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

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