Friday, May 31, 2019

Friday Favorite Five

1)  I'm growing to love Christy Nockels' podcast "The Glorious in the Mundane".  I liked her even more when I discovered she was an advocate for Bible translation!

2)  If you like to work with kids, refuge139 is an organization that could be a great fit for you!  With short-term trips, this group serves third culture kids whose parents serve in Bible translation around the world.  And if you are looking for long-term opportunities to serve in education, please consider a career with Wycliffe.

3)  Living here in the Solomon Islands, my kids get more creative.  They run outside and play more, creating elaborate games.  They craft more, too, with materials like food as well as the more traditional yarn or paper.  I love watching that part of them come alive.

4)  SOUL chocolate bars.  Single origin chocolate.  There is a star on the map so you know where those cacao beans were grown.  For example, the label on the back of the package I just purchased says:  "This chocolate bar has been ethically made using cocoa beans produced the farmers in the Eastern Guadalcanal region of the Solomon Islands.  These farmers have been trained by ADRA Solomon Islands in the production of high quality cocoa using organic methods so they can receive higher prices for their work."

5)  This little stovetop espresso maker that lives in our current SITAG house.  It makes my afternoons so much better!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019


We keep the binoculars handy in our house for an quick and easy peek at Honiara's wharf.  Aaron is just waiting for our ship, the Kosco, to return because he'd like to be on the ship the next time they are making a trip out to the Russells. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Global Running Day

The first Wednesday in June has been declared Global Running Day.  You can join us in running a virtual race or you can look for a race near you next week to celebrate being good stewards of our bodies.  We're pretty slow around here, especially as we navigate the gravel, the potholes, the humidity and the dogs, but we're all about "slow and steady wins the race" in every area of our lives.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day

Dedicated to the men and women who serve our country, especially those in our family...

A Nation's Strength
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Not gold, but only man can make
A people great and strong;
Men who, for truth and honor's sake,
Stand fast and suffer long.

Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly -- 
They build a nation's pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Sweet Sabbath - Birthday Edition

The first words I heard when I woke up this morning were, "Happy Birthday, Superwoman!"  My thoughtful husband whispered them in my ear as I groggily rolled over.  He had no idea how much I needed to hear them.

After we got home from church, I changed into my wonder woman t-shirt.  It says, "Beauty, brains, and power."  Believe it or not, this shirt reminds me of 2 Peter 1:3,

"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness."

I'm under no delusions.  No one is going to follow me on social media because of my beauty.  I'm comfortable with this mop of hair God gave me.  And my brains used to be okay, but the older I get the harder I have to work at getting these old cogs turning.  And power?  I've never had it all together.  I just try to be a good steward of what I have.

But I know where to find real power that gives me everything I need for life AND godliness - in between the tattered covers of my Bible.  And that's why we're here in the Solomon Islands, to give our precious friends and neighbors what they need, too.  

Friday, May 24, 2019

Friday Favorite Five

This is the technology version of Friday Favorite Five.  Don't laugh, I'm slowly learning more about technology and how to use it!

1) I'm super excited about the Coral Sea Cable System coming slowly but surely to the Solomon Islands.  You can follow along with the progress.  We will certainly be keeping our eyes on the exciting developments.

2) Persuasion podcast has become my go-to for thoughtful listening when the kids are outside playing and I'm chopping veggies in the kitchen.

3)  Zoom.  Our Friday began with a meeting of our SITAG (Solomon Islands Translation Advisory Group) colleagues from around the world.  I can still hardly believe that this actually worked!  True, "your internet is unstable" did pop up from time to time.  But I was reminded that one of the best parts of this job is the AMAZING colleagues.  People I trust, people who love Jesus, people who have become my adopted family.  Hearing their voices and briefly seeing their faces from places like Dallas and Brisbane...just made me fall in love with what we do all over again.

4)  Continuing the technology theme..."Tips for the Tightrope of Social Media" really struck a chord with me.  Written with ex-pats in mind, this sentence caught my eye: 

"Overseas workers walk a tightrope of daily social media use. This tightrope can be uplifting and fun. It can also be scary and devastating." 

