Monday, January 30, 2012

Doing well in the village

Dear Friends of the Choates,
They wanted me to pass along that things are going well for them.  They have received the Saber recording devices that I sent out on a ship.  Joanna is working with some of the women to record two Bible stories.  They have one completed and the second one is in the works.  Aaron is getting ready for a translator's training workshop that will run Sunday the 5th of February through Wednesday the 8th. 
As far as email contact is concerned, we were able to get the radio system up and running, but at almost the same time, they developed troubles with both their computer battery and their radio modem.  They have a spare battery that I am sending to them this coming weekend.  We are waiting for another modem to come in from the village of a different missionary family and then that will be sent out to the Choates as well.  Thank you for your patience as we try to reestablish their radio email.  As usual, if you want any message passed along via the radio, please feel free to send a note to  Until next time...
Andy Pierce

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Safe and Sound

Dear Friends of the Choates,
The email system that we use with teams in the village is no longer working.  Both the regular and the backup modems are inoperable at the moment.  That means that you should not expect to have regular contact with/from the Choate family until they return to Honiara in April.  That being said, I will try to post updates for them so you can know how things are going for them. 
If you would like to contact them, you can do so by writing directly to their email addresses.  They have given me permission to pass along emails to them via the radio.  You could also write to and I will pass along your email to them via the radio.
Now, for the update:
The Choates traveled out to their village on the MV Kosko.  It was their first time to travel to their village on this ship.  A nice feature that this ship has, is that they own a warehouse so you can take your cargo down a couple of days before departure and the crew will load it on the boat.  This means that you don't have to fight the crowds at the wharf as you try to load your cargo on the boat.
The day they left, they had smooth seas and a cloudy sky.  Those are the best conditions for boat travel.  When they arrived in their village a motor boat made several trips back and forth to the ship shuttling them and their cargo to the shore.  They are settled in and unpacking.
Andy Pierce
Deputy Director

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Time to go...

Our ship should be leaving Honiara around 4 p.m. CST, Saturday afternoon and arrive in Marulaon about seven hours later.  We would appreciate your prayers as we push hard through the next eleven and a half weeks to finish well in Marulaon.  Village e-mail hasn't been working for the last month.  SITAG's old system is gasping for its last breath.  Even if the radio/e-mail system does get up and running, please keep e-mails to us "text only" and know that it may take days to get to us, if at all.  We plan to be back around April 4, and we look forward to catching up!  I'll update the blog when we return...

Anybody know...

...what these are? 

These little bugs have been making a home on one of my hanging plants for a couple of months now.  They swarm and multiply on one little leaf, then after a while they have to expand to another leaf.  When I bought a new hanging plant last week, the insects extended their apartment complex and added some leaves from the new plant.  The leaves eventually shrivel up and die, so I'm not too happy about these bugs!  My guess is that the leaves serve as an insect breeding ground and nursery.  Any suggestions?

Friday, January 13, 2012


My amazing husband has the knack and the stamina to be our packer-in-chief, and I'm so thankful!  Today also happens to be our proposal-versary.  Fifteen years ago, Aaron asked me to marry him.  So, even though today has been a crazy busy day, I've heard "happy proposal-versary" at least a dozen times today as we pass (and smooch) each other in the hall.  This is what the "packing room" looked like early this morning as the sun was streaming through the windows:

I took a break from packing just before lunch to walk up the hill and say goodbye to some friends from Marulaon.  They are moving way out east in the Solomons because of a new job.  It was good to see them one more time and hold their sweet baby girl who has the fattest cheeks you've ever seen!  Wish I had taken the camera.

This afternoon, I drove Sarah and one of her friends to the hospital to deliver some blankets and a cap.  I know, it seems crazy in this climate, but you ought to see how those mamas bundle up their babies!  These two young ladies (along with a SITAG colleague) have been crocheting blankets for newborns. 

The girls also took some of their own money and delivered everything to the nurse in charge of labor and delivery.  I'm super proud of them!

When we returned to SITAG, it was time to load the truck with our boxes for the village.

