Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Greetings from Papua New Guinea!

After ten years of deciding, two years of planning, one year of itinerating, and three calendar days of traveling, we have finally arrived in Papua New Guinea!

What a joy it is to greet you from Papua New Guinea! We have just begun our initial training program at the Pacific Orientation Course (POC) in Nobnob, which is twelve miles from the city of Madang on the northern coast of Papua New Guinea. The POC campus is located 1,200 feet above sea level and has a beautiful view of the ocean and surrounding area. The average temperature here is eighty-five degrees with high humidity.

The POC campus is located 1,200 feet above sea
level in Nobnob in the province of Madang.
The main purpose of POC is to help us and other new arrivals adjust to Papua New Guinea culture and learn how to thrive in our new environment. The course is divided into three phases. The first phase is held at the campus in Nobnob. It includes instruction in Tok Pisin (the national language of Papua New Guinea), personal medical care, anthropolgoy to help adjust to different cultures, spiritual vitality, hiking, swimming, and outdoor cooking (including building your own haus kuk or ‘cook house’).

After eight weeks in Nobnob, we enter the second phase of the course, which is village living. During this time, our family will live in a village for five weeks without any other foreigners. This will allow us to practice Tok Pisin and apply what we have learned during the first eight weeks of the course so that we can understand what village living is really like.

After the village living phase, we will return to Nobnob for one week to reflect on our experiences with the other trainees. Then we will move to Ukarumpa, which is about seven miles from Kainantu in the Eastern Highlands Province. This is the translation center where we will be located until we are assigned to work on a language project. Please keep us in your prayers!

Are The Kids In School?
Yes! The elementary program at POC consists of devotional times, Tok Pisin language learning, journaling, Papua New Guinea culture, math, spelling, and reading. The program is designed to help kids adjust, feel comfortable, and make friends with the national children as well as to make them feel like they are a real part of our family’s ministry. Younger kids are placed in childcare, which is staffed by several experienced Papua New Guinea women, who help the younger kids adjust to the new language and culture.

What Is Tok Pisin?
The national language of Papua New Guinea is Tok Pisin (Talk Pidgin). A pidgin is a simplified language that develops as a means of communication between two or more groups that do not have a common language. Because Papua New Guinea has over eight hundred spoken languages, people use Tok Pisin to talk with people from other language groups. The majority of people in Papua New Guinea speak Tok Pisin as a second language. Because pidgin languages have limited vocabulary, they often have long-winded ways of saying things. For example, if you wanted to say ‘piano’, you would say, “bigpela bokis sapos yu paitim long maus i kraiaut,” which basically means “a big box that if you hit it on the mouth it makes noise.” Or you would say ‘messiah’ like this, “dispela man God i salim bilong kisim bek ol manmeri bilong en,” which basically means, “this man that God sent to take back all people that belong to him.” The good news is that most of the vocabulary of Tok Pisin is borrowed from English, which will make it easier for us to learn.

What Are Your Living Conditions?
During the Nobnob phase of POC, we are staying in dorms that have electricity and running water (although we are taking bucket showers). All of the trainees eat together in a dining hall. During the village living phase of POC, we will not have electricity or running water. During that time, we will live with a wasfamili (host family), who will help us learn how to prepare our own food by cooking over an open fire. Common foods include sago, taro, sweet potatoes, pineapples, mangos, passion fruit, bananas, pig, and fish.