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.
We arrived back in Honiara, not according to plan. We had to come to town to finalize the sale of our Honiara house and to try to get the money out of the country before the falling Solomon dollar robs us of any more of the proceeds.
The last time I saw my house was the day we got evacuated from it: June 8, 2000. I had fifteen minutes’ notice to leave it. Andy has taken the kids back, but I’ve never gone. Too much loss; just let it go. So here we are to seal the deal.
Leaving the village by night was pretty spectacular. It was pitch black, overcast and raining lightly. We waited at a house near the beach, and the lady of the house had just opened her stone oven. She served us the most fantastic sweet potato baked with gallons of coconut cream.
When the cry came that the ship was coming, we grabbed our luggage, stumbling through the dark, wading across the creek, bumbling through the sand. The ship slowed down (which is always a relief, because we have seen it tool on by a time or two) and the ship’s dinghy buzzed toward us like a crazed hornet.
The rain stopped and some boys lit a bonfire of coconut leaves down the beach a ways, right at the edge of the water. They were dancing around it like a bunch of wild cannibals, which their great-grandfathers certainly were.
We got into the dinghy and headed out for the ship.
Everything was pitch black, and Jake was scared until we noticed the phosphorescence being churned up beside the dinghy.
Fire in the water, fire on the beach.
Then we got to the ship and we had to climb about 8 feet up a ladder on the side of the ship. From a bobbing dinghy onto a rolling ship. Nine years since the first time we did it, it still makes me nervous to see my little precious babies swarming up the side of the ship like monkeys. And I just had to watch, which meant that I lost sight of the horizon and so, just as soon as I crawled up the ladder and got my feet on deck, I lost all that wonderful sweet potato.