Sunday, December 29, 2013

Merry Christmas Everyone

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone who gets our blog from Francistown Botswana in Southeast Africa. We continue to attempt entries to this blog on a regular weekly basis but, we have found that there is just not enough time when we still have energy to accomplish that. The one time a month or maybe three weeks is just going to be the way it is. The holiday season with all the activities here, and the fact that many of our members and investigators leave the area for an extended time till well into January, has kept we missionaries very busy as we try to cover all the bases and be prepared to carry on while they are away. It may be apparent that these folks all have home villages somewhere between 50 and 500 kilometers away from here in Botswana, and many are from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia or other countries even further. Many businesses close completely from the day before Christmas till January 6th or beyond. Schools are not back in session till late January so you can see that this is their summer break. We wish that all this was a sign that these people really celebrate the birth of our Savior as should be done, but its not quite that way. The commercialism is not quite as prevalent as in the United States but still is very strong. Although, we have been a little surprised  we have not seen any thing like a "Black Friday" or even any kind of Christmas sale at any stores. maybe they just hold much of the merchandise till next month or till the following Christmas. We are both doing very well and are having some great testimony building experiences with investigators, members and the other missionaries we serve with. Many of our hours are spent doing the temporal type of work and filling in where members are not trained as yet, but it is all rewarding and the people are really fun to have as our friends forever. The first few of these pictures are from the Christmas devotional we shared with about 90 percent of our mission, including the President and his wife in Gaborone on December 18th. Each district provided some entertainment with a skit, ours was not cool so no pictures were taken(we hope)! You may notice that the food was flown in special from Utah thanks to Cafe Rio!

Each of the three branches here in F-town hold their own Christmas party which resembles more of a cookout/barbecue in Utah at the 4th of July. These are some of the great little families and friends that look up to Sister Davis as she teaches them about our traditions and Christmas time celebrating. The girl on the left with all the new hair is waiting for the missionary we just sent a couple months ago, but she is in a College at Gaborone beginning soon. Aratwa, Dikeledi and Gosego all stay in the Monarch area and belong to our FHE group. Its hard to admit that we are much better at planning and holding FHE here than we ever were at home. Hope our kids are doing better than we did.

This turns out to be the best branch gathering and they "break the bank" on the food for the annual Christmas party. These pictures are from all three as we made the rounds to each during the day. All parties start at 10 am and go till 3 pm or till they slow down. That made it possible to visit them all for a while and enjoy each group. Much of the food was just beautifully done in some of the sisters homes, and then the meat and other things were done on the brai at the meetinghouse.

The meat they purchase for the Christmas party is really important as they have several different varieties. We have learned that a most families from the villages butcher a beef or a couple of goats and really have a ton of meat for their Christmas celebration. The chickens here are a common sight along the roadways for people to stop and buy on their way home at night for dinner. Of course the Christmas party must have fresh chicken so these Elders were in charge of collecting the chickens and then doing the killing and cleaning and cooking them for the group. We supplied the money and the transport of Christmas dinner.
Our wonderful Branch President was happy to learn that for the first time in over 2 years he was going home for Christmas to Zimbabwe to be with his family of three small children. These great times are only possible with help from our dear family and friends and we love each of you for your generosity and kindness.

Christmas week was highlighted by us making the 5 hour trip to Kasane and spending the weekend with our little group of saints in this small resort town on the banks of the Chobe River. They have very strong Priesthood leadership and also get a few baptisms there, even though no missionaries are permantley assigned to the area. Our assignment is to visit once per quarter and give a little instruction, show our support from the mission and teach classes. We also try to take all the necessary curriculum and supplies they may need and usually speak in their Sacrament meeting. As you can see by the pictures there is wildlife right in town and on the highway as we get close to the Chobe National Park area. This is a real destination for those of you who plan to visit this region. Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe is just about 1 hour away and is one of the Seven Wonders Of the World. We are waiting for a real big occasion to make our first trip there, and it just happens to be outside of our mission which requires approval from the Area Presidency. These animals are not in a Zoo or behind any tall fences either.

Christmas eve was spent caroling with the group of missionaries to some of the families around the area. Each companionship chose two families and took treats and singing to their homes.

The Elders next door were celebrating the reason they all serve on Christmas Day!

So finally on Christmas Day the whole Zone went to the little Pomegranite nine hole golf course. (The Elders had been begging Elder Davis for weeks) We enjoyed the outing together where we see Monkeys, Impala, Guinea hens and lots of waterfowl and played a little scramble match with 2 fivesomes and one foursome.. Everyone got a little extra sun and after placing 36 golf balls in the water or the bush it was fun. Christmas dinner was at the Davis flat and we shared a little white elephant gift exchange and a whole bunch of food and games. That evening was spent by each missionary speaking for 1/2 to 1 hour on the phone with their family. Sorry to say that no skype or facetime or any other means of video transmission was available for these Botswana missionaries. The past few days after those phone calls we have witnessed these guys being a little down and sad and homesick. The fact that the missionary work is very, very slow is not helping the matter. But, they are all great young people with strong testimonies and great work ethic and things will just get better and busier by the day. We plan to have a small get together for New Years Eve and then really get focused with new goals and challenges for 2014.

We pray for each and every one of our family and friends to be blessed with much good health and happiness and success in the New Year. Many things have changed at home as we have been away, and yet much remains the same and great. We love each of you so much and miss our times together.

Elder and Sister Davis

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like your Chritmas was a merry one. Thanks for sharing! We love you and pray for you and your success.