When Sister Mitchell first saw our little pig she ran to Elder Mitchell and exclaimed, "you've got to see this".
I guess it's not so strange, many of us have seen a turkey prepared in much the same way at a Thanksgiving dinner.
There were lots of native foods on the table and everyone including us had a great time.
Every time you get home from vacation it seems like the world caved in on you with everything that didn't get done while you were gone, now looking you right in the face. Well, ours was just like that, 18 days in Papua New Guinea, and lots of things were waiting for us to do as we arrived home.
We of course hurried to the Post Office hoping for some packages from home..........nope, maybe the boat sunk, who knows. The good news was there were 7 parcels from the Service Center in PNG waiting for us to pick them up. Noooo problem, except there were customs charges of $2300 due before they would release them to us. Noooo problem, we've done this before. The drill is you go to the Anglican Press and purchase the customs remission forms, write a letter on Church letter head (that Elder Mitchell copied and created, don't tell anyone, please) explaining why the Customs Office should remit the charges, take the forms in duplicate and the letter to the customs office but wait a minute, it's 11:55am and they are closed for lunch and a guy walking by tells you they don't come back until 1:30pm. We go back at 1:45pm and wait for a really long time until someone helped us and signs them off.
Then we went to the Inland Revenue office to pick up another form and fill it out. Then to another office at Inland Revenue and talk to Timothy and present him with the signed and stamped forms from Customs and the letter and the completed forms from the other office at Inland Revenue except he is out of the office and they don't know when he will be back and he is the only person authorized to sign the release on the island. The next day he is finally in and he is happy to sign the release. Then back to the Post Office to get the parcels. Then pay the "handling fee" of $35 per parcel and zingo, just like that and they are ours.
What's a handling fee you say, well it's just a fee for handling your parcel. How is the amount determined you say, well, this is a heavy parcel so it's $35, a smaller parcel is less. But the postage has been paid you say, well the handling fee has not been paid. So you pay and you're happy you got the parcels. Only, there's just one more thing, since you were last at the post office, 5 more parcels arrived from the PNG Service Center and there is $1800 Customs charges on them so why don't we have all this fun again tomorrow? No, Folks, we are NOT making any of this up!
It's Wednesday, the 18th of January 2012 and we decide it's time to pay a visit to the Prime Minister's Office and make an appointment with him. On the 28th of November when we introduced him to Elder Hamula at the Honiara Hotel he asked if Elder and Sister Mitchell would visit him to continue the conversation of how the Solomon Island government and the Church could work together. With the Fauabu Humanitarian project and our trip to PNG for Christmas this was our first chance to pursue our invitation.
We went to the Prime Ministers Office building and the Security Guard escorted us to the Prime Ministers Executive Secretary. She was very cordial to us explaining that Gordon Lilo was out but that she would ask him if he could see us and contact us with the details. We were very happy with the reception and hope to hear back soon.
On the way out of the building we walked by the open door of the cabinet room and took this photo.
As we left the building we greeted a man coming in. He looked at us as though he was interested in us and Elder Mitchell asked him how he was doing. He asked if we were from the Church of Jesus Christ and then said he was from Fiji and was going to join the Church. His name is John Fadama and he has been meeting with the Missionaries in Fiji and has decided to be baptised. He has just arrived in Honiara to work for a year. We got his name, address and telephone numbers and our Zone leaders have contacted him and we will take them to meet with him on Monday.
As we left for our car Elder Mitchell remarked that we had accomplished so much already today that we could just go take a nap and call it one of our most successful days. Sister Mitchell laughed and said, "lets go for a ride".
Now that's a novel idea, we have been on our mission for 4 months tomorrow and we are yet to have a Preparation Day when we have done anything really fun. It's always drive the Missionaries to Western Union to pick up their support funds, go shopping etc. Or fix this, or visit someone, or prepare for Family Home Evening with the Elders, or plan for a District Training Meeting etc.
So............ we drove north and west up the Guadalcanal coast just to see what we could see.
Some of the most beautiful scenery you could ever see, the Solomon Sea on the right and mountains on the left and palm trees everywhere.
Beautiful lush grassland and not a cow in sight.
Our trusty little diesel Land Cruiser with banana trees and tropical landscape behind.
The coast was amazing with beautiful beaches of many different colors and clear beautiful water.
Sister Mitchell especially liked this black sand beach right across the road from Selwyn College.
Cheryle always wants to touch the water...........
But in this case the water decided to touch her.
This road seemed to be maintained especially well and Sister Mitchell commented along the way that there must be a relative of the Minister of Roads that lived down this way because this is the only road on the island that shows any repair. We were shocked to see our first road grader actually working, since we arrived on the island, and felt like we had to document the occasion. The driver was amazed and delighted that Elder Mitchell stopped to take his picture.
The road began to get narrower and narrower the farther we went and Elder Mitchell kept saying that he was sure we were almost to the end and anytime now we would come to a little village and the end of the road. Well, it wasn't long until we came to a little wooden bridge over a creek except the planking had been repaired with coconut trees and Sister Mitchell suggested that this was "the end of the road". Because we hadn't seen anyone for about 10 kilometers, Elder Mitchell reluctantly agreed and we started to head back.
Sister Mitchell has never driven on our Mission and has said she didn't care if she ever did. However, she was persuaded by a very persistent companion to try it while we were in a rural area. She had a great time as you can see. She even remembered how to shift gears and never missed one! This lefty does right fine on the left side of the road! LOL
At a road side fruit stand we met 3 RAMSI nurses who asked us for directions to the WWII out door museum. That's a laugh! Anyway, we had hoped to find it while on our little adventure and they told us to follow them, they thought they knew where it was. After quite a time we found it at the end of a dirt wheel track road in the middle of nowhere. It seems the signs had fallen down some long time ago and had never been replaced. That doesn't surprise us much. Anyway it was worth the hunt. Notice the folding wing so this fighter could fit on the aircraft carrier. Someone smarter than us will have to tell which model this is.
This pretty flower is called "birds beak" and it is totally breath taking!
All of these aircraft have been salvaged from their crash sites