  You're getting an invitation to grow, I think, as unwelcome as it may be."  
~Shauna Niequist


Our friend, Hensi, stopped by SITAG last night and visited for a while.  It was so good to catch up on all of the village news.  He agreed with Aaron that Kosco's empty hold yesterday didn't bode well for today's trip.  Sure enough, when Aaron called the Kosco this morning to double check that the ship was going (before we made the trip down to the wharf and got charged for the kilometers), the ship's clerk said the ship was now planning to go on Tuesday.  This is two weeks of trying to find a ship that will take Aaron out to our village and two weeks of ships changing their schedules.  He's trying to make two trips to Marulaon in June before he begins to fill in as acting director for SITAG in July.


We're looking at this as an "invitation to grow".  Our situation is the norm here in the Solomon Islands, but that doesn't make it any easier when we keep making plans and those plans keep changing.

On this breezy Sunday afternoon, I'm thankful for things like vanilla syrup.  I originally mixed up this recipe to go on Saturday morning waffles, but we quickly discovered that a squirt in iced coffee is delicious and that the syrup makes a phenomenal London Fog Latte (one of Aaron's favorites).

Vanilla Syrup
(adapted from "More With Less")

Combine in saucepan:
1 3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup water

Bring to boil, cover, and cook 1 minute.  Cool slightly.  Add:

1 tsp. vanilla

Cover saucepan for a few minutes as syrup cooks to melt down crystals, helps prevent syrup from crystallizing later in storage.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Healthy Community

"If our goal is healthy community and loving our neighbors, we need to rethink our approach.  Before we can learn from each other, before we can truly grow into a clearer picture of God's good kingdom, we have to fall in love with listening....Only as we engage in the hidden practice of listening do we learn about the struggles of others, gaining empathy where we once cast judgement." 


A knock on my door prodded me down the hallway to see who was on my porch.  I found two thirsty and adorable young ladies who had been playing outside.  They just needed a drink of water and a listening ear.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Fish, Flooding, Family

Yesterday at market, Aaron was commissioned with finding a kingfish so our family would have something to put on the grill for an upcoming SITAG gathering.  He called with the news that the only one he could find weighed 41 pounds.  We agreed that it was a good buy because the steaks would be magnificent, and we could likely find another family at SITAG who would split the fish with us. (and we did!)  Faithful Patteson showed Aaron the best way to prepare the fish and shared his secret marinade recipe, too.  We all wanted to eat fish right away, but we enjoyed one of our favorite pasta salads instead while we wait for the cookout tomorrow.



This morning when I woke up, I found a text from my mom telling me that my grandmother needed to evacuate her home on Lake Conway.  She was wondering if we Grandma could move into our place.  As much as we would love to have renters in our sweet little house (please keep praying!), I'm grateful that our family can provide a safe haven for my grandmother for the next week while she awaits the receding floodwaters.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Global Running Day

Global Running Day was a big success!


All ages and stages joined in to steward our bodies well.  The youngest participant was four and the oldest was, shall we say, middle-aged.



We finished up our morning's activities with breakfast. My mom's breakfast casserole recipe and sweet fellowship to get our Wednesday started well!



Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Community beyond human endeavor

"It is God himself who makes community possible.  His presence is catalytic to the experiencing of togetherness beyond human endeavor." ~Julie Gorman 


Sometimes living in community looks like hauling kids on your back in the swimming pool.  Even when they don't belong to you!  We are loving all of the adopted nieces and nephews and aunts and uncles that come along with living at SITAG.