Monday, August 26, 2013

August thoughts from Senior Flierl

Languages - I am finally making some progress in my speaking Tok Pisin (the language of instruction here at Senior Flierl Seminary). I can now chat with people about the weather and when the truck is leaving for Gaugidou etc. It has helped make me more a part of the community. Now, I am working to develop my ability to lecture in Tok Pisin. I am able to read aloud pretty well (such as when I am giving sermons) but have trouble coming up with words when talking aloud.
     My monolingualism is quite a contrast with the students here. They are all fluent in their local home language (Tok Ples) and Tok Pisin. They also have English instruction in the schools. One of my goals is to be able to speak Tok Pisin better than they speak English. There is a new volunteer coming from Germany tomorrow. These young volunteers generally learn Tok Pisin quite fast, so it's a goal of mine to see how long I can stay ahead of him in speaking Pisin.
     Worship is held in a variety of languages here on campus. The Sunday worship is held in Tok Pisin as well as chapel 4 days a week. Thursday chapel and Saturday night worship is held in the three major languages in the area: Kote, Yabim, and Bel (and a Pisin worship for those of us who don't know these languages). Once a month we have English language worship.

Classes - I teach three levels of English and Sios Histori - Hap 1 (Church History - Part 1). My biggest struggle has been keeping the three different English classes straight in my mind. I am not clear on how to prioritize  what should be taught. Wednesday I am going to visit Dragerhafen - the nearest school that teaches grades 11 and 12. Since my students have graduated from grade 10, I am interested in seeing their curriculum for ideas on what to use in my class.

Confessions of a waitskin meri (white woman) - I do stand out in the crowd here, being one of the few white folks in the area. Most of the rest are missionaries from Germany. Sometimes people stare at me, but they are generally very friendly and helpful also. They like it that I wear a meri blouse (the smock-like top) and try to speak Pisin to them. Sometimes it is a bit embarrassing, such as when they run around and find a chair for me, while the rest of them are sitting on a bench or the ground. It is nice when I get preferential seating in the small boats to go to Lae. It is interesting to see how other ethnic groups are categorized. One of the other faculty members is from the Philippines. Outside of campus, people seem unsure how to categorize him. Most of the other Asians in the in the area are store owners.

Confessions of a pasto meri (woman pastor) - Since women aren't ordained in Papua New Guinea, this really surprises people. There have been some ordained German women in PNG before but they haven't been in this area. So far people have been positive to me about my role, at least to my face. However, when I mention the idea of women being ordained in PNG, they seem sure that it won't happen anytime soon. Two Sundays ago I lead worship at a local church. They were very curious and surprised at me - a woman in a clerical shirt.

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