Christmas has arrived at our house. Over the weekend we set up our Christmas tree and decorated the house.
One of our traditions is to light advent candles each Sunday of advent. I brought back some candles in our shipment from the USA, but unfortunately used them up. I’ve scoured Honiara and could only find some very basic white candles.
With the help of some crayons that I melted, I’ve managed to add a colored layer to the candles. They aren’t perfect, but all things considered, we are pretty pleased with the results.
The workshop went well today. The students have now learned the first half of the coursework which involves teaching students to read and write stories. We finished the workshop by 2:30. Tomorrow we start training them to teach the phonics part of the program.
After the workshop, I walked through the village. It was quiet and I didn’t see many people, although I did see a few escaping the hot afternoon sun by taking a nap. Others were probably out tending their gardens or harvesting food for their dinners. The trail through the village curves and follows the coastline. It’s a pretty village with flowers growing along the path and around people’s houses.
At 4:30 we gathered around the two-way radio to talk to our office in Honiara. A friend in Honiara was able to buy us tickets on a ship that is making a trip to the other end of the island. We will have to meet the ship at the provincial capital of Buala. In order to get there, we will hire someone to take us in his fiberglass boat with a 40 horsepower outboard motor. We will leave here Friday morning, expecting the journey to Buala to take 5 – 6 hours. The ship is due to leave Buala Friday night and travel through the night with an expected arrival in Honiara early morning on Saturday. The air conditioned cabin is already booked, so we will have seats in the second class cabin where Tim sat on the way out. If it all works out, we should get into town in time for Emily to attend the youth group retreat.
Here it’s always a relief when you can get to your destination although often it is often not by ‘Plan A’.
Dark clouds on the horizon threatened rain most of the afternoon. It finally came around dusk with a very heavy downfall making quite a racket on the corrugated iron roof. It will be nice to be able to take showers again rather than bathing with dipperfuls of water from a basin.
With the rain came flying insects that descended on the house. It is a bit of a mystery how they get in the house, but soon there were hundreds of them swarming around the lights and on the walls. After a while they die and fall to the floor. It’s quite annoying when they come in as it makes it difficult to do much of anything. This morning (Wednesday) there were piles of them to sweep up off the floor. These insects do not come everytime it rains, but every once in a while the conditions must be right and they descend in droves!
We are overwhelmed by all the love and concern of so many family members and friends regarding the earthquake and tsunami here in the Solomons. As many of you know by now, we felt the earthquake here in the capital city, but the epicenter of the quake and subsequent damage occurred in the western part of the Solomon Islands.
A couple of hours after the earthquake, I was in the market. I noticed there was a lot of commotion in the market and an unsettled feeling. Suddenly I realized that many people were looking out to sea and pointing. When I asked a woman what people were looking at, she told me a tidal wave. The sea was almost flat calm, but there was a small steady wave that came to shore with a ‘hissing sound’. Later we heard that it was only about 6″ high.
Of course the real story is out in the Western Province where they are assessing damage today. There are lives lost and many left homeless.
One of the islands hit the hardest was Simbo Island. If you have been following the blog, you may remember an entry called, ‘Coming Alongside’ on February 24
https://matzkemission.com/2007/02/coming-alongside.html which featured a picture of our national colleague, Joshua Lui.
Joshua is from Simbo Island and had just returned to the Western Province after attending a workshop here in the capital city. He was in the city of Gizo at the home of a relative when they noticed the water rising and quickly ran for higher ground. We are thankful that Joshua and the family members with him were unharmed although Joshua lost his bag with his belongings.
Our group here is taking up a collection for Tsunami relief which we will give to Joshua so that he can show Christ’s love to those in need on his island and the surrounding area where people are suffering. If you would like to contribute to this fund, please contact us for details.
As you might expect, we have a lot of bananas in the Solomon Islands. What you might find surprising is that there are many many varieties available. Some bananas have to be cooked, others can be eaten right off the hand and some can be either cooked or eaten fresh. Some bananas are tiny – 3-4″ long and others nearly a foot in length.
Yesterday as I walked through the market, I saw a type of banana I hadn’t seen before so I decided to try them. As you can see they are a bit red on the outside, but the flesh has a red tint as well. They are very tasty bananas.
When we are in the USA we don’t eat many bananas because they tend to be rather tasteless and disappointing to us. The variety of bananas sold in the USA were probably chosen because they ship well. Bananas here are tree ripened and we’d have to say they taste much better as a result!
Last Saturday when we went to the beach, Emily and her friend Grant found coconut which had begun to sprout. Emily and Grant got excited because it holds a special treat.
They took a bush knife (machete) to the coconut to get through the thick
fibrous husk. They hacked at that until they could peel the husk off the shell.
A final ‘whack’ and the shell splits open. Inside the shell is a pithy white flesh which is the ‘germ’ of the coconut seed. The kids love to eat this slightly sweet treat which is called vara.