I woke up early this Sunday morning to put mini egg casseroles, cinnamon rolls and orange rolls in the oven. No, it wasn’t for coffee time at church, but breakfast for the Choate family. Aaron and Joanna Choate and their four kiddos are serving the Lavukal speaking people of the Russell Islands. They are about the givingest kind of family you would ever want to meet.
For the past few months, they have sacrificed of their time and energies to live in town and serve the needs of our group here. They regularly host folks for meals. Aaron helped in admin in the office and filled in as ‘Acting Director’ when we went to Bangkok for meetings. And they generally help out wherever they are needed with a gracious and cheerful attitude.
This morning, it was our turn to give a little in gratitude for the Choates and to send them on their way back to their village home for a couple of months. Going to the village means purchasing supplies for their time away and packing them up. They also have to pack up all their ‘in-town’ belongings to put in storage. It’s a lot of work and emotional energy to say the least.
We loaded up the baked goods and a thermos of hot coffee and headed to the wharf about 7 am. It was pretty quiet on the wharf and we made our way to the Kosco, the ship that will take them to the Russells. The Choates had come down in the early morning to claim a corner of the deck that will be their spot for the trip to the village. A bench on the deck served as the breakfast bar.
The ship pulled out around 9 am. The Kosco has changed it’s routing and their village is no longer a port of call. They and all their cargo will need to get off at another spot and be transported to their village in a small fiberglas boat with outboard motor. They are hoping they arrive before nightfall.
Other members of our SITAG family came down to the ship to say good-bye and spend time with the Choates before they left. The MK’s played card games on the deck, explored the ship and generally just hung out together. The other village-based family will be heading out this week and these kids won’t see each other again until April – a sobering thought on which no one wanted to dwell.
Tim prayed for them before we gathered up the pans and thermos and headed back to our house. When Joanna stood up, I noticed the back of her shirt which read: “If not US, then Who? If not me and you, if not now, then when? RIGHT NOW, it’s the time for us to do something.”
For the Choate Family – they are ones doing something. It’s big, it’s hard and it’s tough. It’s not easy trying to home school four kids and live in a village far from the conveniences of life in the USA. It’s not easy to learn the Lavukalave language – it’s one of the most difficult languages in the Solomon Islands. It’s just not easy, but the Choates keep on doing it.
The Kosco must be chugging along on its way to the Russell Islands with the Choate family aboard. They have chosen to DO something NOW and we are grateful.