Sunday, December 29, 2019

Back safely in Honiara

We have arrived back at SITAG and I'm looking forward to going back and adding pictures from our time in the village.  A huge thanks to Ann for keeping the blog up and running while we were in Marulaon!

Friday, December 27, 2019

Thursday, December 26

If our return to Honiara goes according to plan (insert laughter here), we’ll be leaving Marulaon on the sailboat, The Blessing, at 7:00 a.m. our time Saturday morning (2 p.m. Friday afternoon, Central Daylight Savings Time). We’re not really sure what to expect, because this is the first time we’ve ever done anything like this. We appreciate prayers for our travels!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Wednesday, December 25 - Christmas Day

Olivia got home at 2 a.m. again after the caroling finished. Her share of the gifts was a couple of betel nut, so she gladly donated it to a friend. The bell rang dark and early, and we rolled out of bed with sleep still in our eyes. Since the priest was still making his rounds through the villages in our district, our Christmas morning service was short and sweet. Olivia sang with the choir, as usual, and tried to stay awake with all of the other sleep-deprived choir members.

After church, everyone went home to put the finishing touches on their contributions for the “family meal.” Chief Hensi drew names to match families around the village – three in a group. Our family combined with Luke and Siloda, a young couple expecting their second child, and Chief Hensi and his family. Hensi told me that our family’s contribution was every kind of bread and cake we could make, especially banana cake. And lots of black coffee.

We decided to go with a “Christmas Tradition” theme with our cooking. So I made julekage for a Scandinavian custom, pumpkin muffins for my mom’s Christmas morning standby, and banana cake for the Marulaon favorite. I thought that the julekage, with its mixture of dried fruits and lack of sugar, wouldn’t be popular, but Hensi would have eaten the whole loaf. I snuck him several pieces to take home for himself.

Our friends brought amazing fish and lelenga/cassava pudding and pineapple and rice and motued pork. We enjoyed every bite. Our Christmas here looks so very different from our Christmas in America. One of my friends asked me if we celebrated Christmas in America with dancing, too. After we had all filled our bellies, the speeches began. Of course, none of this happened quickly. Church got out around 7:30, but we didn’t start eating until after 10. And the speeches didn’t begin until midday.

After the speeches, the dances began. Olivia learned three different styles: action choruses, custom dancing, and island dancing. And each type had a change of costume. Katherine also worked hard to learn a few dances with a different group of young ladies.

I’m so proud of how much our kids (including Sarah and Benjamin in previous years) have been intentional about being involved with the community and spreading their time among the different family groups in the village to avoid favoritism.

Big feast days like this are a great opportunity to interact with all types of people because most go “home” for Christmas regardless of where they live during the rest of the year. Watching multiple generations interact is so sweet to me. And I love getting to visit with people with whom I don’t normally rub shoulders.

Everybody enjoyed the wide variety of dances. Some were very old, traditional Lavukal dances with singing, and the ladies wore grass/bark skirts, wrapped a banana leaf around their top, and carried a “bow” covered in chicken feathers.

Some dances were accompanied by prerecorded music with a much more modern sound and more modern clothing and accessories. Some were just goofy and had everybody laughing.

After spending Advent in quiet reflection, today certainly radiated celebration. As the sun went down, the community party wrapped up. Our family could hardly keep our eyes open, so we went to bed even earlier than our “early to bed, early to rise” time, thankful for the quiet evening.

Tuesday, December 24 – Christmas Eve

As the time for our departure grows closer, I’m finding myself wanting to make my chaotic surroundings more peaceful and comfortable by preparing lots of nice meals and snacks for my family. I know too well the dangers of finding comfort in food instead of finding comfort in my God who never changes. I also feel the desire to hide in the house instead of investing in my community. But I anticipated both of these unhealthy behaviors, so I have people praying for me to find a good balance of acknowledging that this is a hard time while still making sure I do the things I need to do.

Olivia continues to amaze me with her strength and energy. Last night, she was practicing dances until 2 a.m. in preparation for Christmas. Today, she and Katherine worked with the rest of the young people (wow, it makes me feel old to write that!) in decorating the church for tonight’s service.

Finding coconut branches, fashioning them into the right shape, collecting flowers, inserting the flowers into the coconut branches, shredding some of the coconut branches to make a fringe...all of these things take time. During the hours that the girls spent working outside, Aaron and I stayed at the house and sorted and packed in preparation for loading the sailboat on Friday.

