Tuesday, November 29, 2016
We celebrated Thanksgiving today. Heavy rain all day long made it easy to stay inside and celebrate. We made room for a whole chicken when we came out to Marulaon, and when it came time to eat our Thanksgiving Chicken, Aaron used our special carving set that was a Christmas present many years ago from his Great Aunt Mary.
I think family and traditions always grow more precious as you get older, and because we are so very isolated from our friends and family, I especially appreciate the memories of those sweet people. Our table was bountifully full with good food in pretty blue bowls given to me by my MIL years ago.
It's funny how little things make the day feel "normal". One of our colleague gave us a DVD of an accidentally recorded football game. Not even a whole football game. Just one hour.
My favorite part of Thanksgiving is watching our thankful turkey grow. Mr. Turkey is certainly not Pinterest worthy, but he is a simple act of choosing thankfulness, sometimes in difficult situations. We keep the feathers from year to year and look back at preschool handwriting marking the germination of a thankful heart.
Some of my favorite feathers this year: Sonlight (our school curriculum), the "first things" box (when we move, we always have a box that contains the most important things - like toilet paper and food), coconut scrapers, being a 3rd culture kid.
Saturday, November 26, 2016
Sarah had some definite ideas about what our Thanksgiving meal would look like here in the village. Mostly, it would look like an abundance of dessert: pumpkin, apple, and pecan pies.
Around 4:00, Benjamin came in asking me to go take some children's ibuprofen to one of our little friends who has been running a high, cyclical fever. We think she has malaria. I promised to be back in four hours to give her another dose.
I took more meds to our sweet, sick friend at 8:00. Her mama still hadn't taken her to the clinic, and I begged her to go first thing in the morning. Her family was doing their best to secure a motor canoe, and I offered our dugout canoe if they wanted to paddle over to the clinic.
The village is full of people. The largest tribe in our language group is meeting in Marulaon this week, and Aaron sat in on their meetings for most of the day today. His anthropologist-linguistic self took notes and enjoyed tracing the different family lines of the people we love so well. The catechists are meeting in another village this week, so Aaron, the Bible-loving-teacher, walked the four miles to spend the day with them on Monday. I love the different sides of my husband and the ways he gets to use the gifts God has given him.
One of my favorite things is walking around the village and watching how much the children have grown. My little buddy Mosta (aka "Text") pulled on my camera and begged for me to take his picture while I chatted with his grandmother, Margaret, the other day. My friends here all have grandchildren.
Margaret also has a kitten. She tried to get us to take it home when she found out about our rat problem, but Katherine was content just to cuddle. And I was content to leave the kitten in Margaret's home.
Not all of the little ones love having their picture made. This is Muna. Last week, she greeted me with a running hug and a big grin. When I had my camera handy the other day, she only frowned. Very much on purpose. She is still a spunky girl, and I love hanging out with her and her family.
Inside our home, Olivia has been working on a science experiment this week using chicken bouillon dissolved in water. One glass was the control, one had vinegar added, one glass stayed in the fridge, and the last one had salt added. Things grow here even when we don't want them to, and we wanted her science experiment to grow. It was wildly successful.
Monday, November 21, 2016
We've fallen back into the routine of village life again. School and language project work through the early afternoon, then we each fan out into the community. The kids usually go out to play with their friends. One day this week Sarah walked out to our garden and came back with four beautiful pineapples, and another day Aaron and I walked to the garden to weed and plant green beans and pumpkins.
Leku came over one afternoon to help out our struggling watermelon patch. She had noticed that we have vines and flowers like crazy, but no fruit. So, she and her sister poked a stick through the base of each vine and pruned the tips of each vine, too. Leku promised that it works every time for their watermelons, and since the seeds I planted are from her watermelons, I think we'll give it a try and see what happens!
Yesterday afternoon, I set out to do some specific language learning on comparatives. When I was at market on Wednesday morning, I realized I didn't know how to say "the smallest pineapple" or the "ripest papaya." I set out with some pieces of orange card stock that I had cut in various lengths and widths. In both places where I stopped for "school," my friends had trouble comparing more than two things. When the suffix "-ril" is added to an adjective it means something like "less than." So "bakeilaril" means "a little less big," "sosonaril" means "a little less long," and "kasakasaril" means "a little less thin." On the way home, I came across these two sisters sitting on a bench. They were kind to let me take their picture. As some of the oldest ladies in our village, I don't know how much longer we will get to enjoy their company.
