Our Typical Schedule here in PNG
Our full-time job right now is to learn the national culture and language (Pidgin English) of Papua New Guinea! We need to know the trade language because it’s a common language that most people speak (in the town everyone speaks it but in the tribe most will speak some but it won’t be their first language) and so we can get around town, speak to officials if ever necessary, and use it as a common language to learn a tribal language from someone in the near future! Sean is expected to get 8 hours a day of language learning and I, as a mom, am hoping to get 3-4 hours a day.
Weekday Mornings: Sean usually goes to the village on his own or with another guy. His goal in this is just to interact with people and practice speaking Pidgin conversationally. We have had a lot of training on the most effective ways to learn a language from a comprehension-based approach. With that, we will often record an audio of people’s stories. When Sean gets back, he will transcribe the text and file it in our culture file under the category it fits into. This is shared with our team. We can also listen to this audio file later for more practice listening and comprehending. Another good way to pick up language is to take lots of pictures of a cultural event, such as cooking a meal or planting a banana tree. Then, we can make a picture book and go to our language helper to ask them to explain everything that’s happening in the book. This gives you many new nouns and verbs that are in the cultural context! For example, you may never know to ask, what is the name of the stick you use to plant bananas with… unless you have witnessed the cultural event of someone planting a banana tree and had time to ask them what it was. The photo books are an awesome tool. The cool thing is that I get to “experience” everything he has by listening to recordings and reviewing photo books during my study time. This is crucial for me as a mom with limited time!
I spend about 3 mornings a week at home with the boys where I try to spend intentional time with them and go through Zeke’s preschool curriculum or just play. This is a lot of fun.. we color, cut paper, read lots and lots of stories, play preschool logic games, etc! I also try to get in a load of laundry in the mornings. Since we don’t have a dryer, we hang all of our clothes to dry on the line so it’s best to get them up in the morning so they have time to dry! I also try to get some cleaning done before the house turns into a sauna for the afternoon. Sometimes the heat inside in the afternoon’s is unbearable and I have to sit underneath the house where the breeze blows.
On Thursday mornings, everyone piles in a big van and goes to town to buy our groceries for the week at the grocery store and the local fresh markets. This takes all morning!
We also go to the village together as a family every Friday morning. This gives the boys a chance to play with the local kids and me a chance to get some more conversational practice with the ladies in the village!
Afternoons: Sean is either out in the village or processing his culture and language data on the computer. He also shares this on our team server so that I and our other team members can study it and learn from it on their own time. He also has formal language sessions with Joshua (my language helper’s husband).
I have a language session underneath my house with language helper, Amilia, about 2-3 times a week. I’m also setting up another time to meet with a neighbor who lives close by while Sean stays home with our boys one afternoon. Our boys are sleeping/resting during this time. I spend 1-2 hours with her and I always tell her several stories to improve my speaking, listen to her tell me the story back and record it, and we study grammar points in the language. For example, I will translate sentences from English to Pidgin and she will correct me, when needed. I’ve really enjoyed meeting with her. The other afternoons we either have a team meeting or I lay in my hammock and listen to my recordings, review, and memorize new words/phrases. When the kids wake up, they usually play outside and hopefully I get to lay in my hammock still while they do so. (:
Evenings: One night a week I have women’s bible study led by the pastor’s mother of our local church here. This is done all in Pidgin and so I get a chance to practice my comprehension as well! It’s a mix of the New Tribes women who live on the center here as well as local ladies. Sean has a men’s bible study one night a week (sometimes I squeeze in a language session while he’s gone and the boys are asleep). One evening we also have a grammar module taught by our Orientation Coordinators, which is super helpful. On Friday nights, we have a center-wide cook out which is a fun time to put food on the grill, catch up with the other missionaries who live here, and play with the boys on the playground. Our 2 free evenings we try to hang out with each other and do something relaxing like watch a movie. The heat here is very, very draining and I usually end up in bed by 9!
Weekends: On Saturday mornings we try to do something fun as a family, such as watching a family movie together or one time we went to the local resort to swim and eat lunch. This is a huge treat when you have to cook every single meal… there’s no such thing as convenience food here! Even at the restaurant in the resort the food took about 45 minutes but I didn’t care because I didn’t cook it or clean it up!
On Sundays we attend a small, local church that is right across the road from the center. The church is all in Pidgin English. Sunday nights we have a “English church” with all the missionaries on the center which just means we watch a sermon from Francis Chan or someone similar.
Obviously we’re very busy! Please pray for us as we try to balance our time wisely.