One of the things I love about our SITAG family is that everybody works together.  We really do feel like family.

And the truck just kept getting fuller and fuller...

...until finally they had everything strapped down and headed out to the warehouse.  I think I really like this loading 36 hours ahead of time instead of only 12 hours.

As soon as Aaron returns, we'll head over to visit some more SITAG family for supper.  Again, everybody has been so generous to help us through this transition.  Because it's our proposal-versary, and Aaron proposed with a container of Rocky Road ice cream, we made some Rocky Road (with marshmallows that just came in a care package from our sending church) to share with our hosts tonight.  It has been a great day!

Watermelon Break

Enjoying a little break from packing with the help of a juicy watermelon and some music from Chris Tomlin.

"How can I keep from singing Your praise
How can I ever say enough
How amazing is Your love"

"How can I keep from shouting Your name
I know I am loved by the King
And it makes my heart want to sing"

Going to go get my piece before the kids eat it all...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

By ten this morning, we needed a second pot of coffee.  Thankfully, my brother and sister-in-law sent us some from the Ogeechee River Coffee Company in Savannah.  (If you are planning to be in the Savannah area, check out my sister-in-law's culinary blog, it makes me hungry!).  Our newest SITAG colleague stopped by to visit and to help us drink coffee while we worked.  She offered to help, too, but at this point her sweet company was the best thing she could offer!

Aaron is getting ready to go pick up the NguzuNguzu books from the printer, and the rest of us just keep on packing and chipping away.  We always grieve with the packing, it's so hard to say goodbye to friends and places, but we're listening to some of our favorite music while we pack, and somehow it helps Aaron and me as we sing along with the cello part.
About eight o'clock yesterday morning, we learned that Aaron's grandmother had died.  We had been expecting the news, and we were so thankful that we had gotten to visit with her and see her on Skype video just a couple of weeks ago.

I left Aaron and the kids packing and went into town with our new SITAG colleague and an "old" SITAG colleague to help our new friend learn how things work in the Solomon Islands.  We had so much fun introducing her to people, sharing stories of our time in the Solomons, and trying to help her get her bearings.  The post office was full of Christmas cheer for our family - several Christmas boxes and Christmas cards arrived!

When I returned to the house, we opened boxes while we ate lunch, and it was Christmas morning and Benjamin's birthday all over again.  One of the fun things about living here is that you never know when mail will arrive, so special days last a long time.  Aaron left for a SITAG staff meeting, and in his absence I transplanted some of the flowers I bought last week (from my Lavukal friend, Mary) in preparation for their trip to Marulaon.  I'm so excited about my ixora, which is a new plant to me, and my layered hibiscus.  I also made some Oatmeal Scotchies and Reese's Chewy Chocolate Cookies (both with some of our newly arrived goodies) for one last care package for our friends out in the village and to share here at SITAG.  The oven was already on to cook the quiche from the freezer, so I wanted to use the heat well.  Any excuse to make cookies.  Plus, Aaron was cleaning out to pantry to pack it up, so I had to hustle.

We learned that the Kosko has a warehouse, so instead of loading the boat at supper time the night before we leave, we'll be able to take our boxes down to the warehouse on Friday afternoon.  Even though we lose some time for packing, I think it will make Saturday so much more relaxed as we clean and scrub our SITAG house.  So, today includes packing, packing, and more packing!  So back to work for me...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

In Memory...

of Sara Waggoner Yarnell
September 4, 1922-January 10, 2012

We are so thankful that you are no longer in pain and with Jesus now.

Early this morning, our kids and their friends began to prepare for the five adults and three children that would be arriving at SITAG.  They gathered frangipanni blossoms and began stringing them into necklaces to give to each of the arrivals.

We were so excited to welcome back some old SITAG friends,

as well as meet some new friends who will be serving in the Solomon Islands alongside us.

Right now, they are all settling in and telling their bodies what time it is, but tonight we'll all gather for a big potluck and lots of hugs!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday Morning

"You have to eat oatmeal or you'll dry up.  Anybody knows that."  ~Kay Thompson
(oatmeal art found on Susan Branch's website)

Did you know that January is National Oatmeal Month?  We are so thankful for the care packages that bring us yummy things like cranberries and pecans to add to our Camper's Oatmeal .  Eating oatmeal is also one of the ways we pretend that it's cold outside!

