A few months prior to coming to PNG, I received a notice from the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) that my license was about to expire. I hopped in our minivan and drove to the local DMV, presented the notice, paid the small fee, had my picture taken, and walked out with my updated driver’s license. A small miracle happened on that visit – an often hours-long task took less than 15 minutes!
Since arriving in PNG, I have driven the station’s Land Cruiser on a couple of occasions. Because I am a resident of PNG, I needed to get my PNG driver’s license. After a 45-minute drive to Mt. Hagen, we arrived at the police station where I asked for an application. “Are you from Kudjip?” asked the police officer. “Yes,” we replied. The police officer’s face spread into a big grin. “You work with Dr. Jim. He saved my life!” (Dr. Jim Radcliffe is a surgeon who has spent over 30 years at our hospital.)
A clerk helped me with the paperwork and asked me to wait while the application was processed. Thirty minutes later, the application was completed. Two more steps were required – a photo (I was assured the photo machine was in working order) and a trip across town to the police barracks to pay for the application fees.
After a quick lunch, we were on our way to the barracks. Bureaucracy is different in each country. Some countries don’t offer the luxury of completing a task in the same location. In this case, our excursion to another office had a nice perk; we had the pleasure of meeting a fellow missionary who works with the Wycliffe Bible translators.
As we returned to the police station, we were hopeful that our task was almost completed. The application was processed and I had my application fee paperwork with me. The final hurdle was to have my picture taken. We were encouraged that the progress was going well, expecting another DMV miracle.
Imagine our dismay when we were greeted by a long line of people waiting to be served at the police station! Our hopes for a miracle were fading. An officer poked his head out the door and told us to come back tomorrow since all the blank ID cards were gone!
I didn’t get my plastic driver’s license that day, but I can legally drive as I have paid the application fee and have the paperwork with me. We will have to return to Hagen another time to get my actual plastic license.
I am reminded of our cross-cultural training. We were continually told to be flexible. Please continue to pray for us as we serve the Lord in PNG. Also pray for the work at Kudjip Nazarene Hospital as each day brings new challenges, experiences and the need to be flexible.