Monday, January 31, 2011

Bean Blunders

For the last several weeks, my exercise buddy and I have walked past a fence supporting a vine full of flowers and fruit. We keep saying how nice zucchini would taste, and today we finally got bold during our power walking and hustled inside the fence to ask.

We each bought two huge zucchini, picked them, and hurried home with visions of zucchini bread, sauteed zucchini, and new recipes dancing in our heads. I decided to cook some up for lunch to go along with our Simply Cheesy Bread Pudding. I could hardly get the knife to cut through the zucchini, and this is what it looked like when it finished cooking (we couldn't bring ourselves to eat it):

I decided that the next time I saw a SITAG employee that I would snag her and ask about my newest find. Around 4 o'clock, one of the ladies came down by our house to pick some eggplant. My exercise buddy was also visiting, so the two of us ran down the steps in the rain to catch her. When she saw the veggie I was holding in my hands, she just laughed and laughed! She explained that it was a bean that they left on the vine until it was totally dry, then they used it to scrub themselves clean. We laughed right along with her. God is giving me lots of chances to embrace humility!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sweet Sabbath

"He who forms the mountains,creates the wind, and reveals his thoughts to man, he who turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places of the earth -- the Lord God Almighty is his name." Amos 4:13
-watching my kids admire God's amazing creation
-that I serve a God who can form mountains and yet still stoops to reveal His thoughts to me
-a husband who clutivates good relationahips with our children
-staying in a old flat full of character in Brisbane that nourished my soul with octagonal beveled doorknobs, casement windows, stained glass, and soaring ceilings

-friends who unexpectedly drop by when they come through Honiara

-a travel agent who called in a favor to get me on the plane to Brisbane last week (she's getting cookies soon!)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

SITAG says thank you...

Bright and early Saturday morning, all of us from SITAG piled in our vehicles and headed toward Bonegi Beach.

We prepared lots of food and got to just sit around and visit with the SITAG employees. They are the real unsung heroes, doing the daily little things to make SITAG run smoothly, and we are SO thankful for them!
Of course, we had plenty of time for fun...
...and the Japanese warship from WWII provided an amazing backdrop for our picnic.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Cat's Away...

Sarah took pictures for me this week while I was gone, and I discovered how the "mice did play". They are sooo good to eat their fruits and veggies, but maybe I left a few too many for them to eat before they spoiled!

One day, he kids decided to boil some tea and cook some umalau over an open fire.

And for Australia Day, Aaron took the kids out to eat - hamburgers, french fries, soda (their mean mama rarely allows soda!)...

...and lamingtons! This year with no veggemite.

Full tummies and sweet siblings!

A beautiful photographer...

...and the "cat" coming back to Honiara.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Brisbane Woman's Daybook

For today...Monday, January 24
Outside my window...sun coming up and making the Pacific Ocean really shiny
I am thinking...about the upcoming workshops in Honiara and the national translators who will attend them. The Lavukaleve should be choosing our translators this month, and I'm excited to get this translation ball rolling!
I am favorite nightgown, faded seafoam green trimmed in eyelet from Aaron's grandmother (I'm not running this morning)
Praying for...the spiritual growth of my children and that their words may be "sweet to the soul and healing to the bones"
I am Brisbane!
From the learning rooms...beginning a biography of David Livingstone, continuing listening and loving George Gershwin (we watched "Funny Face" over the weekend)
I am thankful amazing husband who can keep the house running smoothly while I'm gone
I am remembering...the yummy peanut soup and African chicken curry that Sarah cooked for us yesterday
I am reading..."The Laird's Inheritance" by George McDonald, at least I'm taking it for the plane ride
I am hoping...that a new shipment of apples shows up in Honiara while I'm gone so I can spend next weekend canning apples
On my mind...getting everything ready for my family so they won't even notice when I'm gone
Noticing that...I'm not the only one who makes cultural blunders - grace abounds!
Pondering these words..."How many times do I assume that what I want is what others want? How many times do I fail by running off to do what I think someone needs me to do, instead of asking what exactly it is that they need? Why do I assume they want what I want from my cultural worldview? Where did I ever learn that?" -- Women of the Harvest
I am hearing...the engines throbbing on the boats in the harbor
Around the house...things beginning to pile up in the "village prep" room
One of my favorite things...sitting down to visit with friends who drop by "just because"
A few plans for the rest of the week...get my wisdom tooth pulled, organize lots of school stuff, pick up a printer to replace ours that died, and come back to my loved ones in Honiara, along with a SITAG employee party on Saturday at Bonegi Beach
Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...can't get the computer to cooperate with the pictures, sorry!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The perfect Saturday morning...