While we were working, Aaron heard Ezekiel’s voice, and sure enough, up the hill came Ezekiel with his wife, Janet, close behind. They were bringing us a Christmas present of two fish because it’s important that you have fish to eat for Christmas. Giving gifts isn’t a custom here, so we were touched that they gave us something so precious. The fish went into a soup of coconut milk, pumpkin greens, and umalau/potato, that we ate between Evening Prayer and the Christmas Eve service. While we ate, we looked at old pictures and reminded each other of God’s faithfulness and goodness in our lives over the last several years.

Our District Priest started at one end of our church district and led communion service after communion service, all night long. Our service began around 10 and finished up just before midnight. We were thankful that we were number three on his list! After the service, Olivia and the choir sang Christmas carols around the village for small gifts. We contributed two jars of unpopped popcorn, but we didn’t stick around to hear them sing. We crashed in bed, knowing that the bell for the Christmas morning service would ring early.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Sunday, December 22 - Advent Weekend Wonders

The only antidote to the leaven of sin is Christ’s work in us. We must invite Christ to pull us away from our judgments, tear open our intentions, and scour our hearts. When we do this, we are able to live in a closer relationship with God and others. ~Margaret Feinberg

I love the emphasis here on preparation during Advent. Preparation especially for Christ’s second coming, but also as a time to examine our lives here and now. This morning, we were reminded about all of the weeding that the community has been doing to get the village ready for Christmas celebrations.

All of those bush knives going to work to dig out the weeds is what we need in our lives, too. The bush knife of God’s Word, cutting out and then carrying away all of the things that shouldn’t be growing there, so our lives can be purified and good things can flourish.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Friday, December 20

We’ve had clouds and some rain for the last four days in a row, so when the sunshine and breeze knocked on our door this morning, we gladly said, “Come in!” The batteries are responding beautifully. The breeze is making working inside a little easier. And work inside we must, because the countdown to departure is on!

Yesterday, Aaron printed out the list of our daily activities needed to get us out the door in an organized way. Transition is one of my least favorite things about our lives here. Seems like we’re always coming or going. But we’ve learned how to navigate all of the changes a little bit better, and the master list is one of the best ways to communicate well all of the things that need to happen. With Christmas coming only a few days before we leave, we have to start the packing and sorting and cleaning now.

Today we tackled the school shelves, wiping each book with care, looking for any damage, and cleaning each shelf. With the humidity and the insects and the geckos here, books can take a hard hit really quickly unless we regularly maintain them. We want to steward our precious books well. One of the challenges to this job is not stopping to read along the way!

We’re so grateful for the Sonlight Curriculum that has led our family through the last sixteen years of homeschool. It was time to reorganize the books, so we took the time to sort and label the shelves so we can easily find what we are looking for. We also made no bake chocolate oatmeal cookies (with some of our rationed butter) to help sweeten the dusty task. Before we go, we’ll dustcover the bookshelves to allow the books to breathe while protecting them from all of the soot and ash and dust in the air.

Thursday, December 18

Olivia has finished her Christmas dancing preparations. She sat underneath our house with several friends and made a “bow” from a stick, chicken feathers, and a strip of material.

I provided the popcorn and entertainment for the littlest ones. They never tired of filling my hands with tiny pieces of coral gravel to count over and over and over again. And I never tired of playing with them.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Tuesday, December 17

After receiving our “daily manna” of rain for so many weeks, we finally got that much needed big rain today! Thank you so much for continuing to pray for a good balance of sun and rain for our village. We are constantly monitoring the batteries and the rain tanks and always aware of the One who sends both the sun and the rain.

When God created the world, He must have enjoyed making each little animal and plant. Such a wide variety here in the Solomon Islands! The kino nut’s flower always makes me laugh. It looks like an exploding hot dog to me. And it makes my sinuses crazy, too.

From my porch rocking chair, I count thirteen flowers in various stages of blooming. The insects love these huge blooms, and the birds love the insects. Each morning, the rising sun illuminates the blooms and makes them glow intensely for just a few minutes.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Monday, December 16

Aaron’s trip to Karumalun yesterday morning began early. By 5:50, he was walking out the door, paddle in hand, on the way to the beach where our canoe lay waiting. As he walked away, I heard Karumalun’s bell strike twice. I love that my Prince Charming is always ready for an adventure. I’m the boring one who planned to stay in my hometown for my entire life and put down roots.

