Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Santa Wears Camouflage??

Wednesday morning just as Jason had poured boiling water into our french press and I'd started cooking some eggs on the stove, we hear a truck out on the road and then some yelling from the end of the driveway, we scramble to get ourselves presentable as we continue to hear someone yelling our names. Outside we find Titus and Sigal halfway down our driveway yelling for us to "come on, the plane is coming NOW!" We race back inside to turn off things and put food out of the reach of geckos and rats and then run down excitedly down our driveway to the waiting truck of Palauan friends. I hop in the front with Calista while the 4 guys ride in the back and we speed (as much as the road allows) to the air strip.

Luckily, we did have some idea what was happening ... every year since the end of WWII, the Airforce or Navy does a Christmas "drop day" from a cargo plane to the 4 or 5 outer islands of Palau.

At the air strip, everyone who lives on Angaur is eager to catch the first glimpse of the cargo plane - complete with a Santa in the window. It arrives and buzzes the air strip, then turns and makes a second pass, opening the back of the plane and dropping a large box which completely misses the drop target in the middle of the strip and instead parachutes into the nearby jungle causing grown men to go chasing after it.

Everyone is all smiles - what a unique tradition!














The items from the box will be passed out in a very orderly fashion on Saturday as each household will draw a number that correlates with something from the box. FUN!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Twenty-two hours in Koror

This past Thursday, we headed into Koror by ferry for the first time in nearly 10 weeks to stock up on food and home repair supplies that we hope will last us for the next 3 months. This trip, our new friends, Ty & Kelly were extremely generous to us -picking us up at the harbor, driving us to all of our shopping stops and having us spend the night at their place. I had the verse from II Corinthians "Thanks be to God for his indescribable gifts" playing in my head over and over in my head during our brief time there.

Here's a view of Angaur's blowhole from the ferry:












Sarah was going into town too for some Peace Corps training so we had fun chatting during our 4 hour boat ride.













Our view along the way.













Ty & Kelly have a membership at the Palau Pacific Resort - the absolute nicest resort in Palau - so we headed there for a scrumptious meal on the terrace while the lowering sun painted the sky some beautiful colors. Everything was decorated for Christmas and looked really lovely.



















The view from Ty & Kelly's lovely apartment.


















A cool Filipino fishing boat also on it's way to Angaur.


















Some of the beautiful rock islands on our way back to Angaur.














Awesome rain cloud up above!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

We should charge admission!

The house we live in is a bit of an anomaly on this island since it is right on the ocean & way on the other side of the island from the rest of the village. This means that everytime anyone here has visitors from another island or another country, they bring them by for a tour. It's fun to meet new people, but it's never an announced visit, except for the "hello" they holler as they walk up our front steps ready for a tour of the house, and we've often found that the "tour guides" are completely drunk! Not an uncommon occurence in Palau, but it still startles me a bit and I think that I should at least be getting an admission fee out of this.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Riding in the back of trucks

We were given a ride home from church on Sunday by one of our "angels" ... Jason sat in the cab with Papa 'sus while I hopped into the back and took in the scenery as it flashed past (at the speed of 25 mph - the speed limit for all roads in Palau).

I had a moment where I realized that this was something I can't do in the States and took time to think about how much I love it. It's something that I realized I've taken for granted while here (& while I was in Tonga), but something that I want to remember doing.

It is such a great feeling to have a breeze blowing past you as you gaze up at 50 foot banyan trees that form a complete arch over the road and wave to locals sitting in their outdoor kitchen areas ... it is in these moments that I wonder how I can return to regular life?

A Slightly Larger Fish...

Titus & Seagal took Jason fishing last week and they caught this big fish! Awesome! More sashimi for us :)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sunday Potluck

Last Sunday, our friends at church let us know that they were going to bring a potluck to our house...sure enough, they showed up with huge pots of food (mostly fish & rice, but even some spaghetti and a green papaya & tuna salad). We had a great time with them.

