Saturday, June 25, 2011

Week # 71

Dear Family and Friends,                                                         
                It seems that every two weeks come very quickly.  Lorraine and I take turns writing so I don’t have to write every week.  She often does every week but I don’t mind because I enjoy only once every two weeks.  We take turns on our prayers as well each day.  I pray on every day that doesn’t have a T in the day of the week and she takes all the days that do have a T in them.  It works out to be every other day except for Sunday and I say the morning prayers that day as it follow her T day and she says the Sunday night prayer because it is just before Monday which doesn’t have a T in it.  We have used this method to share our prayer time for many years.  She says the morning and night prays on her days and I say the morning and night prayers on my days.  Of course she doesn’t say my personal prayers that I have alone every day and she does as well.  Most of the times on Fast Sundays we talk about what specific thing we want to include on our prayers we offer on fast Sunday.
                We always have lost to pray about as we receive so many blessings here in Botswana serving as missionaries that we can’t really count them all.  This week’s miracle has to do with getting missionaries out of the border (which is part of immigration).  Last transfer which was the 18th of May we had a very difficult time getting our missionaries through the border.  The reason is because they have passed their 90 days and hadn’t received their residence permits.  We have been told we can stay here without extending their time but they didn’t tell us they couldn’t leave the country as we would be illegal in trying to do so.  We had four missionaries that fell in this category last transfer and two made it through without any problem but two had a different border officer and she caught it so they had to come back into Gaborone to the police to pay a fine and bring them a receipt.  It was terrible as it took 4 hours to do this and get them out of the border.
                This transfer we had 7 fall in this category.  Two left on Tuesday as President Poulsen wanted them to come down to early meetings the day before transfers and the other five went out on Wednesday.  This transfer day was the 22 of June just 5 weeks after the last one because of receiving a new mission president the week that the normal 6 weeks transfers were supposed to happen.  Mom and I decided that we need to go out with them to the border which is a 40 minute drive one way just to help them or at least see what we could do.  Our prayers were answered as those two along with the other two that were within their 90 days got through the border without any problems at all.  The next hurdle was to get the remaining five out the next day.  We feed the missionaries before they leave so it means an early morning both of these days.  We get up about 4:30 to exercise and prepare for the day and get breakfast ready for those leaving Botswana.  A huge morning and then to follow them to the border adds even more to do.  Those going out on Wednesday all got through the border without any problems.  Again we see the hand of the Lord in this great work.  Each a little miracle for us but it is what the Lord wants to happen.
                It has been a very busy week because of it being transfer week.  I try and get things ready about a week before transfer week just to make transfer week itself a little easier.  But there are too many factors that make it not run smoothly.   President Poulsen has given me access to the transfer scenarios as it happens for weeks before the actual transfer day.   This is good because it helps me to get paperwork ready for those coming in from South Africa.  The only problem is that many times when it involves brand new missionaries the Lord has a different person or persons that need to come to Botswana.  So I have to make last minute changes in all that I have already done.  And it doesn’t run quite as smoothly because of these changes but I know that I need to do what needs to be done even if there are some changes.   So all in all with Lorraine making meals for coming and going and I have lots more work in transfers we really do keep overly busy for a couple of weeks.  I am sure that the same thing will happen with a new mission president as well.  Within a week we lose a mission president and gain another.  They overlap from 5:00 PM until 8:00 AM the next morning.  It will be up to the assistants to train the new mission president and let him learn the ropes.  When he comes to Botswana on the 14th of July will be the first time to meet he and his wife in person.  On the 1st of July we are to have a presidency meeting with him on the phone as we have done in the past with President Poulsen.  I think I am automatically released as a counselor when he arrives but President Poulsen asked that we (his counselors) make this phone call.  I may serve as his counselor but because of our short time left he may not call me to serve.
                Today and yesterday something special has been happening here in Botswana, our United States first lady is in town.  There sure has been a lot of hustle and bustle here in Gaborone.  The traffic has been terrible.  Last evening I need to go to Game City a department store that is close to us and when I got to the main road it was stopped traffic.  I turned around in the center of the road and headed back home.  Later we found out she and with her two daughters a niece and her mother had been out to Mokolodi a very small game reserve about 15 kilometers out of town south toward Lobatse which is our main road to everywhere.   We had Sydney and two of her friends (all from the Peace Corps) stay overnight because they had an invite to attend a tea thing this morning with the 1st lady along with 350 other people.  We were not invited and I didn’t have my feelings hurt at all.
                I was asked to visit one of our missionaries in Mochudi this morning to take the news that his grandmother had passed away yesterday.  This visit is one of those things that happen because we are so far away from the Johannesburg mission office.  President Poulsen asked me to visit him and said he will call him later in a couple hours to make sure he had taken it ok.  When I talked to him he wasn’t surprised as his grandmother hadn’t been well for quite some time and he was expected she would die soon. 
On the way to Mochudi we saw army tanks on most big intersections and police on almost every side street.  We think they are there because ofwas all related to the visit of the 1st lady and had nothing to do with Elder Bernards grandmother passing away.  I just read this part to Mom and she said I hope the family catches the fact that you are just kidding about who the tanks are for.
We get hit with so many different things throughout this mission.  An example is that just this evening the missionaries said the G-West chapel has really been dirty for the past few sacrament meetings and the ward members aren’t cleaning.  When the missionaries clean it then it looks good on Sunday morning for all the meetings.  I asked them when they have time to clean the chapel.  They said that if we don’t clean it then it doesn’t get cleaned.  I called President Hall our stake president and he said I will handle this in the next few minutes as the missionaries are not supposed to clean, that responsibility is up to the Bishop to assign it to be cleaned by members.  Sometimes between our missionaries wanting to be kind and hardworking and the bishops take advantage of them.  They are busy enough doing missionary work that they should not be cleaning buildings.
Life is good and we are strengthening our testimonies by reading 7 pages of the Book of Mormon every day.   I have truly felt the spirit and so far I haven’t missed a day and I am staying on task.  I hope each of you that have committed to do this are reading every day.  On the 4th of July we will be at the half way point.  I promise that it will be a personal blessing and your families will grow from it as well.  One of our children has written and how it has helped them in the family to argue and fight less in their family.  It has already helped and strengthened my personal testimony.  May we each in our own way strengthen that which we know to be true through reading, studying, and through prayer.  We have the testimonies but we need to strengthen them every day.  I know that the Lord will bless us as we strive to do those things that we have been asked.  I love serving Him and I get blessings every day.  You as my family is one of my greatest blessings and I want you to know that.
In closing this letter I want to express my love to the love of my life, my sweetheart and best friend.  She is a wise person and many times I feel she receives inspiration more than I do.  I really have to be totally in tune before I can receive the inspiration that she receives at night when she is sleeping.  She says that her mind is clearer at night and she certainly does come up with some great inspiration, many that we try to put into effect. 
Love Out Of Botswana, we will see you in less than 50 days.  Dad

