At the Pacific Orientation Course, PNG
Imagine being dropped into a jungle village. No one speaks English. You have no running water, nor do you have any electricity in the house the people let you use. You may not find enough food to buy, so you hope the food you brought with you is enough. If you want to travel anywhere, you probably will have to go on foot.
Could you survive for four weeks?
Debbie and I are training for that now. Our orientation course is teaching us skills we need to survive in a typical village in this country. We are learning the national language, Tok Pisin, to communicate with our host family, as well as the rest of the village. We are learning how to cook nutritious meals from local food so we can stay healthy, and we will learn how to cook it over an open fire. We are also learning some basic medical skills to handle common sicknesses here. We are south of the equator, and it is “winter” here, but we are getting used to high heat and high humidity. Hiking and swimming are built into the course to make us more fit–Debbie swam half a mile in the ocean the first time we went out! The goal is not just survival, but the ability to live well in a community here.
That’s not the only goal. The number one reason missionaries leave the missions field is that they have conflict with other missionaries. Another basic goal of this course is to work and live well with other missionaries. This can be challenging for some in a multi-cultural environment. We have in our class not just Americans, but two families of Koreans, an Australian couple, a German, and a Peruvian. The staff and our Tok Pisin teachers are local Papua New Guineans (PNGans). We need to learn how to interact well with everyone.
Please pray for us. One of the most difficult adjustments for us is an almost complete lack of privacy. We take all our meals in the common dining hall with people we still don’t know very well. The men share one bathroom and the women share another. Almost all the activities are with the group, which has about forty adult students and nearly twenty children. The walls between the dorms block sight but not very much sound.
We do have much we like here. The place is a tropical paradise, with ocean views that tourists pay thousands of dollars to see in other places of the world. Coconuts, bamboo, and bananas grow everywhere. We wake up to the sounds of jungle birds. The staff cares for us and wants us to succeed.