Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Dying lava lavas with Sarah

Sarah and I were invited to dye lava lavas (cloths to wrap around and wear as skirts) with several other ladies this morning.

We began by folding the material...

Then, we dipped it in the colors that Sarah chose...

Next, we unfolded it...

While it was drying in the sun, the ladies chose leaves to lay on top, and I sprinkled it with salt (notice how close we are to the ocean). Some of the ladies brought stencils of flowers, leaves, or "Solomon Islands" to lay on top of their lava lavas. This process lasted all morning, and all of the conversation was in Pijin! My brain was tired from listening (not much talking yet), but we enjoyed a sweet time getting to know our new neighbors.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

These are a few of my favorite things

the view from our front porch

my healed leg

Benjamin in front of a WWII airplane engine and propellers, just up the road

Monday, December 29, 2008

A cord of three strands...

You may be wondering if we are just sitting around twiddling our thumbs. Our orientation program contains three parts - Pijin language learning, becoming familiar with the history and culture of the Solomon Islands, and finding our way around Honiara.
Language Learning - We have a manual to help us learn Pijin, the entire Bible in Pijin, the Pijin New Testament on audio, radio broadcasts to practice listening comprehension, and plenty of people around to help us practice.
History and Culture - If you could see our home right now, there are stacks of books about the Solomons, and we are diligently wading through them and writing reading responses.
Honiara - Here's where the fun starts! In an effort to spice up orientation, some former teams concocted "Where in Honiara is Carmen San Diego?" So, we began today! Our assignment for the morning was to walk down the hill to the highway and catch a bus into town. Then, we shopped at a few stores, checked out airline schedules (there are no planes to the Russells), investigated the wharf and talked to some crews, ate some fish and chips, taste tested some ice cream at a locally owned shop, and returned by bus. Friday, we plan to inspect the National Museum.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

Monday, December 29th

Outside my window...laundry hanging on the clothesline blocking my view of the Pacific Ocean

I am thinking... about 2 Timothy 2:4 "A soldier on active service will not let himself be involved with civilian affairs; he must be wholly at his commanding officer's disposal," and Elisabeth Elliot's comments - "Any 'soldier', any candidate for Christian discipline, ought daily to report to his commanding officer for duty. At your service, Lord. What the soldier does for the officer is not in the category of a favor. The officer may ask anything. He disposes of the soldier as he chooses."

I am thankful for...a washing machine!

From the learning rooms...continuing Westward Expansion. Some friends suggested a fabulous computer game, "The Oregon Trail", and thanks to some generous grandparents we are really enjoying learning as we play

From the kitchen...slippery cabbage quiche (still trying to incorporate local produce)

I am wearing...the ubiquitous bare feet and a ponytail, a bright pink skirt made by a friend in Memphis, a white tee-shirt, and gold filigree ball earrings given to me by Aaron's mom for Easter while we were in college.

I am creating...our schedule for the month of January, alternating academic school days and field trips into Honiara. Fruit of the mind, not of the hands, hopefully that will come later.

I am going... to enjoy snuggling with my family on the couch tonight as we reread "Little House on the Prairie".

I am reading..."Discipline: The Glad Surrender" by Elisabeth Elliot.

I am hoping...that our shipment comes in this week!

I am hearing...the sound of rain pounding down and filling our rain tanks and kids running around and laughing in the rain filling their souls

Around the house...stacks of books about the history of the Solomon Islands.

One of my favorite things...internet, blogging, Skype - mind boggling technology that allows us to stay in touch across many miles.

A few plans for the rest of the week: We are beginning "Where in Honiara is Carmen San Diego?" this week (more about that in a later post). Tomorrow, all six of us will walk down the hill to the highway and catch a bus into town to go shopping. Look for updates and pics as we venture out!

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Thanks for stopping by! I wanted to record my daybook even though Peggy is on vacation for the holidays. You can still check out daybooks from her archives.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sweet Sabbath

orchids picked up at the market by a friend - wish you could smell them!
"Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
seek his face always."
Psalm 105:1-4

Friday, December 26, 2008

Glimpse into Christmas with the Choates

Advent wreath and Daddy playing Christmas carols

Sarah and Katherine plunking out carols on the keyboard

SITAG kids put on a Christmas play - Olivia the shepherdess, watching her flocks

Sarah the angel

Joseph and Mary

Katherine talking to grandparents across the ocean

Aaron's excitement at the perfect Christmas gift - a grammar of Lavukaleve (thanks, Dad!)

