Hello Family and Friends from Botswana. We hope and pray that 2014 has found each of you happy, healthy and prosperous. The two of us will never be the same after experiencing summer in November through February, and really not having anything that even resembles fall, winter or spring, even though our friends here call these seasons that. In Botswana and South East Africa they just say "compliments" which means Happy New Year. Or when you are naive to this and they say it a couple times till you understand, they might include "compliments of the New Year". After a while of hearing this even dense guys like me catch on. The people of Botswana really are very courteous, and softer personalities than many of the other countries around here. Especially more so than the people we have met in South Africa. I believe the reason is because they were never Colonized and not divided black and white as were others, so they don't have built in resentment toward one another. The growth of the church in this region has been on the fast track for several years and has begun to flatten out some. But don't get me wrong there is much investigating and nearly everyone we meet wants to know who we are and where our church is and what time they can come worship. In our particular area the baptisms have slowed very much from what they were even when we arrived but, some of that is simply seasonal and there are a few other factors. This give our missionaries some time to focus on reactivation and service in the community and where they can make a difference to gain the confidence and trust of all they meet.
For the first time in the nearly nine months we have served, the missionaries finally have taken on the look of many missionaries of the world by fixing up these two bikes and using them on the days they don't have a car. Elders Henley and Harris put the finishing touches on these two that have been in the storage for months.
When we travel to South Africa to attend the Temple this is the river that makes the border in this area between Botswana and Limpopo province of South Africa. The crossing of the border is always an experience that can be long an tedious if you catch it at the wrong time. So far there have been nearly no rough times for Sister Davis and I and we have felt fairly comfortable doing so. Our crossing spot is just two small towns called Martins Drift in Botswana and Grobblers Bridge in South Africa. We are so blessed to have long term permits to enable us to do this at will as some of the only Seniors in the country who can.
On January 13 to the 16th we had the pleasure of accompanying this group of Saints to the Joburg Temple. Three of them were here for their first time and through some early planning and preparation in Family History and with the Temple staff and our dear friends the Hoffman's, they all received their endowment, patriarchal blessing, and were baptized and accomplished the initiatory work for many of their deceased family members. As you might guess this is a real sacrifice for each of these good people to make. Sister Tjaloba was even sealed to her late husband and son and Brother Ncenga was sealed to his parents. We had so much fun and were so spiritually fed while there with them that we became a little jealous of the Temple workers of whom we have become to know very well. Of course many of them are from our neck of the woods as you might guess, and I checked out all of their family history while visiting with them.
Today was a very somber time for we here in Francistown, even though we look like we're having fun. In an emergency transfer six of our twelve young missionaries and fourteen total from the Mission must leave the country on Monday because they have not been able to obtain residency permits. As you may have remembered from our past blog entries, this has been a major issue and taken much of our time and efforts to work on gaining these permits. The two Sisters will be transferred to Zambia, some Elders to the Joburg mission and other to the Durban mission in South Africa. They will all go there and have great experiences and be good missionaries I am sure. We have come to realize that maybe because of all the success in Botswana lately, Satan has redoubled his efforts and had some influence on the leaders of the country and the immigration department to help put roadblocks in our way. I believe this will be one of the hallmarks of our mission here and for others too as we look back after some years and see that all of this is behind the church and the work will be going strong again with many missionaries here. Just like any war there are battles we face and this is one that Satan has a little edge on right now. IT WONT LAST!
We would again just ask all of you to pray for the leaders of the church and especially for our mission President and his wife as they also have not been cleared to stay here for much longer yet. There are many factors involved and some of the things being done to clarify who we are and what we do are in process with some very good people.
As always we say to each of you that we love you and pray for you often too, and just know we are doing great. Love Charlie and Mary