Saturday, August 31, 2013

With my ear still quite painful, I'm staying close to home this weekend.  I realized I hadn't posted any pictures or descriptions of our SITAG home yet.  Our branch owns several houses, and each time a village team returns to Honiara, we rent whatever house is available for the family.  I love living in community! 

The picture shows three different units:  two small and one big.  We get the big one because of the size of our family.  The house has lots of space and light and windows, and it's made of concrete blocks so it's much cooler.  It's also our favorite SITAG house.  Living so close to your neighbors, and having the windows open, means you can hear everything that is going on outside and in the nearby houses.  You can hear the toilet flush or a sneeze.  You can hear the domestic violence in the valley below in the middle of the night.  You can hear the guards walk by your room, crunching on the gravel after dark.  You can hear your neighbor washing dishes after supper.  We have grown to love (most) of these sounds because they mean we are living in the midst of our wonderful SITAG family!

Thank you from SITAG

A HUGE thank you from all of us at SITAG!  Our Conference is finally over, and we have felt the prayers of many people around the globe.  Aaron and I have been elected to more committees than ever before, so next week looks like it will be full of meetings!

Friday, August 30, 2013

The last few days have been full of power outages, internet failings, and my ear infection.  Not a good combination for staying in touch with the outside world.  Much better for teaching school from my bed.

I'm so thankful for the medical treatment we can access here in Honiara.  Our family has always experienced kind, knowledgeable and helpful medical staff.  After several days of my ear getting worse, I finally decided to call the doctor's office.  Dr. Steve has been our doctor since the day we landed in Honiara, and I visited him for my leg.  His office opens at 8:00, Monday through Friday.
  But his office also operates on "Solomon Time", so I started calling at 8:00 to see if he had come in yet.  I continued to call until somebody finally answered the phone around 9:00.  No, Dr. Steve wasn't coming in today, but another doctor would be working instead. 
Great!  I jumped in the car and drove down to the clinic.  When I arrived, I gave the nurses at the front desk my name.  Even though I was the first Choate to ever visit this clinic, they had lost my chart.  So, I had to fill out another one!  I didn't have to wait very long to meet Dr. Joyce.  One of the things I love to do when I meet Solomon Islanders is to ask what language they speak, and I discovered that Dr. Joyce grew up speaking Fatalaeka in north Malaita.  She was very nice, and we chatted while she looked in my ear and prescribed some antibiotics.  The whole visit plus the antibiotics cost me less than US $40, and I made a new friend, too!
Now, I'm waiting for the antibiotics to kick in and thankful for my amazing Choate Bed and Breakfast staff who can execute a meal plan and follow directions with flying colors while I recuperate. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013



While Aaron and I sat in a planning meeting for SITAG's upcoming Conference, Olivia finished up her science for today.  She is working through TOPS Magnetism, and planned a treasure hunt using Benjamin's compass. 
The treasure?  Olivia made Fruit-Filled Oatmeal Bars with apricot filling, almost as good as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Honiara Woman's Daybook

Just for today...Monday, August 26
Outside my window...a rain shower just sprang up!  The wind had been blowing gale force, and all of the sudden we smelled rain and ran to bring the clothes in off the line.  Yay for rain!
From the learning rooms...reading "Starry Messenger" with Katherine.  She was fascinated that Galileo was living at the same time as Pocahontas.  Also enjoying the classic "Witch of Blackbird Pond" as a read-aloud.  We are still in the 1600's and loving it!
Praying for...a sweet Solomon Island sister who just cried and cried on my shoulder this morning.  She lost a baby while we were on furlough, and her pain is still so fresh.
On my bookshelf...still enjoying "Dearie" by Bob Spitz.