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Week # 70 - Granny

Dear Family,
Things have been really crazy this past week and we have been on the road every day.  We are preparing for another transfer and for a new Mission President so we are trying to make sure EVERYTHING is in “tip-top shape.”  We did apartment inspections all over Botswana this past week and that is not my favorite things to do, but Dad takes the lead and does the complaining, I just hand out the candy bars if things pass.  One of our Zones this transfer had extra nice clean apartments so we are throwing a good old American wiener roast, potato salad, and smores party tomorrow on their preparation day for lunch.  We are going to try building a bon fire in an old barrel that we have here at our place and hope none of the neighbors complain too much.  If it works, we want to do it again for our YSA just before we leave as kind of an entro-to an American camp out that we’ve told them all about.  They’ve never heard of a wiener roast nor a smore, so Dad is putting together some wire sticks to roast with and going to put enough together tomorrow to see how they turn out.  He found some really stiff wire (had to buy the whole roll) and some dowels so hopefully it will all work and we’ll be able to have a couple of fun parties even though it’s winter time here.  It actually gets up to about 75degrees during the day so we are planning mid-day activities and hoping for the best. 
Some of our missionaries have been asking to go to the Jwaneng Diamond Mine that is 2 hours from Gaborone so President told us to go check it out and see if it was worthy their time on a preparation day and see what it would cost them to pay for their own gas and take a day and go.  We took our Zone Leaders with us on Friday and left at 6:30 in the morning to get there for the 9 O’Clock tour they offer and it was quite a fun day.  It is the richest diamond in the world and it was pretty amazing to see their operation and all of the huge machinery that it takes to mine diamonds.  I can’t say the tour was real efficiently run, but we enjoyed ourselves.  They said it took 2 hours and with all of the wasted time waiting for a escort vehicle to lead us down into the mine, waiting for a host to come and tell us all about it before we left, waiting for someone to bring us keys to go into the vault where we could actually see some of the diamonds they have mined there, and then waiting to go through the detectors before we could leave the property to make sure we hadn’t picked up any diamond,  it actually took 4 hours.  I’m glad I went once, but if the missionaries are going, I don’t plan to go along with them.  The tour was free and they have a small game drive you can go on afterwards that is also free so we certainly can’t complain about the cost.  It was a fun day and we saw Zebra’s, Warthogs’, Wildebeests’, Hartebeests’, Impala, Springbok, Giraffe’s, Roan Antelope, Ostrich, & even a monkey along side of the road on the way home.  Not too bad for a Free Game Park!  I think the missionaries will want to go see the diamond mine as well as the Game Park as some of them haven’t seen anything around here except a baboon and some monkey’s and maybe a warthog.   We have been very blest to get to go to all the places we have been because most of the missionaries don’t get to do any of that.  In South Africa there are lots of Game Parks though so the Elders get to go there when they are serving in other areas, but the Sisters only serve in Botswana!
We just got through hosting our YSA get together that we have every month.  They absolutely love to come and we have more and more new ones all the time.  I think we must have had close to 60 tonight and they played games and we fed them bread and jam and hot chocolate.  They ate and ate and even started asking for “doggie bags” but I told them to eat all they wanted, but I didn’t do “Take Away.”
We really do love them and they love having a place to just come and talk and laugh and enjoy each other.  We have noticed they are even pairing up a bit and we had another two weddings announced today so hopefully getting them together to have a good time is making a difference in their social life.  We moved our time up from 5 O’Clock to 4 O’clock because it is dark by 5:30 now and we thought they would leave earlier to get home on their public transport; but they were still here at 7 O’clock so it was kind of a long evening but that is alright too.
We have transfers again on Thursday so wish us luck.  We have 9 Missionaries that are out of time so I’m sure getting them through the border will be another nightmare.  We are going to see if we can push Stix (our Immigration guy) to please spend some time at Immigration on Monday and Tuesday morning before they have to leave on Tuesday Afternoon and see if we can get some permits or waivers or something that will work better at the border this time instead of taking 5 hours and paying P950 in fines.  Wish us Luck!!
I typed up a few fun things to share this week while I was thinking of things to write.  I’ll add them to this letter.

