@scottbrooks The first thing you need to do is forget everything you know about 1941. This is a completely different game, with mostly different rules. Looking at it through the lens of 1941 is just going to be confusing (as you’ve already discovered). Approach learning this game as though it didn’t have “Axis & Allies” in the title, with no preconceptions, and you’ll have an easier time.
The order cards are nothing but a framework for walking the players through the game turn, sort of like a player aid. They simply remind you of the phases of the turn, and what you can do in each of them.
Having a look at the FAQ may also be helpful.
I hope this helps…