Sunday, August 29, 2010
God's creation of Chinese cabbage - the leaves make any water go right down to the roots, amazing!
Saturday, August 28, 2010
I had a great afternoon of language learning and laughing today. I went down to Eileen's house where lots of people were gathered and worked on figuring out the different verbs for "carry". We have "kerui" - to carry something that has been heaped up, like food or dirt (aram ekeuri - carry ground). Next, I practiced with "tutuari" - to carry on the shoulder (man atutuairire ngolei? - what are you carrying, with "on your shoulder" being implied by the verb). The third choice was kuku - just plain, ol' carry (vovo mution akukure - girl child carried on the back). And the last one, my favorite, is "kokosori" - carry on the head (marigen ubikola ekokosorire - yesterday I carried ubikola on my head). Can you see the verb stems? I have to know which prefix matches for gender and which suffix matches for tense.
Saturday, August 14
We haven't had a housegirl on this trip to Marulaon because I finally have a good system in place and lots of hands to help keep the house reasonably tidy. However, the yard still presents a challenge! Since we got a little bit of rain last night (our daily ration from the Lord), I asked Pogo to come and "housegirl" today to help me weed and transplant the tomatoes, peppers, and Chinese cabbage. She and I spent a couple of hours weeding and raking in the morning, then she came back in the evening to transplant when the sun wasn't so strong.
Last night around 11:30, I heard lots of shouting and banging and assumed that somebody had been drinking too much Solbrew again. In less than an hour, the shouting had been replaced by the wailing I've come to dread hearing, and I knew that somebody had died. A little after six this morning, I crept down to water my bell peppers and Chinese cabbage and heard a woman crying, "Ngavovou" (my son). When I finished watering, I went down to return Eileen's plate with some pumpkin bread on it and to find out who had died.
I discovered that Jakob, a young man of 25, had gone spear fishing at night with his uncle. While they were fishing, a crocodile had attacked the young man. His uncle was able to follow the crocodile and kick it until it released Jakob, but the reptile had inflicted fatal head wounds. So, we spent part of the morning crying with the family, and Aaron went to help the men dig the grave. Death here isn't sterile and distant, it's too frequent and real. As I sat in the house with the family, one of the aunties fanned the body to keep away the flies. Once again, our neighbors asked us for nails to build the coffin. Aaron frequently jokes that we are the local hardware store, but I wish the nails had a different purpose.
The funeral was around 3:30, Aaron and the big kids attended while I stayed home with a sleeping Katherine. When she woke up, I finished radio sked with SITAG and then the two of us joined the funeral down at the burial site. Afterwards, Olivia, Katherine and I walked down to Eileen's house to story for a few minutes. When Eileen discovered that we had been down to the grave, she quickly looked at our feet. She saw that Olivia was barefooted and that I was wearing flip-flops, so she asked if Olivia had walked to the burial site barefooted. At the affirmative reply, she hastened to tell Olivia to go wash her feet in the saltwater. I asked if this was their custom, and she replied that it was. We still have a lot to learn.
Tonight, Barnabas came by around 7 o'clock when we were snuggling the kids before bedtime. It's his favorite time of day to come over and a very appropriate time, too, since it's when all of our neighbors are eating and visiting with each other. He visited for a little while and then asked for some tea leaves. I guess today was a pretty normal day for all of us, and God is teaching me that He will give me the time to accomplish everything that He wants me to accomplish.
Tuesday, August 10
We finally went to my new garden today! Eileen, her husband David, Pogo, and I tromped off through the bush to a plot of land owned by Eileen. It was hard to pay attention to the work because I kept finding beautiful butterflies, seed pods, and mushrooms to distract me (butterfly - felfel, grasshopper - fanfan, firefly - funfun). Since I used Aaron's big bush knife, I quickly developed a blister at the base of my right first finger, so I began to hack at the trees with both hands to provide a little bit more leverage. We cleared away a small plot and piled the brush to dry. In a few days we'll come back and burn the brush and dig up the ground. After several more trips, I hope to be able to find my own way to the garden, but for right now, I still need help navigating all of the forks and turns in the path.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Thursday, August 5
Eileen and I were supposed to go to the garden this morning, but we got a few sprinkles and the sky looked promising for more rain, especially over Pavuvu. It was so frustrating to see the dark clouds so close by and to receive only a sprinkle. So Naris came and asked me to wait until tomorrow. Tomorrow is a church holiday, so I'm curious if we will still go.
