Dear Family and friends,
Missionary work in Botswana is really quite exciting and we are working hard to spread the gospel to these beautiful people. Everywhere we go, they look at our name tags and we strike up a conversation by asking them if they have seen the young missionaries with tags like ours or if they know of our church by the name on our tags. They sometimes say “yes” and sometimes “no” but I whip out my Pass Along Cards and try to tell them about what we believe and give them the card. I haven’t had one single person turn down my card and they usually smile, give and little curtsy and say “thank you moma.” I think the whole time we were in Ukraine, I only gave out 1 or 2 cards and I’ve already given out about 20 here in Botswana in a week.
We had Stake Conference last Sunday and we are actually part of a Stake in Johannesburg, the Roodepoort Stake which is in the building right next to the MTC and the Mission Office. It’s too far for our people to travel (almost 5 hours) so this is the first time they have tried having us receive it by satellite and it went pretty well. We viewed it here in Botswana at the Broadhurst building which is close to our apartment and the building was packed. They brought out all the chairs from the classrooms, brought in extra chairs from other buildings close by and we still had people standing in the aisles. The young missionaries all gave up their seats and we still couldn’t seat everyone. The air conditioner didn’t work very well and people had sweat running down their faces and bald heads (lots of black men shave their heads)but they stayed for the whole meeting. Some of the small branches out of town brought people in to the conference in Combies (white mini vans used as buses). When they did a head count, they found out that there were about 520 people at the conference at the stake center in Roodepoort and 620 people in attendance at our building. Dad and I sat in the front of the chapel and were the only white people there, except for some people from the Area Office in Johannesburg sent there to run the satellite transmittal, and the only white people in the cultural hall were missionaries. I wish you could have all been there to see these beautiful people. They are dressed nice, well mannered, have daring little kids (I’d like to bring home 1 or 2 for each of you), and the most fascinating part to me is the beautiful braided hair-do’s on the women and young girls and sometimes even the little girls. I’ve never seen so many creative braided hair-do’s in all my life. Dad’s taken pictures of a few for me and we’ll try to send them when our internet situation gets better (in 3 more months).
Working with people trying to do Rent, car repairs, water bills, immigration, residence papers, and office procedures done has been an absolute nightmare this week, but we aren’t expected it to change so we just have to get in gear and program ourselves to “slow” and then everyone (especially Dad and I) will be much happier. We haven’t even scratched the surface of what we have to learn here, but we’ve made it through one week of our training and we love working with the Olson’s. They are from Hooper, Utah and have served missions in Zimbabwe and Hungary. They said this mission is by far the most challenging one they have ever served and they are so happy that we are here to take their place. They keep teasing us that they are turning all the problems over to us as of NOW so they can be around long enough to see us squirm through it all like they’ve had to the past 15 months. They are here until mid-June and live in what they call the Mission Home here in Botswana. They have the office set up in the back of their bedroom so at the end of the day we usually go back there to record all the days activities and do receipts, cash refunds to all the missionaries for mission expenses they have to pay, and whatever else we have to go through and then we try to get out of their hair for the day. Sometimes they offer to let us use their internet for a while so then we can check our e-mails quickly and then we come back to our place. We live about 10-15 minutes across town from them, depending on traffic, but we actually know our way without the GPS now so we are feeling a bit more secure. Our GPS has all the buildings in our mission programmed into it and we’ve already programmed in several of the mission apartments and government building we have to go to, so we are making our way around quite nicely and are very thankful for our car and for our tiny place to stay. We are living in a studio apartment (actually it’s an old motel that has been turned into a rent by the month.) We have a swimming pool (too dirty to swim in and we didn’t bring suits) and the lounge chairs don’t have any mats on then, but… However, we get clean towels twice a week, the maid comes in everyday and tidy’s up (I’m not sure what as we keep it clean) but she dumps our trash and smiles really nicely when I tell her we don’t really need her to come in and clean today. Her name is Toosan, she is about 4’10”, not married, and she accepted my Pass Along Card. We have a really tiny washer that is kind of moldy on the front door and it sounds like it is on it’s last leg, but it seems to wash our clothes pretty clean and we have a clothes line outside our back door. We even left our clothes outside one day because they weren’t dry when we had to leave, and we only hoped they would still be there when we returned. When we got home, they were folded and on our kitchen chair when we got home. We had to wonder what she thought of our cute underwear????? We have a really small fridge, so we just shop for one week at a time, I had to borrow some kitchen cookware from Sister Olson and I still don’t have a cake pan that I need if I’m going to spoil these missionaries with Wacky Cakes. I might just wait until we are in the Mission Home to do much baking because I prices a cake pan and a metal one was almost $10. And a glass one for $15. Our couch is just plain “gross” and I haven’t set on it yet, nor do I intend to do so. I do love our place though because it’s home and we are safe here. We have locked doors and a metal gate with a guard outside.
Everything is expensive here. We can find most things, but haven’t been able to bring ourselves to buy them yet. We found a box of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes but it was $10.00, we found a box of Cheerios for only $4.50 so we opted for that instead. Perhaps we’ll get really hungry for them later and pay the price but so far Dad’s hospital bills set us back a few thousand so we’re feeling like we are really needing to sacrifice to make things work for us here. We’re trying new things, new brands, and doing quite nicely though; you’d be proud of us and “when in Africa, do as the African’s” works for us and we are learning.
We love you all, we are doing great and we have each other. At the end of the day, we come home exhausted and happy and we count our blessings for each day’s experiences and each day’s safety and protection. Missionary work is Africa is rewarding and we are grateful to be a part of it. Thanks for your love and support. Take care of each other and remember to love each other and put your families first. Every precious moment you have together is a blessing directly from our Heavenly Father who loves each of you and KNOWS YOU BY NAME!!! We Love You More Than Words Can Say! You are each so very precious to us, and we treasure you in our hearts. We thank our Heavenly Father for you and for everything you have done and continue to do for us.