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photo for the day – narrow airstrip

September 27, 2016

I flew to the capital on Friday for a week of meetings and other work. This plane was coming in for landing at the airstrip near Gizo in western Solomon Islands. I soon boarded it and flew to Honiara.



photo for the day – village volleyball match

September 24, 2016

These men in our village take their pickup volleyball matches almost as seriously as their soccer.

a new awning made of leaves

September 6, 2016

Our landlord made a new awning for our kitchen window.

Here’s the old awning. It kept our clean dishes mostly dry, but it was pretty worn out and let some rain in.

A few days ago, he asked to use our kitchen knife. He then cut up fronds of a large palm tree. He removed the spiny edges of the leaves and did other prep work before I got the camera. They were giant leaves of a giant tree called true sago palm (Metroxylon sagu), an amazing, multi-purpose tree.

Then he folded the pieces of leaves and lined them up on a large stick that he had cut from another plant.

Next, he secured the row of fronds by sewing them together. Usually people use part of a certain vine as the “thread” to sew the leaves together, but here he used plastic packaging straps he salvaged from something.

Closer-up of him sewing:

In the next picture, he’s using a stack of leaves by his left elbow to sew together a second panel of leaves.

Once he had sewn several of these leaf panels, he removed the old leaf panels from above the window. Then he nailed the new panels, one by one, to the frame of our window.

In the picture below, he has nailed on all of the panels and is now nailing on a strip of wood to secure the top panel.

You can see the new awning compared with an old awning over another part of the kitchen. In about a week, the green leaves will dry to a light brown.

By lunch time, the new awning was in place. Standing inside the kitchen looking out, we can see that the panels are tied to the wood frame with vines cut from the jungle.

It keeps all of the rain off of our clean dishes. We’re glad to have a good landlord. John pointed out that Ecclesiastes 10:18 makes more sense now: “Laziness leads to a sagging roof; idleness leads to a leaky house” (NLT).


[tags: palm trees, nature, tropical construction]

G loves soccer

May 31, 2016

This is the essence of Little G now at age 17 months.

If you understand this picture, you understand most of Little G’s personality.

A soccer ball, scratches, and unflinching determination.

You’re amusing to him. He likes you. But if you’re in his way, he will take you down.


[tags: Little G, soccer]

Pacific drought and increased disease

May 31, 2016

Recently there has been a drought throughout much of the South Pacific. Many of our coworkers have asked for prayers for rain – their rain tanks are almost empty, and water supplies (usually piped to the village from a river or stream) are going dry. Please pray that God would send needed rain to refill rain tanks, replenish fresh water aquifers, and help gardens grow.

We have been thankful that here on Kolombangara, our rain tank is full. We have been receiving regular rain here. The name of the island, Kolombangara, actually means “water king” (“kolo” is water, “mbangara” is king or god) and is said to originate from all the rivers around the island, running down from the central mountain peak.

One of our coworkers recently sent us the following article, talking about the cause for the drought in this area of the Pacific: When the Rains Disappear: Drought Grips Pacific Islands

The article states that the drought has caused an increase in disease. There is currently an outbreak of conjunctivitis (often called pink eye in the U.S. and called red eye here) in the Solomons and elsewhere. Unfortunately even though we have lots of rain on Kolombangara, our island is still affected.

Here’s an article about the outbreak on a different island in the Solomons: Red-Eye on the rise in Auki

On Sunday last week someone offhandedly commented to me, “Be careful, red eye is going around.” I didn’t think much of it. On Monday, M started medicine. By Tuesday, Lori and G had started medicine. By Wednesday, I was on medicine too. And we were telling D to wash his hands all the time.

Thankfully, D did not get it (how did he manage to avoid that?) and the rest of the family has almost fully recovered. My eyes are still quite red and uncomfortable, but they’re much less painful than last week. I wanted to post a picture of how red they were last week, but Lori said gross pictures like that aren’t blog-appropriate.

Please pray for our neighbors here in our village, as many have red eye this week. Pray also for many throughout the country who are affected as well.


