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done with classes!

November 12, 2012

We’re done with our orientation classes! For the past five weeks, our co-workers taught us about Solomon Islands culture, how to cook in the village, medical care, water safety, and lots of other topics to prepare us to work here.

Some highlights:

staying cool in our canoeing class

learning about driving on the left side of the road and navigating roundabouts


practicing wound care on some chicken

We also had Pijin lessons three times a week. We spoke Pijin all of the time in our lessons except for an occasional minute when we broke into English with each other to clarify something. A Solomon Islander woman who is about our age met with us and the other new family for two hours every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. She told us stories, we sang songs in Pijin and read aloud from the Pijin Bible, we asked her any questions we had about the daily grammar lesson, and then we talked about lots of different topics in Pijin.

Our Pijin teacher is amazing and very patient!

Now we’re ready to leave the capital and live in a rural village for nearly a month.

One of the things I’ve been preparing for is how to cook with just stove burners. We won’t have an oven, fridge, or other appliances. I know that most people throughout most of history have just cooked over a fire (which is less convenient than our gas burners), but I obviously am not used to how to do this. I’ve written up a fairly simple menu, and we’ve packed all the food for those meals and snacks.

Washing laundry and diapers will be interesting too. Everyone in the village uses an outdoor water spigot. They bring their dishes, laundry, babies, and whatever else needs to be washed to that faucet. Then they lay laundry flat on a big flat stone counter-like thing, rub the clothes with a bar of laundry soap, scrub the clothes with a big scrub brush, and rinse them. I’m sure my ignorance of how to do this will attract some extra attention.

We’re supposed to do something in the village to give back to people there, since they’ll be helping us so much. It sounds like our host family is quite musical, so maybe we’ll work with them to try to get some of the local teenagers to write songs in Pijin or in their local language. Most church songs they know are in English. I’ll also teach from a booklet that’s written in Pijin for young girls and teenage girls about sexual purity. That topic isn’t emphasized in most churches here, and it is becoming a bigger problem as HIV/AIDS is becoming more common here.

John and I feel like we can understand quite a bit of Pijin, but our Pijin teacher also speaks very clear Pijin, and the errands we do that require Pijin are pretty clear-cut. I’m sure we’ll realize just how much Pijin we don’t know once we get into situations with more people talking at once and where some people’s Pijin has accents from the local languages.

We’ll keep you posted!



2 Comments leave one →
  1. Grandpa Jim permalink
    November 12, 2012 6:42 pm

    By how deep your canoe was in the water. I am not sure want to take lessons from you. :-).
    I should have had the two of you help more around the clinic it would have been more realistic then chicken.

    • November 12, 2012 6:48 pm

      We didn’t tip, but the waves came in so quickly we didn’t have time to bail out the water. We sank in 5-10 seconds. We suspect it was a one-person canoe.

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