Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Our stay in Nauru has covered the U.S. fall/early winter season, by far my most favorite time of year. At the first, there was some discussion about missing scheduled activities at church, upcoming holidays, local events, birthdays of family plus our anniversary. As each event came and went, there was a bit of sadness at missing out on what was going on at home and missing being with others for our own celebrations. I hadn't mentioned, but one of my 'milestone' birthdays celebrated here was acknowledged by many of you and it truly MEANT A LOT knowing you hadn't forgotten me. That same birthday evening, some ladies from the church came to the house bringing gifts, explaining some Nauruan cultures, singing songs which gave me the surprise of my life .. or so I thought until this week. A few weeks earlier our upcoming wedding anniversary was mentioned in passing, but it wasn't made out to be a big deal at all. Now between that time and the anniversary date, I have become stricken with a somewhat debilitating back problem and have spent a lot of time laying on a hard surface waiting for some medicine to kick in. (BTW, work is a no-go for the remainder of our stay). Let's just say, our anniversary celebration had included a quiet day and a bowl of soup!

But anyway, back to my big surprise! Monday evening, I had just gotten up from the floor when someone knocked at the door. It was our neighbor girls bringing fruitcake and gifts in honor of our anniversary. They came in smiling, looking a little awkward as they presented their homemade gifts. Then, after we had sat and talked a while, they sang a song for us complete with candlelight and the Nauruan hand motions that I had seen at the Christmas program earlier this month. We were overjoyed at the expression of these young girls and the thought that came to my mind was "My heart is full." The Lord truly knows how to deliver a blessing, even when I didn't even know I was in need of one. In fact, that may be a good summation of what this trip has meant to me, "My heart is full."

Monday, December 21, 2009

The pig roast is history! After 7 straight days of rain, we awoke to blue skies! The roast was a huge success! Started with the selecting, transporting, housing; then the killing, cleaning, cooking; then the serving! I will spare you the pictures of the in between events, just showing the before and after. Everyone there (and they know pigs better than we do) said it was the best! The kids enjoyed the afternoon of competitive games and later received ribbons and recognition. All in all the day was well worth the anticipation!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sights and sounds of Christmas are on the island. Familiar carols are played over the loudspeakers at the shops, and an occasional tree and even a little outdoor lighting is seen on some houses. The school year finishes here December with the final day being their Christmas program and party. I was privileged to attend the festivities as one of the church ladies is a teacher and invited me to come along. It was quite a sight. Preschoolers all decked out in island garb, singing and dancing with their music and even doing some acrobatic moves. They were having a great time! And the audience loved it! Put a smile on my face the whole day!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Our pig roast has been postponed a week. It's hard to maintain an outdoor fire in a downpour! ... But the anticipation is building because of having to wait another week. I guess this feast business is the real deal!

Our attendance was back up on Sunday which was great! The wagon was full again with kids and we had a great lesson on the "busy angel Gabriel" in Luke 1.

Stay tuned for pig update SOON!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bad weather I know sometimes affects church attendance, and we found that to be true here as well. After all, it had rained nearly nonstop for 3 days, Thursday-Saturday, and on Sunday morning though it had let up a little, the attendance was down. Our outside meeting area, although covered for shade, was showing the effects of the rain too, so we met inside. One of the men said we could be in for this "westerly" for maybe 3 days, maybe 3 months ??? you just never know. This morning, Monday, it is raining again, but this feels just like a light shower compared to the past week. I am happy that we live on the top of the hill!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

One of the men in the church is from PNG and has been on the island for 2 years as a high school teacher. A faithful believer, he was a great encouragement to Adam and has been to us as well. He will be returning to PNG this month and so we are planning a send off for him. As my history reference states, "There can be no feast without a pig!" So we are planning a PIG ROAST! The folks are very excited about this and plans for the purchase, the kill, the clean and the cooking is underway. This should be happening within the next week, so will report on it soon.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Still reading the history and came across the fact that Nauru receives from 5 to 180 inches of rain each year ... quite a variation. Guess which year we are experiencing? As of day 74 on the island, we have had 47 days of rain, and the rain is not just a gentle shower, it is a straight-down, hard, no wind rain. We have conceded to the fact that the outdoor clothesline is not an option and have taken to hanging clothes in the house from the get go. At first on a small drying rack, and now we have erected a full length clothesline across the living room. It's just another reminder of the conveniences we take for granted. Today, take some time to be aware of what you have!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