More fun Info from Botswana
It’s really hard to find corn chips here.  Occasionally we find some really spicy chili hot ones, but this week we found some plain ones to dip in Salsa (which we can’t find either) but I do find a canned Mexican Style Diced tomatos, peppers, and chilie mix that tastes almost like Salsa.  The salsa substitute that we buy costs almost $2. for a 410 G can which is a normal size can like corn or green beans come in which isn’t too bad, but the Corn Chips were almost $7.00 per bag for an 250 g bag which is about 8 oz. Needless to say, we bought them anyway & they have been tasting pretty good today.

Canned foods are hard to find much of and they usually cost quite a bit.  I have been hunting for green beans and haven’t found them very often, but I did find them this week and just picked them up and bought 8 cans as there was no price on the shelf.  When I got home and looked at my receipt, I had paid about $2.25 per can and it too is just the normal vegetable sized can.  I won’t be feeding those to the missionaries!!!

The cheapest tuna we can find is about $1.75 a can but we always buy it anyway as dad loves Tuna.  We can usually find frozen vegetables so we have plenty of those.  Sometimes they even say McCain on the label.

Today we got a chance to go to South Africa to visit our one District so while I was there I thought I’d try to buy a new Mascara since my last one is all but gone.  I found some Maybelline Black, just like I wanted and it was 110 Pula, which is almost $17.00 but I bought it.  Every other brand on their shelf was much more.

We also found Pretzels which we can’t find in Botswana, they were $7.00 US for an 8 Oz. bag, probably expensive since I remember getting them in a huge bag at Smith’s for about $2 or $3. Tomatoes, on the other hand are always very cheap here.  I think I only pay about $2.00 for a bag with 8 or 10 tomatoes in it.  They are usually very green when I buy them, but they ripen up quite nicely on the kitchen cabinet and we put them in or on everything.  Dad is even learning to like tomatoes on lots of things if I don’t slice them very thick.

We bought watermelons 3 times lately and they seem quite plentiful right now; so we thought it must be the season for them to be grown in everyone’s garden.  We have only found one good one.  It was seedless and cost about $6.00 and was about the same size as the smaller seedless ones at home.  The 2nd one we bought was seedless but absolutely tasteless and only pink and the 3rd one we decided to try one with seeds but it was white inside and had a million seeds and was stringy so we just threw it away without tasting it.  Since they each cost about $6 or more, we decided to forego the watermelon for our usual bananas, they are always pretty good and plentiful.  We have found a few Fugi apples lately and they are small, but really good and I don’t know how much I paid, they were by the bag and I bought 2 bags.  Oranges are pretty good here; they have the little Clementines and another thing they call Naartjie’s and another one called “easy peeler” and they are all pretty good.  They have tons of really hard to peel ones that I think people must juice out and they are really cheap and we see ladies carrying them home in big bags on their heads all the time.  The little stands along the streets are full of them right now, but don’t taste too good to me so I avoid those and go for the easy peeling kind. 