Listening to Brahm's symphonies plus canning carrots for the village equals the perfect Saturday morning!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Will Power

From "Frog and Toad Together": "Now we have no more cookies to eat," said Toad sadly. "Not even one."
"Yes", said Frog, "but we have lots and lots of will power."
"You may keep it all, Frog," said Toad. "I am going home now to bake a cake."
I was reading "Frog and Toad Together" yesterday with Olivia and laughed out loud when Frog and Toad were trying to muster the will power to not eat the entire box of cookies. Then, this morning, I read my friend's hopeful words about will power:
"It's not that I don't want to change things about myself. I wish I were thinner, more organized, neater, more patient, etc. But wishing and doing are two different things altogether. I want to turn over a new leaf, honestly I do, but my problem is that I still have the same old roots. I don't need a new leaf; I need a new tree....No matter what grand ambitions we start the year with somewhere along the line our want-to rebels and and our will power stages a mutiny....As powerful as the old nature in you is, you have been given a new tree and with it new leaves. Because Christ came and gave His own life in your place, you can have a new heart. This new heart doesn't have to rely on your own will power, you have the power of Christ." - Valarie Fish, "Get Real"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Another reason to love homeschool...

Sprayed well to defend against the bugs, we grabbed a quilt and spread it out. Olivia read some from one of our Africa picture books, and I read from our biography of Mary Slessor. The sun poured through my glass of juice, turning it into a glowing ruby.

Sarah worked on her cross-stitch, Benjamin placed the last pieces of the Artic in place, and Katherine looked for bugs while our brains soaked up another place on the other side of the world and we enjoyed learning together.

"For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul." Proverbs 2:10

Monday, January 17, 2011

Honiara Woman's Daybook

For Today...Monday, January 17 (begun Sunday evening, knowing that Monday would be busy)

Outside my afternoon SITAG kids' basketball game, clothes drying on the line

I am thinking...about memorizing the book of Colossians this year along with hundreds of others. Care to join me?

I am wearing...a long white twirly skirt, a brown and white sleeveless top from my mom, coconut shell clip keeping my hair up, and a rosewood bracelet inlaid with shell that will soon become a blog giveaway

I am praying for...the people affected by the flooding in Australia

I am say "yes" to my children more this week. Yes, you may paint. Yes, you may create a new recipe in the kitchen. Yes, I will read you a book right now.

From the learning rooms...beginning to have fun with the five senses, continuing Africa, Benjamin adding and subtracting fractions, chugging on to finish Sonlight Cores 5 and K in just a few weeks

I am thankful for...God's abundant grace.

I am remembering...Martin Luther King, Jr. and reading this book to the kids

From the kitchen...some new 7-grain mix that has recently shown up in Honiara (we call it birdseed) for breakfast, leftovers for lunch, and tuna bread braid for supper. However, if it continues to be so hot, I'm not turning on the oven, and we'll just have tuna salad!

I am reading..."Mind in the Making" by Ellen Galinsky

I am hoping...that the internet connection will be more consistent this week

I am creating...meal plans from the new recipes Sarah and I are discovering together.

On my mind...John Piper's newest book "Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God" and the Rebelution's blog post about "Reading as Thinking"

Noticing that...cutting back to drinking coffee only on the weekends gives me a nasty headache on Monday morning.

