Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How (not) to get a driver’s licence in PNG

We’ve been in PNG for almost half a year already! Hard to believe. One of the first things we tried to do in August was to get our PNG driver’s licences. After all, the law is that foreigners have to get their licence within their first three months in the country, and we knew it would be hard to do while we were at POC. Long story short: we finally got our licences today. Long story long: keep reading. 

Wed, Aug 10, 9 AM: Go to office with the sign “Traffic Registry” above it. Be told that, as an ex-pat, you need to see one particular police officer in the building next door. Wait in line to talk to this officer. Be told that he doesn’t have the appropriate paperwork with him, so come back on Thursday or Friday. 

Fri, Aug 12, 3:15 PM: Arrive at said office. Find out that it closes at 3 PM. Depart for several months of language training and hope they’ll turn a blind eye to the letter of the law that says you need to get a licence within three months. 

Wed, Dec 8, 9 AM: Go back to office, now ready to ask in Tok Pisin instead of English. Officer doesn’t show up. 

Tue, Dec 13, 9 AM: Go back to office. Wait half an hour. Enter office. Be told you need to bring photocopies of passport, work permit, and Canadian driver’s licences (originals won’t do, of course). 

Mon Dec 19, 9 AM: Go back to office. Wait an hour. Do some errands in town. Someone has spotted the officer at the bank in town, so he may be coming soon. Wait another hour. Decide to go home because baby isn’t so happy. Give phone number to someone who’s planning to stay until he comes. At 2 PM, find out the officer eventually came but wasn’t prepared to process licences today. Decide not to come back until after the Christmas season. 

Fri, Jan 12, 9 AM: Go back to office. No one’s there. Leave a minute later to do other errands. 

Fri, Jan 12, 11:30 AM: Go back to office. No one’s there. Leave a minute later and go home. 

Tue, Jan 23, 9 AM: Go back to office. No one’s there. Consider they may have changed the rules over the Christmas break. Go to office with the sign “Traffic Registry” above it and start waiting in line. Someone else waiting in line interrupts the man behind the desk and gets you some driver’s licence applications. You fill them out and hand them to the man behind the desk along with those photocopies of ID. Then you stand in another line to pay. Then you wait around for your name to be called out. At last, you have your picture taken and watch your licence being printed. Leave at 10:45 AM with licence in pocket. That didn’t take long!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Photo of the Week: Brick Wall

Over the past few weeks, the young guys in our church have been putting in many hours building a wall at the back of the church building. One of them had some experience with this sort of thing, and he taught the others how to do it. This wall should help to keep the sound of traffic from drowning out the preaching and other church activities. Here are the guys showing off the product of their hard work.

Note: This is our third of (hopefully) a weekly email. This is the last one we're putting on our blog; after this you'll have to be signed up on the email list to receive the picture. So if you haven't received this picture in your email, you can always add your name to the list here and look forward to next week's photo.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Rainforest Habitat

Last week we had some friends from POC visiting for a few days. We took the opportunity to go to the Rainforest Habitat in Lae. On the way there, we took a wrong turn and ended up on a road that – well, let’s just say it was a good opportunity to figure out that the four wheel drive on our car works marvelously. You just never know when you might need that here, even when you live in the city.

The Rainforest Habitat is a great place to see a great variety of plants and animals native to PNG.

The Victoria Crowned Pigeon is the largest species of pigeon
in the world. It can grow to be over two feet tall.

Yes, it’s a croc. We’re glad they don’t show up in the wild
in Lae too often.

Crocs look pretty scary, but this cassowary
wouldn’t be a whole lot nicer to  meet in the wild.

Avigail was very excited to see all the animals.

PNG is well-known for its birds of paradise. They are beautiful
birds, but shy and especially hard to photograph well – even
in captivity. This will have to do (for now, we hope).

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Photo of the Week: Market

We buy all our fruit and vegetables at market. People bring in their fresh produce from their villages and sell it in the city. The prices at market are significantly cheaper than in the supermarket. For example, you might pay (in CAD, USD, or AUD):
  • 20 cents for a bundle of greens
  • 90 cents for a bunch of about 10 bananas
  • 45+ cents for a mango
  • $2 for a pineapple
  • $3 for a head of lettuce

Note: This is our second of (hopefully) a weekly email. We're only putting the first few on our blog so that you'll get a little taste of what the weekly email might look like. If you haven't received this picture in your email, you can always add your name to the list here and look forward to next week's photo.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Eve, New Year's Day

Yesterday being New Year’s Eve, the community leaders in Biwat settlement (one of the areas in which people from our church live) decided to organize a day of reconciliation. The idea was that people would forgive each other for past wrongs and make a fresh start in 2012. I was given the opportunity to preach to start things off. I brought home the point that true reconciliation between people cannot happen; it will fall apart, unless we are first reconciled with God. And reconciliation with God is only possible through Jesus Christ.

Children waiting for events to get started.

After that, some people performed some songs and drama, and everyone shared in a potluck meal. We left after that, so aren’t sure what else happened after that, but it sounds like they went on all night. We’re not sure how much reconciliation actually went on, but we’ll leave that for time to tell.

New Year’s Day being a Sunday (and with me having to preach!), we went to bed before midnight for the first time in our adult lives. Of course, we were still woken up at midnight when the whole city erupted in noise. Sirens wailed. Dogs barked. People shouted. Homemade fireworks (made of bamboo and kerosene) exploded. It all sounded like a herd of white elephants stampeding over a giant field of bubble-wrap, with an amplifier hooked up just in case we couldn’t hear.

Eventually we got a few hours of sleep.

At 6:30 in the morning, the festivities began again, just down the street from us. This time they were led by the Lae Chinese Club (consisting mostly of Papua New Guineans). They did a traditional Chinese dragon dance complete with a lot of drumming and Chinese firecrackers. When they were done, they came into our compound and did it all again. Good thing we were already awake, courtesy of Avigail…

I was able to preach again this morning on Matthew 25:1-13, the first in (hopefully) a series on parables. Stories work well in Melanesian culture, so hopefully that will make up for my weaknesses in Tok Pisin. We were also able to celebrate Lord’s Supper (my first time leading that, incidentally, after being an ordained minister for six months).

This afternoon we indulged in a great Canadian tradition, the New Years Day polar bear dip (also a first). Admittedly, the warm tropical water did not lend itself to the teeth-chattering, heart attack-inducing icy shock usually connected with such polar bear dips. But we did it, and it wasn’t bad at all!

To round off our New Year’s Day celebrations, we hopped on the computer and Skyped with friends and family in a few different parts of Canada to welcome them into the new year. Avigail got to show off her latest skill: walking on her own.

We wish all of you God’s blessings in this new year.