-Camper's oatmeal, check

-coffee, check

Eight o'clock and time to get busy!  Aaron has to change the flat tire on SITAG's big truck so he can go into town, refill our gas cylinders for Marulaon, buy our Kosko tickets, and take the Lavukaleve "easy readers" to the printers.  That leaves me to read some more to the kids, finish the school schedule for Marulaon and pack.  Gonna be a great Monday morning around here!  How has your week begun?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sweet Sabbath

Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,
I behold Thee as Thou art,
And Thy love, so pure, so changeless,
Satisfies my heart.
Satisfies its deepest longings,
Meets, supplies, its every need,
Compasseth me round with blessings
Thine is love indeed.
~Jean Sophia Pigott

Just a few of the blessings encompassing me today:

-strong legs and feet that run up and down the long hall in this house

-this daily organization help in the midst of my packing chaos

-almost empty shelves as we continue to pack

-friends who turn into "onion fairies" and snap up enough onions (at the only store in town that still has onions) for us to take out to the village

-sitting down as a family and listening to a great and much needed sermon sent by friends

-learning that the house we had hoped to be our home in May is no longer available, because it means that God is really going to have to work out the dilemma while we live in Marulaon without any means to communicate with this small town in Arkansas

-flowers from my Lavukal friend Mary reminding me of our blossoming friendship

-six days 'till we get to see Marulaon again!

-a love bouquet of broccoli from my husband, special indeed when it is rarer and more expensive than a bouquet of flowers

Friday, January 6, 2012

My heart's adoration

from "Epiphany" by Reginald Heber

Say, shall we yield Him, in costly devotion,
Odors of Edom, and offerings diving --
Gems of the mountain, and pearls of the ocean --
Myrrh from the forest, and gold from the mine?

Guess who found the hidden almond?

Vainly we offer each ample oblation,
Vainly with gold would His favor secure;
Richer by far is the heart's adoration,
Dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Rainy Day

About midnight, a huge storm blew through our area.  I was so thankful for the beans on the curtains!  It rained the rest of the night, which meant our morning exercise got canceled, but it was a lovely morning to lie in bed a little longer than usual and listen to the rain and feel the coolish breeze.  Great way to start the day, especially when I added a cup of tea and my chronological Bible that Sarah recently returned.

A SITAG colleague, who loves plants and knows so much about them, drove out to the plant nursery with me this morning in the rain.  I found Mary, my friend from the Russells, in fact I got her out of bed!  Mary is always good to practice Lavukaleve with me and help me out when I don't understand what she said.  Mary kept saying thank you over and over, along with things like, "Oh, now my baby can have tea with breakfast because you bought something from me."  She even fixed up a bouquet of cut flowers to take with me.

I wish I had brought the camera, but no pictures could capture the tropical rainforest that emerges on the edge of Honiara.  The rain made everything extra shiny and pretty, too.  After we bought lots of plants (and Mary threw in several for free), my SITAG friend, such a kindred spirit, accompanied me to the Rain Tree Cafe.  This tiny restaurant is a gem.  It sits on the edge of the ocean (in fact we got sprayed by a big wave) and serves amazing food.  They make great pizzas, cooked in their wood burning ovens, but today we just stopped for a mocha and a cappuccino.  Come visit me sometime, and I'll take you there!

So, despite the rain, now we are in full packing mode, getting ready to go back to Marulaon village next week for an intense stay.

While Aaron and the kids pack, I'm peeling umalau/kumara/sweet potato for quiche while listening to a new CD from my mom (and loving Tricia Brock's version of "Jesus, I am Resting"!), trying to get back into the swing of the Christian music scene in the States, and probably playing the music way too loud while I peel in time to the music and be-bop around the kitchen.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Power outages and spotty internet ahead

Honiara's power and internet have been up and down the last few days, please be patient.