Noticing that...I love having creative girls around.  They transformed our concrete steps into a garden of chalk flowers.
I am hearing..."Art and Music:  Rembrandt".  We found the most fascinating series of CDs when we were at the Arkansas Arts Center with grandparents.  I'm looking forward to getting more in this series as we travel through history.
One of my favorite things...chocolate lava cake to celebrate the anniversary of Krakatoa's explosion in 1883
Pondering these words..."I think reading aloud together in a the most together thing a family can do....It gives the family a background for thinking and growing in their concepts and understanding, together, rather than always separately."
 ~Edith Schaeffer

Crafting in the kitchen...curried chicken and apples in the crockpot with chocolate lava cake for dessert to welcome some of our SITAG colleagues back to Honiara after some meetings in Australia
A peek into my corner of the world... we finished off one of the helpful gifts that sweet friends sent across the ocean with us.

Not only was one of their gifts good for our bodies, it was good for our souls as well.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sweet Sabbath

"Solitude shows us the way to let our behavior be shaped not by the compulsions of the world but by our new mind, the mind of Christ.  Silence prevents us from being suffocated by our wordy world and teaches us to speak the Word of God."  ~Henry Nouwen

We're enjoying a still and quiet Sabbath morning here after an early church service this morning.  Sarah prepared the dough for a Swedish Tea Ring last night, so we could enjoy a hassle free brunch this morning.  And the fun plates from a friend make our silence and solitude even more special as we each sneak away to listen to God's still small voice...

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Yesterday, the Old Testament/New Testament Survey workshop finished up.  Ezekiel and Simon sat on the middle row at the end nearest the door.  We're so proud of all the translators who came to learn more. 
In just a little bit, Aaron will take several of the translators, including our Lavukal guys, down to the wharf to catch the Kosco back to the Russell Islands.  The ship has a new schedule:  every two weeks it leaves Honiara on Saturday night and heads to Yandina in the East Russells, then it waits for several hours before it leaves for Marulaon in the West Russells so it can arrive after daylight.  This has turned our seven hour daylight trip into a twelve to fourteen hour night trip.  But we still have a regular shipping schedule, which is unusual for the Solomon Islands, and I'm so grateful for a ship that drops us right at our village!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Mornin' Walk

Aaron and I have enjoyed having children old enough to stay home while he and I take an early morning walk.  The sun gives us enough light around 6:15, and we love to watch the change in the clouds as the sun begins its ascent.  We take the kids with us sometimes, too, usually dividing up into trios:  I take Sarah and Benjamin while Aaron takes Olivia and Katherine.

Our current SITAG house is at the bottom of the SITAG property, so we get to walk up the dirt and gravel driveway which overlooks St. Nicholas School and Honiara's harbor.  In fact, SITAG doesn't have a street address, we just tell people "on top St. Nicholas skul".  At least one of SITAG's guard dogs accompanies us each morning.  Thankfully, the dogs along our walk are much less quarrelsome than they were last year, and we've only had to throw rocks a couple of times.
 I took the camera along on our walk this morning.  I wish I could capture the beauty of God's creation here.  We found several banana trees laden with fruit,
 and a fascinating millipede-ish thing which left tracks on the dirt road.  We paused in our exercise to discover just where the insect had travelled.  It entered the road and made a big circle back to the grass not far from where it entered.  The tracks looked like little tractor treads.

Even early in the morning, people have already set up little road side stands to sell betel nut.  This woman had attached her lava lava to the roof to provide some shade from the rising sun.  The dyed cloth lit up like stained glass.

We only walked for about thirty minutes, but it was a great way to start the day.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A "normal" day

 So many people ask us what a "normal" day looks like.  There is no normal day for us!  But I thought that I would just chronicle today and how our family spent today in Honiara.
At seven o'clock this morning, we heard Ezekiel clearing his throat (the Solomon way of knocking) on our front porch.  He was feeling very sick and hadn't slept well the night before, so he was coming to ask Aaron for a ride to the clinic.  Aaron agreed to drive him down and said he would call the clinic to find out when the doctor arrived.  At 8:30, the doctor still wasn't in the office, but Aaron decided to go ahead and drive Ezekiel to the doctor.  It was no surprise that Ezekiel said three other guys from the workshop also needed to go to the doctor, so Aaron ended up driving the "ambulance" while the kids and I worked on school.
Aaron and the guys returned home late morning, and he was able to get a little bit of work done before we ate a lunch of leftovers and headed out the door to get our Solomon Island driver's licenses.  We love their business hours:  8:30 to 11:00 and 1:30 to 3:00. 

