Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Marulaon School

We're trying to show Nahna and Papa how we live here in Marulaon.  One of the things in "Marulaon School" is how to scrape a coconut.  We needed some coconut cream to cook our kalimeta, so I showed Nahna how to scrape the coconut.  She says, "Praise the Lord, I didn't cut my thumb off!"
Yesterday, our inverter died, so we're back to washing our clothes by hand again.  Thankfully, we had practice in Papua New Guinea, and we have people willing to help us out here.  We've finished the painting and almost completed the varnishing, so now the cleaning and packing for Honiara can begin in earnest.


The last week has been a whirlwind - Nahna and Papa have come to visit us!  They arrived in Marulaon on Sunday afternoon and received a royal welcome from our neighbors.  On Monday, we showed them around the village and let them catch their breath a little bit.  We got a good rain on Monday as well, so all of the rain tanks have plenty of water in them.  Katherine finished her malaria meds on Tuesday and is back to her spunky two-year-old self now.  Thanks for your prayers for our family.
Tuesday, Grace, Leku, Sarah and I took Nahna  diving for kalimeta (shellfish).  This was the first time I had ever gone hunting for them, so it was exciting for all of us!  We paddled over crystal clear water to a shallow place near a nearby island.  Then, Leku hopped out of the canoe to find a good spot to collect the critters.  When she found them, we paddled over, anchored the canoe, and climbed over the edge to dive down.  Sarah could stand in some places, so she helped us, too.  Even Nahna joined us for a little while and admired God's creation underneath the ocean.  I had a hard time concentrating on finding food because I was enamored of all of the fish and coral.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Sensory organs

Friday, April 23
The kids made sensory organs out of clay for science today.  Benjamin made eyes and ears, Olivia made a whole body and exaggerated the ears, and Sarah asked for special permission to make a neuron.  I love my creative kids!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Jellybean Day

Thursday, April 22
Today is National Jellybean Day, and thanks to a friend in Texas, we had jellybeans to celebrate.  The kids sorted, estimated, counted, and graphed the colors of jellybeans.  Then they enjoyed making jellybean sculptures before they gobbled up the sweet treats.
With Aaron in Honiara, we've been extra busy hauling buckets of water, remembering to turn the solar panels, and burning trash -- all of those little things that he takes care of frequently unnoticed.  Talking to him on the radio is the highlight of our day!
Tuesday after the Bikoi left, Sarah Kiko came by on her own to help me with language learning.  Katherine was super fussy, so we didn't do any recording, but I enjoyed being able to unexpectedly learn some Lavukaleve.  She also asked that we make a birthday cake for her son who will be ten on Friday.
Katherine's fever let up last night, and we're hoping it stays away.  Thanks for your prayers for her and for the rest of us (this mama is a little bit cranky!).

Jellybean Day!


Monday, April 19, 2010

Marulaon Woman's Daybook

For Today...Monday, April 19

Outside my window...crescent moon going down over the trees

I am thinking...about my youngest sister's 23rd birthday today.  Happy birthday, Rachel!
I am thankful for...friends to help me paddle across to the clinic with Katherine

From the kitchen...eggplant moussaka (still tons of eggplant here in Marulaon)

I am wearing...yellow dotted swiss nightgown, wet hair in a French braid
Noticing that...the coolness that the rain brings inspires me to bake and heat up the kitchen!
Pondering these words..."The person who would do great things well must practice daily on the little ones; and she who would have the assistance of the Almighty in important acts, must be daily and hourly accustomed to consult His will in the minor affairs of life."  --Emily Judson (wife to Adoniram)

I am reading..."The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary" by Simon Winchester.  Intriguing, and I'm looking forward to reading more of this historian's books.

I am hoping...and praying that Katherine's fever breaks soon
Around the' paint blob insects hanging up, piles of boxes for Aaron to take back to Honiara

One of my favorite things...the smell of rain on the thirsty ground

A few plans for the rest of the week...Aaron going to Honiara tomorrow to pick up Nahna & Papa, me holding down the fort in Marulaon while he's gone

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with of my favorite places, my front porch

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Last night, the rains poured for almost two hours.  What a lovely sound as the rain pounded the roof.  Our big tank went from almost empty to 3/4 full!  Thank you for your prayers for a good balance of rain (for the tanks and gardens) and sun (for the solar panels). 

