Orientation to the New

The past few weeks have been a blur. Imagine, if you can, what the headlines might read if we published a daily newsletter of first weeks here in Singapore, as members of OMF’s Orientation Course.

  • Norovirus sweeps thru the ranks of team during their first week together!
  • Representatives from every continent for the 1st time!
  • Team completes consensus building activity in record time!
  • Accidental food poisoning surprises team!
  • Au and Eunice ride a bicycle built for two for the first time ever!
  • Au and Eunice meet friends from Columbia, SC at local church without preplanning!
  • Team starts to mourn upcoming goodbyes

All this, and more, happened these past three weeks.

Week 1: Within the first 24 hours of arrival, one of our team was hospitalized for Norovirus and then, since it is so easily transmitted, over half of the team became infected. We thank the Lord that all recovered! We were informed that for the first time ever, we had new members from every continent (a stuffed toy penguin stood in for Antarctica). 

Week 2: Our organization invests much time helping us learn and appreciate its mission, vision, and values. As part of learning to walk together on multi-national teams, we spend much time considering culture and cooperation. We were given an assignment to decide on what to eat for dinner, given the vast diversity of Singapore, and we needed to decide on one type of ethnic food (and we couldn’t go to a hawker center where multiple types of food are found). Within minutes, we had made our decision and surprised our facilitators. Never before had they seen such a quick agreement! 


Estimating how much food to cook for all of us is a challenge, especially given the variable appetites of young children, the effects of the Norovirus, and some turnover in our kitchen staff. The early days we often had leftovers. We learned not to eat leftovers that were kept too long when many of us came down with some mild food-poisoning (enough to keep some of us in bed and out of sessions!). 

Week 3: We try to get some recreation time in weekly and experience the local culture. Some times we play volleyball or have a cultural outing. This past week we visited a local beach where Au and I rented a tandem bicycle for two hours for $ 16. What fun!

Later that night, we went to visit friends ministering here to caregivers of older parents or special needs children. Imagine our total delight when we unexpectedly “bumped” into them at worship this morning! Neither they nor we knew that we would both be visiting the same church today!

On Friday, November 16, we’ll have a final program and prayers and begin saying goodbye. We now have friends and colleagues headed to cities and villages across East Asia – some to work in creative access nations, others among domestic workers or special needs children, others to displaced refugees, and others to missional businesses. But in every case, we need to say, “Goodbye, for now.”

Please pray for all of us as we begin transitioning once again – to new people, new places, and new experiences.

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