We've started taking some well water to help with our washing. The wells refill overnight, and even though they are a freshwater/saltwater mix, we just can't justify using the community's last drinking water supply to wash clothes. They use the wells for cooking water, too. On my way back from asking permission to use a well, I found Chairman Hensi and his three sisters storying. Aaron and Chairman are planning to go fishing this weekend if Aaron feels good and if the wind calms down. Hensi said he knows where to take some leaves to pound up and throw into the water to stun the fish. According to our neighbors, some people have the power to look at the leaves and negate the power to stun the fish. Kiko said if she accidently looks at the leaves, then the leaves won't work. It was hard to tell if Hensi was just giving his big sister a hard time, or if they were all very serious about the ability that Kiko holds.
Wednesday, August 4
We enjoyed a tiny bit of rain last night. It was enough to put some water in the 200 gallon tank for our neighbors, and they came to fill pots until that tank ran dry. The 400 gallon tank didn't receive enough rain to come over the spigot, so it didn't provide any water for our neighbors. I'm beginning to think about putting together a work crew from
Today is Election Day. Two men from Marulaon are running for the Member of Parliament seat along with two other men from the Russells and two from Savo. Eileen is busy feeding people since her brother is one of the men running for election. People from several different villages came to vote here in Marulaon. Aaron and I tried to get out and mingle a little bit. Ezekiel came to finish up plans for the picture dictionary workshop coming up this weekend. We've discovered that he loves to eat kino (cutnuts), so he cut and eat them while he and Aaron visited. Later in the afternoon, Aaron sent him home with a fongi (bunch) of kino, and Ezekiel was delighted.
Tonight, Aaron's fever went back up and he began having chills. So I doctored him with ibuprofen and malaria meds.
Tuesday, August 3 Aaron left this morning after to prayer to go with Hensi and a few children to fill up containers with water. The place they originally intended to go was no longer available because someone had cut the pipes (just plastic pipes lying on top of the ground). So, they ventured up one of the rivers on Pavuvu. Aaron returned around lunch with four buckets of yellowish water. We use so much more water than our neighbors do, but we are trying to learn how to conserve more. I'm still using the washing machine, but I'm only filling it half full and washing more loads. The water is pretty disgusting when I'm finished, but I'm so thankful for that machine! We use the rinse water to flush the toilet, we're not washing sheets or pajamas or hair, and we're drinking lots of green coconuts. I still went through all four buckets by the time the day was finished. Aaron was running a little bit of fever tonight, so he took some ibuprofen and went to bed around seven o'clock. We'll see what tomorrow holds.
Tuesday, August 3
Aaron left this morning after to prayer to go with Hensi and a few children to fill up containers with water. The place they originally intended to go was no longer available because someone had cut the pipes (just plastic pipes lying on top of the ground). So, they ventured up one of the rivers on Pavuvu. Aaron returned around lunch with four buckets of yellowish water. We use so much more water than our neighbors do, but we are trying to learn how to conserve more. I'm still using the washing machine, but I'm only filling it half full and washing more loads. The water is pretty disgusting when I'm finished, but I'm so thankful for that machine! We use the rinse water to flush the toilet, we're not washing sheets or pajamas or hair, and we're drinking lots of green coconuts. I still went through all four buckets by the time the day was finished.
Aaron was running a little bit of fever tonight, so he took some ibuprofen and went to bed around seven o'clock. We'll see what tomorrow holds.
Monday, August 16, 2010
For Today...Monday, August 2
Outside my window...wilting Chinese cabbage and bell peppers, dying corn, and a hot sunny day
From the learning rooms...more studies of
I am remembering...the great sales at Barnes and Noble and all of the new school supplies (like pencils with names on them) available this time of year. I love the smell of new books, pencils, paper, and crayons!