Pondering these words..."The people to whom we minister and speak will not recall 99 percent of what we say to them. But they will never forget the kind of persons we are....The quality of our souls will indelibly touch others for good or for ill. So we must never forget that the most important thing happening at any moment, in the midst of our all our ministerial duties, is the kind of person we are becoming. God is greatly concerned with the quality of character we are building. The future he has planned for us will be built on the strength of character we forge by his grace." from "Personal Soul Care" by Dallas Willard

I am hearing...the neighbor's phone ringing, the clock ticking, the ceiling fan on high (oh, how I love the ceiling fans!)

Around the house...paper chains of African animals that the kids cut out, pineapple tops waiting to be planted

One of my favorite things...coming in all hot and sweaty from my morning run and taking a shower with peppermint body wash. What a treat!

A few plans for the rest of the week...making a couple of airport runs for SITAG folks, finalizing orders from the States so they can get here before we leave for Marulaon, a going away party for a WA couple, company Tuesday and Friday, market shopping with a friend on Wednesday

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you... posting from Aaron's computer because he has the internet connection, so the picture will have to come later.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sweet Sabbath

"Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits -- who forgives all your sins...who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagles." from Psalm 103
-fun "customize your own message" cookie cutters from my sister
-great egg containers from my mom to replace the flimsy clear plastic cartons we get here in Honiara

-sweet sisters fixing hair together

-yummy Kansas coffee from faraway friends

-a cozy book nook
-sunshine today (after almost a week of frequent rain) to help the clothes dry quickly and to lift our hearts

-pineapple season (equals an abundance of cheap pineapple)
-beginning our "Five Senses" study with Katherine to remind me to pay attention and really notice the many gifts God has given us and created us to enjoy (like this sweet smelling candle that makes my whole house smell good)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

One Last Transportation Update

Sorry for the confusion I may have caused by using our colleagues' intials. It only hit me this weekend that their initials were the same as ours! Here's the fitting ending from J and A with God's perfect timing:
"It looks like everything is set for us to go on Monday. Praise the Lord! It's a fun story to hear how David finally got word to pick up our stuff at the ship, so we thought we would share it. Because Solomon Islanders are used to communicating without the help of technology, they are very good at passing messages. After our many unsuccessful attempts to contact David, Andy's office assistant Ilyn helped by calling the public phone at the clinic in the harbor north of our village. She told the person who answered the phone to find someone from our harbor. (Because people go to the clinic, there is usually someone there from our harbor.) When someone came to the phone, she told them it was urgent for them to pass a message to David. After the message went through several people, David finally got the message 10 minutes before the ship arrived and was able to go meet the ship to retrieve our supplies.
"We are looking forward to going to the village and seeing everyone again. We are planning on doing the consultant check for 2 Timothy, Ephesians, and 1 & 2 Thessalonians while we are in the village. We are so excited to see God bring these books to completion. We are also planning to hold a meeting with Kwaio to finalize spelling of names in the Bible. It has been hard to decide whether to use Kwaio spellings or whether to use English spellings since they are accustomed to seeing the English names in the English Bible. We are hoping that this meeting will give us feedback from many people and that we will be able to finalize the spellings."
Please continue to pray for all of the SITAG teams. We each serve in different kinds of roles and in different village or town situations, but we all covet your prayers.

Weekends are for Tea Parties

Sarah picks the bouquet...

...and friends come to drink lemonade...

...while my small one dances in a dress made by a loved one far away in Florida (thanks, GranMollie)...

...plays the perfect hostess...

...and grows up way too fast. I'm enjoying every minute.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Celebrating Letter H

If we had chow mein noodles, we'd make haystacks, but instead we are hammering...

...(Katherine really loved her hammer!)...

...sorting letters into the "leaf house" Sarah made...

and, of course, reading books!