Palauns usually sit on the floor to eat, and even though we had a table, they wouldn't sit at it. Our islands new Peace Corps volunteer, Sarah, is in this picture.















Secu, one of the "old mammas" of the island and a very sweet lady with some incredible stories.














Some of the Filipino workers on our island showed up unexpectedly to join us.








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Kastol, one of the lay-pastors at our church, and Jason with Kastol's daughter, Itab.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Fish!

Since we arrived nearly 3 months ago, Jason has been trying to catch a fish from the cliffs by our house. Until Thursday, he was unsuccessful and getting pretty discouraged. His Thanksgiving gift this year was that he caught a fish!!! And had sashimi for his Thanksgiving feast! Yay! Not too worry, we had a traditional feast on Friday - complete with gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing & cranberry sauce (thanks Botts' and Mom&Dad!).


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pastor Jason??!?!!

As some of you know, we're blessed to have a very dear church here that has welcomed us into their community. Including us, there are about 12 people in the congregation. We have a pastor who comes every 6-8 weeks from the capital and the rest of the time, the preaching is divided between two men in the congregation ...

Last week, after singing and announcements, one of the lay-pastors, Kaston, says to Jason, "do you want to share some blessings with the church?" Jason stood up and shared how blessed we've been by the congregation, their assistance to us and how welcoming they've been and sat down ... we soon realized that was NOT what Kaston had in mind! Since Jason had nothing prepared, he asked if he could share next week and it was agreed upon.

So...this past Sunday, Jason delivered the message to the congregation! And, he did a GREAT job! On Ephesians 6:10-18. He was pretty nervous, but not as nervous as I was when they told me that I was to lead worship!! Seriously!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Manna from Heaven (almost!)

Wow! We received FOUR packages in the mail on Friday! It literally felt like Christmas ... coffee, tea, chocolate, dried fruits, nuts, candy, books, magazines and so much more! We could not have been happier! Thanks Trudy, Bonnie & Marilyn! To top it all off, some new acquaintances who live in the capital contacted us to tell us they were going to try to put some fresh produce on the next boat for us! How generous & thoughtful! We haven't had any fresh fruit or veggies since we were in the capital 6 weeks ago! Yum!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Treats!

My parents sent us a wonderful package!! Full of a lot of food items - awesome! One was a mix for cupcakes ... although we have a 2-burner stove, we don't have a "normal" oven ... but, we tried out cooking them in our outdoor oven powered by Jason's great fire-making abilities ... and ... they turned out GREAT! We ate half of the batch that first night (yes, that's 3 each!).

In addition to all the great treats from my folks, our box included a belated birthday gift from my brother, Mark -- a new french press with matching cups! Sooooo perfect! Ours had shattered in-transit here and we'd been using a tea strainer type thing to make our coffee every morning. Now, we have delightful coffee served in fun cups!

Thanks Mom, Dad & Mark!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

And....we have RUNNING water!!

Wow! I don't think Jason or I realized how MUCH we missed having running water until we actual got ours running a few days ago! It is a complete treat!

I can now turn our solar powered water pump on and turn on water in our "kitchen" sink ... so much nicer than taking two large pitchers outside and around the corner of the house to our water tank to fill up then return inside. And, one other completely AMAZING feature -- the shower on our awesome shower platform now works too! I WISH I could post a picture of it for you - it's beautiful (and also incredible to have a real shower after nearly 2 months of using a solar shower that we hang on a tree branch!).

You may wonder why we didn't have this until now ... for some reason the previous couple at the house didn't replace the water pump when it stopped working and they'd also accidentally broken the piping from the tank to the sink & shower. It took us quite a bit of work to get it fixed, but it was SOOO worth it! Running water is amazing!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

An ambulance ride...