I am thankful for...enough water left to share with our neighbors
From the kitchen...pumpkin bread and precious hard-boiled eggs (thanks to our friends who came last week), lots of fruit smoothies to keep us cool
I am reading...the "Just As You Remember Them" Nancy Drew books from Applewood Press that we bought Sarah for her birthday (and some sweet friends mailed them). They are the originals from the 1930's, and I'm reading them with the big girls.
I am hoping...to have a little more strength and energy soon.
On my mind...the lack of communication we've had with our friends and family during our stay in Marulaon. Aaron and I are both vividly dreaming of people back in the States and grieving the ability to keep in touch. We feel so isolated.
Noticing that...the ants in the house haven't been quite so bad this time
Pondering these words..."A frantic stream of words flows from us because we are in a constant process of adjusting our public image. We fear so deeply what we think other people see in us that we talk in order to straighten out their understanding....Silence is one of the deepest Disciplines of the Spirit simply because it puts the stopper on all self-justification. One of the fruits of silence is the freedom to let God be our justifier. We don't need to straighten others out." -- Richard Foster
I am hearing...the wind chimes furiously clanging on the front porch
Around the house...a great National Geographic map of Russia and the independent States of the former Soviet Union with lots of pictures and a timeline, very ripe bananas waiting to be made into banana cake to be shared with our neighbors
One of my favorite things...Katherine spontaneously telling me, "Mama, you have pretty brown eyes!" I don't have brown eyes, but she does, and she has heard me tell her many times that I think she has pretty brown eyes.
A few plans for the rest of the week...beginning my new very small garden in the bush with Eileen, Aaron going with Hensi to get water from Pavuvu (the biggest island in the Russells) tomorrow, Wednesday is Election Day, & a picture dictionary workshop here in Marulaon next weekend
Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...Katherine and her favorite baby in the village, Delcia
Sunday, August 01
Because some of the youths from Isabel were sleeping in a temporary shelter right next to the bell, the catechist rang in fewer times and more softly this morning. Church started a few minutes after seven, and the building and grounds were even more full than last night. When we arrived at the part of the service for the ordination, the new priest stood at the back of the church with his family. A group of men and then a group of women all dressed in traditional garb led way singing and dancing up the aisle of the church. It was beautiful. I almost cried to see this special way of life preserved and celebrated on such a precious day.
After the church service, we all gathered for "dinner on the grounds". The bishop and his entourage got to sit under a covered shelter and feasted on fish and shellfish, tinned meat, rice, leo (beetlenut) every special food the Lavukaleve could offer. Everybody else (including our family) sat on the ground or on tree stumps and got lelenga. Somebody actually brought a pig's head, and I was told that it was rubbish. That didn't stop some of the kids from fighting over the pork as soon as the "amen" was uttered. Within 30 seconds, our tables were emptied of food as everybody grabbed whatever they could. Since it has been so windy, nobody has been able to go out and fish. Our neighbors don't like to eat lelenga "dry" (without fish). I saw Pogo without any food, so I offered her my parcel of lelenga, but she turned me down because there was no fish!
After the feasting began the program with hours of dancing, speeches, singing, and gift giving. Aaron stayed down with the festivities while the kids and I went back to the house. Everybody was thirsty, and the only place to get water was our tank. We had a steady stream of visitors from villages all across the Russells, and we just kept praying that God would make the water last like the widow's oil. Finally, Ezekiel and Eileen each individually came up to the house and asked me to monitor the rain tank. Ezekiel said that people though we had another tank in the house, so they weren't being careful with the water and it was being wasted. So I sat down by the rain tank for several hours and showed people how to use the funnel to fill up their water bottles. I tried to stay out of the sun, but I ended up a little pink.
This was the first time I have felt anything but pleasant thoughts for our neighbors. People were cutting through our fences and stepping on my tomatoes, spitting red beetle-nut all over my ground, wasting my water, I really had to pray for God to give me love for our neighbors.
Saturday, July 31
Marulaon's choir finally held a practice last night. They discovered that another village had backed out of providing the choir for Sunday, so our choir had to prepare for two services. Aaron didn't get home until 11:30. I love to hear them singing, but the church is too close to the house to make sleeping possible.