That's it for this week.
We Love You All
Mom and Dad, Grannie & PaPa Lynn, Lynn and Lorraine


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Week # 69 - Papa Lynn

Dear Family and Friends,                                          
     Two months from today we will be home but who is counting?  I guess that perhaps I am but as the same time we are keeping very busy.  Today we go the Molepolole Branch for their branch conference.  President Hall our stake president has asked that Sister Morgan and I attend all the conferences that are a part of our areas to cover.  We cover Mafikeng in South Africa and Lobatse, Kanye, Molepolole, Mochudi as branches and G-West 1st ward and Broadhurst along with G-West 2nd ward the single young adult ward all here in Botswana.  It Keeps us going and today will probably be the last time to attend Molepolole as our rotation takes about 8 weeks.  We get to know a lot of people but at the same time we don’t get to know then very well.  The Church is really doing well here in Botswana and I am sure that soon we will have a stake here.  There are always little things that we try to correct a little at a time like when people get up to pray because they haven’t been in the church very long they say “Let us pray” before the prayer.  I have carefully mentioned this in several talks in different wards and branches but the new members come in faster than I can take care of this.  All in all they are becoming stronger and doing things the way we do them back in our part of Zion.  I would think that with the Prophet and the great leadership we have back home that we must be doing the ordinances and other things right so we try to pattern things here the way we do them back home.
     No wild and furious stories to tell this week.  We had President Poulsen come to Botswana Thursday evening and we were privileged to go with him along with Sister Poulsen and took our four sisters that serve here in Gaborone out to dinner at the Red Lantern (Chinese food).  It was a fun evening and the next day we had Leadership Training Meeting and we have always been invited to them.  In the afternoon after this meeting President and Sister Poulsen headed for Francistown for their last visit there as well.  They are having a two branch conference combined that is their annual conference.  Yesterday they had some training like Sister Morgan and I have put on for Mochudi and Kanye.  The stake pretty well takes care of training for the rest of the branches and wards here.  They are also supposed to take care of these two but because they are dependent branches we help with them with their training.
     We have another transfer coming up in ten days that will be our last one along.  We will have a couple that we are training to take our place for the next one which will be on the 9th of August.  We think the new couple will be here the last week of July.  The transfer on the 9th of August will be President Omer’s first transfer sense his arrival on the 28th of June.  That change will take place soon as President and Sister Omer arrives at 5:00 PM on the 28th and President and Sister Poulsen leave at 8:00 AM the next morning.  They have talked several times on the phone and on skype on matters that President Poulsen thinks he should be aware of.  As a counselor to President Poulsen I don’t know if I will be asked to be a counselor to President Omer.  All of President Poulsen’s counselors will be automatically released upon his leaving the mission.  I don’t know if President Omer doesn’t ask me to continue if I will still be asked to do 2nd interviews for baptisms.  We will see.  I think he should keep a counselor up here in Botswana because it is so far away from the main part of the mission.  It has worked very well for me to serve as a counselor to President Poulsen.  We have gotten along very well and I feel that I have given him great support and help.  He has commented several times that having a counselor up here has been a blessing to the mission and the missionaries up here in Botswana.  My sweet wife has been a great support to me in everything that I have been asked to do.  I guess we bless each other as we clean house together.  She prepares most of the meals and I do most of the dishes but while I do them she puts things away and wipes everything up so we finish about the same time.
     Many years ago I was truly inspired to ask a sweet young lady (your mom) to marry me and I proposed to her on the foot bridge crossing Indian Creek behind the grade school in Kuna, Idaho.  The miracle of this is that she said YES and then we went and I asked for her hand in marriage of her mom and dad.  They were in bed but we got permission to speak to them and I asked for the hand of their daughter to be my wife.  I proposed on the 24th of July 1964 and we were married about seven weeks later in the Salt Lake Temple on the 14 of September 1964.  I got home from my mission to England on the 12th of June 1964 and we thought because of our dating off and on all during high school and writing to each other during my mission that a short engagement was long enough.  Oh we truly was in love with each other but as we look back on that time now we really wonder what gave us the courage to make that big step together.  We know it is the plan of our Father in Heaven that when you fulfill your assignments such as a mission and you are lucky enough to find that right person then the next natural step is marriage.  Our love has grown over the years more and more every year.  Of course it grows as we have had children together.  Lori was special or first born and she entangled our love even deeper and we had enough to share with her.  Then Sherrie was special and she came along and again we had love to spill over to her as well.  Cindy was special as she was the third of our three girls and we shared our love with her as well.  And then we was over joyed with my first son Mike and he was special as well.  He was the apple of my eye and quick to learn and all boy, our love continued to grow and cover our whole family.  Then there was Roger eager to learn and grow and loved spilled over to him as he was special as well.  We were ready for another girl and sure enough Kricket came along and what a cutie and love grew again because she was special.  Bryce came with his prayed for brown eye and we thought our love was to its fullness because he was special.  But later Harold came home and we grew and shared and loved him as well as he was special. 
     What more could a couple like Mom and I ask for only to have great and wonderful sons and daughters in law each very special and the love began to multiply and flow over and over.  I have often said if we were to choose between our own children and those whom they married it might be a hard decision.  The result of each of these marriages has brought about even more joy and love as we now have grandchildren each very special.  Some are now older and some are young and that doesn’t make any difference because we love each of them in their own way in the period of life they are in.  We are even more blessed as we have one great granddaughter that is special and what a joy she is.
     As you can see and understand as you read this letter we are from a long line of love.  Moms and my parents are very much in love and they came from a long line of love so I only pray that this love carries over for more and more generations and it becomes a longer line of love.
     Count your many blessings and name them one by one or multiply them and count as far and as long as you want and the blessings keep coming.  Thank you each of you for your contribution to the long line of love.  A celestial family is the goal and keeping the commandments along with temple marriage is the path for each of our lives.  I can’t count all my blessings but I know that my family is the top blessing on my long list.
     I know that the Plan of Salvation is the plan that Jesus Christ, our elder brother, presented to Our Father in Heaven and we chose to be a part of that plan.  We shouted for joy and we were very enthusiastic and committed to come to earth and live in this period of time.  Because of or enthusiasm we were chosen to live in these the latter days and to have the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the central point in our lives.  Let’s take advantage of this testing period in this Plan of Salvation by being what we should be in this life each day.   As much as I love my family, who would think I would have any left for my Savior but I do and I want to please him every day.  I love Him and I know He love me and each of us.  This is my testimony in His Holy name, even Jesus Christ, Amen
Love Out Of Botswana, Dad

