Wednesday, July 31, 2019


"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to plan in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul."  ~John Muir

When I see or smell gardenias, I think of my mama.  In the early summer months, her yard smells amazing, and she is generous in sharing fragrant bouquets.  When we bought a house in our hometown, she immediately planted several gardenia bushes that she had grown by "layering" her own plants.  And when those didn't grow well after several years, we transplanted them to a different part of our yard.  So many layers of symbolism and meaning for me in this simple white flower.

When I stopped by the hospital after dropping Aaron off at the wharf last month, I was flabbergasted to find my favorite flowers growing in front of the emergency room.  So, I did what any good Solomon Islander would do and broke off a twig, took it home, and placed it in a jar of water. 

Now that little twig is growing like crazy and thriving in a pot of dirt.  I love how well things grow in this environment, regardless of my brown thumbs.  Reminds me of one of my favorite verses:

"...just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness."  
Colossians 2:6-7

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

YWAM in the Solomon Islands

Last week, this spunky group from YWAM popped in to give a report during morning tea.  They have been distributing the full Roviana Bible out in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands.

The Solomon Islands has a YWAM branch, but this team was based in Brisbane.  They had members from Australia, Canada, USA, and Germany.  The language they were serving is extra special to us because we know and love the translation advisor and his wife.  (One of my favorite recipes came from them, too!)  They have been quietly and faithfully serving SITAG and the Solomon Islands for almost forty years. 

Monday, July 29, 2019

Orch Dork

I've discovered I'm still an orch dork.  

When we go "wogging" in the mornings, I don't wear any headphones to pipe music into my ears.  I need to be super vigilant of the people and animals and terrain around me.  But I do have music playing in my head.  

First, it's the allegro from Vivaldi's concerto for two cellos.  Then as the route seems to continue forever and I need to change my breathing, it's the waltz from Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings.  And finally, as I'm wearing out and pushing hard to finish, it's Brubeck's Take Five.  I laughed when I realized that drawing on my knowledge of the history of music gives me the strength and tempo I need to get my feet moving!

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Sweet Sabbath

"...better a neighbor nearby than a brother far away." Proverbs 27:10b

While we love our family members and wish they weren't so far away, we're so grateful for the adopted family that God has given us here at SITAG.  This weekend, they were good sports and attended a brunch recital so our girls could practice playing their instruments in front of an audience.

Nobody booed or threw rotten tomatoes as Olivia performed on her violin for the first time (other than for family).  Everybody cheered and supported the progress.  And the food disappeared rapidly as the music swirled around us.

Monday, July 22, 2019

By the Numbers

Thirty-three hours

Two trips to the wharf

Eighteen goodbyes

Four grieving Choate hearts

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Sweet Sabbath

"When we gather to eat, God wants to nourish more than our bodies: he wants to nourish our souls with transcendent joy and supernatural community and divine presence.  When we feed our physical appetites in community, we open our hearts for God to feed something deeper as well."  
~Margaret Feinberg, 

Opportunities to "feed our physical appetites in community" abound!  We picked up returning colleagues (who also just left their two oldest kids back in their passport country for school) at the airport earlier this week and enjoyed sharing a meal with them that evening.

We made "Crescent Cookies" to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the first moonwalk yesterday.  (Although the crescent moons quickly turned into full moons in the hands of kids that wanted those cookies to go in the oven right away.)

This morning we filled up our tummies with my mom's simple recipe for breakfast casserole before we filled the back of the vehicle with sweet and silly grins as we drove to the wharf to deposit a family on a ship.

Tonight, we joined up with another family for their "last supper" and scarfed down what seemed like a million tacos followed by boysenberry ice cream.  It's true...when we fill up our tummies together, we also fill up with "transcendent joy and supernatural community and divine presence".

Friday, July 19, 2019

Favorite Friday Five

Spiritual - Let's Spend Summer (in) the Psalms injects some sweetness into my morning quiet times.  Will you join me?

Mental - I'm reading "The PeaceMaker" by Ken Sande.  So. Challenging.

"To some, conflict is a hazard that threatens to sweep them off their feet and leave them bruised and hurting.  To others, it is an obstacle that they should conquer quickly and firmly, regardless of the consequences.  But some people have learned that conflict is an opportunity to solve common problems in a way that honors God and offers benefits to those involved."  ~Ken Sande

Emotional - Today is our 22nd anniversary, so we invested in a lunch date.  Such valuable time together, even sandwiched in between meetings.

Just for fun - these pillowcases would make a great gift for newlyweds (or for any married couple that needs a little refresher!).

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Birthday Chicken Pot Pie

Olivia requested chicken pot pie for her birthday supper.  It's "Aunt Martha's" recipe, and a special family favorite.  We were introduced to this recipe when we returned back to Honiara during Cyclone June and showed up at SITAG like drowned rats.  Martha showed up at our house that night with a steamy pan of comfort food.

Aunt Martha's Chicken Pot Pie

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
2/3 cups milk
2 cups chicken, cut up
10 ounces peas and carrots, frozen
celery seed

2/3 + 2 TBSP cups shortening
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons celery seed
1 teaspoons salt
4-5 TBSP water

Heat butter over low heat until melted and blend in flour, onion, salt, and pepper.  Cook over low heat stirring until mixture is smooth and bubbly.  Remove from heat and stir in broth and milk.  Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.  Boil and stir a minute. Stir in chicken and frozen vegetables.  Reserve.

Cut shortening into flour, celery seed, and salt until particles are the size of small peas.  Sprinkle in water (1 TBSP at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened.)  One to two teaspoons can be added at a time, if necessary.  

Gather pastry into a ball. Roll 2/3 of pastry into 13 inch square on lightly floured cloth covered board.  Ease pastry into square pan (9x9x2).  Pour chicken filling into pastry lined pan.  Roll remaining dough into an 11 inch square.  Place over filling and roll edges under.  Cut slits in center to allow steam to escape.  Cook uncovered in 425 degree oven until the crust is brown (about 30-35 minutes).

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Happy Birthday, Olivia

Our spunky, persistent Olivia turned 16 on Monday.  The last year, she has matured into a hard-working, hilarious young lady who refuses to quit.  Chemistry and Pre-Calculus are giving her a challenge one month into her junior year, but she is like a tenacious, but beautiful, bulldog who just won't give up.

Olivia is a strong Enneagram Three:

Threes are often successful and well liked because, of all the types, they most believe in themselves and in developing their talents and capacities. Threes act as living “role models” and paragons because of their extraordinary embodiment of socially valued qualities. Healthy Threes know that they are worth the effort it takes to be “the best that they can be.” Their success at doing so inspires others to invest in their own self-development.

She made her own birthday cake, what I grew up calling a "sock-it-to-me cake" but minus the cake mix, using some of the precious pecans we brought from America.

We celebrated in small but sweet ways all day long.

And I don't know any other sixteen-year-old who asked for weights for her birthday.

The best part of the day for me was the video chat with all six of us, the whole "Meat Cheato" (that's "Team Choate" scrambled, and first showed up in magnetic letters on our fridge in the village) together on one screen.

But I also loved watching our SITAG family gather round Olivia to pray blessings over her before we enjoyed cake and ice cream and lots of laughter.

Monday, July 8, 2019


"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.  

" 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 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.