Since our neighbors don't follow precise clock time, I decided that the alarm could be set for 3:30 and still be okay. I woke up easily and grabbed a hand full of havu and a big glass of water before I went down. I had some leftover banana cake in a container and I tossed in some packets of coffee mix so Eileen and her girls could enjoy an early breakfast. Everything was very still and quiet, so I admired the beautiful ocean under the moonlight for a little while. Then, I decided it was foolish to wait, so I sat down by Eileens's kitchen and began to peel the obikola. I'm really slow still, and I knew it would take me a long time. After I finished my bag, there was still no noise from her house, so I went up to our house for a bathroom break and another drink. I went down and pulled Eileen's bag of obikola from her kitchen and began to peel them, too. Sarah came down after a little while and asked if I wanted coffee, so she went back to the house brought me a mug of piping hot coffee as she navigated the dark rocky hill. She stayed and helped me peel. As it began to get light (a little after six), our friends began to stir. They couldn't believe I hadn't woken them. We all began to work on the lelenga with a vengeance! Olivia and Katherine came down and began to help scrape obikola, too.
A small market gathered for our usual Saturday morning, but most people were busy getting ready for the Bishop's arrival at 3:00. Everyone from the surrounding villages had planned to show up around noon. I went up to start the fire in my outdoor kitchen while Aaron left pavillion building and Eileen left lelenga making to attend another choir practice. While I was slowly getting the kindling ready, Sarah came flying up the hill to tell me that the Bishop's boat had arrived. All of the sudden, this sleepy little village went into overdrive. Very few things were ready for the Bishop's arrival, so the pavillion was quickly finished and the news was spread to gather on the beach for a ten o'clock welcoming party. Naris said she would finish parceling the lelenga so I could go change out of my smoky clothes. Aaron and I had been specifically asked to join the select group on the beach to welcome the Bishop and his entourage.
Boats began to bring the youths from Isabel to shore, and finally the Bishop with his family and several priests came ashore and we escorted them up the hill to the pavillion and the rest of our community who welcomed them with songs and speeches. By the time all of the welcoming was finished, I was so tired I was shaking. The Bishop's early arrival turned out to be a really good thing, because Aaron fixed a quick lunch and I crashed for a nap.
The confirmation service began around five o'clock. As our family was entering the packed church, Janet (the chief's wife) came out shaking her head. Even though the choir had reserved seating, she had so many in-laws in the choir that she couldn't find a place to sit. The Lavukal (along with most Melanesian cultures) have strict rules about interacting with inlaws. Over seventy children came to be confirmed. The boys sat on the right with over fifty youths from Isabel behind them. They filled up the men's side of the church. The girls to be confirmed sat on the left with the choir behind them. Our children sat in the floor alongside the wall while Aaron and I sang in the choir. Most of the adults had to sit in the floor at the back of the church or on the ground outside.
After the two hour service, everybody went to get the food they had prepared earlier. We brought a pot of rice and some parcels of lelenga. The eating and music began around eight o'clock, followed by dancing and singing provided by a bamboo band, the women of Karumalun, and the youths from Isabel. Aaron straggled home around 10:30, but the party went on until almost midnight. Our neighbors sure know how to celebrate!
Friday, July 30
I discovered that I needed to get up early and start lelenga Saturday morning instead of Saturday evening so food will be available after church on Saturday night. I asked Eileen what time we would get up, and she said three o'clock to work by the light of the almost full moon. She doesn't have a clock, but the moon will wake her up. I begged to work with her and Naris, and she finally consented. Thankfully, Grace brought a big bag of obikola by the house this afternoon, so I have everything I need to start early. The kids and I took down the obikola, coconuts, bush knife, coconut scraper, obikola scraper, bowls, and small knife that I will need so I don't have to lug everything down the hill in the morning. Sarah begged to come down with me in the morning. I told her that if she woke up on her own, then she could down and help.