Sweet Marulaon Sabbath

As we boiled, squeezed, and pounded the ingredients for pisu, I couldn't help but think about all of the ways God shapes us knowing that we will finally be something sweet and pleasing to Him. 
"Designed for good deeds.  It's as simple as that.  It was God's idea.  He did the designing.  He expects us to work, just as the designer of a precision instrument, if he understands the principles involved and designs it accordingly, expects the thing to work.  It is no great credit to the instrument if it does."  Elisabeth Elliot
"It is by His grace you are saved, through trusting Him; it is not your own doing It is God's gift, not a reward for work done.  There is nothing for anyone to boast of.  For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to devote ourselves to the good deeds for which God has designed us."  Ephsians 2:8-10 NEB

Friday, April 16, 2010

More Pisu

Friday, April 16
Today, we learned how to make pisu.  First, we harvested uvikola (about the same amount as we would for lelenga - two tree's worth).  Then I asked Jemmalin how many coconuts we needed to scrape.  The answer, fifteen!  So, after the ovikola was boiled and the scraped coconut all squeezed, we began the process of boiling the coconut milk.  I had been warned that it took a long time, but I wasn't prepared for the two hours it took for the coconut milk to turn from creamy, milky white to brown small curds swimming in a thick layer of oil.  We borrowed a nago and a kolkol (like a big mortar and pestle) to pound the ovikola to a creamy consistancy.  Took lots of muscle!  Finally, we were ready to smooth out the obikola and cut it into eight pieces.  Each piece we rolled up, and then it was ready to eat.  The whole process took us about six hours.  Definitely a food for a Sunday or a community feast!
Please keep praying for rain.  We had a few sprinkles this morning, but it was only enough to wet the gutters and put a very few gallons into the tanks - our daily portion of "manna".



Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hano vausa!

Thursday, April 15
This morning, Aaron and Chief Leonard finished installing the big rain tank for our nieghbors.  Completed!  Hano vausa!  Now all we need is the rain to fill it up.  We got a sprinkle early this morning, which is great for the fruits and veggies trying to grow.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Elijah and Scrabble

I felt like Elijah this morning.
"Lord, you know how much we need rain, and You know that our food is shriveling and dying."
"Benjamin, don't forget to play B flat with the right hand."
"Our rain tank only holds a few inches of water."
"Yes, Olivia, four sets of six is twenty-four."
"Is that a cloud on the horizon, God?"
"Good job, Katherine!  That is an S and it says sssssss."
"You are in control of the wind and the rain."
"Sarah, what were your words per minute in typing today?"
"Are those really dark clouds blowing this way?"
The rain began to fall, we could see it coming up the hill and hear it as it pounded the leaves.  Life-giving, tank-filling, plant-nourishing rain.  It didn't last very long, but it was enough to bring the level of the tank up a little bit.  I didn't even think about the clothes hanging on the line until the rain had finished and Aaron mentioned our dripping garments.  Thank You, Lord, for the gift of rain.
This evening, our family celebrated the birthday of Alfred Butts (1899), the creator of Scrabble.  From the Teacher's Calendar:  "Alfred Butts was a jobless architect in the Depression when he invented the board game Scrabble.  The game was just a fad for Butt's friends until a Macy's executive saw the game being played at a resort in 1952 and the world's largest store began carrying it.  Manufacturing of the game was turned over the Selchow & Righter when 35 workers were producing 6,000 sets a week.  Butts received three cents per set for years.  He said, 'One-third went to taxes.  I gave on-third away, and the other third enabled me to have an enjoyable life.' "  We taught the kids how to play Scrabble and enjoyed brownies while our minds twisted the tiles into words.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Marulaon Woman's Daybook

For Today...Monday, April 12

Outside my window..."kui iaiam" sun hot!  Our veggies are shriveling, and we don't have enough water to irrigate them.  I am giving the newly transplanted bell peppers a little bit of precious water each evening.  Monday is a big garden day for our neighbors, and I've watched lots of ladies headed out to the bush to work this morning.
I am thankful for...Aaron getting back early from his trip yesterday.  What a sweet surprise to see him walking up the hill!