Jennie's Hat by Ezra Jack Keats

Who Took the Farmer's Hat by Joan L. Nodset

The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Transportation Answers

An update from our SITAG colleagues A and J:
"Thank you for praying with us about how to get to the village. We have been praying too and considering options. When we last wrote, we told you about two options. There was one option we did not mention. It consists of a 35 minute flight in a small plane and then a 45 minute motor boat ride. Domestic flights here are extremely expensive, and so we normally don't even consider this an option. In addition, I have been told that it is not safe to fly in a non-pressurized while pregnant, so this trip, we did not think it was an option at all.
"However, we have been told by a doctor that it is okay because the plane takes off and lands at sea level and doesn't have time in 35 minutes to get very high. So, even though it is non-pressurized, the altitude won't be much more than 5,000-8,000 feet.
"Based on the doctor's report and the fact that God has provided the finances to go by plane this trip, we have booked tickets to go out on Monday. We have not bought return tickets as we are still trying to determine if the road will be passable for the return trip.
"We sent our supplies - food and fuel - out on the ship on Wednesday evening because you cannot carry much at all on the plane. It will arrive in the village this evening (Thursday, Jan. 13). However, that brings up another prayer request. Despite many attempts, we have been unable to contact our translator David to let him know that there is stuff coming on the ship or that we are coming by plane. Please pray that our stuff makes it off the ship when it arrives in the village. This is a challenge because David doesn't know to go and meet the ship and retrieve the stuff. The ship will arrive back in town on Sunday morning. We will go down to check to see if our supplies are still on the ship. If they are, it will be nearly impossible for us to go on the plane on Monday since we will not have any food or cooking fuel or fuel for the motor boat in the village and no way to get them there.
"We have see God provide in many ways for us to get out to the village this time. We are praying and trusting that our stuff makes it to the village so that we too can go to the village."

Transportation in the Solomons

Colleagues of ours recently asked for prayer concerning transportation woes. I asked for permission to share their request and their subsequent decision so you would have a better idea of the challenges facing village teams here in the Solomons. We are so blessed to have only a seven hour boat ride on a relatively dependable ship. If you life, you can look at pictures of Bikoi and our friend's perspective of her time on the ship.
From J and A:
"We wanted to let you know about a challenge that we are facing now, both for you to pray and also to give you a glimpse into another aspect of life in the Solomons. We are really trying to get out to the village for one more village trip before we come home for furlough in late April. We generally have two ways of getting to the village. The first option consists of a six hour ship ride to the island where we work, followed by a five hour ride in the back of a flat bed truck that is completely filled to the max with people and cargo, and then followed by a two hour motor boat ride to get to our village. It's not a joy ride, but it's doable. The biggest problem is trying to stay protected from the intense equatorial sun during the five hour truck ride and two hour motor boat ride, both of which are during the hottest part of the day.
"The other option consists of going by ship all the way to our village. This would entail a 24+ hour ride on the way to the village and a 52+ hour ride on the way back from the village. Ships in the Solomons are generally quite overcrowded. We get there four hours early to find a small space on the floor to sit down. Having cockroaches crawl over you is a guarantee; on some ships, the occasional rat runs across your leg as well. You are responsible to bring whatever food and water you need for your family for the duration of the trip as there is nowhere to buy food. Occasionally, when you stop at a village, some ladies will paddle out to sell coconuts to drink or roasted fish to eat. However, you can't count on that. The need to stay hydrated is counteracted by the desire to avoid the bathroom on the ship as the ocean swells quickly cause the contents of the toilet to slosh all over the bathroom floor leaving a mess that is best avoided. Ships, at least to our area, are very irregular. At best case scenario, a ship comes to our area every two weeks. At worst case, it can be a month before a ship comes. While ships here make Americans shudder, it is just a part of transportation in the Solomons that everyone accepts as normal.
"Our challenge now is that we have heard that part of the road across our island is impassable because of damage done from all the rain. That means that the only way for us to get to the village is to go by ship. We have done it all before, and while arduous, we have survived. However, this trip is complicated by several factors. First the time factor. A and I have commitments to be involved in a workshop in February, and we don't have the option of getting stuck in the village for an undetermined amount of time. Second, we have a seventeen month old son. While a 24 and 52 hour boat ride is barely doable for adults, trying to bring an active toddler on a trip like that is an incredibly daunting thought. Finally, being four months pregnant, still feeling nauseous, and trying to bring enough food and water for a trip like that adds an extra challenge.
"So, we don't know what to do. We really want to get to the village, but I don't know if we can handle being on the ship for 52 hours with the above factors. Will you pray that the road will quickly fixed, and pray that we have wisdom to know what to do. Also pray that we won't be able to get out unless we can find a way to get back in...."