We were greeted by the ubiquitous betel nut's red splatter on the ground as we waited in line.  The very nice people behind the counter filled out the paperwork (we just love the people here!),

and licenses in hand, we were able to get Aaron back up to SITAG just in time for a three o'clock staff meeting.  The kids and I finished getting everything ready for Aaron to stick in the oven for supper, and then the five of us went to swim with another SITAG family and a family who is leaving the Solomon Islands tomorrow to take another job in Vanuatu. 
We enjoyed the informal farewell party with thirteen kids ages fifteen and under.  The kids swam, the moms visited.  It was a win-win situation!  Finally, we pulled ourselves away from the fun and drove home through "rush-hour" traffic.  Honiara has one main thoroughfare, and it took us half an hour to drive he five kilometers back up to SITAG.  At least we only pay for the kilometers we drive and not the time we have "checked out" the vehicle.  I was so thankful we had borrowed a vehicle with air conditioning!  My awesome husband had everything ready for supper when we arrived, and after eating and bathing, we were all ready to crash into our beds.
I love the slower and more relaxed pace of the Solomon Islands, and it feels so good to be back "home"!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Honiara Woman's Daybook

Just for today...Tuesday, August 20
Outside my window...Katherine noticed the delicate white butterfly sipping the bougainvillea flowers
From the learning rooms... "Pocahontas" by Ingri and Edgar D'Aulaire; John Smith, James I of England, the Pilgrims

On my bookshelf... "Dearie:  The Remarkable Life of Julia Child" by Bob Spitz.  This book is over 500 pages of pure delight for a bibliophile foodie like me!
Noticing that...ants will build their nests just about anywhere!  In the box where I keep my icing tips or in the front of my favorite cookbook, at least they have good taste.

One of my favorite things...Coffee-mate's Pantry Pack creamers.  I shipped two hazelnut creamers in our crate, and now I wish I'd shipped about twenty!  They are especially nice in my mug from a friend in Texas reminding me that I'm getting prayers ever day from the other side of the Pacific.

Pondering these words..."To it all we say, by His loving enabling, I trust.  Let us be content with our Lord's will, and tell Him so, and not disappoint Him by wishing for anything He does not give."
~Amy Carmichael
Crafting in the kitchen...some colleagues are coming in from the village tonight, so we're making some chicken and pumpkin stew in the crockpot so it will be ready to welcome them back to Honiara whatever time they return.
A peek into my corner of the world...a fun science experiment that Sarah and Benjamin did.  Do you know how hydrogen peroxide and yeast react when mixed?  Our kids do now!  Benjamin couldn't hold the bottle because it was so hot.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Icelandic Filled Horns

Icelandic Filled Horns
Makes 16 rolls
As requested by Julie :-)

3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup softened butter
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup water, 105 F to 115 F
6 ounces fully cooked ham, turkey ham, or smoked turkey breast
1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese
2 Tbsp. chopped chives
1 egg
1 Tbsp. water
caraway seeds
In a mixing bowl, blend  cups of the flour with the butter and salt until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  In a measuring cup, dissolve the sugar and yeast in the warm water.  Let stand 5 minutes until yeast foams.  Stir the yeast mixture into the crumbly mixture until a smooth dough forms. Beat well.  Let stand 15 minutes, covered.
To make the filling, grind the ham or put into the food processor with the steel blade in place and process until ground.  Mix with the cream cheese and chives.
Cover 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease them.
Divide the dough into 2 parts.  On a lightly oiled surface, roll out 1 part to make a 14-inch circle.  Let rest a minute, the cut into 8 equal pie-shaped wedges.  Spoon a heaping tablespoonful of the ham mixture onto the wide end of each piece of dough.  Starting from the wide end, roll up, encasing the filling, to make a crescent shape.  Place on parchment-covered baking sheets.
Let rise in a warm place until puffy, about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450 F.  Mix the egg and water to make a glaze.  Brush the crescents with the glaze and sprinkle with the caraway seeds.  Bake 10 minutes until golden.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sweet Sabbath