From the kitchen...seafood gumbo thanks to some friends who brought us okra from Honiara.

I am wearing...a hot pink skirt and an oil-stained white t-shirt, appropriate village clothes
 Noticing that...the sun follows a much more northerly course this time of the year even though we are only 8 degrees below the equator
I am Agatha Christie feast!  "The Underdog and Other Stories", "N or M", and "The Listerdale Mystery" - I love collections of short stories because I can sneak in a few minutes of reading here and there throughout my day.

I am hoping...and praying for rain.  Our tank only has a few inches left.
 Pondering these words...Perseverance: "A long obedience in the same direction" - Friedrich Nietzsche
Around the house...canned pumpkin about to become pumpkin bread, a list of things for Aaron to do when he goes to Honiara next week, limes sprouting on the porch, books about China filling up the book basket which is bathed in sunlight

One of my favorite things...listening to Katherine say Colossians 3:20

A few plans for the rest of the week...still trying to reschedule that language learning session with Sarah Kiko and Aaron still trying to gather all of the loose ends and finish building the platform for the raintank

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...some more of the lovely flowers in our yard - our neighbors call them "sunflowers" because they open each morning with the sun and close each evening as it sets

Sunday, April 11, 2010

No earthquake here

We've heard from some of you that an earthquake has occurred in the Solomon Islands.  We've felt nothing, and our family is doing fine!  The Solomon Islands are spread out over a great distance.

He's home!

Thanks for your prayers for Aaron.  His trip was shorter than expected because the canoe had to be back to pick up passengers from the Bikoi, but he considered his visits successful in many aspects.
Please continue to pray for a good balance of rain and sun for us.  We haven't had any signifigant rain since the hurricane came through several weeks ago.  Our big back tank is quite low, and we won't be washing sheets until we get some more rain in an effort to cut down on our water consumption.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sweet Marulaon Sabbath

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith -- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire -- may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  I Peter 1:3-7
"I know He tries me only to increase my faith, and that is all in love.  Well, if He is glorified, I am content."  Hudson Taylor
the view overlooking the path that leads away from our house

Friday, April 9, 2010

Aaron's trip

Aaron is getting ready to leave for a quick overnight trip to visit three villages in the West Russells.  He'll be going with Ezekial Hasa, our village Chief, and one of the catechists from our village.  Please pray for him as he travels in a canoe and meets lots of new people (including one man who translated the prayer book into Lavukaleve).  He's hoping to discern if the Lavukal need to participate in a Principles of Translation workshop or if we can start to move forward with the beginning stages of translation.  He plans to be home late Sunday night. 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