[tags: prayer requests, Solomon Islands, health, weather, Pacific]

Big Dog and Little Dog

May 29, 2016

Meet Big Dog and Little Dog.

Two stuffed animals at our house really needed baths this week. D and M eagerly soaped them up and dunked them in the wash tub. All six animals ended up getting thoroughly bathed: Caterpillar, Caterpillar, Horse, Cow, Big Dog, and Little Dog.

I can’t mock the names. As a child, I named two of my teddy bears “Little Ted” and “Huge Ted.”

All six hung on the clothesline for a few days to dry. It’s always very humid here, and unfortunately, the past few days have been even more humid, raining most of the time. Caterpillar, Caterpillar, Horse, and Cow are dry by now. Big Dog started to reek yesterday, so John rinsed him and hung him in the sun all day yesterday. Little Dog is almost dry enough to be allowed back inside, but he wants to keep Big Dog company.

Big Dog is almost dry. D and M check or ask us every few hours if Big Dog is dry yet.

Big Dog and Little Dog are currently enjoying the afternoon sitting on a wicker chair in the sun.

If this sunning doesn’t work, Big Dog may have to get new stuffing. These two dogs hail from my older sister’s childhood and have migrated here from the U.S., so I’ll feel pretty bad if we have to give Big Dog a stuffing transplant. Better than having a Dog get moldy.

Dry, Dog, dry!


becoming a lumberjack

May 27, 2016

Following up on the post Lori did a few weeks ago on village work days, I recently went to the jungle with other men from the village to go saw timber. The timber is for the new church building. Here’s part of the process to get timber here on Kolombangara. It’s a bit different than going to your local lumberyard!

When a large tree of a certain variety is found, it is often then marked to be used for a certain project. This tree was about a mile hike from the village. The path there is pretty good, but it’s steep and muddy in some locations, and it crosses two streams.

Here’s the stump that remained after the tree was felled. The base isn’t round; it has buttresses.

The first step was to cut off the bottom of the trunk where it wasn’t round. This piece was cut off and is shown below.

The men then used chainsaws to cut the main section of the trunk into three sections that are each about 12 feet long. These sections were then cut in half lengthwise, so the trunk could be split and laid open like a hot dog bun, as shown in the picture below.

The next step is to cut a strip along the length of the trunk (the very top of the semicircle In the picture above). This creates a square corner running the length of the trunk upon which to base the cuts for all the rest of the pieces of timber.

They mark the line with a chalk line, and then one man cuts that straight along the 12-foot length. It’s impressive to watch them cut a perfectly straight line, especially since I know how heavy their large chainsaws are! This cut is done freehand with a chainsaw, as shown below.

Then they attach a frame to the chainsaw to cut this piece into 4 inch “slabs.”

The next picture shows the next step, where they lift the slab up onto a short post in order to cut it into boards.

At this site there were sometimes three chainsaws all being used at the same time in close proximity. Below, one man is cutting the slab into boards with the chainsaw and frame while another man cuts the edge off of one of the trunk sections.

Here is a picture of the cross section of the tree, approximately 45 feet up from the base of the tree. I counted about 70 rings. Do trees make annual rings in tropical climates? I learned that bit of biology in a place that has a growing season and winter and don’t know if it applies here, where the growing season never stops.

We worked until the chainsaw fuel ran out and then ate lunch. Ladies cooked food that morning and then carried it for a mile out to the work site. Out in the jungle a large leaf serves as a plate, and a piece of bark or coconut husk is the spoon.

The boards are then stacked up against a log (tied up to two posts with vines) to begin to dry.

A few days later, the men carry the boards back to the village. The wood is dense and still wet, so each man just carries one or two boards at a time. A certain variety of small red ant lives in these trees and has a very painful bite. I had a lot of bites on my upper arms and neck from these ants after I carried boards back to the village. The red marks last almost a week.

I noticed a group of bees attracted to the sap from a small tree that had been cut down. Unlike the ants they were thankfully more interested in the sap then us.