Pacific Orientation Course (POC) is the 14 week orientation to Papua New Guinea, its language (Tok Pisin), culture, its land and animals (including all the creepy crawlies), and most of all the people. It has been quite an adventure so far. We feel like we've been here for weeks as opposed to just a few days.
I typically begin my morning at 6:00am (when the sunrises, and boy is it beautiful!) with a "conditioning" hike down the mountain. The 1km down the mountain is great. The 1km up is a whole other story. Today Bekah joined us. I was so proud of her! She did incredible! I'm hoping to get Tim & Andrew to join us by next week! Once I get back from the hike, I try to cool off before its breakfast time. Breakfast is served at 7:00am. Our classes begin at 8:00am. So far our classes have been just information about how things will run after this week. We'll have some medical lectures telling us about how to survive in the village when there is no doctor or nurse or medical anything around to help out. I paid partial attention because I know I have Tim! (He used to work at a hospital...) We've had talks about what to expect on our hikes and swimming. I think the best part about this course is how they prepare us. It isn't for wimps and can be very overwhelming, but they prepare us along the way. I just focus on one day at a time!
Today we experienced our first swim in the ocean. Well, it is a lagoon off of the coast of Papua New Guinea, but it is saltwater and connected to the Pacific Ocean. I wasn't too sure how this would work initially. I had heard about the mile swim in the ocean and was a bit perplexed. Fortunately, the lagoon is calm like a lake, and our goal is to improve each week. We won't fail the course if we don't make the mile. After today's swim, I'm definitely aiming for a mile if not further in the next 8 weeks. They put out a rope that is parallel to the shore for us to swim around. It takes 8 laps to equal a mile. My initial goal was to survive (not even swim, just survive) 1 lap. I did 3 laps. Yes, there were those that did more, but I'm impressed with myself, especially since I actually swam over half of that as opposed to floating or doggie paddling. There is hope for me!
Tomorrow (Friday) we begin officially our language learning. This is another apprehension of mine. I really want to be able to communicate clearly with the people of Papua New Guinea. Please pray that we will understand the language, how it is used, and how to clearly share with the Papua New Guineans in their language.
Our first official hike is on Saturday. We get to tour/walk/hike (depending on what your ability is) around to a couple of the villages here on the mountain we are staying. This will be a chance to really get a good idea of the Papua New Guineans live.
Thank you for the continued prayers for our family. We really need them.
- Please pray for health while we are here.
- Pray for good rest each night. We are staying in dorms with no a/c and there have been some hot nights, which can make it hard to sleep.
- Pray for stamina and patience on the part of each of us while we transitioning to a new culture. One adjustment we are having to make is no physical contact between members of the opposite sex. This means that Tim & I can't hold hands or hug while in public. Just a bit different for us. I'm also having to deal with how to most appropriately dress myself and Bekah. I was ready to cry earlier today before our swim because I had to wear shorts a swim shirt and a swimsuit cover-up over my swimsuit, and I was HOT! I did get confirmation that the swim shirt was unnecessary, so that was a relief. Normally this would not have been a big deal, but today it was.
- Pray for success for our town trip on Saturday. We went earlier this week, and it was a bit unnerving for us because it was different, we didn't know where we were, and we couldn't find a SIM card for our phone. We did finally buy a phone just for the SIM card, so we could put it in our phone. Pray I will find Bekah and I some appropriate clothes. I need to get Bekah a few more skirts and I need some shirts that are long enough for me to wear with pants.
Look forward to posting pictures in our next update!