From our porch, I could watch Aaron’s progress across the little strip of ocean that separates our little island from Ezekiel’s little island. Aaron made good time and had the opportunity to change clothes and visit with Ezekiel before the last bell for church rang. I don’t know what Aaron shared with the congregation, but I know it was good.

After church, he ate breakfast with the other men who had conducted the church service: Ngara, our district priest; Moses, one of Marulaon’s catechists who is part of a swapping of catechists during Advent; and Ezekiel, the Lavukal Translation Team’s head translator. Ezekiel told a story that made me laugh when Aaron retold it. Evidently, that morning, those on shore watched a canoe with an adult man and a child zigzag from Marulaon toward Karumalun,

and everyone assumed it was Aaron and Katherine. But when the canoe approached the shore, everybody discovered that it was the district priest with the acolyte in tow. When Aaron paddled over shortly behind the priest, his canoe moved straight and swiftly, so they didn’t realize it was Aaron until he hauled his canoe onto the sand. My hubby is earning more brownie points for his canoe skills!

Sunday, December 15

Advent Sweet Sabbath

As much emphasis as the Scripture places on pursuing purity, it places equal, if not more, emphasis on being purified. Because the truth is that none of us, as hard as we try, are pure. As we judge things against the standard of God’s whole and holy faithfulness, we quickly see how far human beings fall short. As we examine our own actions, beliefs, and motives, we very quickly see the deceitfulness of them. “Who can say “I have kept my heart pure; I am cleansed from my sin?’” We can’t. But as we see our own unfaithfulness, we’ll begin to entrust ourselves to the One who is faithful. And when we see God in all His purity and faithfulness, we will melt like gold and silver in a refiner’s fire.
~Hannah Anderson, “All That’s Good

Constant reminders of purity and refining surround me this Advent. Even a grass skirt emphasizes purification. Olivia and her friends hung the bark pulp underneath our house to dry and whiten only after they washed it well. The whiteness of the skirt holds importance. When Sarah made her skirt, her friends told her that it stayed in the ocean too long and took on a red tint.

Olivia’s friends worked together and quickly finished tying her skirt together. Evidently, her skirt is only a “single” and Sarah’s is a “double”. I have no idea what that means except that Olivia’s skirt was completed much more quickly.

Yesterday, they put the finishing touches on the tage, trimming the edges and shredding the fronds to fluff it out more.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Saturday, December 14

I’m often distracted during my “Jesus Time” on the porch. Sometimes it’s the sweat dripping down my back, sometimes it’s the incredible colors in the sky, but this time it was a pig. Our favorite village pig, aptly named “Beauty”, got loose and went rummaging around the neighborhood before everyone was awake. She’s a big girl, made even bigger because she’s expecting a litter of piglets any day. Her tail swished in delighted happiness as she found tidbits to eat in each different kitchen and small garden.

She moseyed up the hill toward our house, and I noticed that her entire face was dark with dirt, contrasting with her clean, white body. When she got too close to my tomato seedlings, I sent Aaron out the door to gently shoo her away. He said all it took was a leaf applied to her backside, and she moved along. Soon, we saw several little boys hustling up the hill to bring Beauty back home.

Friday, December 13

Last night during Christmas dance practice, one of the dads returned from catching squid and fish for his family. When he pulled up on shore, he asked Olivia if she ate squid. Olivia knew that what he was really asking was “Would you like some squid?” and that it would have been rude to refuse. So at 10:30 p.m., she came up to our house with three fresh squid in a pot, changed containers (yay for a fridge!), and returned his pot with several onions inside as a thank you.

She delighted in shoving squid under our still sleepy eyes this morning and telling her story. Whenever we’ve received the gift of squid in the past, it’s already been cleaned. So we needed a tutorial. Thankfully, today was a community cleanup, and our friend, Dawa, was cutting grass on the path just a few feet from our house.

He was happy to share his knowledge and skills with us, and we were happy to share some squid with him. Add a little soy sauce, onion, garlic, and butter, and lunch was delicious today!

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Thursday, December 12

Olivia’s bark was ready to tear into strips today, so she and her friends prepped and rinsed the pulp, then hung it underneath our house to dry overnight.

While she was busy preparing her skirt, Aaron paddled over and spent the afternoon working with Ezekiel. My amazing hubby is getting really proficient with his canoe! I’m in awe at all of the things he can do. Ezekiel invited Aaron to give a short program after church this Sunday, so Aaron will paddle over early Sunday morning to attend church in Karumalun while the girls and I stay in Marulaon.