Wednesday, July 28
Our guests left yesterday. Usually, the Bikoi comes late on Tuesday morning, but because the winds were so strong yesterday, the ship harbored out west to try and wait out the rough seas. Finally, a little after eight o'clock last night, the Bikoi arrived, and said goodbye to our friends and prayed that they would rest well all the way back to Honiara over the billowing waves. Travel here is so unpredictable, and even our dependable Bikoi has to submit to the wind and waves.
Sunday, July 25
We welcomed some friends from SITAG today! Company at the Choate Bed and Breakfast continues to delight us. One of the moms came and brought her eleven-year-old daughter with her to celebrate Sarah's birthday. Because they aren't new to the Solomons, they didn't get the big welcome on the beach with leis and singing. But some of the community did gather to shake hands, and I got to introduce them in Lavukaleve (while reading off my index card).
"Hori olang fi Kati. Kati otulav sie. Ovovou nikol mea feo hori. Hori olang fi Hana. Canada meaul feo. Otum na Lengo mil mar ekelavuri mem fin."
(Her name is Cathy. Cathy has five children. This is is first born. Her name is Hannah. The two of them are from Canada. Her husband translates Lengo.)
Saturday, July 24
I will be writing stanzas of this poem on our bathroom chalkboard each day this week. At least the brisk wind is keeping the house cool!
The Wind in a Frolic
by William Howitt
The wind one morning sprang up from sleep,
Saying, "Now for a frolic! now for a leap!
Now for a madcap galloping chase!
I'll make a commotion in every place!"
So it swept with a bustle right through a great town,
Cracking the signs and scattering down
Shutters; and whisking, with merciless squalls,
Old women's bonnets and gingerbread stalls.
There never was heard a lustier shout,
As the apples and oranges trundled about;
And the urchins that stand with their thievish eyes
For ever on watch, ran off each with a prize.
The away to the field it went, blustering and humming,
And the cattle all wondered whatever was coming;
It plucked by the tails the grave matronly cows,
And tossed the colts' manes all over their brows;
Till, offended at such an unusual salute,
They all turned their backs, and stood sulky and mute.
So on it went capering and playing its pranks,
Whistling with reeds on the broad river's banks,
Pulling the birds as they sat on the spray,
Or the traveler grave on the king's highway.
It was not too nice to hustle the bags
Of the beggar, and flutter his dirty rags;
T'was so bold that it feared not to play its joke
With the doctor's wig or the gentleman's cloak.
Through the forest it roared, and cried gaily,
"Now, You sturdy old oaks, I"ll make you bow!"
And it made them bow without more ado,
Or it cracked their great branches through and through.
Then it rushed like a monster on cottage and farm,
Striking their dwellers with sudden alarm;
And then ran out like bees in a midsummer swarm;
There were dames with the kerchiefs tied over their caps,
To see if their poultry were free from mishaps;
The turkeys they gobbled, the geese screamed aloud,
And the hens crept to roost in a terrified crowd;
There was rearing of ladders, and logs laying on,
Where the thatch from the roof threatened soon to be gone.
But the wind had swept on, and had met in a lane
With a schoolboy, who panted and struggled in vain;
For it tossed him and twirled him, then passed, and he stood
With his hat in a pool and his shoes in the mud.
Then away went the wind in its holiday glee.
And now it was far on the billowy sea,
And the lordly ships felt its staggering blow,
And the little boats darted to and fro.
But lo! it was night, and it sank to rest
On eht sea-bird's rock in the gleaming West,
Laughing to think, in its fearful fun,
How little of mischief it really had done.
Friday, July 23
Community Cleanup, lots of wind
Today was a big community cleanup, and the wind was fierce. We've been told repeatedly that July and August are the time for wind. The community gathered to make everything look nice for the ordination of a priest from Karumalun on August 1st. People from all over the Russells will also be coming for Confirmation the night before. So, we all weeded and raked like crazy today. The kids came out for about an hour to work before they started school. We decided to burn because we have a huge old tree that fell down last year to serve as a great place to contain the fire. However, we should have checked to see what our neighbors were doing first. After we started burning, we had some irate people come and complain about the smoke, then we noticed that nobody else was burning. This evening, the piles were all lit and danced against the dark night sky. I think my sides and back are going to be sore from all of the raking I did today.