Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Back to Ono

Back on Ono,

We've been back a week in Ono from our 10-day trip to the neighboring 40-mile long island of Kadavu. There's so much to tell about our experiences in Nabukulevuira village at the western tip of Kadavu. We met some delightfully generous people with interesting lives and ways of living. We were welcomed to an annual feast celebrating the completion of the planting of the yam crop. The welcoming included being dressed properly in the clothing expected of the event, and then given the clothing as gifts.

I'm sad to have gotten behind on chronicling these experiences but am eager to jump back to fill folks in on our latest time in Ono.

It has been raining for 3 days. We had been filling our 5 gallon jug daily at each village we happened to be in. Two empty water tanks and one almost empty one had us on short rations. But now we literally have tanks that were overflowing. We've filled all extra receptacles, done a load of diapers, given some delicious drinking water away, and still have an overabundance. The only drawback to the rain is that we had done about 3 loads of laundry ashore, the day before the rain came. Now the clothes are still not completely dry. Also, I've had to postpone my weaving lessons with a local grandma, Tara.

I'm also grateful for the last week of teaching at the Bible School which is in full swing. Cecil Lowe, a YWAMer from New Zealand spoke about how unforgiveness and distorted views of God keep us from fully accepting the love of a Father that doesn't have any of the hangups of our earthly parents. For example, if a child has an angry or distant parent, they feel insecure and perceive God as judgmental, angry and unreachable. This teaching has been refreshing for me spiritually, and challenging me to love Eloise with God's help. Here is a verse that Cecil used, "So you should not be like cowering, fearful slaves. You should behavie instead like God's very own children, adopted into his family - calling him 'Father, dear Father.' For his spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us that we are God's children. And since we are his children, we will share his treasures…" Romans 8:15 - 17

Speaking of children and treasures…Eloise is happily continuing to explore her world, find humor in people and things, and practice eating with spoons and forks. Her sign language vocabulary grows by two or three words each week. She's outstripped what I know so we are making up signs for her, or she makes up her own. Her spoken vocabulary now includes "pah pah" for papayas or any other round green fruit, and "hah" for hot. She sings every day as she plays or sometimes in her bed. She's absolutely delightful. I'm looking forward to people back in the U.S. getting to meet her. The entire population of about 100 children in Vabea village know her name. Sometimes a child we've never seen before will ask us where is Eloise, or call out to her as we walk past, "Eloesi, Eloesi." If we are walking without her, the children want to know where Eloise is and when she is coming to land. She doesn't even know that there is so much fuss over her, and squawks if more than one or two kids surround her or try to corral her for kisses.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Plan

We have a plan! And we have plane tickets to prove it, thanks to our sister-in-law, Brooke.

Nomad will be heading toward Hawaii in November. Brian and his friend, Jeff Ault will leave Fiji and travel 2800 miles of an unconventional sailing route to get Nomad closer to Santa Cruz. This trip should take close to a month. They will pass over the equator, possible hitching a ride east on the equatorial counter current, then pass the Line Islands up to the Hawaiian Islands. Once in Hawaii, Nomad will await our return in early summer to sail him to somewhere between Alaska and Portland (we haven't decided yet) and then down to Santa Cruz.

While Brian and Jeff are sailing, Eloise and I will fly to California and busily attempt to get our new home set up before Brian gets there in December. "The Dome" is where my Grandma Krake lived before she suddenly ended up in nursing facilities before her death. We have many good memories of sitting in the living room with my grandma playing the piano for us. The dome belongs to my mom and is only about 300 meters up the hill from where her driveway starts. Renting this place makes us very excited because it is in a beautiful setting for Eloise to explore, it's a short walk down to visit Mom, and I can garden to my heart's content.

Returning Nomad to Santa Cruz also makes us excited because he needs some cosmetic projects and other projects done, and we like sailing with our friends aboard. It also puts us in a good position to do short trips into the Pacific once Eloise is old enough to be a helpful mini crew member.

So, that's the current plan. Eloise has no idea that her life on a boat is soon to be over. This makes me sad. There are so many things that she knows and understands already that would be irrelevant to a child in a house. For example, today she looked out of the cockpit onto the side deck, saw Brian's handline, and made the sign for fish. She knows that a coil of plastic line can bring a beautiful flopping creature aboard. She also knows those creatures are yummy. Or, when the sound of an outboard approaches, she knows it is a boat with people in it, and waves, even if we are inside and she can't see them. She also can distinguish when that outboard belongs to our dinghy or an unknown boat. Eloise also knows that when we're in the dinghy, if she peeks over the side while in my arms, she can see coral and fish while we're moving. She likes to do this. I know that the transition to a house will be hard on her. She'll have to re-learn routines and people and rules. It's a good thing she has a trusty (crusty) blanket and me to hang on to during that month without Daddy, in a new bed, new house, etc.

