Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Musical Surprises

In almost eleven years with SITAG, we've never seen anything like it.  A recital where every family with children participated in some way.  We heard scripture recitation, piano performances, and string pieces, too.  And our entire SITAG family showed up to cheer on each child and to bring food for a delicious potluck.

In part, all of this musical goodness was due to this lovely piano teacher who comes to SITAG each week to encourage her students.  I'm especially proud of Olivia, who isn't taking piano lessons but is continuing on her own and tackling progressively more difficult music.  In addition, she has just graduated to Suzuki Book 3 on her violin after only playing for 18 months.

This is just the beginning.   Each of these kids is only going to keep getting better, and it's going to be so much fun to watch.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Stuffed tomatoes

When Aaron or I go shopping for tomatoes at Honiara's beautiful Central Market, we find cute little grape or cherry tomatoes 99% of the time.  But every once in a while, I can find larger tomatoes.  These were about $0.25 USD each, and I knew exactly what to do with them - fill them with tuna salad.

This refreshing meal reminds me of our sweet sending church in Memphis.  The sweet ladies there introduced me to stuffed tomatoes at our Wednesday night fellowship meals.  So not only does this meal make my mouth happy, it makes my heart happy, too, as I remember all the times we shared meals with our church family.

This meal was extra special because we waited to eat until Aaron got home from the village.  He decided that the best stewardship of our time, energy, and money was to take a few hours to come back in a motor canoe instead of riding on a copra ship for two days.  The house immediately brightened when my tired, sweaty, and sun-kissed husband walked through the door and sat down at the table to catch up with his girls.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

While Daddy is away...

Sometimes we struggle when Aaron is gone.  He brings strength and stability to our home.  And much joy.  He's our problem solver and our steady rock and our comic relief.  Since he has been my best friend for thirty years, I miss sharing life with him when he is away.

So while he was gone, we continued to follow the routine we have established to steward our days well.  We still began our days with Jesus and coffee, made space for exercise, and chugged our way through school.

But we also took some intentional time to play.  We played many rounds of Phase 10 (which Olivia always won) and Dutch Blitz.  Olivia and her many helpers started renovating a treehouse that Benjamin built at SITAG.

We welcomed friends at the wharf and enjoyed riding in the back of the truck (I think this might be every Third Culture Kid's joy and delight!).

We listened to lots of praise and worship music (although the girls weren't sure what to think about my choice of the oldie but goodie Four Him Hymns) to help us keep our focus in the right place, and we pulled out the facemasks I had hidden away.  We laughed so hard that we disturbed our neighbors!

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Sweet Sabbath

"Imagine if you saw a marathon runner utterly exhausted and yet refusing every drink of water the organizers had provided along the way.  You'd think she was crazy.  God's grace is also seen in these refreshment stops that allow us time for reflection.  We leave behind our frantic pace of life for a time to recalibrate our speed, to get a perspective on where we are going and why.  We pause to remember God's role in our lives, to worship him for his all-sufficient grace, and to keep our eye on the ultimate horizon of eternity."  ~Shona Murray, "Refresh"

"Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."  Hebrews 12:1

I love this necklace.  The much needed reminder is three-fold:

1) Don't quit.  Endure.  Run the race with perseverance. Even when it's hard.

2) I don't run this race alone.  I have beautiful examples of people who have gone before me and lived with great faith.  In addition, I am surrounded by encouragers who are running alongside me.  These friends and fellow racers assist me to "remember God's role in our lives, to worship him for his all-sufficient grace, and to keep our eye on the ultimate horizon of eternity."

3) Because it is a life-long race, I need to approach it with a "slow and steady wins the race" mindset.  Allowing pauses to refresh so I can continue to run faithfully as God provides the strength and energy I so desperately need.

Friday, October 18, 2019

In which we distract ourselves with sushi

We basically invited ourselves over to make sushi with some of our SITAG friends.  But they chose the night, and it just happened to be Aaron's first night away.

"Real hospitality is more like the widow's mite than Solomon's purple robes.  It's the sharing of manna -- that ordinary miracle -- and the faith to believe we can love big with just a little."  
~Shannan Martin, "Falling Free"

So we were super grateful for the distraction, for the good food and good friends who are willing to share their kitchen and love big.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019


We're so grateful that, for the first time, our kids can take the PSAT here in Honiara.  Although a trip to Brisbane is fun, it's a huge drain on our time, energy, and finances.  So while Olivia filled in bubbles and exercised her amazing brain, Katherine and I drove just up the road and enjoyed a fancy-schmancy coffee shop.

Katherine finished school work and I finished my professional development needed to keep my teacher's license.  And while we were there, Aaron called to let me know he had made it to Yandina.  It took almost twelve hours.  We have traveled many times before on the good ol' Kosco (which is no longer running), and the trip to Yandina has taken five or six hours.  

While he's in the village, Aaron will be testing our satellite BGAN email system.  It's far more expensive than our old radio email system, but it should be more reliable, too.  I will definitely miss afternoon radio scheds and a chance to talk to the outside world every day.  But times, they are a-changing!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Today started with a sick little girl who handled it like a pro.  Yesterday she had a fever that spiked in the evening, so we equipped her with a thermometer, pen, paper, and meds.  In the wee hours of the morning, she woke up, took her temp, wrote it down, and took meds without disturbing anyone else in the house.  So school looked like this:

She was a trooper. Slow and steady on her school work, even through two negative malaria tests.  And in the other room, the sound of packing tape screeched as Aaron packed up and ready to leave on the Nutoli at 11:00 p.m.