By the end of the day, Katherine was plum tuckered out

Monday, December 22, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

Monday, December 22, 2008

Outside my window...rain coming in over the Pacific Ocean. The weather usually doesn't come in from this direction, so the girls and I are fascinated as we watch it move toward us. Hope the guys in town don't get drenched!

I am thinking...about Habakkuk 2:1, "I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me...." and being convicted! I so want to be prepared and watching and listening for whatever the Lord has to teach me.

I am thankful for...time to reflect on Christ's birth without all of the commercial trappings and distractions.

From the learning rooms...we began studying South America and Simon Bolivar today. The kids were less than thrilled, after all, we've been out of homeschool for six months now. I think they will be more excited when I pull out the Amazon rainforest stuff I found. Just now, I overheard Sarah playing with Katherine and saying "Titicaca!" over and over again. That's a lake in the Andes - geography is sticking!

From the chocolate (made from scratch) for tea time.

I am wearing...a khaki skirt, a blue beaded shirt (a hand-me-down from my mom), a necklace from a friend in Florida (thanks, Renee), and bare feet

I am creating...a meal plan for my family incorporating fresh, local foods (fish just pulled out of the ocean, new greens, varieties of sweet potatoes). I'm slowly learning how to cook these healthier and cheaper foods! (But I still love to bake, especially this time of year.)
I am brave the market in the morning. Great language learning practice, and our family always draws curious stares!
I am reading...lots of orientation paperwork as we settle into Honiara.
I am hoping...that my Pijin will improve quickly so I can communicate well with our new neighbors.
I am hearing...the hum of the ceiling fan and the sounds of unfamiliar birds chirping in the trees outside.
Around the house...Sarah rolling tortillas in the kitchen, other kids coming in to bathe before supper.
One of my favorite things...listening to the sweet soprano voices of my children (even Katherine) singing Christmas carols.
A few plans for the rest of the week: Tomorrow, gathering with other families here for caroling, cookies, and a children's play. Wednesday, enjoying the anticipation of lighting the Jesus candle after dark. Thursday, company for gingerbread waffles, then a slow and luxurious Christmas day with my family. Friday, finally getting to sing "We Three Kings" as we begin celebrating Epiphany with the kids.
Here is picture thought I am sharing...
You CAN enjoy hot chocolate in the tropics!
For a glimpse of other ladies' daybooks, grab your own hot chocolate and stop by Peggy's.

Candy Cane Crazy

Maybe it's because the temps stay in the 90's and the humidity is also in the 90's, but we have been candy cane crazy for the last few days. Anything peppermint or red and white striped has stirred us into a creative frenzy. Sarah is even reading "Peppermints in the Parlor" by Barbara Brooks Wallace. This book was my stepping stone to Agatha Christie when I was her age. Anyway, we opened a care package from a sweet church in Kansas and found candy canes! Our kids had been asking for candy canes, and when we left the States in June, I don't think we could have found any. So, when the striped wonders arrived, I pulled some recipes out of the back of my recipe box and away we went.

First, we pulled out the white chocolate (from another care package originating in Kansas-have I mentioned what a blessing care packages are?) to make these candy cane cookies:
1 package (18 oz.) refrigerated sugar cookie dough - we just made our own from scratch
1/4 cup peppermint candies, chopped (about three candy canes)
1/4 pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)
1 package (12 oz.) white chocolate morsels
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Form dough into a ball and place in center of baking stone or sheet. Lightly flour roller and roll dough to within an inch of edges. Bake 17-20 minutes or until golden. While cookie is baking, chop candy and nuts. Remove cookie from oven and immediately sprinkle morsels evenly over cookie. Let stand 2-3 minutes. Spread chips evenly into thin layer; sprinke with candy and nuts. Cool 5 minutes. Cut and Serve. 16 servings
We discovered that candy canes do not crush well in tropical humidity. Part of the candy sticks to the plastic wrapper, and the rest of it quickly becomes a sticky conglomeration instead of a fine powder. So, we did the best we could, and not a crumb remained!