rain tanks and ovikola

Thrusday, April 8
Katherine's new favorite book is Eric Carle's "House for Hermit Crab".  She loves hermit crabs (kokovan) and when she finds one she loudly yells "kokovan!".  Carle obviously did his research for the book; it is amazingly accurate. Because many of the animals live in the surraounding waters of Marulaon, Katherine knows the Lavukaleve names for the animals like sea stars - they really are blue -  (soka) and sea urchins (una).
Friday, April 9
It's a beautiful sunny day today, so we're all getting outside to work.  Aaron is continuing to prepare the ground to receive the posts to support the raintank, and I just sent the kids outside to take a little break from school and work in the yard. 
Each time we come back to Marulaon, our housegirl situation is a little different.  None of the ladies who have helped before are in Marulaon right now (except for one who is very busy taking care of her mom and children).  So, this time we have gotten to know two young ladies, Barret and Jemilin,  as they've helped me learn how to take care of my yard and garden.  They alternate weeks, coming on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings.  Barret has been helping us this week, and I'm continuing to learn a lot about what my neighbors' idea of a "nice yard" looks like.  Today, she harvested four clumps of ovikola (cassava), two to scrape into lelenga tomorrow and two to send with Aaron on his trip to three other villages this weekend.  I'm so thankful for the ladies who are willing to teach me and help me plant flowers and grow food for my family!
Sarah Kiko should be coming this afternoon to help me with language learning, and I'm looking forward to getting some more recordings from her.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Wednesday, April 7
Yesterday afternoon, Sarah Kiko was supposed to come over and help me with language learning.  A little before 2 o'clock, her sister Grace came over to tell me Sarah was sick.  Too much chicken at the fundraiser!  Grace and I sat and storied for over an hour, and it was really good to get to know her a little bit better. 
After Grace left, I went down to Eileen's where several women were gathered and work on a vocabulary word list for a couple of hours.  Thankfully, the kids had finished school early, and I had planned leftovers for supper, so I had plenty of time to work on language learning!  I learned that fog (which they call "snow" in Pijin) is afu, a big man or chief is kuraem (but a big stone can be this, too), and to move too slowly is rikai.  So if I tell you, "Ngatulav rikai kini feo la leiv," you know that my children are slow to come up (since we live at the top of a hill).  I still can't pull any of this from my brain alone, my notebooks are my best friends right now!
This morning at market, one of the ladies brought several coconut crabs (urio).  I bought three, determined to learn how they eat the innards!  I've been told for months how sweet rice is when you squeeze urio innards on top, and today was the day to find out.  I asked Barret, our housegirl for the week, to show me how she prepares the delicacy.  It was really easy.  After I boiled the crabs, she just tore a little hole in the abdomen, extracted the intestines, and squeezed the rest over the rice.  We even got to sample urio eggs because one of the urio was a female.  The mixture just tasted like urio, but it was a little hard to get it down because I knew what I was eating.  We made plenty to share as a "thank you" for the men and boys digging holes through the coral to sink the posts for the rain tank.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Molokita Harvest

Tuesday, April 6
Today, Aaron began working on setting up the bigger rain tank.  He has to dig seven holes about 2 feet into the coral to hold the posts upon which the rain tank will sit.  Our neighbors have been telling us for a while that we should cut down our molokita tree, and today, Aaron finally convinced me that we didn't want molokita bombing our rain tank or leaves clogging the water.  The tree had been growing in two parts, so Walter Afua and Aaron chopped down the side towards the house.  As a result, we had hundreds of molokita!
Neighbor kids came and I gave them plastic bags to load up.  They helped us squeeze some for juice.  Molokita are not as sweet as oranges, and their juice is quite potent, so we dilute our molokita juice and add a little bit of sugar.  We still have a big pile on the porch, and I envision us drinking lots of molokita juice this next week!

Easter Monday

On Easter Monday, our church held a HUGE fundraiser to raise money for building improvements.  Everyone drew paper out of a hat several weeks ago to find out what they were supposed to bring.  Our family provided 1/2 kilo of sugar, batteries (for a flashlight to see to spear fish at night), then we also made lelenga in small parcels.  Aaron was supposed to go spear fishing with Naris' husband Dawa, but Dawa was afraid that Aaron would capsize the canoe because it is small. Instead, Dawa went fishing for our family as well as his own.  About 5:30 in the morning, he knocked softly on our door with fish for us to eat and informed us that Naris was cooking (on the motu) fish for us to take to the fundraiser.  He had been out all night!  We have the most amazing friends here.
Around 10:00, we took our lelenga parcels off of the stones and walked down to the fundraiser venue.  A small booth had been built to house all of the food:  lots of fish, lelenga, chicken brought in from Honiara (so it wasn't tough like ours!), noodles, rice, umalau, piso (similar to lelenga), yum!.  Our SITAG friends came down with us to sample the food and see the sights. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter afternoon

Easter afternoon was wonderfully busy!  SITAG's director and his wife came out for a visit on Bikoi.  We were so excited to share Easter with them and to have them meet all of our wonderful neighbors.  What a sweet time together!  They received a royal welcome, complete with frangipanni necklaces, a welcome song, and green coconuts nested in beautiful red flowers.


Our chicken had been living on our porch under a box since we caught it Saturday night.  Aaron and Benjamin took charge of preparing the chicken while I settled our company and showed them the quirks of our house.  Chief Leonard even helped swing the chicken around by a rope to dull it's senses.  By the time I got down to take pictures, my mighty men had already killed and de-feathered the chicken! 