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Thought for Sunday

More on Scripture Study!
President Ezra Taft Benson explained how the scriptures can be a powerful way to bless us and answer the difficult questions of life: Quote--"Often we spend great effort in trying to increase the activity levels in our stakes.  We work diligently to raise the percentages of those attending sacrament meetings.  We labor to get a higher percentage of our young men on missions.  We strive to improve the numbers of those marrying in the temple.  All of these are commendable efforts and important to the growth of the kingdom.  But when individual members and families immerse themselves in the scriptures regularly and consistently, these other areas of activity will automatically come.  Testimonies will increase.  Commitment will be strengthened.  Families will be fortified.  Personal revelation will flow."
Thanks to all of you parents for teaching your children the importance of reading the scriptures individually and as families.  There are so many reason why our family is so blessed and happy and loves spending time together.  It's because we are all TRYING to keep the commandments and make ourselves worthy to return to live with our Heavenly Father TOGETHER FOREVER!!!
We are forever grateful for each and every one of you!!!
Have a great Sunday together!
Dad and Mom, PaPa Lynn and Grannie

Friday, June 10, 2011

Thought for the Day

Dearest Family,
Since we are working hard on our Scripture Challange that Dad gave us all, I found this quote in my Book of Mormon Institute Manual and thought I would share it with you.  I have a couple more also, but I'll try to share only one each day!
President Spencer W. Kimball spoke of the power of scriptures to help us draw nearer to God:  Quote-- "I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away.  If I immerse myself in the scriptures, the distance narrows and the spirituality retunrs.  I find myself loving more intensely those whom I must love with all of my heart and mind and strength, and loving them more."
I find it quite interesting that this quote was taken out of a Book (or a talk, I'm not sure) that President Kimball wrote and it is titled "What I Hope You Will Teach My Grandchildren and All Others of the Youth of Zion."
We love and treasure each of you so very much. 
Have a wonderful weekend!!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011


