Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tenaru Cont'd

Saturday, July 21, 2012
Sr. Catie and Sr. Stephanie woke me up at 5:45 for mass this morning.  I brought my flashlight this time to guide the way as we trekked down the dirt road.  We ate breakfast using leftovers from dinner and toasted bread.  After a thorough cleanup, Cayla and I joined Sr. Catie at the clinic.  Only one woman came in this morning.  I kept busy making cotton balls, and soon some students came to do chores.  On Saturday mornings the students do maintenance work and help the sisters with cleaning.  Diane, and 18 year old in form 5, and I hung clean curtains in the clinic.  Everyone was working hard in the intense heat and humidity.  
Sr. Stephanie made another trip to the market, so Cayla and I accompanied her.  Brother Vincent was passing through so he kindly drove us.  We bought a few shell bracelets and wraps at the craft tables.  We couldn’t resist the fruit and came home with more bananas, peanuts, catnut, and another fruit that tastes like an orange but has green rind.  On Saturdays flowers are also sold in the central market.  Sr. Catie told us that sometimes she goes to market on the weekend just to look at the beautiful flowers.  We picked out a colorful bouquet for our cheerful companion.  Brother Vincent drove us back home and joined us for lunch.  He returns to Gizo tomorrow morning on a long boat ride.  We all promised to pray for a safe return journey. 
The sisters invited the three boys who cut their grass to eat lunch inside when they finished the work.  They were quiet, polite, and very sweaty as they enjoyed the meal.  I went wandering around the chapel to take photos.  The lush gardens surrounding it are bursting with vibrant colors and exotic flowers that I have never seen before.  Cayla joined me for a walk down the road.  We explored and had fun using our cameras in an attempt to capture the atmosphere of Tenaru.  The thick jungle alongside the road is wild and untouched - mysterious and magnificent.  
We returned to the house and got to work raking the front yard.  I take for granted that lawnmowers pick up the cut grass.  The boys cut the grass but the clippings lay thick on the lawn.  Cayla and I raked endless piles and deposited them on the muddy ditches to help dry out the water.  The rain began to come down lightly and was a great relief from the heat and humidity.  Soon it was down pouring so we heeded Sr. Catie’s call to come back inside.  
We returned to the house and decided to upload our pictures to our laptops.  Cayla and I showed Sr. Catie the photos we took, and she proved to be an eager audience.  Her “oohs” and “ahhs” kept us laughing, and I enjoyed entertaining her.  I showed her pictures of my family and that made her very happy.  She promised to pray for John on his birthday in a few days, and asked when everyone would come to visit Tenaru.  Her favorite photos are the ones of flowers.  Sr. Catie wanted to show me a few in her garden that I forgot to take pictures of.  I gave her the camera and taught her how to use it.  She was giggling and having a great time as she fumbled with the buttons and peeked through the eye piece.  It began to rain heavily so we rushed for shelter inside. 
Sr. Stephanie prepared a wonderful feast for our last dinner in Tenaru.  We munched on Solomon Island sweet potato, pumpkin, green beans, cabbage, and chicken wings, followed by watermelon and pineapple for dessert.  The fresh produce is tasty.  Cayla and I were excited to buy the sisters fruits and vegetables at the market to spice up their usual staple of rice.  They sincerely appreciated it and thanked us continuously.  It is a small gift we can give them in return for their warm hospitality.  Our little family chattered and laughed at the table.  We played a game “best, worst, God moment.”  Each person shared their best moment, worst moment, and moment where they felt God’s presence during the day.  Our collective worst moment was that a few patients at the clinic didn’t come back for their injections today.  Best moments included dinner, shopping in the market, and eating an apple (Sr. Catie is easy to please).  Sr. Stephanie told a few amusing stories during her turn.  Her whole body shakes when she lets out her contagious laugh.  
The sisters gave each of us a “laplap,” or sarong.  Cayla and I thought Sr. Stephanie had bought them for herself, and we were glad that she treated herself.  But in her usual generous fashion, she had bought them as a present for us.  We modeled them and gave the sisters hugs of appreciation.  Sr. Stephanie led us in a song of thanksgiving, and we cleaned the kitchen.  I’m sad to leave the sisters in Tenaru since we have been here for such a short time.  However, there are so many places to visit and more people to meet.  The opportunity to get to know these women has been a blessing.  Sr. Catie and Sr. Stephanie expect us to come back one day, and we intend to keep our promise!  The pair are two of the most wonderful women I have ever met.

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