Monday, January 10, 2011

Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today...Monday, January 10, 2011

Outside my window...sun, sun, and more sun!

I am nice it is to be able to throw clothes into a washing machine and leave them until they have finished washing, rinsing, and spinning all by themselves

I am praying for...lots of missionary friends this week: a friend serving in Africa who begins teaching a new class this week, a family beginning a furlough in the States away from their language group in Madagascar, another friend settling back into PNG, and yet another family headed to Central African Republic with their two sweet boys

I am going...on a "proposal-versary" date this week!

From the learning rooms...Africa, a biography of Mary Slessor, letter H for Katherine, chugging diligently through math books and handwriting/typing, I'm sooo proud of my diligent kiddos

I am thankful for...SITAG administration that keep everything running smoothly around here. I hardly have to think about things like work permits because of our amazing colleagues.

I am remembering...this week 14 years ago when Aaron (finally) asked me to marry him

From the start the day, we enjoyed cinnamon rolls, mid-day we devoured leftovers, and for supper I'll prepare chicken pieces smothered in spaghetti sauce and cheese

I am reading..."Get Real" by Valarie Fish

I am hoping...that all of our friends won't forget about us just because we were without e-mail for two months

On my mind...just six weeks left to refill our inner tanks and shop and get back to Marulaon. I'm feeling pretty small and tired and inadequate right now. Thankfully, I serve a BIG God.

Noticing that...once again the sun has "moved" and the front steps are now completely in the shade. Crazy how much the angle of the sun changes here just a few degrees south of the equator!

Pondering these words..."This is one of the great secrets in connection with successful service for the Lord; to work as if everything depended on our diligence, and yet not to rest in the least upon our exertions, but upon the blessing of the Lord." --George Mueller

I am hearing...the ceiling fan on high, the saw buzzing in the hands of a Wycliffe Associate in the workshop just below the house

Around the house...snowflakes we made when Aaron was sick last week
One of my favorite things...a good night's sleep

A few plans for the rest of the week...meetings every afternoon this week and we're looking forward to firing up the hospitality fires again now that we are settled in Honiara
Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sweet Sabbath

"In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name." Psalm 33:21

-for a stomach bug that has let go of my sweet husband and not grabbed any of the rest of us
-for a great globe puzzle from friends

-for DVDs of Sunday morning services from the church in which I grew up

-for an exercise buddy to get me moving every morning

-for internet, even when it's sporadic, because it means I have a way to keep in touch with family and friends around the world

-for a sweet visit and a safe trip back home for my parents

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Pretending again...

As in years past, we're pretending it's cold and wintry outside. So while we sip hot chocolate underneath the ceiling fans, we're enjoying some of our favorite snow books:

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett

Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton

When Winter Comes by Nancy Van Laan

The Hat by Jan Brett

Missing Mittens by Stuart J. Murphy

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

The Mitten by Alvin Tresselt

White Snow, Bright Snow by Alvin Tresselt

Annie and the Wild Animals by Jan Brett

Winter Poems selected by Barbara Rogasky

Snow by Roy McKie and P.D. Eastman

Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner

The Blizzard by Betty Ren Wright

Winter by Gerda Muller

The Jacket I wear in the Snow by Shirley Neitzel

Nate the Great and the Snowy Trail by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

