July 5, 2010 Monday
We’ve had another busy week which included a trip to Francistown, 5 hours North of Gaborone. We went on Friday so we could go to the Elders’ District Meeting, attend their baptisms on Saturday and then visit their Branch on Sunday. We had a great time with the Cardiff’s, Sister Cardiff cooks a lot and stays busy sewing crocheting or cooking all the time. Elder Cardiff loves to putter, does some teaching with the Elders and stays busy telling us stories (the same stories over and over) but we love them both.
I thought I’d do something different this week to make my letter a little more interesting. I’ve decided to start asking questions of some our Missionaries that are from the different countries on the continent of Africa. This week I’ll tell you about Elder Musembi.
Elder Musembi is from Kenya, Africa and he is 23 years old this Wednesday. He is actually serving in our small branch of Kanye (90 Min. from here) so he says he feels like he is almost home when he tells people where he serves. Elder Musembi told me that in his small village of Kyetongu in Kenya it is hotter than Botswana. He has 6 sisters (5 older and 1 younger) and 1 brother. Only his brother is a member of the church and he is 46 and the Branch President. His father died when he was 14 and his mother was left to raise all 8 children and she didn’t have a job. She raised her family doing “piece work” which is basically where they go knock on doors and ask for a job for the day. I actually have ladies ring the bell on our fence and ask me if I have a piece job for them to do. Elder Musembi’s mom is taking the missionary lessons right now and he is really praying that she will join the church while he is in the mission field or at least when he gets home. In their village, they have no electricity or running water. They walk down to the stream and carry water home to drink and to cook with, they bathe in the stream. His family has about 50 cattle, but it was his job to herd them and to take care of them and he says the Masie Tribe are known for steeling other peoples cattle, so he doesn’t know if he will have any cows left when he gets home. I asked him if his brother wouldn’t watch out for them and he said his brother is a very busy man working and raising his own big family and probably wouldn’t be able to look out for his cows and his mom is quite elderly and couldn’t go up to the pastures where they graze.
There are no schools in his village at all; when he was in grade school (1st-8th grade) he walked 1 hour to school which started at 8 AM and went until 5 PM. All the children walk as there is no public transportation. If the parent have money, they can stay at the school for the week (like a boarding school) and only have to walk each way once a week, but most of the kids’ parents don’t have enough money for that so they walk each day. When he got in High School, the school was almost 2 hours away and again he would walk each day. He would leave in the morning at 6 AM and not get home until 7 PM. I asked him if they had lunch at school or if there were little ladies outside selling stuff they could eat for lunch and he said, “no” so I asked if he would just then pack his lunch and he said that lunch wasn’t a necessity and he would just fast until he got home. When he was in High School, he worked for a neighbor 3 hours at night so he could help earn money for his mom and younger sister. Now all of his Sisters are living with their boyfriends because they can’t afford the labola (Bride Price) which is required before you can get married here.
The Labola comes from old traditions when most of the families were farmers and had cattle or goats. The price to marry the daughter was set at 8 cows and has now been established to amount to P2,000 per cow which totals P16,000. We were talking to our friends Kgosi and Maipelo (correct spelling this time instead of what I sent in my last letter) the couple that we are trying to work with in the YSA Ward.
They said that Botswana does have a minimum wage and it is P3.55 her hour (about $60 Cents) or P795. Per month which is about $135.00. I know they have to live on a different system than us because our rent here is P6050. Per month and they don’t have nice homes like ours, but when we go to the grocery store every week I spend at least )P400-P500 and they have to shop at the same stores that we do. I have been kind of sick this morning thinking about how in the world they can even live on that kind of money. Perhaps that is why we see so many little shanty type communities around here, but they sure look nice when they come to church. I’m proud of them; they know how to “do with what they have.”
Elder Musenbi also said they just heat their homes with wood that they gather in the outlaying areas and they do have some charcoal available to them for cooking.
Back to the Lobola, it is such a big deal here that we have found out that why so many of our YSA age kids are not married. If they cannot afford to pay the Lobola, they just don’t date or get serious with a young lady as it is an insult to ask her to marry if they don’t have the money for the Lobola. Not in the church, of course, but in the culture here; if the young girl has a child, she is worth more money so the price is even higher. If she is educated, she is worth even more Loloba and that also is paid to the parents. Hence, our missionaries teach many young couples that can’t get married and join the church. It’s crazy, that many of them live together and the parents don’t seem to mind, they just have to save up and pay the Lobola before they can get married. Elder Musembi said some of his olders Sisters have children 18-20 years old now and they still have never been able to marry because of the money.
Life for us is great here in Gaborone, we are healthy and happy and enjoying our days together. We never know what each day will bring, but it’s always hours full of work and amazing experiences that keep us humble and striving to do more.
In my reading this week I came across a wonderful quote from M. Russell Ballard that made me think of my family and just HOW VALUABLE YOU ARE. “Our family-centered perspective should make Latter-day Saints strive to be the best parents in the world. It should give us enormous respect for our children, who truly are our SPIRITUAL SIBLINGS, and it should cause us to devote whatever time is necessary to strengthen our families. Indeed, nothing is more critically connected to happiness—both our own and that of our children—than how well we love and support one another within the family.”
We love you all and we know that this is not just a really nice church that we belong to; it is the Church of Jesus Christ and He is at the head. The Priesthood we have in our homes is truly the power to act in God’s name and we are blessed to have it in our possession. We are grateful to all of you for your goodness and for your example to us. We strive to be worthy of all the blessings we already have and pray that we can live worthy to receive more of our Heavenly Fathers watchful care for each of you and also for us.
Have a wonderful week; enjoy your summer!
LOVE YA, MEAN IT!
Mom and Dad, Granny and PaPa Lynn, Lynn and Lorraine