Friday, 5 October 2012

POC: Village living (before)

Teachers go on ‘prac’, pastors have vicarage and POCers go on a five week village living stay. This is our practical time where all our previous learning comes together and takes on a new depth. We are off to Amele area on the other side of Madang, to a series of villages where we each have a new wasfemili and a house set aside just for us. I am going to Auron Ples with Michelle (Tennessee) and Inga  (Germany), the other single women at this POC.

Village living is a time of learning, even though we have assignments to work on. The purpose of these assignments is to get us asking questions and reflecting on the life which 85% of PNGns live. That’s over 5 million people, includes most of our co-workers in translation, literacy and support work. Even for those in the cities, this is the life they have usually come from, still have family in, send money back to and return to when they can. Village life is the heart of PNG life.

We’ve been planning and packing in the week leading up to our departure. Food has been purchased, sorted into weekly rations, packed and labelled. We are going through our personal things to decide what to take and what to store here at POC. I’m trying to catch up on emails, blog, business etc before I go. There is a last minute shopping trip.

Once we are in the village, we will be looked after by our wasfemili, but do most of the cooking ourselves. Conversation with villagers will be in Tok Pisin. Sometimes we may go to the garden with people, other times we may be on our own. Reports of village living from previous POCers are positive, but so varied. Some people got bored with how quiet life was. Others were overwhelmed by the constant presence, hospitality and generosity of their wasfemili. I am going with plenty of books and other things in the hope we are on the quiet end of the scale. Should I find myself crowded by people I’ll have to make a much more concerted effort to have time to myself.

I am looking forward to this village stay as a chance for time to be, rather than a time to do. In a relationships oriented culture just being together is the important thing. Coming from a task oriented culture, I struggle to not have something to do. I hope to be able to spend this time building good relationships with my wasfemili and my colleagues and as well as deepening my relationship with God. Five weeks of being, not doing, is a gift to be celebrated and enjoyed.
See you on the other side!

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