Wednesday, December 11

Aaron and the girls left at 6:00 this morning to walk to the school closing. I stayed home, went to market, and napped. One of the presenters didn’t show up, so Aaron ended up handing out the prizes for 1st grade and sitting with the big men all day. The girls each chose to hang out and eat with different families. They returned home just before 6:00. I’m so thankful for a day for them to interact with people from around the Russells and for a day for me to continue to recuperate.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Tuesday, December 10

Last week, when Aaron walked to Fly Harbour School for the workday, he cut the tip of his finger with his bush knife. One of the married-in men knew exactly what to do – he found a specific root, heated it over a fire, and blew the juice on Aaron’s fingertip to seal it. God’s creation never ceases to amaze me. Aaron had planned to go back to that end of the island yesterday, but I was still feeling rotten and recuperated in bed all day, so he stayed home. But today, Aaron paddled around to Baisen Village to find Gesu and give him some training on asking comprehension questions. With Gesu’s background as a teacher, he’s a great fit for this aspect of translation work! We’re excited at the team God is bringing together to help the Lavuakleve translation move forward.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Sunday, December 8

Advent Sweet Sabbath

God purposes to build into us a quality of endurance...The people who will stay with their assignments through thick and thin are the ones who carry this record: “Discipline accepted.” These people are more concerned to guard their daily dying than their living rights. God’s people are the ones who accept the daily dying because it is indispensable and an integral part of accomplishing their mission. If we want to be able to say down the road, “I have completed the work you gave me to do,” let us welcome the incompatibilities that toughen spiritual temper and at the same time drive us to the resources of the life that was laid down for us. ~R. Arthur Matthews

All of the Choate ladies have succumbed to the village cold in varying degrees. Sleep has been a precious commodity because of late-night choir rehearsals and dance practices – all in preparation for Christmas. Olivia has jumped into village life wholeheartedly and loves singing and dancing alongside her friends. She also has the mildest version of the village cold.

In the midst of feeling rotten and being a little discouraged with the slow pace of the project, we’ve enjoyed some sweetness: our traditional gingerbread house construction. Except this year, the girls opted for a gingerbread canoe, and Aaron created a massive gingerbread turtle. We also included paddles and coral and a couple of gingerbread people to sit in the canoe. The canoe design was a disaster and fell apart completely. And the crushed candies on the turtle shell refused to melt properly. But we glued everything together with caramel, and it was delicious.

As we “welcome the incompatibilities that toughen spiritual temper and at the same time drive us to the resources of the life that was laid down for us,” I’m grateful for little sweet things that God sends our way. Like the gas cylinder that finally arrived, along with fresh eggs and snail mail. Not a single egg was broken, thanks to the careful packing of our SITAG colleagues. They even included a surprise – canned diced green chilies! We also got some rain today. A nice, long, soft garden rain. Not enough to refill the rain tanks, but enough to bring them up a little bit while gently soaking the ground.

Friendship sweetens our days, too. This weekend, Olivia and Katherine joined their friends to go hunt down some Mausa branches to make grass skirts. They tromped off into the bush, knives in hand, and returned to sit on the beach and scrape bark. Now the denuded branches are soaking in the ocean to soften the pulp and to make it easy to tear into strips for the skirt.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Friday, December 6

The Lavukal Translation Committee met in Marulaon today. Only representatives from four villages (instead of twenty) showed up, but Aaron went ahead with the meeting anyway. All three of the Choate girls are down with the “village cold”, so we stayed home and alternated between napping and school.

I contributed uncooked food for Kiko and her amazing team of caterers to prepare for the closing meal and also provided lemonade and popcorn for a snack break while the committee listened to the recording of Ruth. The committee made plans to meet again in January while we are back in Honiara for meetings at SITAG.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Thursday, December 5

Our rain tank is down to half full. We haven’t had measurable rain in more than two weeks. So after I finish washing our sheets today, we’ll begin rationing. That looks like no more mopping or washing windows. Since our louvers stay horizontal, and everyone cooks over an open fire and burns yard waste, it only takes a couple of days after washing windows for us to be able to write our name in the dust and ash that accumulates on the glass. And no more washing sheets, either. Since we have less than a month in this very short village stay, we can make this work without feeling the pinch too much. But we (and our sweet neighbors who can’t just pick up and leave) would still appreciate prayers for rain. #choatescandohardthings

