Alright, everyone. I know it’s dangerous to say things like this, but here goes. This is the first of a monthly blog series about what it’s like to grow up as a child in the Solomon Islands, written by people who have done some of their growing up there. The series will begin with some of my reflections and will be followed up by Ava’s, all the way down to Judah’s. We would ask Immanuel to contribute, but he speaks a Melanesian-English idiolect none of us understand…
It is perhaps unsurprising that the typical missionary kid in the Solomons develops strong relationships with his or her siblings. Most of the day is spent together. Everyone wakes up to the same rooster, competes with the early morning traffic to get to the external bathroom, and prepares for a day of homeschool together. Older children help younger ones while their mother focuses on the needs of one or two. By lunchtime, the heat has become difficult to cope with. The adult does so with coffee and a rest. The children do so with playtime or a nap. Then it’s afternoon playtime activities!
Here’s our favorite one! We don’t get to do this every day, but the weekly trip to the swimming hole is pretty special. The Bio Waterfall has a pool – behind the children – that is shallow enough for Judah and Immanuel. A cataract, varying in height from 12 feet – where the photographer is standing – to 6 feet – where the children are about to jump – makes for a fun progression for budding jumpers and divers. The water is so deep that there’s little worry about hitting rocks. Today the joy is completed by the presence of friends who’ve found a long, sturdy vine to swing on! On other days, the pastime of choice is a game of “shell-coconuts.”
Before evening, cool and refreshed from the evening bathe (it’s called a “swim” in Solomons Pijin), they set off to evening prayer. What a blessing for everyone to have an enforced hour of contemplation and prayer every day! I love that my children are growing in prayer in a community that encourages this daily. Occasionally, when I’m unable to attend with them, they ask to go up on their own. The children end their day together with their playmates, siblings, and elders, before going home to the evening meal and an early bed. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on us, sinners. King Jesus, keep us safe through all the troubles and dangers of this night.”
Jonathan is a professor at Trinity School for Theology in Malaita while Tess is involved in womens’ ministries.