"The Sabbath isn't just a time to be observed; it's a time to be preserved.  The observer remembers to rest.  The preserver rests to remember - remember that it's all about God.  It's all about...letting God show us a better rhythm.  One that will preserve the best of us and reveal the places we're getting off track and being filled with unnecessary clutter." 
~ from "Unglued" by Lysa TerKeurst

Resting this Sabbath afternoon and enjoying God's good gifts of:

-tea parties on the porch with big sisters and little sisters

-my Mama's peanut butter cookie recipe

-a teapot to remind us to fill our minds with good things

-boys playing Monopoly on the other end of the porch

-finishing the day by singing hymns with our SITAG family and the national translators (including Lavukal translators Ezekiel and Simon) in Honiara for a workshop

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Saturday mornings are for...

preparing for the week ahead!  Like grating ginger for the cucumber-ginger limeade we're planning to serve to guests tonight.  Saturdays we often use to do a lot of food preparation, listen to good music, and hang out together as a family. 

The little blue bucket in the middle was overflowing with compost by the time we finished.  We sort our trash into burnable papers (blue bucket) and non-burnable plastics and cans (red bucket).

Friday, August 16, 2013


Here in Honiara, we have to be a little bit cautious with our water usage.  In Marulaon Village, we are ultra careful because all of our water comes from the rain.  It hasn't rained at SITAG in over a week.
We do have town water to use for washing, but we still take "military" showers and conserve water as much as possible.

This is one of the big tanks by the corner of our current SITAG house.  It collects town water and rain water and has a gauge to carefully monitor the amount of water in the tank.

SITAG is full right now with a workshop going on for the national translators and every house being occupied.  We're so thankful that the tanks are full right now!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Wizard of Oz

In 1939, the movie "The Wizard of Oz" was released on this date.  Our family really likes the books by L. Frank Baum, too.
We found a cute idea in "Every Day a Holiday:  Celebrations for the Whole Year" by Silvana Clark.  We made silver slippers, partially because Dorothy's slippers are silver in the book and partially because we could only find silver glitter.  On the non-glittery side, we wrote, "There's no place like home because..." and each kid filled in the blanks.
Ten kids sat in our living room, eating popcorn and watching the movie, and nine of them had just moved back to the Solomon Islands from their passport country.  I was curious what the kids would write.  Here is Sarah's:

Katherine's said, "There's no place like home because we have people over," and her five-year-old friend's shoe said, "There's no place like home because my friends are here and Kira [the dog]."

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


One of the things that took me a while to get used to in the Solomon Islands is the way yard work is done. 
SITAG doesn't use a lawn mower, a weed eater, or anything like that.  Every weed is pulled by hand.  Freida works diligently, paying attention to each little weed that shouldn't be growing.  Especially the roots.
I'm reminded that I need to be more Solomon in my approach to life, paying attention to the little weeds and their roots and not just mowing over them in a hurry.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Monday evening, we began to prepare for the arrival of another SITAG family coming back after furlough.  One of the kids' "uncles" helped paint a welcome sign on an old trampoline mat.
And Tuesday morning, our kids made flower necklaces to welcome their friends.

Once we got to the airport roof, Aaron's height came in handy to place the cups just the right way to read "Happy 15" as a birthday greeting to Sarah's best buddy about to walk off the plane.  We cheered and sang happy birthday as they walked across the pavement.  Another colleague of ours was on the plane, too, so we cheered for him as well.

Watching them come around the corner, it was hard to believe we were in their shoes only six days ago.

Some beautiful young ladies were finally reunited.

And some beautiful little girls, too.

Eleven children and two adults piled in the back of the SITAG truck to drive back from the airport.  You have never seen such excited children! 
Aaron and Benjamin hung the trampoline sign over the driveway where it would welcome the family immediately on their return to SITAG.

We fixed one of our favorites for supper, spaghetti pie, to welcome them back to SITAG, but Sarah's birthday cheesecake was the highlight of the evening.