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

School started

Eloise is happily playing with some fabric scraps on the floor. Rain is pouring steadily into our two blue buckets from our awning. A winter day aboard Nomad in Fiji is cold enough for hoodies and pants and bare feet.
A short while ago, Brian put on his foul weather jacket and went ashore to look at the school's generator. He's got quite a reputation already. He and Richard did a common sense maintenance program on the village generator and now it runs. He's been called in like a visiting doctor to make pronouncement on a dead chainsaw,
attempted to resurrect a broken washing machine and asked to repair a TV. But most of his time has been on the village generator, or setting up tents for the male students to live in..

Tomorrow is the first day of teaching ashore for the Discipleship Training Course. The speaker arrives on the ferry today. I just saw a longboat (aka skiff) head out from the village toward the bay where the ferry pulls in. All the students have already arrived from other villages or were from this village. 20 in all. They have been getting to know each other under the leadership of Richard and Thelma and doing work chores. Tuesday was a love feast which was supposed to be for students and their families. It turned into a feast for the entire village. Over one hundred people ate and enjoyed the pig, chicken, cassava, taro root, fish and taro leave pudding. The pig and root veggies were cooked under ground in the traditional lovo of hot coals and rocks covered by palm branches and old flour sacks. I watched three men hack a recently living pig into pieces while the village dogs lay panting nearby, eyeing the offal.

My contribution to the feast was to cook a triple batch of my mom's chocolate cake recipe and a double batch of coconut cookies. Eloise's contribution was to take a three hour nap so that I had time to do a baking frenzy.

And now on to Eloise…
She's a toddler for sure. I was surprised yesterday when I saw her crawling. But then I realized she was crawling backwards to climb down an edge. She has been sick since about the second day that we arrived here at the village. Fijians have a cute custom of kissing babies as soon as they see them. They are continually nudging their children toward Eloise saying, "give her a kiss". This is pretty cute until the face of the child that is approaching my child's face is slimy with large snot trails. So Eloise has had a cold, pinkeye, and some sort of diarrheal joy. On top of that, she started working on producing a new tooth.
Despite the sickness, Eloise is still learning and changing. She learns new signs every week. "sleep" and "baby" are her two newest ones. She enjoys taking lids off of tubs or jars and trying to put them back on. Hide and Seek makes her giggle. She is an avid reader, turning pages in her books, pointing, signing, talking, and flipping to find favorite pictures. She also tries to make the crowing noises of the village roosters. She had liked roosters for many months, ever since we started reading her Richard Scarry's "The Rooster Struts". She can even strut, and does so when asked!

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Friday, September 2, 2011

Everything I Need

My Grandma Krake spent the few weeks of her life with a six-foot long strip of paper taped to her nursing home wall. It had "The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need," printed on it in bright blue ink. I made that for her because she told me about a vision of seeing those very words from Psalm 23 floating in front of her. She described the color of blue in great detail. She was quite taken with the color blue that year, the year of being passed from one Medicare-covered nursing facility to the next. Many of her dreams were in blue, or of blue things. She talked it over with a visiting chaplain who asserted that blue was a heavenly color. That pleased her. It pleased me for her sake because if I had to lie in a bed with tubes stuck down my throat and nose for a number of months with one visitor a day I'd be needing to see heavenly visions to want to keep living.

During the last few months of Grandma's life, the tubes were out and the State found a place in Santa Cruz for her to move to. The place was cheerless. I don't remember a single pleasant nurse, possibly because it would be difficult to work there and remain pleasant. Regardless, Grandma believed she had everything she needed. And she really did. A day or two before she before she died, Grandma told a visitor her life story. It was full of gratitude to God for his kindnesses to her. After the visitor left, I asked Grandma what it felt like to be so close to seeing God after all these years. Her tired eyes closed and she shook her head gently back and forth on her pillow. "Peace, peace, peace," she said with a wide smile. She was brim full of the last thing she would ever need in this life - peace with God.

I used some Tapatio hot sauce and was reminded of my Grandma's verse today. We ran out of Tapatio sauce some time in 2009. With Mexico 6000 miles, Nomad was not bound to have any of this tasty condiment gracing his shelves any time soon. Or so we thought. A couple of months ago, in Tonga, a person on a charter boat dinghied over to see if we wanted their leftover food because their charter trip was over. That's where our bottle of Tapatio came from. We also acquired a roll of plastic wrap in this manner. I don't use the stuff so I wasn't sure whether to keep it. But we needed that plastic wrap last week. The 10 used 20-liter vegetable oil containers Marine Reach was given for transporting the outboard fuel from Lautoka to Ono Island didn't have gaskets. Brian discovered this when filling them the evening before we headed out. Without gaskets in the lids, the fuel would either slosh out under way, or get sea water inside. Plastic wrap was the simple solution.

So, a bottle of hot sauce and a roll of plastic are good reminders to me this week that with God as my shepherd, I have everything I need, and more!

A few days later….Eloise got pink-eye! I was trying to think what I might have in my medical kit when Brian reminded me of the drops he used when he rammed his open eye into the end of the dinghy anchor in New Zealand. He had quite a flap on the eye and Annette used her many connections to have some antibiotic eyedrops delivered directly to the boat (Thanks Bill and Noelene!). The dropper bottle specifically says, "for the treatment of bacterial conjunctivitis." One more example of having what we need when we need it. Thanks Brian! Thanks Annette! Thanks God!

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