Wednesday, December 4

Aaron walked “down” to Fly Harbour School again today. Although the path has a rise in elevation, when you go west in the Solomon Islands, “down” is almost always the word our neighbors use. And if you go east, you go “up”. My smart hubby learned from his last mistake and waited until midday to walk the two miles to the school. He found what he was looking for – a group from our village sewing up leaves to make “shingles” for the roof. And he also found Andrew Gesu and was able to talk to him about comprehension checking for Matthew. For several hours, Aaron worked side by side, serving the community so the school can add a grade next year. The longer that Lavukal students can stay in their language group, the better language and culture can be transmitted and the more likely they are to marry within the Russells, strengthening their tiny culture. We’re very excited that the school has long-range plans to expand over the next few years to include Form 3 (like 9th grade). Most students don’t go past that level of education.

In addition to shepherding school and home, my days have been full of handing out children’s pain reliever and bandaids; sharing yarn, material, thread, and beads; and cooking with hot stones in my friend’s kitchen. Lots of opportunities to build relationships and help ease life a little bit while weaving in conversations about how God is at work in our lives. This lively preschooler, Eric, surprises me with his constant joy and spunk and energy. He always makes me smile.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Marulaon Woman’s Daybook

Just for today...Monday, December 2

On my bookshelf… The Book Thief   I finished it, sobbing, yesterday afternoon. I usually don’t go for historical fiction, but this one is a keeper.

Pondering these words… “Most often, pride grows out of an incomplete focus on the wonder and majesty of God, and from taking for granted his grace and blessings.” ~Nancy Beach

Around the house...we decorated for Christmas this weekend. We only have a few things that have survived our many moves. I’m so grateful for the little Christmas tree we inherited when we moved into the village house.

From the is a day of leftovers. To use our propane gas tanks wisely, we always make sure the oven is full when we use it. Yesterday, I made gingerbread baked oatmeal while the pizza cooked. So today, we have oatmeal for breakfast, true odds and ends of leftovers for lunch, and cold pizza for supper. Our gas tank is extremely low. SITAG colleagues put a refill on a boat Saturday night. The boat hasn’t arrived yet, so I’m extra grateful for a day of not needing to use the stove or the oven except for heating water for coffee.

From the school rooms...after piecing together a few days of school last week (including some school on Saturday to make up for lost time) this week looks blessedly more normal. Olivia is learning about derivatives in pre-calculus, finishing up the 1960s in history, and delighting in acid/base chemistry. Katherine is learning about geometric measurement, discovering Alfred the Great in history, and reviewing the food chain in science.

Outside my window...Aaron learned how to repair our dugout canoe this morning. Using the very non-traditional materials of a mosquito net, pure petrol, and styrofoam, he and Hiva began the process of fixing the four holes in our canoe. Soon, Aaron will be able to paddle over to see Ezekiel again.

Sunday, December 1

Advent Sweet Sabbath

I would have never had the wisdom, guts, or patience to choose this life for myself. I thought what I wanted was the path of least resistance. But God knew what I was made for – what I truly wanted – and graciously showed me, inch by inch, that I could trust him with my future, my hours, my debit card, and my kids. ~Shannan Martin

Last year, to help my college kids observe Advent, I sent care packages full of daily tags with small gifts or activities. This year, all they are getting for Advent is detergent. Thanks to Amazon (no, I don’t have any affiliate links), I can set up repeated deliveries and pay for them before we go to the village. Detergent makes me think of Malachi 3:2 – “But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.”

When I watch my neighbors pummel their clothes and fling suds all over the place, I feel a little bit sorry for the shirts and skirts. Until I see the results. Then I think about how sometimes I feel a little bit pummeled and scrubbed in life, about how I would never have chosen to live in a remote village in the tropics. I know that God is purifying and refining me. And I can trust Him.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Friday, November 29

I’m not even sure how to begin describing today. It is appropriate in this culture to commemorate the one-year anniversary after a death. But this day was bigger and better and longer than any we've seen before. It began with the expected early bells clamoring repeatedly at 5:00 a.m. and proceeded to the communion service around 6:30 a.m. But one of the things I didn’t expect was the number of Mother’s Union members who came to pay tribute to the woman who brought that organization to the Russell Islands in the early 1960s. Today’s service marked the one year anniversary of Mary Nose’s death (actually, next week marks a year, but it falls inside Advent, so the celebrations were held today). The church overflowed with family, friends, and members of Mother’s Union. After the service was complete, we walked down to the cemetery where the priest blessed the newly cemented grave and the headstone.