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
I leaned over the rail and asked her what she was doing, and she told me she was using a halea (bivalve shellfish) shell to scrape the bark. Her son had a boil on his hand, and this bark would make a good medicine to help his hand heal. She would mix the bark with water, boil it, let it cool, then rub the mixture over his hand.
Aaron was also back to work today. He spent the morning gathering the community calendar from the village leaders. So many events will be held in the next six weeks, and Aaron needs to be able to plan the translation team's work around the community events. After lunch, Aaron paddled over to see Ezekiel but found him gone. Just after Aaron landed back in Marulaon, he saw Ezekiel and Janet paddling their canoe past Marulaon and back to their village. Aaron waved and hollered that he would come back to see them tomorrow.
Somehow, I always forget how beautiful it is here. Every time we come back, and I go out on our porch early in the morning, I'm overcome with the peace and beauty that God has placed here. Yesterday morning, I was reading in Ezekiel and was convicted when I read "Go through the streets of Jerusalem and put a mark on the forehead of everyone who is in anguish over the outrageous obscenities being done in the city." (Ezekiel 9:4) God reminded me that in the midst of the stresses of moving again and adjusting cross culturally again, he was more concerned about my heart and my attitude than my surroundings. Did I care about my heart in the chaos? Did I care about my neighbor's hearts and lives?
The unpacking and settling in is going well. Having four older, very capable children helps things go quickly. We finished washing all of the dishes and unloading all of the boxes yesterday, and I enjoyed delivering almost all of the pictures I had printed in Australia. Today, we've been washing windows, mopping (again), weeding and trying to tame the overgrown yard, and cleaning all of the school books. We were able to harvest a small bowl of cherry tomatoes and none of our school books seem to be damaged by little critters or mold. Sarah's clothes didn't fare so well, one of her shirts hanging in the closet was molding.
Monday, November 14, 2016
Our trip yesterday went as well as possible, thank you to everybody who was praying. We don't take smooth trips for granted. Aaron and I woke up the kids at 5:00, and by 6:00 we had colleagues dropping in to see if there was anything they could do to help. I do love my SITAG family! We had plenty of helping hands at the wharf and quickly had all of the cargo up on the second deck of the ship. The seas were calm when we pulled out at 9:00, but several of us felt the weather was warmer than usual.
The result was that Olivia (yet again) lost her beef jerkey over the side of the ship shortly before we reached Yandina at 3:00. We saw a few familiar faces in the crowds, and I was able to carry on a few conversations from my perch on the ship by yelling down to my friends on the wharf. After two hours of unloading cargo, we finally left Yandina. I was engrossed in reading my book, "The Radium Girls", when I heard Aaron exclaim, "It's a funnel cloud!" We have NEVER seen a funnel cloud of any sort here in the Solomon Islands, so this little water spout was a delight to watch. It lasted for several minutes, but even when it disappeared, the skies were dark and spitting rain.
This made the decks of the ship super slick (several of our shipmates slipped and fell)! After another hour and a half of travel, we finally arrived at Marulaon. The canoes lined up four deep to get people and cargo off the ship, so we had to wait for a while. Leonard took the first boat of cargo, then Belza took the second boat, and finally the whole family was able to pile into Leonard's canoe, along with the very heavy gas cylinder. By this time, it was totally dark, so Leonard slowly eased the canoe along toward the shore, keeping a careful eye out for the clear path to avoid the sharp coral when we neared land. We dragged ourselves out of the boat, so grateful for all of the helping hands, and began to cart boxes and buckets up the hill. I think we finally had everything up to the house just before 7:30, and then we started rotating through cold showers while others pulled out the clean sheets and began making beds. From start to finish, we depended on others for help yesterday: help from SITAG, help from our Marulaon neighbors, and help from people around the world who were petitioning God's strength and energy on our behalf.