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A number of years ago, Tim and I were asked to help a young Australian teacher learn more about the literacy work we do. The young woman’s name was Karen and it was clear that she had the right skill-set to work cross-culturally and teach literacy. We encouraged her to get further training and come back. She did that, and now she is one of our colleagues.
Today, Karen is making a difference in the lives of many women who have never had the opportunity to learn to read. She has developed a Bible-based literacy program that incorporates learning how to read with Scripture and song. She started in the Pijin language and is now branching out to other languages. She trains local teachers how to use the program and is leaving scores of happy women in her wake who can now read God’s Word for themselves.
But Karen’s ministry here isn’t limited to literacy. She has befriended many young women who have needed a Christian friend to help them over some bumps in life. She is compassionate and patient and at the same time shows tough love when it is needed.
Then there are Karen’s younger friends. She loves babies and kids and they love her. ‘Aunt’ Karen is loved by the MK’s and they enjoy spending time with her. And then there is her namesake, ‘Baby Karen’, the child of one of Karen’s many friends.
Today we had the privilege of helping to celebrate ‘Small Karen’s’ 2nd birthday. In a pink dress at morning tea time, we sang happy birthday and ate pink iced cake. Small Karen was delighted with the attention and it was a blessing to help celebrate this little gift from God.
It also felt like we were celebrating ‘Big’ Karen as well. You can see in the photos how very much she loves this little girl and how much ‘Small Karen’ loves her. It’s a beautiful thing to see and we are grateful for our compassionate and fun loving friend and colleague, Karen.
This dolly was our gift to Small Karen – I was tickled to find a doll with brown skin, though I’m not sure what to think about the blue eyes on the doll! : )
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.
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Tim and Martha
In 2009, the Solomon Islands National Parliament unveiled a permanent Bible Display. It houses a ceremonial canoe that was carved to hold the Pijin Bible when it was launched and the display includes all the New Testaments or full Bibles that have been completed since 1978 – the year of the country’s independence.
Today we were blessed to be able to hold a special program at Parliament to place the newly published Kwaio New Testament which will be dedicated on Easter weekend. Parliament is ‘sitting’ at the moment, so the program was held during the lunch break.
The Speaker of Parliament joined us for the program as well as quite a number of Members of Parliament. The history of the translation project was shared and Julie Pierce, the translation advisor read some verses from Titus in the Kwaio language and then told how those verses had touched the life of a Kwaio woman when she heard the them read to her in the own language.
One of Members of Parliament placed the Kwaio New Testament in the display case along side the other Bibles. An Anglican priest who is a Kwaio speaker participated in the program and prayed that the Kwaio New Testament would touch the lives of his people. He said – the Kwiao people won’t have any excuse now not to obey God’s Word, because now they will really understand it!
We then enjoyed cake and coffee with the members of Parliament and the other staff. It was a wonderful experience and once again we marvel at the amazing support for Bible translation in this country.
This week has brought rain and flooding to the Solomon Islands. There are about 14 confirmed deaths and many more missing people. Today Tim and I walked through town and took some photos. The Mataniko River has flooded and trees, houses, people, anything in its way was carried away.
It will take a long time for life to return to normal in this country. Please pray for the Solomon Islands and those affected by this natural disaster.
Here’s our latest newsletter. Thanks for your interest, prayers and support!
Click on the link to open the PDF file.
A couple of weeks ago I flipped on the radio in the car on my way home. I was surprised to hear an advertisement for a new radio program that would be starting in a few weeks on the topic of “Languages of the Solomon Islands”.
I went down to the radio station the next week to find out about the program and find out if there were ways that we could help provide resource people and information. My friend Karen and I sat down with Moddie, the host of the radio program. Moddie explained that it has been on her heart to start a program on languages, but she was happy to have some help on ideas for program topics. Karen has an MA in linguistics and loves to talk about languages – especially from the Solomon Islands.
Moddie asked us to come back to the station today so she could interview Karen for the radio show. Karen recorded two programs today and they will start airing this Thursday all over the country.
What a wonderful opportunity to be able to share about languages around the Solomons and share about Bible translation work.
One of our translation team members out in the village came down with malaria last week. She began treatment and soon was feeling better. But along with the malaria came a case of cellulitis and blisters covered her legs.
The family takes a supply of medicines with them, and after consulting with a doctor by email (sent via their two way radio), she began a course of anti-biotics. They only had enough drugs to get them through Thursday night, so more drugs were purchased and we began looking for a ship heading in their direction that could carry the package out to them.
A local dive company often takes divers to the beautiful islands where this family lives. A phone call to the company office confirmed their plans to go to islands and their willingness to take the package. The ship was due to leave Thursday afternoon.
Yesterday I packed the drugs, a few veggies and their mail and took it to the dive office. Later the woman called to say that the dive shipped planned on getting to the Russells on Sunday afternoon. I thanked them, but my heart sank as I thought about Joanna’s blisters and the much needed drugs that would keep the healing process going. What would happen if she didn’t have the antibiotics for two days?
This morning the office manager from the dive company called to say that the ship’s captain had called to say that they had changed plans and were now going to be in the Russell Islands THIS morning (Friday). The captain said that if the family didn’t get word in time, he would leave the meds in the hands of the village chief and they could pick up the package from him later.
Wow. The God who calms the seas can also change the direction of a ship full of tourists out on a dive tour. I guess I shouldn’t really be surprised, but oh, my heart is happy this morning.