Today, we made candy cane cookies from "The Betty Crocker Recipe Card Library". It is copyrighted 1971 and I think the recipe card came from my mom. I found an almost identical recipe here. During a break from school, Sarah and a friend whipped up these cookies. We were supposed to top them with crushed candy canes again, but after one attempt with gloppy results, we decided that they were still yummy! It's been SO fun to share with our neighbors.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

While we wait for our shipment to come in (it's supposed to be here December 26th!), we've been reading and cooking and crafting to learn about Westward expansion and immigration. Next door to our house is a wonderful library of sorts - full of books and everything from magnetic letters to microscopes. God is so good to give us our hearts' desire! So, we've checked out lots of fun stuff to help us learn. We've been making a rag rug (aka hot pad) from a scrap of material leftover from one of my skirts.

First, we ripped the material into nine long pieces, then we took turns braiding it and sewing on additional pieces as necessary (practicing our running stitch).

Finally, we sewed the braid around and around (practicing our blanket stitch).

Obviously, our creation isn't big enough to be a rag rug, so we used it underneath our blessing soup tonight.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I shaved my legs!

You may be thinking, "That's way too much information." But the point is, my leg is so much better that I could actually shave my legs today (for the first time in two weeks!). I finished up my antibiotics today, as well. Through this whole process, I've constantly been amazed at how God made our bodies. Thanks for your continued prayers as my leg heals.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Third Sunday in Advent

It's been a sweet Sabbath day today. Aaron and the kids went to church this morning (I hope to be able to go next week), and tonight we get to light the third candle on our Advent wreath. We brought a few Christmas things with us, and this angel is one of the few that made the cut to cross the Pacific Ocean. An orchestra student in Arkansas made it for me my first year of teaching, and our family treasures this angel as it tops our tree each year.

One of Katherine's favorite places to play is the front porch (or veranda, as they say here). She and Aaron enjoyed a game of peek-a-boo, and I snapped some pics this afternoon while the big kids played outside. Tomorrow we'll back to language learning in earnest, but it was nice to rest today. Olivia peeled and sliced carrot sticks and helped cut apples to go with our "ranch cheeseburgers" for supper. We found the recipe on the back of one of the many Ranch seasoning mixes we have received.
1 packet Hidden Valley Seasoning Mix
1 lb. ground beef
1 cup shredded cheese
4 large hamburger buns
Combine Seasoning Mix with beef and cheese. Shape into 4 patties; cook thoroughly. Serve on toasted buns.
Thank you to those of you who have mailed care packages to us. You are such an encouragement! We will be reminded of so many sweet people tonight when we eat.

To finish our Sabbath, we have another family coming over to light the Advent wreath and sing Christmas carols with us. I love this time of year!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I just realized that I hadn't yet named the infection in my leg (no, not Eliza or Mary) - it's cellulitis. This website should help answer any questions you may have. My leg closely follows the pattern described on this site.

We've enjoyed a lovely afternoon. Aaron is at a staff meeting right now, but earlier he read a portion of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" while we ate snickerdoodles (made by Olivia and Sarah - I'm still off my feet) and drank an assortment of delicious Christmas teas. Now the big kids are outside playing, and Katherine and I are inside playing. Spaghetti, eggplant, salad, and pineapple are on the menu for tonight. So, there's a taste of our afternoon!

Not for the squeamish...

Thank you for all of your prayers and e-mails during the last few days. Today is the last day of my malaria treatment, and my leg continues to heal. Lots of you have asked for updated pictures of my leg, and I've been hesitant to post them. Even though my leg looks worse, it is soooo much better. The swelling is down, and the skin is no longer so tender to the touch. I was even able to start some laundry this morning! The white on my leg is from the antibacterial powder and the "shiny" is from the lanolin I used to alleviate the dry skin. Please do not worry! Every day I'm a little bit better, and God has placed great neighbors around us. Aaron is a gem of a husband, and the kids are quite competent. So, if you're not too squeamish, scroll down for a current picture of my leg...

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:26

Sunday, December 7, 2008

National Brownie Day

Today is National Brownie Day! Here's a fun website to give you lots of recipes to try - enjoy! We recruited a new friend, and Olivia helped make brownies. She also licked the bowl clean...

"His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love." Psalm 147:10,11

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Joanna Wins!

We wondered who would be the first to have malaria, and the winner is ME! Monday night, I started running a temperature and feeling achy, then Tuesday morning my temperature shot up and I began having chills as well. The nurse at POC came by to check on me and diagnosed me with malaria. I took my meds 15 minutes before we left the campus - God’s timing is so good!

(I’m sure many of you are asking, "But, don’t you take a malaria prophylaxis?" Yes, we all do! But I had been fighting a nasty cold for a week when the malaria reared its ugly head. The nurse here said that when your body gets worn down, the malaria is more likely to break through.)