We would never survive here without our SITAG colleagues.  They drove the truck with some of the cargo and the big gas cylinder.  The girls prefered to ride with them!  Aaron and I went down in another vehicle with the rest of the cargo.  Since this is the first time Aaron has traveled on a little wooden copra ship since 2009, he's not sure what to expect.  

Except that he knows it will be stinky.  My kids compare the smell of copra to this "Crime Stinks" video.  My girls really stepped up to the fill the gap left by their older siblings.  They untied and hoisted and carried and were super helpful.

"We can never realize the likeness of Christ by ourselves alone; we will never transform the world as individuals; we will never discover fullness of life in Christ if we stay solo.  We are distinct as people of God because we were made to live in dependence on the head and interdependently with the diverse parts of the body."  ~Julie Gorman

Friday, October 11, 2019

Village Prep

It's been a very long time since we've done village prep.  Our normal helping hands aren't here, they are exactly where they are supposed to be:  excelling in college.

Aaron started shopping with a little bit of a rocky start.  Several jars of peanut butter in the case expired several months ago.  The rat trap he bought didn't have all of the parts.  Just small things that show we're still a little bit rusty. It's been almost three years since the last time we prepared to move to the village.

But the flour buckets are labeled and in the deep freeze along with the other things that might harbor "friends" that we don't want to bring to our house.  And he's found a copra ship that will go out to our area.  It's been more than ten years since we had to use that form of transportation, but we don't have a lot of options right now.

So when the Nutoli sets sail next week (nobody is exactly sure when that may be), Aaron plans to be on it with some of our cargo for the village.  He'll tackle some electrical work on the house and some translation work with the team.  And when he returns, the fab four will "gird up our loins" and transition from life in Honiara to life in Marulaon Village.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

My Dwelling Place

Sometimes, due to circumstances outside your control, you just know you are going to have to fight for joy a little bit harder in the day that unfolds before you.  SITAG lost power around 11:30 one night this week.  Aaron got up and walked down to the generator shed to see if anything could be done, but he came home unsuccessful.  No power meant no fan.  And no fan meant no breeze and no white noise.  Which pretty much meant no sleep.  Our alarm went off, followed just a few seconds later by the return of the power.  When we returned from wogging, we still didn't have any water (which needs to be pumped from the rain tanks into the house) or internet.

So my super problem solving husband poked around downstairs in the Conference Room and discovered there was no power.  Finding the breaker box proved a little bit more of a challenge, but eventually he found it in the little flat that connects to our current SITAG house.  Finally, we had water and internet again!

One of the small things I chose to do to help combat the sleep-deprived crankiness I felt?  Put a pretty breakfast on the table.  This simple egg bread braid with raisins did the trick.

Another thing I knew I HAD to do was use the Sword of the Spirit to fight for joy.  So I set one of my favorite scripture songs by the Gettys on repeat:  My Dwelling Place (Psalm 91) 

Early afternoon is always the hardest for me to fight the lack of sleep, especially since I was trying to do a little professional development.  The video about quantum physics found me nodding off and struggling to grasp the concepts, even though I was excited about learning new things.  I chose instead to walk down the hall to observe a simpler science experiment.  I found Katherine delighting in magnetism and playing/learning with a few simple tools.  Observing my children as they blossom always brings me joy.

When I stepped outside to take Aaron an afternoon tea break of apple cake leftover from company the night before, I noticed we had billowing smoke coming up the hill behind SITAG.  That's not unusual, because burning piles of leaves and yard waste is the best way to get rid of it around here.  What was unusual was seeing several of our employees moving quickly toward the burning and realizing that my Eagle Scout husband was down there with them.  The neighbors on the other side of the fence had set a fire that quickly spread to the debris they left on our side of the fence when they recently downed a tree.  Thankfully, our guys had it quickly under control.  

So by the time supper rolled around, we had fought hard using all of the tools God had put at our disposal, and we limped, exhausted, but still smiling, to the table.  A round of our new favorite quick game, Sushi Go!, for those times when you need a quick injection of fun, propelled us as the sun set and laughter rang out.  And then we all collapsed into bed, thankful that the Lord is our Dwelling Place, and He is the one that gives joy and peace regardless of what our day may hold.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Jonah and Ruth app update

This tiny object Aaron is holding represents years of hard work and the "blood, sweat, and tears" of many people.

This is George, one of the guys on the recording team.  He is one piece of the puzzle that has made the Jonah and Ruth app possible.  Now our neighbors can hear the words being read and follow along with the highlighted words at the same time!  Building literacy skills while filling up on God's Word is a winning combo.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

My hero

My hard-working hubby recently had a birthday.  His special day was quiet at his request.  He made donuts for the family's breakfast.

That act of service demonstrates the quiet way that he nurtures and shepherds people.  And it also shows that we just like to eat!

He is transitioning out of SITAG's director's office and back in the Lavukaleve translation project.  Thank you so much for all of the prayers over the last few months while he has served our branch.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Men at Work

What is it about a construction site that draws kids like flies to honey?  Maybe it's the hope of writing your name on the smooth concrete with your finger.

Maybe it's watching these men who shine with integrity and a good work ethic.  I love that they welcome the kids to watch.  I love that, having watched my children grow up, these guys are like adopted uncles for our family.

Adding a shower room with very little equipment means a lot of sweat and time and energy.  But these men are up to the challenge.  And our SITAG kids are observing and learning about developing good character while the job moves forward.