Jason & I both got the pleasure (?) of riding in our island's ambulance this past weekend. Thankfully, not because we were hurt! We'd been attending a celebration BBQ with the rest of our village -- can I tell you how GOOD BBQ chicken tastes? -- and it started completely pouring about the time we were wanting to head home. One of the shadier characters here waved Jason over and told him he'd have someone given us a ride ... of course we later find out, he really didn't have the authority to be offering us a ride, but since we were standing there, one of the State workers took pity on us and gave us a ride in the AMBULANCE all the way to our house. It was great to not get drenched on the 30 minute walk home, but a bit embarrassing to have everyone in the village watch us climb into the huge ambulance for a ride home!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Some waves...



For the past week, we've had pretty high winds out at our place which has brought in some very high waves! Of course, I haven't captured the biggest ones on film, but this one was pretty good! (Yes, that is our house in the background!)

Monday, October 13, 2008

One more photo...



This is in Koror ... some of our first Palau sites!

24 cans of green beans for $5.00

Sooo...our trip to Koror last weekend turned out very differently than we'd hoped, but that is sort of typical :). The boat goes to the capitol each week on Thursday & returns on Friday and then every other week it does an additional trip on Sunday with a return on Monday. We took the Sunday boat and had been told by ALL of the boat crew (including the captain) that the boat would actually be coming back to Angaur on Tuesday morning. So, when we arrived Sunday night around 6, we didn't rush around too much, deciding to take care of our grocery shopping, home repair shopping and internetting on Monday...bad choice.

We called the State office Monday morning around 10 to make sure all was still the same and were informed that the boat would be leaving at NOON! Not good. We got a ride to the grocery store and did a 40 minute power shop in which we spent more than I have EVER spent in one shop, buying several cases of different kinds of food. The green beans were my best find!

Sadly, we didn't get to the internet OR to the ACE store for house repair stuff...We'd hoped to be able to make it 2 months before returning back to the capitol (mostly due to the expense of going there & spending the night, etc) ... we'll see how we do :) We're just glad to have at least gotten our food as we were getting pretty low!

Thanks Marilyn!

We received our first package in the mail last week from Jason's Mom! What a wonderful treat! It was full of books & DVD's...which were very welcome! And, it only took about 10 days to get here to our island from when it was sent! Not too bad, especially since it took us nearly 5 days to get here ourselves! Thank you Marilyn for your thoughtfulness! It was such a treat!

A Commodity

Drinking water has become this incredible commodity to me since we started living here...not necessarily a bad thing, just interesting how something that I took mostly little notice of, has now become a big priority.

Our water comes from the rain gutter on our roof to fill a 1000 gallon tank next to our house. Due to the many pine trees around the house, the water has a decidely "earthy" flavor to it. In order to get rid of that flavor (and also ensure the water is safe to drink), it goes through quite a process. We filter it through a cloth into large pots which then get boiled over an outdoor fire for 10 minutes. After it has cooled enough, it gets filtered through a cloth again, then when it's completely cool, it goes through a Brita filter and into our water bottles. Quite a process just for a drink of water!

We are SO thankful though for our abundant water. It rains frequently and we have not had to worry about running out of water since we arrived.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Wasp nests

Last week, Jason & I scraped 315 wasp nests off the boards underneath our house ... and that was only HALF of the house! We still have a long ways to go on this project. Thankfully, most of the nests were abandoned or their owners were out looking for food while we worked, so at least we didn't have angry wasps after us :) I have to admit that creeping around on the rocks while staying low enough to the ground to fit between the earth and the house worked muscles that I didn't even know I had anymore! Maybe this should be a daily exercise routine?? Anyone want to join us??

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sashimi, land crab & sea turtle

In the past 10 days, I've eaten all of the above ... all things I've never eaten before! Being a non-seafood eater is a challenge on an island and of course I always try everything.

After church last Sunday (our church has a congregation of 10 people, pretty fun), one of the deacons invited us over for sashimi ... I had to have Jason prep me for what to expect. Raw hunks of fish ... hmmmm, could be a challenge, but it was actually really good (something about the fish here & in Tonga ... they are REALLY good!).

Our island has thousands of land crabs and we stumbled across a few on the way home one night from town and decided to bag them. We threw them in a pot when we got home, having no idea how long you're supposed to cook something like this, but opted for 5 minutes. Seems to have been the right time as they turned our great! I only could handle a taste, but Jason said they were delicious.