But wait there’s more...
Wednesday morning I woke up with a small red spot above my left ankle. When we got back from breakfast, I looked at my ankle to find that blisters had broken out in a line - it looked like I had burned myself! By Wednesday night, I felt like I was in a bad science fiction movie. My leg was swollen and the blisters were spreading, so we called the nurse from POC again and she came down for a "house call". She immediately started me on some strong antibiotics and told me to stay off my feet (which wasn’t hard to do!). Again, I am so grateful for God’s timing.

So now my leg is continuing to morph into some strange creature (it’s actually pretty amazing how God made our bodies), and I sit in a flat surrounded by boxes while my foot is propped on a pillow. I have a picture, but since I'm off my feet, and Aaron is at church with the kids, I'll have to wait until he gets home to post the picture.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Happy St. Nicholas Day! Last night, we were so tired that we didn’t pull the kids’ shoes out, but tonight we’ll read "A Gift From St. Nicholas" by Christine Bolley and sneak some small gifts into their shoes after they go to bed. It will still be December 6th somewhere in the world when they wake up!

I can’t wait to tell you about our new home - what a sweet word! Our trip went smoothly, thanks to the many prayers that were offered on our behalf. I can’t tell you enough how thankful we are for your prayer support! Thursday, we arrived at the Madang airport to find that we had one overweight box, but they count the total of all six, so we were okay! Everyone traveled well, and we enjoyed a good rest in Port Moresby. Friday morning, we were driven to the airport and ran into an old friend from Alotau on the van! We had gotten to know her when we visited in August, and it was a nice gift to see her again before we left PNG. When we arrived at the airport, I was really hobbling, and we were so thankful to see the directors from POC who were waiting for their flight to leave. They cheered us up, ate lunch with us, and phoned the Solomons to let them know about my leg. While Aaron was checking in, he came over with a grave face and said that we didn’t have enough paperwork for the kids to enter the Solomon Islands. So we sat down as a family and prayed, and Aaron went back to the check in desk. Within minutes, the kids were cleared to come into the country on our paperwork.

So, off we flew over the Pacific Ocean. When we landed in Honiara, we could see about twenty people waving signs and cheering. I limped off the plane and burst into tears! We are finally home, and everyone here already feels like family. Our flat has a lovely view of "ironbottom sound" (lots of sunken ships from WWII), and I anticipate a beautiful sunset tonight.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tomorrow, we leave POC to spend a few days traveling until we leave for Honiara on Friday. Not sure what kind of e-mail connection we will have, so it will probably be about a week before I can update the blog again. We are so excited that God is bringing this leg of our journey to a close and leading us to make our new home in the Solomon Islands. Please continue to pray for us as we are in transit this week:

*For rest and laughter (Prov. 17:22) as we spend two days in Madang (just our family!)
*For favor with the airlines (Prov. 21:1) as we travel with six big boxes all perilously close to the weight limit
*For sweet words to be on our lips (Prov. 16:24) - especially on Thursday and Friday as we navigate airports with lots of bags and lots of kids

We are really enjoying the Advent season. The kids are old enough now that they can participate in the scripture reading during our devotionals, and they remember the words to the songs. Last night, we began lighting the Promise Candle on our Advent wreath, and we set up our Lego nativity scene. Sarah cut snowflakes out of white paper and adorned her window here at POC. I have a feeling that these snowflakes will be tucked in her backpack to travel to Honiara!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

More pics from the village

Katherine playing peek-a-boo in tok ples

Benjamin teaching the kids to play Uno in Tok Pisin

Aaron working on a mat for the funeral

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Alois and Olivia - two peas in a pod!

Sarah learning how to make a bilum (a string bag) from Wasmama

Katherine and Waspapa - look, no tan lines!

We made it! Thanks to your prayers and God’s grace we survived five weeks of village living. A sweet community nurtured us with their food and their teaching as we learned more about the culture and language of Papua New Guinea.