They were on the shore taking lessons from a friend,Isabella.  Our Easter chicken was tough, but yummy.  Chicken isn't usually eaten here, so it was quite a treat for us to have some fresh "home-grown" chicken for supper and to be able to share it with friends.

Easter Morning

As usual, we made lelenga on Saturday, but this time we planned to bring our lelenga to the community breakfast after church on Easter morning.  Aaron has developed quite  a good reputation for squeezing the coconut for the rumit (thick coconut cream).  Most of the ladies I know ask their husbands to do this for them since it requires really strong hands. 

Everybody brought a mat and food and spread out underneath a big tree on the beach.  When it was time to eat, we mixed up and shared food and fellowship as we celebrated Christ's resurrection.  Fun!

Easter Weekend

On Good Friday, many special services were planned to celebrate.  Morning Prayer met as usual around 6:30, then a special "Litany of the Sufferings" was held at 9:00.  At 1:30, the drum called everyone to the Stations of the Cross.  Stations were set up around the village, and everyone walked as a group to each station, listened to the catechist explain the station, and sang a hymn together.  It lasted about two hours, and at the end, the catechist decided that it would serve in place of Evening Prayer.  We hadn't realized that Good Friday would be such a full day!
On Saturday, Olivia and Sarah met at the church with the other girls to gather flowers and decorate the church for Easter.  They walk around the village snapping off pretty leaves and flowers and bring full arms back to the church before dumping everything in a pile and starting off again.  The church was beautiful when they finished stringing flowers around the building. 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Marulaon Woman's Daybook

For Today...Monday, April 5
Outside my window...beautiful sunny day, big church fundraiser down on the shore with lots of music and laughter
I am thinking...about the very sick little baby we saw in church this weekend with its collapsed chest and fits of coughing 

I am thankful for...the visitors we've enjoyed this weekend.  Our SITAG boss and his wife came out for a quick visit.
From the kitchen...lunch today was the church fundraiser.  Fish, lelenga, umalau, chicken, rice, donuts, yum!
I am t-shirt, gray plaid skirt made by a friend in PNG
I am reading..."Pocket Full of Rye" by Agatha Christie
I am get a good balance of sun and rain (sun for the solar panels and rain for the rain tanks) 
Pondering these words..."It is high time the ideal of success should be replaced by the ideal of service.  - Albert Einstein
Around the house...bell pepper growing on the porch rail & ready to be transplanted, big National Geographic map of the peoples of China hanging on the wall
One of my favorite things...e-mails from far-away places!  (Since I can't moderate comments from here, please feel free to drop me a note at joanna underscore choate at sil dot com)
A few plans for the rest of the week...language learning with Sarah Kiko tomorrow afternoon,  Aaron digging holes & putting up the other rain tank, Aaron leaving on Saturday for a three day tour of several villages in our area to determine if we need to hold a Translation Awareness Course and to meet people

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...Palm Sunday's decorations in our church

Saturday, April 3, 2010

garden kaikai

When we arrived, we found that only the root crops in our garden had survived.  Not only had they survived, they had thrived!  Next to Benjamin's feet, you can see our obikola (cassava); this is what we use to make lelenga.  Katherine loves to get out in the garden and help.  The umalau in her bowl turned into potato soup, mashed potatoes, and umalau cooked with thick coconut cream over hot stones (motu).

Hello Again!

I think we may have the kinks worked out from Marulaon this time!  I won't attempt to catch up with the last four weeks, instead I'll just post some pictures and hit the highlights from a very busy March.

We arrived on the Bikoi after travelling through very rough seas.  We had never experienced sea-sickness quite like that!  Katherine still talks about the Bikoi making her tummy hurt.  When we began to unload the ship, we discovered that all of our fresh eggs were missing.  Thankfully, we had plenty of powdered eggs, and just recently some friends from Honiara sent more fresh eggs on the Bikoi.

The kids are enjoying access to the ocean again, and we've picked up where we left off with our friends and gardening and language learning...