Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I woke up this morning to the sound of rain.*

I wasn’t sure at first—I hadn’t heard thunder here yet, and we haven’t had rain for so many days that any whisper of precipitation would be foreign. But, even in my sleep-crusted state, I was right. Rain.
You wouldn't think we are in dry season with all of that green!

PNG is called The Land of the Unexpected, and there are thousands of reasons why that title fits—I’m sure I will be able to come back to it again and again and again as I learn more about this beautiful country. This morning, I was struck by how ironic it is that we’ve been praying for rain while living in the tropical rainforest. Currently this part of PNG is experiencing the dry season, which although is not nearly as distinct as in other locations of the world, still can cause our freshwater supplies to run dangerously low…especially with the relatively large population of POC.  But even if I wasn’t expecting it, the Lord knew, and this morning, our tin roofs rattled with the downpour.

I also spent most of this week unexpectedly sick. Although you might suppose this was some exotic tropical disease that would be featured on National Geographic, in fact, I started with the very universal common cold that has struck nearly every room on the campus. So we’ve been coughing and sneezing our way through Tok Pisin classes, and I have tried to grab every spare moment to catch a bit more rest (hence the lack of communication here and the randomness of this blog post).

Then, on Saturday, when I was nearly over my cold and everyone was cooking up delicious meals for the hous kuk competition, I found myself once again flat on my back, cheerleading my white blood cells in their war against a 24-hour flu. The most exotic thing about this new development, I discovered, was the skills need to vomit without contaminating my mosquito net shrouding my bed…

Another thing I’ve learned not to take for granted is a typical weekday schedule. Our activities change often depending upon the weather or the skills that our teachers are striving to impart to us. But, because I know many of you are wondering what I really am doing, here is an outline of what we might do on an average day…but don’t be surprised if it changes!

  • 6 am: Conditioning Hike: This is an optional activity that I try to do (when I’m not sick or not on kitchen duty) where we walk about a kilometer down the mountain, watch the (often) spectacular sunrise over the ocean and then walk back up in time to clean up and go to breakfast.
  • 7 am: Breakfast: We are very spoiled; the women in the kitchen are very skilled and creative, making delicious meals for us!
  • 8 am: Tok Pisin classes: Typically we have Tok Pisin classes in the morning where we meet in small groups with our national teacher; however, sometimes we use this time to go to town or have other lectures.
  • 9:30 am: Tea break: We spend this time practicing our Tok Pisin with the various national employees or our teacher.
  • 10 am: Devotions: Testimonies are shared, and prayers are offered.
  • 10:15 am–12 pm: Class: We have various classes at this point which change regularly, spanning topics from politics to spiritual vitality to malaria treatment to anthropology. Over the weeks we also complete and write reports on a number of readings regarding many aspects of PNG culture and missionary life.
  • 12:15 pm: Dinner: Yum!
  • 1:00 pm: Rest hour: With so many of us fighting illness, this has been a precious time :)
  • 2–4 pm: Afternoon learning: This might consist of more classes or practical orientations, such as breadbaking, fire-lighting, learning to use a primus stove, radio skills etc. On Mondays we go for a hike, and on Wednesdays we swim at Nagada.
    5:45 pm: Supper: Delicious! On Friday nights, it is a cookout :)
  • 7 pm (or later): Evening activity: We have various activities throughout the week, including fellowship groups, wasfamili activities (time with our national host family), kid’s movie night, game night, and other spontaneous events.

On the weekends we spend time cooking in our hous kuk and fellowshipping with other families, as well as worshiping in a local church on Sundays. Eventually, students will be spending either one or five week(s) in a village with a local family (depending on their length of course). We also will be doing longer hikes and activities, including a three-day hike. In order to keep POC running smoothly, we all do chores including kitchen and dining room duty, lighting Martha (the fire that heats water for showers), cleaning bathrooms, and occasionally helping with childcare.

We are busy, but not unexpectedly so :) and certainly not too busy to all stand outside this morning and praise our Lord for sending rain, just as He promises He will.

And that, we really can expect.

*Please note, I wrote this post on Friday, September 2, but Internet has only decided to make its appearance today, after a week absence. That wasn’t entirely unexpected—that’s called “Murphy’s Law” and it, apparently, occurs all over the world.