Marulaon offered the traditional “light breakfast” of tea and cakes (including our banana muffins) to the honored guests. Quickly, the feasting followed for the whole community. Aaron and I were slow because we snuck back to the house to try and quickly finish some laundry and hang it out to dry before the festivities began. Thankfully, one of Olivia’s friends snagged some parcels of fish, pig, rice, and root crops and stuck them in the box that had once held banana cake. When we got done and to the shore, the girls were already gnawing their way through the goodies. We sat in a corner and unobtrusively ate, and it was really nice not to have to sit in a place of honor, but to just be part of the community.

Then the haircutting began. Four family members had been chosen by extended family to grow their hair out for a full year in sign of mourning: Nose’s sister, daughter, niece, and grandson. My anthropology-loving husband really enjoys days like today that are so full of symbolism and meaning. Family and friends brought small gifts to fill a huge plastic bin with goodies to present to the four. We contributed some laundry detergent, tea, and noodles. Around noon, family brought the bins to the four who were waiting under the shade of a tarp. Family members with meaningful ties to each of the four then cut hair with scissors, dressed the participant in new white clothes and jewelry, and painted traditional white decorations on their faces and arms.

This all took a long time, and I moved around on the fringes of the crowd taking pictures of the ceremony and holding babies. Olivia and Katherine stayed with their friends, and Aaron stayed near the shore. Near the end of the haircutting, I whispered to him that I really liked just being part of the community and not being singled out. I know it’s my American egalitarian culture shining through. Not thirty seconds after the words left my mouth, one of the family members, who was giving a speech, mentioned his thanks to our family. And when one of the priests gave his speech, he effusively thanked us for always participating in community events and supporting the Lavukal.

After the last round of speeches, it was time for the “party favors”. The family had compiled huge amounts of uncooked food to give back to the people who had helped with the special day. It was more than just “you brought food or a present, so you get to take something home.” This was also recognizing the support of family and friends during the last year. First heaps and heaps of root crops and cooking bananas were spread out, then vast amounts of uncooked pig were wrapped in a leaf and placed on top of each heap. Hundreds of heaps. We were all called into action waving the flies away while the piles were assembled. For at least two hours, we waved leaves over the piles and visited with our neighbors.

Finally, Leonard began to read the names on the list. They were in order of importance, beginning with the closest family members. One by one, people began to retrieve their pile of food. By this point, I was cooking in the sun and needed to rest, so when the pile I was protecting was gone, I went up to the house to drink water and lay down. Aaron and Olivia stayed to the bitter end. They finally got home just before six, carrying two big baskets of potatoes, a massive stalk of cooking bananas, and a leaf full of pork. We opted out of the dancing and partying all night long.  Instead, we grabbed a bite to eat, drank copious amounts of water, and washed the dishes that had been accumulating all day.  I happened to glance at the thermometer at 7:00 as we were putting the finishing touches on the kitchen, it read 102 degrees.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Thursday, November 28

Like grooves on a record, God’s good gifts are designed to draw us closer and closer to the center, to draw us closer and closer to eternity and Him” ~Hannah Anderson, “All That’s Good”

Our “Thankful Turkey” has been growing feathers of thankfulness for the last few weeks. I don’t remember when or where we picked up this tradition, but it’s one of my favorite things all year. The things for which we are thankful reflect our personalities and continually turn our thoughts and our hearts toward the Giver of all those good things.

Thanksgiving comes in the middle of a very busy season for our family. We kept the day simple: our traditional homemade mac and cheese, green beans, and my mom’s recipe for pumpkin pie. I’ve been saving a small container of UHT (ultra high temperature – which means shelf stable) cream so I could whip it to go on top of the pie. We played Settlers of Catan because we didn’t get to play it last Sunday, and Olivia snuck in for the win at the last moment.

We’re definitely missing our two college kids, but I know they had multiple offers of places to spend their Thanksgiving break. So many friends and family members love our young adults and are willing to open their homes and lives. I’m so grateful.

Wednesday, November 27

My status in the village has changed slightly since we returned. More gray hair, older children, and friends who are grandmothers mean that I’ve bumped up a tier. I’m also making more babies cry, since many of them are too young to remember us living in the village. Yesterday, I walked by a house, and the toddler burst into tears. The young mama’s immediate response was, “Tutua feo!” It’s just a grandmother.