 Good reminders for me as I easily and quickly get isolated in my own cultural setting.  I would love to hear feedback about social media and how you perceive what we do through the lens of the social media platforms we use as we live life in a fishbowl.

5)  Partners in Bible translation.  What does this have to do with technology, you may ask?  Everything!  Technology is not only changing the face of Bible translation, but it is also making more partnerships possible.  This morning, after our Zoom meeting, we walked down the hill to our regular morning tea break.  However, today we had ice cream and prayer (the perfect combination for encouragement, IMHO) for the departing Jesus Film team that has been working with several Solomon Island languages for the last five weeks.  One day, we hope that Lavukaleve will have the book of Luke completed so that we can also show our friends and neighbors the Jesus Film in their heart language.

One of our favorite ways to serve SITAG is to pick up incoming (or drop off outgoing) colleagues at the airport.  After lunch today, our family drove along the bumpy roads (weaving around the dogs looking for a cool place to lay) and finally made it to the top of the airport to cheer for one of our Canadian translation advisors.  That doesn't have anything to do with technology, but it is a great way to finish up our first week back in the Solomon Islands.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

"The kind of wisdom that God waits to give to those who ask him is a wisdom that will bind us to himself, a wisdom that will find expression in a spirit of faith and a life of faithfulness."  
~J.I Packer, "Knowing God"

Our home here at SITAG commands incredible views of both sunset and sunrise.  I'm grateful for whoever had the foresight to build on this ridge, away from the valley with its mosquitos, and with refreshing breezes.  Somehow, the beginning and ending of the day with the fiery colors always points my heart back to the Creator and His infinite wisdom.

"Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding...Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.  She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed."  Proverbs 3:13, 17, 18

We are definitely needing wisdom right now!  In addition to the transition of switching countries and cultures while leaving one-third of our family behind, we've bumped up against some unforeseen...shall we say opportunities?  

We had renters lined up for our home in America, but they have backed out.  If you know of anybody who needs a little house full of character in central Arkansas for the next two years, let us know! 

Shipping to our language area has ground to a halt.  Aaron bumped into a lady from the Russells this morning while he was in town, and she said the only way to get to our village was to take a motor canoe.  Expensive and tiny, the canoe ride across the ocean also depends heavily on the weather (we've had adventures!).

So we're asking the Lord to help us lively daily in faithfulness and wisdom, and He's giving us many opportunities to grow in those areas.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Chicken with Papaya

The first thing I do to settle into a new place is start cooking.  Creating something beautiful in the kitchen helps me feel at home while nourishing each of my senses.  Using the cookbook that my kindergarten teacher gave us for a wedding gift, this is what I made for supper earlier this week using our lovely local ingredients:

Chicken with Papaya
from "Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook" (1989 edition)

1/2 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel (I use lime peel)
1/3 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons grated gingerroot (I double this amount)
2 whole medium chicken breasts (1 1/2 pounds total), skinned and boned
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 cup thinly bias-sliced celery 
1 small papaya, halved, seeded, peeled, and cut into bit-size pieces (1 cup)
1/2 cup macadamia nuts or toasted blanched whole almonds 
2 cups hot cooked rice

For marinade, in a bowl stir together orange (lime) peel, orange juice, soy sauce, honey, and gingerroot.  Rinse chicken; pat dry.  Cut into 1-inch pieces.  Add chicken to marinade, stirring to coat.  Cover and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes or in the refrigerator for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

 Drain chicken, reserving marinade.  Combine cornstarch and reserved marinade.  Set aside.  Preheat a wok or large skillet over high heat; add cooking oil.  (Add more oil as necessary during cooking.)  Stir-fry celery (which is hard to find and expensive here, so I don't use it) in hot oil for 3 to 4 minutes or till crisp tender.  Remove celery from the wok or skillet.  