The Big Snow by Berta and Elmer Hader

Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


We are still celebrating and adoring Jesus! Epiphany has become one of our favorite holidays. Sarah always makes a "Three Kings' Cake" for us to enjoy. Some years we've hidden a ceramic baby Jesus inside, but since we've moved to this side of the Pacific we usually put a whole almond inside. We don't have a favorite recipe, though this historic recipe looks fun! This time, Sarah opted for a chocolate cake and icing from "Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey Treats for Kids". (Good thing I went back to exercising this morning!) We'll share the cake with another family for an early celebration tonight. With "Three Kings' Cake", you have to eat the whole thing at one sitting so you know who finds the almond and gets the prize!

We've read Longfellow's "The Three Kings", and we've already enjoyed our family favorite "Amahl and the Night Visitors" while my parents were here. We love both the book and the opera by Gian Carlo Menotti. Aaron has performed so many of the parts that our family viewing inevitably turns into a sing-along.

"The Best Chocolate Birthday Cake Ever"

3/4 cup natural cocoa powder

1 cup boiling water

3/4 cup sour cream

1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper rounds. Set aside.

Sift the cocoa powder into a small bowl and stir in the boiling water to dissolve and make the cocoa "bloom". Whisk together until completely smooth. Let cool completely, and then whisk the sour cream into the cocoa mixture.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars together with an electric hand mixer set on medium speed until light and fluggy, about 4 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then beat in the cooled cocoa mixture and the vanilla.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt over the batter and fold in gently, using a rubber spatual, until the flour is completely combined into the batter.

Divide the batter between the two prepared pans and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

To frost, invert one layer onto a cake plate, and remove the parchment circle. Spread 1 cup of frosting over the surface of the cake. Invert the second layer over the first, and remove the parchment paper. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining icing.

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Chocolate Frosting

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup milk chocolate chips

1/2 cup unslated butter, cut into 8 pieces

1 cup sour cream

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

large pinch of salt

1 pound confectioner's sugar, sifted

In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the semisweet and milk chocolate chips with the butter. Heat on high for 1 minute. Stir the mixture together. If the butter is not completely melted and the chocolate chips do not easily stir smotth, heat again at 15-second intervals, stirring until smooth. Using a hand mixer set at low speed, beat in the sour cream, vanilla, and salt. Gradually add the confectioner's sugar until the frosting is smooth and spreadable.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


A couple of hot peppers got mixed in with the little bell peppers that we can buy at the market. After cutting them up, then touching his face before washing his hands:

Benjamin: "Mom, what can make this stop burning?"

Me: "Time"

Benjamin heads straight toward the pantry and asks, "So, where's the thyme?" I love that boy!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Honiara Woman's Daybook

For today...Monday, January 3

Outside my window...clouds rolling in, time to move the clothes to dry on the porch

I am thinking...about Eph. 2:1-5 and being amazed all over again

I am thankful parents who saved money and vacation time to spend a whole month with us here in the steamy Solomon Islands

I am wearing...a white t-shirt and a green/turquoise/blue swirly patterned long skirt

I am (SLOWLY) remembering...the meals I usually cook in Honiara

I am have a Messiah sing-along tonight in my living room!

From the learning rooms...back to school on Thursday after almost a month off

I am currently reading..."Play: The Foundations that Supports the House of Higher Learning" by Lisa Murphy, one of the books my mom brought, and I LOVE it!

I am contact the dentist in Brisbane soon to arrange a quick trip to get my wisdom tooth pulled

On my mind...the doubling of postage rates that just went into effect in the Solomon Islands

Noticing feels so good to be back in Honiara

Pondering these words..."Sitting still and being quiet is not a marketable job skill." --Diane Trister Dodge, The Creative Curriculum

From the nut ring for breakfast, lunch in town while we shop, and a farewell dinner of pizza pasta salad (Gayly, thanks for the mini pepperoni) with Sarah's carrot cake for dessert (love it when Honiara has carrots and cream cheese!)

