Dear Family and Friends,
We are heading for Johannesburg at about 6:30 this morning and I can’t sleep so I thought I would write a letter this morning before we leave. I probably won’t get this e-mailed before we get back from Johannesburg but it is riding heavy on my mind and I want to get the following story down in writing while it is fresh on my mind. Last Sunday the 18th of April Lorraine and I went across the southern border of Botswana into South Africa. We have a branch in Mafikeng that is part of our Botswana Mission. We have two sets of missionaries so we went to see them and inspect their flat (apartment) and go to church with them and they had 3 baptisms that we wanted to witness as well. All went wonderfully well until after all the meetings and the baptism. We were getting ready to leave and I got into my computer carrying case that I always carry even if I don’t take my computer. I didn’t need the computer this day so I didn’t bring it but I had papers that we would need in the next half an hour at the border so I got them out and put them on top of the car they were in a plastic green folder. It contained our passports, papers to get across the border and a paper giving me permission to drive the mission car. That paper was signed by President David Poulsen our mission president with our office information on it as well. I took off my suit coat and laid it on the back seat of the car just as I stepped back one of the missionaries called to me and I went and talked to him to say good bye and got into the car and headed toward the border.
When we got to the border we stopped to get out and even before I looked I realized what I had done. I got this sick feeling as I remembered that I had put all the papers (which we had in a plastic snap type envelope) on the top of the car back at the church parking area. I looked in my computer case knowing I would not find them and I truly was sick. Lorraine and I talked and didn’t know what to do. We called the Elders we had just left to see if they had seen them. I asked them to go back to the church parking area and see if they could find them, if not call the branch president to check with him. If he didn’t see it them please drive up and down the street leaving the church looking for out green plastic envelope.
Here we were setting at the border afraid to even go into the building without our papers. Lorraine and I had a very fervent prayer to Our Father in Heaven pleading for help that I knew I didn’t deserve because of my stupid mistake of putting the important papers on top of the car. We didn’t know what to do. After the prayer we decided to go into the building and explain what had happened and ask if we could turn around and go back the 30 kilometers to Mafikeng.
When you go into our out of a country you have two buildings that are about two to three hundred yards apart. The incoming and outgoing roads are on each side of the buildings. We were setting at the departure side of the South African boarder building. We went in and talked to them and they didn’t have any suggestions for us. They were nice and felt that they would let us through but knew that Botswana wouldn’t let us in without our paperwork which included our passports. You don’t ever get into a country without your passport and Botswana has a reputation of being very strict in this policy. We decided to go back to Mafikeng but before doing so we called Elder Olson (the couple we are replacing in a few weeks) and ask his advice. He said he knew we wouldn’t be able to get into Botswana without passports. He said we would have to go to Johannesburg in South Africa and wait for new passports that would take a month or two. That wouldn’t be very good as the Olson’s had tickets to fly home the 1st day of May. Who would run the Botswana part of the mission? After we hung up Elder Olson told his wife that they would not be able to go home on schedule the 1st of May.
Lorraine and I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to see what the Botswana border people had to say what they suggest we do. We drive to the next building which is the border for Botswana and went in and told them of our dilemma. One of the ladies that helped us earlier that morning to get out of Botswana recognized us and listened to our story as well. After almost an hour and conversing with us several times and talking to supervisors many times they decided to let us go through the border with a paper stating that we would go to the American Embassy the next morning and then report that same day to the immigration department in Gaborone. We agreed and to our surprise we were heading back to our flat (apartment) back in Gaborone. We called Elder Olson and told him they let us through and he couldn’t believe it. They have had many experiences with the border people and lost every time. We felt that the fervent prayer we had before we started was answered.
On our way back to our apartment of flat we stopped at the mission office (Olson’s flat) and chatted for awhile. Elder Olson just couldn’t believe that we made it through the border without having our passports. By that time we were very tired and headed back to see how our crock pot dinner was doing. Of course it was completely cooked and was wonderful. While we were eating we talked about the fact that we would never see our passports again. Even if they were found a passport only has your home address in America and no one would got that much bother to chase us down to return them. We were even worried that someone might try and use them for something stupid and get us in trouble. But here we are back in Botswana where we need to be so we can serve and let the Olson’s go home on schedule.
After dinner we got another phone call from Elder Olson. He said you will never believe what I have to say. He said he had just received a phone call from a man in South Africa that owns a trucking business and one of his men found our green packet that has our passports. He got the number to call from the letter that President Poulsen gave me to authorize me to drive in Botswana. He said he would have our passports here in Gaborone the next morning. We went to the trucking place here in Gaborone the next morning and sure enough we got them back all within 24 hours of when they were lost. We truly have been blessed and feel that it truly is a miracle without a doubt. I think Elder and Sister Olson are the happiest as they felt for a period of time they would have train someone else and not be able to go on the trip to Chobi game reserve the last week of their mission as they had planned. They had also thought they would have to stay another month to train another couple. They were really relieved when we once again had our passports in our hands.
Today 24th April 2010
On Wednesday we left for South Africa to Johannesburg for the couples conference which we didn’t think we would be able to make because of not having any passports. We even called President Bricknell and told him of what happened and told him we would not see them as planned because of what had happened. We call them back Sunday evening when we were told we would get our passports the next morning. The couples conference was wonderful and we got back last night about 6:30. It is about a 5 ½ hour trip one way, but it is fun with Mom as my navigator and companion. Today is Saturday and we went to Lobatsi Branch for the Saturday Conference that we watched of April General Conference. We have been asked to watch them as Salt Lake does but three weeks later. The talks were wonderful.
I think we didn’t tell you that we are now in the mission home here in Gaborone. The Olson’s have not left yet but we moved in last Tuesday late afternoon and stayed the night in the main bedroom which serves as the office as well. They took the smaller bedroom so we could not have to bother them as we did some office work. They have been very nice to us. Then the next morning we all left for the couple’s conference in Johannesburg. I mentioned we got home last night and then tonight and tomorrow night then they are off for the last week in northern Botswana. They will be back for Friday night the 30th and then about noon the next day they go to Johannesburg and have President and Sister Poulsen take them to the airport to fly home to America.
We love them and they have been so good to us. We will miss them a ton. Sister Olson is very outspoken and I think Elder Olson just holds it in but is very nice and soft spoken to both Mom and I. We are trying to stay in line and tread water as we make (I mostly) mistakes in what we do and they are trying to be patient with us and we are trying to be patient with them also. Again they have been wonderful to us. They go the extra mile to make it easy for us and at the same time let us take charge as much as we can. It will be hard but Mom and I are looking forward to when we are totally responsible as I think we will be able to handle it.
We love each of you very much and pray for each of you every morning and night in our prayers together and also in our personal prayers. Just live the gospel the best you can each day and you will receive great blessings. Teach our grandchildren the principals of the gospel as well as they are true.
With Love Out Of Africa, DAD AND MOM