Add chicken to the wok or skillet; stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes or till no longer pink.  Push chicken from the center of the wok or skillet.  Stir marinade mixture; add to center of the wok or skillet.  Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.  (I like more sauce, so I double the ingredients.)  Return celery to the wok or skillet; add papaya.  Stir to coat well.  Cook, covered, about 1 minute or till heated through.  Stir in nuts (we use our favorite local nuts, havu, or ngali nuts).  Serve with hot cooked rice.  Makes 4 (generous) servings.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Home Again

"Without limits, our purpose in each place we plant our feet is more difficult to discern.  Our life's current, and those good works God prepared in advance for us to do, are much harder to find.  When we pray for guidance, perhaps God's answer is every way he hems us in, like a river." 

This is our home for the next several months.  We're slowly adjusting after an absence of two years.  I'm choosing to allow myself to grieve and to recognize the hard things, but then retraining my brain for gratitude.  It looks like this...

"The smoke from burning trash is making my face feel like it's going to explode.  The noise from the howling dogs and the neighbors is keeping me awake at night."

Renewing my mind and retraining my brain:
"The open windows and houses tucked in closely here help facilitate community.  I love the authenticity of doing hard things together and the heart connections that are forged quickly."

Or maybe it looks like this..

"Argh...It's so hard to wash my hair in cold water with only a tiny trickle coming out of the showerhead!"

Renewing my mind and retraining my brain:

"Do you remember when you were bathing in the river with a bucket?  With no privacy?  What a gift to have a bathroom with a closed door in addition to indoor plumbing!"

I'm choosing to plant my feet in a different place.  I'm listening for God's guidance and looking for the ways he directs and hems me in.  I'm discovering those limits that He is setting that make me lift my chin, look at Him, and practice thankfulness.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

A picture is worth a thousand words...

So I'm just going to tell the story of our travels in pictures.  Thank you for praying us through four flights back to the Solomon Islands and for continuing to pray as we battle culture shock and settle back into life in Honiara without Sarah and Benjamin.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Happy Mother's Day

It should come as no surprise that if our family had to pick one place that is the most special, we would choose Mt. Nebo State Park.

So we worked extra hard to get everything but the last bits of house cleaning

 so we could celebrate Mother's Day on top of Mt. Nebo.

We hiked.

Told stories of God's faithfulness over the last two years in America.

Played Dutch Blitz.

Huddled around the fire pit

 and watched the sun go down while we sang hymns from the village.

Happy Mother's Day to me.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Looking back

I'm sitting in the Brisbane airport, thinking about the hard, but meaningful last week.  Having all four kids under one roof meant breakfasts spent discussing our personalities through the lens of the Enneagram.  And Benjamin introduced us to the spot-on Enneagram songs (here is Aaron's type if you want to hear a sample).

As a family, we make an incredible team when we use our strengths to complement each other's weaknesses:

Aaron - 5
Joanna - 9
Sarah - 2
Benjamin - 8
Olivia - 3
Katherine - 4

One of our goals was to pack slow and steady, allowing time for Nerf gun wars and coffee breaks so that we could continue to give each other grace and make good decisions.  Amidst the crazy work of packing and weighing suitcases, we made a visit to Murry's Dinner Playhouse for an early birthday present to me.

We finished reading "The Horse and His Boy".  Sarah does great voices, and I had forgotten how much I enjoy hearing her read.

At the end of a very long day of packing we enjoyed celebrating my cousin as he performed his senior piano recital.  These Schalchlins are some of my very favorite people!

Saturday, we got the treat of spending a coffee break with Aaron's brother.  We haven't seen him in four years!

And I can't remember the last time these three were in the same room together, so it was a special Mother's Day gift, too.

These two spunky brothers, still goofing off together.

Still comparing their hair loss (Aaron is definitely winning).

My cousin, Samuel, showed up Saturday afternoon to help us scrape even more paint.  We finished that exhausting day with The Game of Things and a run to Sonic for half-price shakes after 8:00.

So as I'm fighting heavy eyelids here in the airport, remembering to walk on the left side of the aisle, and ordering a flat white on the other side of the world, I'm grateful for the hard things that we've experienced during the packing and moving process.  Those emotions of grief and loss as well as the emotions of joy and the sound of laughter mean that we've put down roots and loved people well.