We want to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving this week, and trust you enjoy your time with friends and family. Here's a thought ... as you gather together, take a moment to say a prayer for your missionaries, whoever they are and wherever they are. This is not a special prayer request from Nauru, but think of this ... No matter how careful we are to wash our hands, take our vitamins, look both ways before we cross the street, we are indeed in the Lord's hands and the recipient of His mercy and watchcare. What a lot we have to be thankful for!!! Happy Thanksgiving!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

As I mentioned, I have been reading some Nauruan history.
"The rat belongs to a harmless species .. which arrived from Japan on a ship. The rat is often a protagonist in legends, and symbolizes the ungrateful type, even so, the rat does not arouse any hostility."
This is a quote from the book, and now I will tell you why this was particularly interesting to me this week.

I have been able to continue working (sort of) while living here on this small island halfway around the world. The reliability of both electricity and internet service is sketchy, but the whole concept that I am able to work at all is still quite amazing to me. When in the US, I can work in the comfort and security of my own home; however, while here I must go to a central office where there is a LAN connection. On Friday, just as I was finishing up my last job, something caught my eye and as I looked over my shoulder I saw something run across the floor about 3-4 feet behind me. As I focused in on this "shadow" I recognized it as none other than a rat, tail included about a foot long! Unable to get past the manager's office door which was closed, he promptly climbed the wall, ran down the counter and behind the receptionist's monitor. She was facing the opposite direction totally unaware of the visitor. Across the room a girl (about 10 years old) was grinning ear to ear, but not the least bit alarmed. I, on the other hand, closed up shop and called it a day. I was sitting there wearing flipflops and the thought of this "harmless species" running across my feet or worse, biting my toes, gave me the creeps! I must admit, this had a more profound effect on me than the mice behind the apple box. I am scheduled to return to work on Monday .. I certainly hope the rat does not!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Have been reading some Nauruan history this past week. The island must have been a really beautiful place when the first outsiders came across it. I am always interested in history and how people relied upon their environment. In particular the coconut tree is called the "tree of life." Was told this week that you could build your entire house from the coconut tree plus sustain good health from the fruit. Think this is just amazing and what a testament to God's creation. The arrival of outsiders to this island cannot improve upon that!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Update! The ship came in! About 10 days after we saw the supply ship off the coast, the shops began to set out some new products. I kept my eye peeled for the new supply of bread (see previous post), and voila! ... new bread, best used by Sep 26! ... At this rate, I don't believe it will have the chance to catch up with me. But it really does make quite nice toast!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Enjoyed a "Nauruan BBQ" recently, beautiful setting on the beach. One lady "wove" the plates with palm tree leaves and another split a bamboo branch making a set of tongs to turn the meat. We enjoyed the freshly caught tuna on the grill; however, everyone else preferred it raw! After a full afternoon of sun and fun, we loaded up the trusty wagon and got everyone home just after dark. The next day (Sunday) everyone wanted to know when the next BBQ would be!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

How many people can you get in a 5-passenger Landcruiser? On a recent Sunday we put that question to the test and the answer is "at least 18!" ... (7 adults and 11 children), and honestly we did not hear one complaint. These 18 were picked up in a neighborhood where the wagon is unable to enter ... narrow roads, overhanging trees, and DEEP ruts ... and then transported to where the wagon is parked and we hitch up again and return for church. The whole transport experience is something they obviously enjoy. We have found the Nauruan people to be very personable and easy to approach. Most are outright friendly and those who are not as extroverted, show nothing more than a shyness in speaking to us. We have seen no rudeness or what the Nauruans describe as "bad manners" directed our way. Even after being here this short time we are greeted on the streets, waved to by passing vehicles from people we have met.