Curtains and Beans

I really like the SITAG house in which we are staying.  It's concrete block walls are cool, we get a great breeze and a great view, the house is big, and there are enough dishes to have company!  But lately, I've endured some uncomfortable nights.  This has been Aaron's solution:

You see the bed on the left?  And the window on the right?  Not much room between the two.  Right now, we are in the beginning of rainy season, and we frequently get squalls blowing through in the middle of the night.  The first indication of the coming wind and rain is when I wake up thinking, "Oh, there's a bug on my arm!".  Then, after waking up a little bit more, I think, "No, it's just one of the kids at the side of the bed."  And finally, I realize, it's the curtain blowing up and down over me.  My sweet, handy-man husband fixed the problem with some clothes pins and bags of beans!  And now I rest much better at night.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Honiara Woman's Daybook

For today...Monday, January 2

Outside my window..."Sunny day, sweepin' the clouds away, on my way to where the air is sweet..."  It's a gorgeous sunny day today and the air does smell good early in the morning when I walk.

I am thinking...about these beautiful crosses and candles

I am thankful...that Katherine ended up with only a scraped back and a bruised head after she fell out of a tree she was climbing this afternoon.  She is quite the adventurer.

I am creating...or helping to create, a computer database for the books housed in SITAG's Educational Resource Center.  Hoping to tackle more of the biography section soon.  The hard part is not checking out every book that looks interesting.

I am visit the plant nursery again!  Maybe I'll find my Lavukal friend, Mary.  One of my SITAG friends loves plants even more than I do, and she and I are planning a morning out (there may be coffee involved, too!)

I am remembering...New Year's Eve celebrations in Pine Bluff before we had kids, consisting of wild parties of Trivial Pursuit.  The high school choir director and his wife were gems to invite us!

From the learning rooms...just enjoying our read aloud, "I, Juan de Pareja", a little piece of quiet in our packing frenzy

Danish fruit filled packets from
"The Great Scandinavian Baking Book"

From the kitchen...Danish fruit filled packets this morning, leftovers for lunch, and tonight pumpkin lasanga from "Sacred Feasts: From a Monastery Kitchen"

Around the house...a puzzle of the Magi and their camels with the edges complete

Something I want to remember for later...when I began singing on my way to the lunch table, "I love my kiddos!" and Katherine quickly responded, "I love my grownups!" as the rest of my children chimed in, too.

On my mind...praying for my children more specifically and more regularly

Noticing that...I really refill by staying in touch with family and friends.  No wonder I get so bummed out when e-mail doesn't work in the village.

Pondering these words..."The man who has forgotten to be thankful has fallen asleep."  ~Robert Louis Stevenson

One of my favorite things...a good night's sleep (and the difference it makes the next day)

A few plans for the rest of the week...packing up for Marulaon village, working on books at the ERC, company on Saturday night

A picture thought I am sharing with you...the cute little cape Sarah made for Katherine while I was reading out loud to the kids this morning.  Sarah put aside her own work, that's just like her to do something sweet for somebody else.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

"Give thanks for what you are now, and keep fighting for what you want to be tomorrow."  ~Fernanda Miramontes-Landeros

Last night, we awoke at midnight to hear the ships blowing their horns, the churches ringing their bells, the neighbors banging their pots and pans, and the dogs howling along.  A few fireworks popped in the night sky while the din continued for about fifteen minutes.  Then, we enjoyed blessed peace.

My guys working towards their hundred pushup challenge

This morning we took some time to talk with the kids about the upcoming year while reading through Proverbs 16.  2012 will bring our family many moves, many hellos and goodbyes, many transitions and many miles logged on boats, airplanes, and vans.  We made some lists individually of things we want to accomplish this year, here are a few of my favorites:

-I want to learn how to ride a two-wheeler bike (Olivia)

-I want to have my own dog.  If I can't have a dog I would like to be a dogsitter (Olivia)

-Ride a rollar coaster (Benjamin)

-Start playing the viola (Benjamin)

-Enjoy having a dishwasher!!! (Sarah)

-Spend time with my great-grandparents (Sarah)

-Be cold (Sarah)