Around the house...almost finished unpacking, tomorrow we'll switch bedrooms after my parents leave

One of my favorite things...the quiet part of the afternoon when kids are reading or sleeping, the CD player is softly seranading us with Handel or Bach, and the candle is delighing our noses with some sweet scent

From my picture journal...the "ladies' toilet" in Karumalun that we used on Christmas day

And the winner is...

Lori! Please e-mail me at joanna underscore choate at sil dot org so I can get your snail mail address. The model is not included.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sweet Sabbath

"But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me." Psalm 13:6 ESV

-cooking together wearing cute Christmas aprons

-eating waffles with blueberries from a bloggy friend and pecans from another bloggy friend

-singing hymns together and learning their stories from "Then Sings My Soul, Special Edition: 150 Christmas, Easter, and All-Time Favorite Hymn Stories" by Robert J. Morgan

-sharing it all with my parents

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

The New Year
by Horatio Nelson Powers
A Flower unblown: A Book unread:
A Tree with fruit unharvested:
A Path untrod: a House whose rooms
Lack yet the heart's divine perfumes:
This is the Year that for you waits
Beyond Tomorrow's mystic gates.

"Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare."

Psalm 40:5

Even more from Marulaon

Sunday, December 19, Aaron was invited to preach. I was really proud of him for preaching a great sermon in Pijin. You can see our wooden benches and kneeling rails. I have knee callouses from going to the prayer service every night!

On Monday, we still weren't getting good sunlight, so we put a halt to anything that used electricity during the day so we could run our little 12 volt fans at night. We created a great assembly line for washing, wringing, and hanging clothes underneath the house.
Today was also a special day because my Benjamin turned 10!!! His week in NICU during an ice storm in Arkansas ten years ago seems so removed from our tropical climate here in Marulaon. I'm so proud of the vivacious and kind boy he has become. A cut on his arm has become quite infected, so we are starting him on antibiotics. Even though he really doesn't feel good and his arm is red and swollen, he still so willing to help.

Tuesday, December 21, a Mother's Union group from Malaita arrived. Our half of the village was responsible for providing breakfasttomorrow, so we made lelenga. First we went to our small garden close to the house and hacked down the thin trunks. We quickly gathered a crowd of little girls who wanted to help me take the ubikola out of the dirt. Notice me swinging that knife - who'd have thought I would be hacking plants with a bush knife?!?
Benjamin is quickly becoming quite the garden guy. He helped me dig up the ubikola, and he is getting really good at digging the mounds of earth needed to plant the root crops.
Then we all pitched in to make a huge tray of lelenga to share with the visitors in the morning.
On Wednesday morning, the Mother's Union group asked for a big church service complete with communion. So several of our family attended the service. I ended leaving early because my tooth was hurting so badly. This is the same tooth that gave me trouble in Brisbane, and it's been hurting for a while now. I started antibiotics yesterday, and I'm hoping that they will kick in soon. My early departure caused my neighbors to question me later in the day. When they learned that my tooth was hurting (nganeo laure), they informed me of all their tooth woes, too! I took lelenga down to feed the visitors, but when the Mother's Union did their big program, I stayed home and slept. My dad has caught the village cold and really feels rotten, too.

We decided to hold our "Choate Christmas" on Thursday, December 23, to avoid all of the Lavukaleve festivities. Aaron made our traditional gingerbread waffles, and we enjoyed opening gifts that made it across the ocean from friends and family. A big thank you to those of you who remembered our family during this special time of year.
Later in the day, Eta came over and helped us build a new bed for the Chinese cabbage. She asked her cousin, Thomas (who built our kitchen), to help, too. Everybody worked together to bring rich dirt over, and we had the bed ready for the new transplants by the end of the day. Then it was time to make lelenga for Christmas Eve. Each family was asked to bring 15 parcels of lelenga and 10 parcels of fish to help out with feeding everybody for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Karumalun (where Ezekiel lives). We made about 20 parcels of lelenga, and Eta brought the special leaves (fafanem) to make the individual portions of lelenga. She even stayed around a little while to make sure we knew what we were doing.

