As we prepared to leave last week I had a pit in my stomach - just dreading the immediate future that involved making sure we had all our stuff packed, making sure we did everything we needed to do before we left, traveling 23 hours with three very small children, getting over jetlag, arriving in Yap and unpacking. So here I stand almost at the end of it and I can't quite say, "It wasn't that bad." There were some dreadful moments of spilled coffee on the plane, wide awake kids at 1:30am that stayed awake until dawn, a crying baby at the beach, a drenched and crying two-year-old who fell into a restaurant fish pond, and a crying three-year-old who didn't want to leave his new friend's house. But we survived! And it really wasn't that bad. =) The kids were entertained with new toys and slept well on the plane, we enjoyed beach time in Guam, picked up a cooler-full of foods (namely meat, cheese and chocolate!) that aren't available on Yap to enjoy and ease our transition.
We arrived on one of Continental Airlines' bi-weekly flights to Yap last night at 11:59pm. Ben and Rachel slept for throughout the one-hour flight and Jonah went into what we call "talking crazy" which he often does when he's tired. He's normally very talkative, but he kicks it up a notch and adds an extra big dose of imagination when he's really tired. In the airport he walked into a group of ladies and started telling them all about how we were going to Yap to tell Outer Islanders more about Jesus and then flipped through his superhero book and named each character for them.
Getting off the plane the first thing we noticed was our shipping container sitting off to the side of the runway near the PMA hangar. We knew it was here, but it felt so weird to actually see it. There's our stuff! We packed everything in Illinois over a month ago and now here it is! We really are going to live here!
After going through customs we were greeted by a man and woman in traditional Yapese garb - flower headbands called "nu nus", loin cloth for the man, grass skirt for the woman, and shirtless for both. They draped a flower and palm leaf lei around each of our necks. Our teammates had gotten up in the middle of the night to greet us and helped us get our massive amount of luggage down the hill from the airport to our house. It feels so strange to just walk home from the airport after a long journey. Our house was empty aside from the few beds, fridge and table our teammates left for us. Tomorrow we'll quickly fill up the house with the contents of our container.
After a short night's sleep we were up and out the door by 8am to head to church. In somewhat of an effort to blend in with the culture and also being rushed for time I went to church with wet hair, no makeup, no lotion, in a sundress and crummy flip-flops. We were greeted warmly at church and the kids were especially fawned over as the islanders love babies. Jonah and Rachel were immediately being held in the laps of strangers and Ben would have been too if he hadn't refused so adamantly. I sat on the floor with the women and Jon sat in the chairs with the men. When Rachel started to fuss I got her back from her third lap holder and nursed her right there in the middle of it all. I figured no one would mind since half the ladies were topless anyways, but I still used a nursing cover. I think I got more stares because of that than I would have had I just let it all hang out.
We sang songs in both English and Outer Island language accompanied by a teenage girl on guitar. The islanders have a very nasaly uniform singing tone, but their spoken language doesn't sound particularly nasal. I'll have to try and record it sometime and post it - it really is amazing how uniform in tone and pitch everyone is. After singing and prayer the kids were dismissed to Sunday School and nursery. I went with Ben and Rachel to nursery at our teammate's house which is next door to the church. Jonah went to Sunday School across the street. Jon said the sermon was in Outer Island language with only the topic headings translated into English. Jonah of course had a great time in Sunday School and quickly made new friends. Afterward a little girl told me they had asked Jonah what his favorite song was during Sunday School. I asked him what he'd said and he said, "The Batman Song! Nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah BATMAN!" I was relieved to learn later that he had actually said, "Amazing Grace." I also learned later that he had asked one of the islanders if there were any Indians here. She said, "No, do you like Indians?" He said, "Well, I just like Outer Islanders." "Why?" "Because they love Jesus Christ."
After church we came home and Jon and the boys did a little exploring outside around the house. They took a dip in two-foot-deep stream-fed swimming hole in the yard. I'm happy it's there because it will be a fun and cool place for the boys to play, plus it's completely in the shade. But I'm a little worried about Ben who has recently shown great aptitude for falling into ponds. I thought we would be able to run around here by themselves, but it looks like they'll need a lot of supervision when they're outside to make sure they don't get into too much trouble.
We had lunch with our teammates in the traditional thatch-roof hut next to our house called a "koyang". Ben and Rachel took nice long naps and my baby monitor could reach down to the hut so I could keep tabs on them. After naps we just hung around for the rest of the afternoon and Jonah was requesting to go to bed by 6:45.
So tomorrow is the big day we unload our stuff. I'm so excited at the prospect of being in one place for three years and hopefully longer. This is the tenth move in our six years of marriage and every place up to this point has been temporary with the purpose of getting us to the mission field. But now we're here! We are so eager to participate in furthering the Gospel in this place and to make all of this worth it in service to Christ and His purposes.