And...this weekend we had the funeral of the high chief of our island to attend ... which ended up just being a huge day of food. They served us our meal in styrofoam to-go boxes which included: Fried fish, crab, chicken, pork and sea turtle...Turtle is not too bad (as long as I don't think about what I'm eating)!

Oh, sadly I won't be able to post photos until the next time we're in Koror (sometime next month) due to the terrible internet connection here :-( ... sorry, but trust me, it IS beautiful :)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Rustic?

We arrived to our new and very rustic home on Friday - we were SO happy to finally have gotten to our destination! It does feel as if it is at the edge of the world ... with the ocean before us and a dense jungle behind us. I love it though! It is an incredible, wonderful feeling!

Although that feeling hasn't worn off, it certainly gets tested :) ...

Our new home has canvas siding for walls, to get any light inside, they have to be rolled up which is a two person job (that we are slowly getting better at), whenever it rains or whenever we're going to leave or when it's time to go to bed, the sides need to be rolled down because it rains all the time and water will come into the house...we found out our very first night how important it is to be SURE the velcro is well-secured! After we'd been asleep for a couple hours, the wind was blowing so hard, that it blew one side open and then ripped the other side open as well. That was pretty startling!

It probably runs almost a tie with the fact that within 3 minutes of us turning out our solar powered lights that first night, we heard the rat trap/cage spring closed and then listened to a rat trying to gnaw its way out of the cage for the rest of the night!

Ahh...rustic living :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Rainbow's End

We have officially arrived in Palau! Woo-hoo! We departed Spokane Monday morning around 7 am and arrived here Wednesday at 3 pm. We even spend the night in Manila last night as our "connecting" flight didn't depart for over 12 hours!

Quite a journey, but most definitely worth it! Palau's tag line is "the rainbow's end," and that sums it up pretty good. It is beautiful here (as expected). Completely LUSH, with crazily shaped green hills everywhere and lots of beautiful water! It feels sort of like coming home in a way as the smells (burning trash and un-smogged cars) and sounds (roosters, honking horns) and the temperature (deliciously muggy) are very similar to Tonga. It is wonderful!

No pictures to go with this post, but I'm hoping to have some for you shortly ... we'll be in Koror, Palau for the next day or two, then taking the ferry to Angaur and our new home!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Cupcake Shop in Paso Robles

I was astounded this week to see a cupcake shop in Paso Robles - just 15 minutes from my parents house! What a treat!

We only found it because Trudy decided that she, my mom and I needed an afternoon treat time ... sounded great to me!

We stumbled upon a delicious bakery that had just opened its doors 3 days earlier! We felt a bit shamed to not get a cupcake, but there were so many other delicious looking treats to try ... cupcake on the next visit for sure!















Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Dirty Thirty

Jason had the pleasure of turning 30 on August 7th - quite exciting for him ;-) ... It was a slightly different birthday than last year as we spent it with my sister and her family which includes my two very active nephews(aged 3 & 5) who completely adore Jason!They were very happy to be hosting his birthday this year and we made quite the day of it!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Few Friends

At Montana de Oro with Randy & Sarah ... do you like how we are standing in descending height order?? Pretty awesome, right?













With Gladys in Azusa ... she was my discipleship leader my senior year at Azusa Pacific - in 1998! I have been blessed to continue a friendship / mentorship with her in the 10 years since then!









A mini-PCV (peace corps volunteer) re-union in Ontario ... with William, Jeff and Jamie. We realized what complete nerds we are when we found out that we are ALL still carrying around our Peace Corps ID cards in our wallets!










With Claudia and her family in Pasadena ... my co-worker from Unum, Masters classmate and very special friend!









And, with my older sister and her two boys - we stayed with them for our week in SoCal ... she is an incredible mom and her boys are quite a handful, but A LOT of fun!












Some of my favorite photos from our beach day with the boys...