Monday, October 19, 2009

In Nauru, there is one main general store and a few smaller kiosk-type shops with food, soft drinks etc. Shipments come in weekly, and you can find what is available that week after checking 2 or 3 of them. Some items are better priced at one store over the other. I stopped at my second store of the afternoon in hopes of finding some apples that were reasonably fresh. They are kept in refrigeration and in order to open the frig I had to move a box away from the door. To my surprise from behind that box scampered a family of mice. No one in the shop, except me and the mice, seemed to be alarmed. Bread is kept in the freezer section, which I thought was reasonable since the climate here is so warm and humid. However, I noted on each of the loaves, the "best if used by" date was August 28. Optimistically, I figure it won't take so long to toast or make croutons ... and no, there is no Walmart in Nauru.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

On Wednesday, October 7, we heard a lot of activity outside the house and looked out to see people walking up our road, carrying mats, guitars, etc. We weren't sure what was going on, maybe a celebration of some type??? But, then on the news we heard of the earthquakes in Vanuatu, an area just south of here, and sooned learned the locals were making their way to higher ground because of the tsunami warning that had been issued on the coast. We at that time had not heard the alarm, and indeed were at the safest spot as this house sits up on a hill. The schools, business, etc. closed down and later we learned that this had been the most serious threat in years. The warning was lifted with no wave activity reaching the island, and most everyone went back down the hill. However, one woman and her children did stay in an abandoned structure behind us for 3 days following saying she feared the tsumani would still come. One of her relatives was able to finally convince her it was safe to return home, and now we are back to normal ... that is normal, Nauruan style. :-)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sunday we awoke to just a light drizzle and by church time there was no rain at all. Answered prayer! We made all the stops without missing a turn, only had to dodge a few large potholes! The road conditions and the long wagon make the drive back to church a bit slower, but everyone seems to love to ride on the wagon and those we pass on the road smile and wave. Good services both in the preaching and in Sunday School. We are learning everyone's names and they giggle at our pronunciations (we are very Okie!).

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Today is Saturday and we make visits to see who will be riding the wagon for church tomorrow. We check the names and head out and are successful in finding everyone. And we only had to ask twice to get directions. You'd think on this small island, we wouldn't have to do that, but it's surprising how many turns and twists look the same not to mention there are no street names or house numbers of the places we visit. We are praying for no rain tomorrow. We have had rain 7 of 9 days, and last night at bedtime it started to pour again. Everything is very green and at least right now there is no fire dangers! I'm not sure if they have a dry season or not, but it is not now. Also, scheduled two of the folks to continue their weekly discipleship lessons. They are eager to get back after a 2-week break during their school holidays.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

We woke up Wednesday morning with power back on ... yea! Then we heard the news of tsunami in Samoa and quickly checked our atlas to see just how far and in what direction we were from the storm. Thankfully, we are not in the path, and everything here is fine. We did have some rough waters surrounding us yesterday, and today the internet service has been up and down (mostly down) which I imagine is due to the weather. Our ITP is located in Fiji, which may account for the unreliable service ... but then again, who knows? We have had a mainly dry day so I took advantage of that and did the laundry and hung it out to dry. Temp today is mid 90's and high humidity. I am thankful for AC.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

It is Monday morning in Nauru, and we have been here 4 days. Three days it has rained, and 2 days we have had power outages and been operating on the generator. I was told that is not an unusual series of events. Oh, brother! Our first Sunday was great! We had 30 in attendance, even though it was pouring down rain and we drove through DEEP water to pick up a few of the people. Bro. Adam has a 4-wheel drive that pulls the "wagon" that picks up the folks. BTW, anyone wishing to email, please use lshoward49@gmail.com as the hotmail service is SO SLOW I cannot open anything. Too much advertising, etc. Will post a pic ASAP. Thanks for your prayers ... don't stop! :-)

Friday, September 25, 2009

We left Tuesday Sept 22 and after 25+ hours of flying time, plus 4 layovers, arrived in Nauru on Friday Sept 25. What a long, long trip! Although we arrived at just before 5 a.m., and it was quite dark, there were at least 20 Nauruan children sitting on bleachers just outside the fence by the runway, watching as the plane disembarked. All I could really make out was a lot of smiling faces. I guess since the plane only comes in once a week, this is a bit of entertainment for them.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

This is the island of Nauru. It is the world's smallest island nation covering just 8 square miles. Nauru is home to approximately 10,000 people of mostly Polynesian and Micronesian descent. ... and from September 2009 until January 2010 we will be experiencing first hand this tiny island in the Pacific Ocean.