On Christmas Eve, Aaron, Mama, and my girls went over to Karumalun in a canoe, while the sick ones stayed home. Many people in Marulaon have the "flu". The clinic has run out of Panadol (a fever reducer), so we have had many, many people asking us for meds. I was able to share some medicine and some food with Margaret and Rebekah's family just down the hill - almost their entire family is sick and in bed. After I checked on them, I spent the rest of the evening making banana muffins to take to Karumalun for breakfast in the morning. Aaron sang in Marulaon's choir tonight, so the whole crew returned shortly before midnight.

Sarah has been practicing diligently for the Christmas Day dancing. I was so proud of her! I would have tripped and fallen several times. She worked really hard and represented Marulaon well. Four groups (young girls, married women, young boys, married men) from each village should have danced. However, so many people were sick that only Sarah's group danced.

Monday, December 26 - Yesterday at church, I learned that that family who lost a son to a crocodile last August will have a hair cutting/cleansing ceremony on Friday. Since we won't be in Marulaon, I asked Kiko if it would be appropriate to take the family some uncooked food like ubikola and sugar. So early this morning, I went out to my small garden close to the house and began to harvest a few heaps of ubikola. Some of them were really deep in the ground, so I went next door to ask Nancy to help me get them out without breaking them. She said she would come in a little bit, so I went back and attacked another heap of ubikola. Unfortunately, I also attacked my left index fingernail. By the time I had bandaged it, Nancy had completely removed all of the ubikola! I took them down to Sylvester (she's the mom, and it took me a long time to figure that one out) and told her we would be remembering her on Friday.
Tonight, the community threw a going away potluck for my parents. Just before prayer, uncooked food began arriving from people who weren't planning to attend. So I had extra food to cook. I had to go over to Eileen's to double check how to cook the fish in coconut cream. Chairman said he would ring the bell after Evening Prayer, and about 8:20, the bell finally rang. We are all usually in bed by that time! Finally, the party started about nine. We sang and danced and made speeches and ate lots of good food.

Last day in Marulaon - We've been so busy these last few days that packing and preparing to leave have really taken a back seat to all of the activities. Thankfully, we are all beginning to fell better. This morning we frantically packed and cleaned and listened to the shipping report - the Bikoi didn't report, so we had no idea if it would come before lunch or late at night. We also participated in a big church fundraiser to make money for finishing the church building. Each couple was asked to bring SI $100, and each child was to bring SI $5. We had already drawn names to exchange gifts with another family from Marulaon. Our family had hinted that what we really wanted was another woven mat to replace the one that got loaned out and never returned. We were excited when the fundraiser finished and Leku brought the mat up the hill to our house.

Finally, at the 3 o'clock shipping report, we heard that the Bikoi was expected in Marulaon around 6 p.m., so we had some time to relax and visit with our neighbors.

Our neighbors are always so sweet to help us load the canoes and take us out to load the Bikoi. The evening was beautiful, and the seas were calm! We enjoyed an amazing sunset from the top of the Bikoi.

We settled in on the top of an almost empty Bikoi and spread our mats to get comfy for the seven hour ride. After a couple of hours, the beautiful stars began to disappear, and rain drops began to fall, driving us down to a lower deck. The lights were on downstairs, and our spots were on top of the engine room, but some of us managed to rest before we pulled into Honiara a little after 2 a.m. The faces of our sweet SITAG friends encouraged us so much! They helped us get everything off the deck of the Bikoi. We had to walk through another ship to get to the dock, and the captain wouldn't allow anything out of the hold. So we all drove back to SITAG with plans to come back to the Bikoi in the daylight to retrieve our boxes.

We are so thankful for the smooth trip on the Bikoi, and we know it's because of the many prayers offered up on our behalf.