Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Still Alive in Botswana! - Granny

Dear Family & Friends,

It’s been so long since I’ve actually written a family letter that I don’t even know where to start.
I know I haven’t written since the boys were here and I have to tell you we had a really great time while they were here.  They arrived an hour late and we were so happy that President and Sister Bricknell were there at the airport with us so we could visit and catch up on each other's families and lives.  We love them and every minute with them is a treat!  Because the boys arrived late, we were really cutting it close to get back to Botswana and get across the border, but we made it and we didn’t have any trouble; it just takes a while to do all the paperwork at the South AFrican side, and then on to the Botswana side we have to do it all over again.  We got through with about 10 minutes to spare and headed on home to our place which is another 45 minutes or so.  We talked all the way; couldn’t see much as it was pitch black outside; but we enjoyed the journey and Dad and I just loved being in their presence and feeling the excitement they brought.
We stayed up until about 2 AM and then we all crashed and got up in time to go to church at the YSA Branch where we loved introducing our three great sons to many of our leaders and young people in the branch. 
After Church we had dinner quickly and then headed South about 90 minutes to the small village of Kanye where we (counted donkey’s all the way) and gave the boys a feel for Botswana country side and also we arrived just as their baptism was getting over and they got to meet lots of the members of the Kanye Branch also.  We drove on up the hill from the church to where our friend Mariah lives (you will all soon know her) and the boys had the privilege of getting acquainted with many of her family that live there in several small homes close on one property.  We took lots of pictures of grandma, Aunts and Uncles, and Cousins and I’m not even sure everyone that came running for a picture was even related to Mariah.  It was fun and the boys really enjoyed the little kids and kissing the babies.  It was a fun experience and we brought Mariah home with us to Gaborone to stay at her cousins home so we could do some business with her the next morning in Gaborone. 
Monday at noon we check into a game reserve called Madikwa that is just back outside the border into South Africa for an experience of a lifetime.  We stayed in little cabins placed up above the ground to keep us safe from the grazing animals.  There was no running water, no electricity, but our meals were all cooked for us and we were drive out for a 3 ½ hour game drive each evening and each morning.  The camp was set up super convenient with lanterns placed along paths to the outdoor toilets, the outdoor showers, the hot water being heated in a “donkey boiler” and extra water to carry for any other reason or need.  They had laterns in our rooms which they lite for us each evening, and we would just blow them out when we went to bed.  Our cabins were close to each other and all were very close to the kitchen and everything else that adjoined our accommodations.  The safari vehicles arrived each morning at 6 AM and again each evening at 4:30 and took us all over the bush to see the wild animals.  We saw an amazing amount of Zebra, Giraffe, Kudu, elephants, Impala, rhinoceros, Cape Buffalo, Lions, Ostrich, Baboons, Wild Dogs and several other species of the smaller “deer” family as well as many beautiful birds.  We could get so very close to them and it was pretty exciting to take lots of pictures to share with all of you.  I’m sure the boys will share their pictures and tell you about all of their experiences before we get home, but we will do it again when we get home. 
     We stayed there in the Bush Camp for 2 more days and the rest of the time was spent just showing them around the mission and doing the kinds of things that we do as Missionaries.  On Sunday night they got to meet our favorite Bishop Matswagothata and his family and also Kgosi and Maipela that we went to the JoBurg temple with in mid-February. We also had the missionaries that serve here in Gaborone come over for cookies and ice cream and a fun visit.  The time went all too quickly and soon it was Thursday and we packed up and headed for Joburg to spend the evening with President & Sister Bricknell.  We had a wonderful evening with them, they are such dear friends and they are always so good to us.  We spent the night at their home before spending the last day driving through another Game Park in South Africa and then doing some fun “Flea Market Type” shopping at a huge outdoor market close to the airport.  At the Game Park, we got so close to some lions that Roger tried to reach out the car window and touch one of them and he got a “growl’ that would have made your hair stand on ends and he quickly pulled his hand back into the car window.  We all set there thinking about how “not smart” that was and were more careful from then on.  We got extremely close to some Cheetah’s, a whole pride of Lions, a pack of wild dogs as well as visiting a caged area that had lots of different baby animals and etc.  The boys all took advantage of that spot and paid to go inside the pens and pet the baby lions, cheetah, and I can’t remember what else.  It was a really fun day; but the shopping was a great experience also.  I found out that all three of the boys really love to shop and find souvenirs to take home for their family.  It was fun to watch them see what would be “just right” for the journey home.  It truly was a fun, fun week and from there we headed straight to the airport where we just actually dumped them off and headed directly home so we could again reach the border before it closed at mid-night.  We actually don’t have a very good GPS system and there were a couple of detours on the way home and we ended up lost along some small road going through every little town and village along the way.  We did make it to the border just before it closed though and that was all that counted.  When we picked up the boys at the first of the week, we used Bryce’s GPS on his phone and it over-road our GPS and found our way much better; but we did make it home on our own.  Usually when we travel to JoBurg we don’t get close to the airport and we know that way, but the airport was a new experience for us but worth every minute we spent with Mike and Roger and Bryce.  Thanks boys for coming and we hope you all get to see what they saw while they were with us.  Africa is truly an amazing country and we loved getting to see everything while they were here also.  When we are just being missionaries, we see exciting things like donkeys, goats, cows and an occasional baboon. 
Since the week the boys were here we have been catching up on immigration and finally got the 4 Sisters to get their Residence Permits so they don’t have to leave Botswana.  We’ve also been able to secure a ID Card, a Passport, and a Visa for Mariah so she can come to America to visit with Roger and Shaundalee’s family.  You’ll all have to check with Roger for that story but it was no small task and has definitely involved the Lord and many Tender Mercies for our family.  The Miracle began last October and our part will be finished when we drive Mariah to Joburg on Friday and put her on an airplane and fly her to America for all of you to meet.
It’s late and we are going to try to get some sleep tonight.  The last two nights haven’t been very successful at that, but tonight we are ready for Mariah’s journey and exhausted so hopefully sleep will come.
We love you and love your letters.  They keep us going and make it possible to do what we do.
Mom and Dad, Grannie and PaPa Lynn, Lynn and Lorraine

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