                                        This took place Sunday the 18th of April 2010
                I need to set the stage a little for this as we are serving in the South Africa Johannesburg Mission and serve in the Botswana Mission Office.  We arrived a couple months before Elder and Sister Olson were to head home.  We were assigned to work especially in the Young Single Adult Ward with Bishop Matswagothata to help out the best we could, and to learn all we needed to know from Elder and Sister Olson in running the mission up here in Botswana.  Two other important factors take place to help understand how this truly was a miracle.  There was a couple’s conference scheduled for the 21st, 22nd and 23rd of April 2010 and Elder and Sister Olson were scheduled for a personal trip to the Okavango Deltawhich is in the northern part of Botswana on the 26th through the 30th of April.  This would give them time to stay in our mission office slash mission home for one more night before they drove down to Johannesburg to fly home on the 1st day of May.
                Now I have set that part of the stage I have one more item to cover.  Sister Morgan and I were pretty much on our own during these two months and we visited most of the branches during that time.  The Sunday before the mission couples training we went to the Mafikeng Branch which is just across the border into South Africa but is still in one of our Botswana mission zones.  We left early on Sunday morning and attended their block meetings and a baptism.  We were getting ready to leave and I took our passports and papers for crossing the border out of the car to make sure we had everything and just as I was doing that one of the Elders called me and I turned around to talk to him and I put the packet on top of the car which contained our passports and all the other papers to cross the border.  We were in a hurry to get back to Gaborone and get things ready for the upcoming couple’s conference.
                Just as we arrived at the border and parked I went into a shock mode as I remembered even before I looked realizing that I had left the packet of papers on top of the car at the church and here we were at the border with the car.  I looked between the seats where I kept them and of course they were not there.  I jumped out of the car knowing they weren’t on top but I looked in the boot (trunk) and I just knew they weren’t there either.  I got back in the car and Mom and I talked a few minutes and decided to call the Elders back in Mafikeng to see if they had found them.  They looked and didn’t know where they were.  They looked up and down the street and asked the branch president and the packet was nowhere to be found.  We didn’t know what to do so we called Elder Olson and explained our situation.  I could tell he was very upset and he told me that we would have to go to Johannesburg and serve there for several months while we waited for replacement passports.  I could tell that it would mean real problems for the Olson’s as they had this trip to Okavango Delta planned and paid for and then they were scheduled to leave for America on the 1st day of May. There was no way a replacement couple could come and learn all they needed to learn to make it so they could even go home on schedule. We decided that first of all we wanted the Lord’s help and so fervently we prayed for help.  We didn’t even know what kind of help we needed but we knew we needed help.  It was the strongest prayer thus far on our mission that I had prayed.
                We didn’t know what to do so we went into the South Africa side of the border and they weren’t going to let us cross but they finally agreed to let us pass but that Botswana immigration or border people would never let us into Botswana without having our passports.  So South Africa let us pass and we headed to the Botswana border about a kilometer farther north.  When we went into their office we had a strong prayer in our hearts and we told the immigration officer in charge exactly what happened and she wouldn’t budge.  She said we had to have passports and that was final.  As we were trying to convince her the lady across the long narrow room (the departing side) came over and asked what we wanted.  She was the same lady that helped us and stamped our passports as we left earlier that morning leaving Botswana.  After talking for more than an hour with those two ladies and also the head immigration officer they finally said we could cross and they gave us a piece of paper that we had to take to the immigration office the next morning back in Gaborone.  We could hardly believe that they were letting us back into Botswana without our passports, it truly was a miracle and we knew that our prayers were answered in a matter of an hour not weeks and months later.  After we got through the border I called Elder Olson and he couldn’t believe that we were back in Botswana.
We arrived back to our hotel room at the Motheo Apartment in downtown Gaborone.  May I explain that when you are in a foreign country your passport doesn’t have an address where you are staying and only has the state you live in back in the United States.  If some honest person found your lost passport he wouldn’t know how to find you to return it.  We were still in awe when we received a call from Elder Olson and he said you will not believe this but a trucker in Mafikeng found your packet and he will be here tomorrow morning at his trucking firm right here in Gaborone and will bring them to us.  We can pick up your passports and paperwork from him about 8:00 in the morning.It just so happened that some of the paperwork which was with our passports in the packet was a driving permit for us to be able to drive across the border.  On that letter it was signed by Elder Olson with the name of the church and address and phone number down after his signature.  The trucker had to look hard to find, us but he did and found us through Elder Olson.The wonderful part about miracles is that they can be extended beyond what we even pray for.  We prayed so fervently to be allowed back into Botswana knowing that we would have to stay in South Africa until our replacement passports could be applied for and months later received from the United States, if they didn’t let us through the border.  We knew we would have to miss the couple’s conference that was happening later that week but we weren’t worried about that.  But with the second part of this miraculous miracle we did get our passports back and all was as though we didn’t lose them at all.
Passports on the black market are worth a premium and usually are not returned.  Often they are stolen because of their value.  It was the greatest feeling that next morning when we actually held our American passports in our hands, it was worth every pula I gave to the truck driver as a reward for finding and returning our passports.  We realized we had been blessed and that we had received an answer to our prayers and we recognize this as one of the most greatest miracles of our lives.  May Miracles Never Cease!
Love Out Of Botswana, Dad

