This month, I'm posting an entry each day from my 2002 journal, when we were living in the Solomon Islands, finishing up a New Testament translation project in the Arosi language. Most of my journal entries were written either in Honiara (the capital city on the island of Guadalcanal) or in Tawatana (our village home on the island of Makira) just to the left of the red dot called Kira Kira. We traveled between those two locations by cargo ship.
What is the most dreaded sound for a missionary?
The howling of angry natives in the night? The snapping of hungry crocodiles' jaws? The rattle of machine-gun fire in the neighborhood?
No, no, and no.
The most dreaded sound for the missionary would be the sound of packing tape ripping off the roll. And the fateful sound been reverberating around our house most of the time for the past few days.
Tuesday night we heard that the ship was leaving for the village Wednesday afternoon. This provoked a veritable packing-tape frenzy. At the end of two hours of said mania, Andy looked at me and said, "This is crazy. There's no way we can be ready by noon tomorrow." And then it turned out that that ship didn't go anyway.
But hey, we're packed now.
Now it looks like we'll be going tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon, about 4 p.m., on a ship called the Bulawa. The Bulawa is, unfortunately, taking the scenic route—24 hours instead of 14. We get to tour half of the "weather coast" of Makira, before turning back to take another look at it, then finally cruising around to our side of the island.
The last time we toured the "weather coast", we found out they'd called it that for a reason. The weather. It was a major factor, especially as it pertained to the roughness of the sea. I didn't see a lot of the scenery, mostly concentrating on the inside of my eyelids or on the water directly below the railing.
The good news this time is that this is cyclone season. I'm serious, that really is good news. Because in between cyclones, the sea is very fine. And we're in between. So maybe this time around I'll actually enjoy it a bit more.
Also we are trying a new seasickness remedy, Vicks in the belly-button. We've heard this works, and we're out to give it the acid test.
I don’t know what kind of reception we will get in the village. We last visited as a family in December 1999. A few months after that visit, we were evacuated from the country after a coup. Now here we are again. I wonder what they will think of our return. The community is so tight-knit, all families and clans—is there a place for us again? How will my kids be, after so long away?
The Vicks in the belly-button was an unqualified disaster. But in fairness to the Vicks corporation, I have to admit that we bought the store brand rather than real Vicks. Maybe the cheaper stuff is missing some vital ingredient.
The whole thing probably needs more serious testing, but I won’t be volunteering. Next time, I’ll just be taking Dramamine right off the bat. Or somebody could just hit me over the head with the bat. Either way.
Once we arrived in the village, though, everything was great. As soon as the kids on shore saw us climbing down into the dinghy, they ran into the water and swam out to meet us--all screaming, waving, and shooting water with bamboo water guns. “Mom,” said Libby, “I feel like a celebrity.”
When we got to shore, the adults waded out to hold the dinghy steady, to lift the kids out, to shake hands, to carry the luggage, to laugh and greet us.
Our front yard had been weeded and cleared, our door was open, and some young girls had been in to sweep and mop and wash the horizontal glass louvres. They had even washed the curtains. And we’d only been in the house about ten minutes when a steady stream of food began arriving at our door--bananas, pineapples, sweet potato soup.