Because we came back repeatedly and stayed for a while, the kids had time to overcome the initial shyness and make some memorable friends. Eventually, the connections that they made with the children caused them to be rushing to get school done so that they could go back ashore to play. Every afternoon, they would engage in some new
|Michael playing 'rubbers'|
“They took me to their gardens!” she exclaimed. And that one gesture made such a difference in the rest of her experience there. She had been invited, sought out, asked to belong. Isn’t that what we all secretly desire from each other?
|Elizabeth heading off to gardens with her friend|
|Kids learning how to paddle local canoes|
While the kids were finding their place in the community, so were Mark and I. Mark was Mr. Fiberglass, fixing boat after boat, after boat. And I became known as the cake lady. I jotted down a
|Mark trying to repair a Bauer Mariner compressor|
One afternoon, I decided to swallow my pride and ask one of the ladies to help me sew a new zipper on a purse that I always use. Theresa and I sat on a rough cut wooden beam under her house near the water’s edge while she taught me how to replace a zipper. Her stitches were even and straight, while mine were haphazard and messy, but the zipper is fixed! In the time it took to sit and do it, we had a few laughs and got to know each other better. Again, from vulnerability and kindness grew connection.
|One of our favorite wall dives in the Solomons|
It wasn’t only village time while we were here, though. We also spent a fair amount of time underwater on some of the most spectacular dives Mark or I have ever gone on. The soft corals, fans, and sheer number of fish in this part of the Solomons is stunning. It was a bit of a juggle for us to balance bottom time with village time, but with the extended time there, we feel like we got the best of both. The combination of authentic relationships and community inclusion along with a huge dose of underwater beauty make it one of our most memorable and hard-to-leave spots. In fact, by the time we were saying goodbye for good, there were tiny inklings of “what if we built a hut here to come back and visit??” Our Solomon Islands vacation home! In the end, we set that thought up on a shelf in our minds that we might pull down later, but for now, we want to press on to travel further west. Chief Luten and his family will always have a special place in our hearts, though, and this will always be our Solomon home.
|Elizabeth and her friends|
|Michael and the boys goofing off|
|Most of the village after church on Saturday. Chief Lutan on the right.|
|Hanging out at Solomon Dive Adventures new deck.|
|Farewell to Timbara!|