Mornings began early with the roosters crowing around 4:30. Then we were up to start a fire and boil water (a task which continued throughout the day). If the kids were still asleep when I got up, I snuck over to the "hauswin" on the beach to read my Bible and enjoy the pounding of the surf while the sun rose. Psalm 93 was one of my favorites to read. After breakfast, the kids and I went down to the mouth of the river to wash our clothes and ourselves. This usually took about two hours, so Aaron used the time to learn skills like weaving mats and carving a bow and arrow while we were gone. When we returned, I doctored the bites and scrapes on the kids legs that so easily became infected, then we started school. Some mornings, we walked a few feet to the little market on the road to buy some fresh fruits and vegetables. Katherine even sat with a favorite auntie several times to help her sell some produce.
When school was finished, I started lunch, and after we cleaned up, the kids were free to play while Aaron and I continued with our homework, or tried to learn some new skills. Several afternoons, Aaron taught music theory lessons in Tok Pisin. Some days I went to visit with neighbors (and take cookies - my mom’s cookie recipes are now famous all over Sarang) to improve my listening and speaking skills. Around dusk, we went to bathe again, then we fixed a quick supper and shut the house down for the night. Sounds like we didn’t do much, but we discovered that life takes a lot longer when you’re cooking over an open fire and learning to live without electricity.

Some quick highlights:
-Showing the Jesus film to several hundred people and popping popcorn to eat while we watched
-Catching six rats during our five week stay
-Having a family build us our own personal washing spot so we didn’t have to walk very far
-Attending a different church service each Sunday and singing songs in English while they sang in Tok Pisin (worship has no language barrier!)
-Receiving care packages half way through our village stay and weeping with gratitude at all of the family, friends, and churches who cared enough about us to actually mail something to Papua New Guinea

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It’s been a whirlwind weekend, and now we are trying to finish our packing and preparations for village living. Here is a brief overview of the things we will be trying to accomplish while we are there:

Week 1 (Oct. 23-29)
Begin visiting with the people and making friends
Get settled
Spend one day in the gardens with people
Begin cultural observations

Week 2 (Oct. 30-Nov. 5)
Map of the village
Kinship chart
Cultural observations
Tape and begin transcribing Tok Pisin stories
Learn a skill (bilum making, house building, arrow making gardening, traditional cooking, etc.)

Week 3 (Nov. 6-12)
(Have map, cultural observations, kinship charts, skill report, and texts ready to hand in.)
Continue with transcribing stories
Begin survey
Begin formulating case study

Week 4 (Nov. 13-19)
Language learning
Case study

Week 5 (Nov. 20-27)
Complete and write up all assigments
Pack up in village and prepare to leave

We covet your prayers and look forward to rejoicing with you when we return on Thanksgiving Day.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008
Today we spent all day in Madang finishing up our shopping for village living. We will be arriving in the village during planting season, so there won't be a lot of produce available. The kids visited a pottery shop this morning and finished up their field trip with a trip to a sulfur springs. Olivia:
"The water was very blue and the cave was all crystals."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Three Day Hike Pictures:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Communication update:
Just thought I would let everybody know that after next Tuesday, October 21, we will be offline for about six weeks while we are in the village. The staff will come out to check on us halfway through our stay (Nov. 10 or 11) and bring us any mail we may have received. We are so appreciative of those who have e-mailed or snail mail letters and packages. Holding something from people who love us encourages us so much as we face new and unfamiliar things every day. We value your prayers and know they are working as we continue to adjust to life in PNG.

"He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many."

2 Corinthians 1:10-11

Monday, October 13, 2008
Aaron left this morning for the three day hike. Half of the adults here left this morning, and the other half will leave on Thursday. Those of us left behind watch after the kids while their parents are gone, and we finish our shopping for village living while the kids are in school. Each group on the hike has assignments to complete in the villages where they sleep. Language people (like Aaron) have to elicit certain phrases and words and support people have anthropological questions to ask. The goal is to build relationships in each village as they gather information. I sent Aaron's group out with much prayer and some hard candy as a treat. Our wasmama, Dorcas, is the female guide for their group, and George, one of the workmen here, is the male guide. Both of them are known for keeping a fast pace on the trails!

Saturday, October 11, 2008
Tonight, our wasfamili came to eat supper with us in our haus kuk. Thankfully, we are on the end of the row, so we had lots of room for the twelve of us to spread out on the grass. The night was beautiful, and it was easy to talk about God's marvelous creation as we looked up at the clouds rolling in over the unfamiliar constellations and the almost full moon. I found it interesting that almost all of the American families here chose to make chocolate chip cookies for dessert! I guess the old adage needs to say "as American as chocolate chip cookies". Our wasfamili found my mom's recipe for chocolate chip cookies to be delicious – nambawan kaikai!