Amazing Pictures

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Week #68 - Granny

Dear Family,
It seems like it was just May 1st, now already it is June and time is flying so quickly.  We have been traveling a lot lately and I think I’m a little tired of it but we get to stay close to home this week so we are happy.  We were actually supposed to go back up to Francistown for an District Conference with Pres. And Sister Bricknell as the Visiting Authorities but we are needed in one of our Branches, Molepolole, as they are having their Branch Conference and the Stake President asks us to attend those.  We told the Riser’s we couldn’t come up their Conference and then we found out that Bricknell’s aren’t able to attend either so we aren’t feeling quite so bad about missing their conference.  We were in Joburg yesterday to the temple with our YSA couple and we ran in to President Bricknell at the Mission Office and it was great to have 5 minutes to talk to him and hug each other and then we were on our way. 
Let me tell you a little bit about our couple, Tabego (Tabo for short) and Gorata (said Horata, like Gaborone with an “H”) are 24 and 23; he has been a member for several years and served a mission in Uganda and she has been a member for 3 years.  She is the only member in her family and his mom and an older sister and a younger brother are all members.  Tabo and Gorata meet at the Church a couple of years ago and have been dating some for the past few months.  They wanted to get married but couldn’t pay the Labola.  Bishop Matswagothata has been talking with them together with their parents and both parents thought they shouldn’t get married until he could pay the Labola, but they are taking a stand and trying to do things the Lord’s way so they braved it and went against both families and decided to just get married with no reception, no wedding gifts, a borrowed dress, no traditional wedding feast and no celebration at all.  They were married at the District Commissioners (like a judge), then took a Taxi to the church house where Bishop Matswagothata married them in the chapel with a few YSA friends and his mom and Sister and husband and a few other Ward members that came to wish them well.  Gorata asked me to bring some cookies and there was punch in paper cartons served in the Relief Society room on a table with a wrinkled table cloth, no flowers, no decorations, but lots of pictures and hugs and they signed all of their legal documents and we put them in the car and headed for the temple.  They were suppose to get their documents from the District Commissioner at 9 O’clock that morning, but there were 10 couples there to be married and because they were going to the church to be married, he told them they had to wait until he married all the others before he would sign their documents.  We were at the church at 8:45 anxious to head to JoBurg, Tabo and Gorata arrived at 12:15 and they were married and out the door of the church by about  l O’clock.  It took about an hour to get to and through the border and we were suppose to have them to the temple by 3:30 (not possible) Bishop called and changed their appointment to 5:30 which was the last available time so needless to say, Dad drove a bit over the speed limit all the way there and we were blessed by our GPS that took us straight to the temple despite 5 O’clock Downtown JoBurg traffic (miracle and many tender mercies) and we arrived at 5:25.  I think we hit every green light on the way and only came really close to smashing into the back of one car.  So we felt blessed and our evening session was wonderful.  Dad and I were their escorts and it was really wonderful to get to go to the Brides room and the Grooms room and hear the wonderful talk about the blessings of the temple, how to take care of our garments, and the privilege of being in the temple. 
Dad and I spent the night at the extra missionary flat in Joburg and our new couple spent the night in Patron Housing at the temple.  I made sandwiches for us to eat as we traveled and gave them Banana Bread, fruit, and some other goodies for them a lunch box as there is nothing to buy there at the temple housing.  We got through the temple so late, that we couldn’t even take them out to eat, so we just dropped them off and we went to our flat for the night.  Tabo’s mom and Sister and husband were coming to the temple for the sealing, but they had trouble at the border so they called and asked us to move their sealing from 11:00 to 1:00 which we were able to do and it’s a good thing because they just barely made it for the sealing at 1:00.  The sealing was beautiful and this sweet couple is so in love and truly know they have done things the right way, despite the opposition from their families.  Even Tabo’s mother (who is a member) is against the way they did things because her parents aren’t members and they are saying that Tabo shamed them all because he didn’t “bring anything to the table” for them to go negotiate with her family for the price of their daughter.  Tabo’s grandparents told him they are ashamed of him for not paying the price for his bride and both families have said they will never consider them married.  However, they are sealed for Time and Eternity in the House of the Lord and we all know how much that means.  Gorata cried and cried to me and said she was so happy and that she knows they did it the right way and that she knows she is a Daughter of God and that she has value even if her family considers that she is worthless since she hasn’t been bought.
After the session, we went out on the temple grounds and Dad took some wonderful pictures of their beautiful day in the temple.  Tabo’s mom and Sister and her husband were very supportive that day and it was nice to have them there.  I think his mom is just being bullied by her parents; she has to be happy that they were married in the temple as she is a great member and Primary President in one of our wards here. 
After the pictures, we jumped back into our car and headed back to Botswana.  We did stop with Tabo and Gorata and bought them a McDonald’s hamburger (rare treat because we don’t have McDonald’s in Botswana) and then we drove like crazy to get home.  We took them to their humble little house they have just rented.  We drove through Shanty Town and followed directions to their place and when we pulled up to the house, we said “Is this your place?” and they said “no” there’s a little house behind that is ours.  We made some really positive comments about their home being their Castle and always loving and taking care of each other and then we pulled away and came home.  I think dad and I both wished we could rent them our servant’s quarters that are behind our house; but we can’t.  I did tell Gorata to be careful and not walk in that neighborhood alone “EVER” and hopefully she will take my advice. 
Hopefully I will never forget all the things I’m learning here in Africa.  We are so blessed in America and especially as Member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Hopefully I will remember how blessed I am for being born into the church and for being born into the family I have who have taught me all about my Heavenly Father and about His plan for me.  Hopefully I will remember all of the blessings I have that begin with being married for Time and Eternity to a worthy and wonderful and patient Husband; for being blessed to be the Mother of 8 beautiful and amazing and faithful children who have chosen delightful and faithful spouses and have been sealed in the Holy Temple of God.  How can I ever forget any one of the wonderful 36 grandchildren that I have been blessed with; each of whom truly know who they are and are living lives worthy to be called His Sons’s and Daughters and some of whom are now choosing their Eternal Companions and will (and have already) bless us with more posterity and blessings.  I love your Father; he makes my life wonderful and he is so good to me.  Marrying him was the best decision I have ever made and I am eternally grateful to my Heavenly Father for blessing me with the privilege of being his Eternal Companion.  I am so thankful for each of you kids; thank you for ALL you do for Dad and I and for all of your love and support as we serve these missions.  We have learned so much out here and we hope that we can share our knowledge with you so it can make your lives even better and happier.  We are so blessed as a family and our biggest blessing is that we have each other “For Eternity”.  LET THERE BE NO EMPTY SEATS IN OUR HEAVENLY HOME.”   Take good care of each other for us.  We will work especially hard because of you!!!


