Feb 2001

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February 17, 2001

Settling back into Nigeria poses numerous challenges that cultivate our patience and remind us of our need to maintain our perspective. To illustrate, let me describe the process of simply renewing our car registration and driver’s licenses.  Outside the registration office, an officer carefully filled out my invoice with the payment details.  He directed me to another building to make payment (because of rampant corruption, the person who writes the invoice is never the same one collecting the money).  After paying, they gave me the driver’s license renewal forms, requiring passport photographs and fingerprints.  Interestingly, an eye exam is not required to drive in Nigeria.

The following day, equipped with new passport photos and our completed forms in duplicate, I returned ready for our driver’s licenses.  Only after making another payment to process the forms was I informed I also needed photocopies of the licenses we were renewing.  Driving into town to make photocopies, I discovered the city voltage was inadequate to run the photocopier.  When finally able to acquire copies, I returned to finish the process.  The woman I needed to see was “in a meeting.  Come back later.”  Returning the next day, I was able to give her the copies of our licenses, but the vehicle inspection officer who needed to sign our licenses was “not on seat” (the Nigerian expression for not being at work).  “Come back later,” was the now familiar mantra.  Incidentally, the vehicle inspection officer also certifies cars as “roadworthy:” functioning lights, horn (a horn is indeed critical in Nigeria), a fire extinguisher, and reflectors to place on the road to signal car trouble.  However, when I registered our car, the roadworthy certificate came pre-signed, and no inspection was actually performed!

Finally collecting the signed drivers licenses on my fifth visit, I was told, “Come back later for the plastic ones. The machine that makes the plastic licenses is broken.”  “How long has it been broken?” I asked. Having lived in Nigeria for 12 years, I anticipated the answer.  “Two years,” came the reply.  Maybe when I go through the same process again next January, our plastic licenses for this year will be ready!

In closing, we would like to sincerely thank you for your generosity.  During our time in the U.S., we discovered all of the new monthly support to meet our goal.  We’ve also received generous gifts toward the purchase of a generator.  I’ll leave the story about our phone (which still doesn’t work) for another time.

Serving our Lord together with you,

Tom & Rosie