Friday, June 3, 2011

Week # 72 - Granny

Hello to All!
     Another week has passed so quickly and we now have a new Mission President which we haven’t had the privilege of meeting yet; but Dad has talked to him a couple of times on the phone.  President Omer asked Dad to stay on as a Counselor until we leave; so we will carry on as normal and try to do everything he wants done and help him get adjusted to Botswana when he has time to come up.  He plans to come up on the 15th and have interviews with all of our missionaries here at our home just like President Poulsen did; so I think he is planned to carry out the 1st month or so with the schedule President Poulsen used; and then perhaps make some changes to do things “his way.”  We are anxious to meet him and his wife and get to serve with them for this transfer and then hopefully we’ll have someone else trained to take our place.  He isn’t quite sure which couple he is going to use to replace us so we’re just waiting until someone arrives and then we will go to work teaching them about the amazing Branches and Wards here in Botswana.  He will love the people here and enjoy working with them. But he doesn’t actually get to know them very well unless he does things a lot different than President Poulsen.  This mission is so large that it is impossible for one Mission President to get everywhere and spend any time there when he arrives.  President Poulsen was so busy taking care of almost 200 missionaries that he rarely had time to even be here on a Sunday for a Branch or Ward meeting.  I guess we won’t actually know if anything changes much because I’m sure President Omer will still be getting his feet wet by the time we have to leave and it’s amazing how quickly things change when you leave the Mission and someone else takes over.  We will soon be forgotten and life moves on for everyone.  That is one thing we’ve learned from our other missions is that we are all totally replaceable and the next couple will probably do it better!
      We did a lot of traveling again this past week.  Dad had a 2nd interview to do in Mafikeng (back in South Africa) so we took a day and went down there.  We made the bad choice of going on Friday and it was a Botswana Holiday (Sir Seretse Khama Day) our President so we got stuck at the border for almost an hour.  I think ALL of Botswana was traveling by car or walking across the border that day and he had to be in Kanye by noon so we left early in the morning and it’s a good thing.  We were at the border (a 2 hour drive) by 9 O’clock that morning, but we lost an hour there so we were still 30 minutes late for his appointment on into Mafikeng.  The interview was only 30 or 40 minutes and then we headed right back across the border and he was still late for his appointment to fix a baptismal font there.  However, when we went to fix the font, we found out that the Hardware Store in Gaborone had sold us the wrong length of cable to fix it with and he couldn’t fix it anyway so that was a total waste of 3 hours travel and rush.  But we did get to pick up Marea and bring her to Gaborone with us for the weekend.  She needed to earn some money so we let her do some cleaning for us and she is a great cleaner.  I told her we’d pay her by the hour and she jumped on that and went right to work.  She got in 3 hours on Friday (she and I did the whole kitchen, cupboards in and out and the whole bit) and by evening the whole kitchen felt cleaner than it ever has since we moved in.  It was nice!
Saturday she cleaned and cleaned all day while I cooked and prepared for a YSA Sisters Conference I was sponsoring today.  I had about 30 Sisters come along with Bishop Motswagothata and his wife Busi come and we listened to the YW Conference tape which none of our sisters have ever heard and then had Chicken noodle soup and rolls, cookies and ice cream to close our fast.  It was really a great day together and I prepared some fun handouts to go along with each of the talks so I hope they all felt Spiritually fed as well as Physically fed.
Marea stayed for the meetings with us and then she jumped on a Combi and headed for the bus station to catch a bus to Kanye while we cleaned up the house and the yard from the party and said our good bye’s to everyone.  Bishop and his wife stayed around for quite a while, they are so fun and we really love them and enjoy it when they come over.  Mike and Roger and Bryce got to meet them so I know they understand how much we love them; I wish all of you could just meet them; you would love them also.  Hopefully they will get to America some day to meet all of you and see that you are as wonderful as we tell them you are.
So now it’s evening and I’m beet but it’s been a wonderful week and we’ve had a stream of visitors all evening including some missionaries who heard there was soup left over to a couple coming over for some Marriage advice (they came alone but we sent each of them home to talk things out together and tried not to take sides or give much advice.) 
We know you are all busy at home; enjoy your busy summer and send us lots of letters and pictures about the kids and all that is going on.  You make my day when I come to the computer early in the morning and there is a letter or pictures of any of you.  It’s even a better day if there is more than one letter so keep the letters and notes and pictures coming; they mean a lot to us.
Mom and Dad, Grannie & PaPa Lynn