Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Missionaries, Farewells and Movie sets

Greetings from Bechuanaland as Botswana was known in the old Colonial days. The name for the nationality of the largest group of people here is Motswana and then all the rest of us are from many of the other African countries, and many are Chinese, Indian, Pakistani and a large number from Zimbabwe and South Africa the two next door countries. Our stay has now been close to 14 months and continues to be full of new adventures and lots of testimony building and faith promoting experiences. As everyone will say who serves in foreign lands, the fun and great memories are all about the people we work with and get to know.

Our lives and those of some of our family members have been changed for the good through relationships and the love shared with us and these great people. With this blog we hope to give all of you who read a little taste of the enjoyment and some challenges we face together in Botswana

Even though our missionary numbers continue to dwindle the success of finding those who are ready for baptism is still going strong. Our Sister missionaries are doing a superb job in their area
 as they find families like this mother and two daughters who bear strong testimonies of the Book of Mormon already and have read continually for several months. Even the father was supportive and is investigating as well.

Elder and Sister Davis have had the awesome opportunity to spend a lot of time getting to know Elder Nkhoma. He is the third young missionary from Francistown to receive a call while we have been here. A couple weeks ago it was our pleasure to accompany he and his family to the airport so he could fly to the Preston England MTC for training to serve in the England Leeds mission for 2 years. Ezekiel
 is the first missionary from Francistown to be called out of the African Continent. The pictures are from his home where he was set apart the night before and then the airport here in F town with many of his family and friends in support. We so look forward to these young Priesthood holders serving and then returning to add strength and leadership to their homeland and Branches. We pray that in the two years he is away there will be other Branches, Wards, District and maybe even another Stake here in the F town area.

 The first week of June was a really busy time for us as we were asked to help make arrangements for this medical team from the U.S. to visit here and train Doctors and Midwives in the art of resuscitating babies at birth or NRT. The team is from Utah and Idaho and volunteer for this humanitarian effort in many parts of Africa, India and South America. Being the only couple Missionaries in the area we were contacted 2 months in advance and asked to arrange for the venue to hold the event,  hotel accommodations, catering for the participants breakfast and lunch each day and extra help from some members to help with unpacking and organiz-
 ing the equipment upon arrival. After much anticipation and many alterations to the plans it was a stunning success. Our YSA waited for their arrival till very late Saturday night and then in a matter of 45 minutes were able to unpack and supply over 90 bags of training materials for all to use on Monday morning.

 The Fergusons along with the Doc and nurses were superb teachers and together with the Ministry of Health and the Institute of Health Science school, the participants passed their exams and reviews with amazing scores. The church donates wonderful equipment and much money to fund these ventures all over the globe. Many of the Doctors and Midwives represented medical facilities around this entire region and were able to take the training and the materials home to their respective villages and towns. There really are some great medical people in our area and this school where we held the event is a great facility for education. About 95 percent of the
 babies born in Botswana are delivered by Midwives who are employed by the government public health system.

 Following a full week of class work and hands on experience with the training aids and visits from high ranking officials these students made up of Docs and Midwives were treated to a closing ceremony in the auditorium. Our Mission President and the churches National Public Affairs people along with the South East Africa area public affairs Missionaries came to the graduation and ceremony. Many dignitaries from the government were on hand and all were treated to a nice day. The Church was very well represented and has left a great impression on all who were involved.

 At the 11th hour we were asked to form a choir from our branches to sing at the closing. They came from all around and did a very good job.
Last Monday was the final P day for two of our great Elders as their time to go back to home has arrived. Although we really hate to get smaller as a district, it is awesome to see them complete two full years of hard work and dedicated service to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Elder Chamberlain is back in Idaho Falls by now and chasing the girls we hope. While Elder Khalwale is near Nairobi Kenya beginning his entry back into training for the 5000 and 10000 meter runs at the World and Olympic games. We pray for success in both of their young lives as they have been awesome here in Botswana. We shared a fun day together at our flat with food and games before they drove to
Gabs to fly away.
 We also gathered in Gaborone on Thursday last to say farewell to one of only four couples in our entire mission. The Abrahams have served for eighteen months in both F town and in Mafikeng South Africa and become close friends to all of us. The picture was lost as we ate at the best Chinese place in Botswana but this is after dinner in the foyer of the Grand Palms Hotel.
 As we prepared to come to Botswana we were asked many times about the series of books written by Alexander McCall Smith about The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency which take place in Botswana and have also been made into HBO movies. Sister Davis has read some and knows about this treasure but Elder Davis knew nothing.

Well we were finally introduced to someone who was an extra in the movies and is a strong member of the church so he took us on a tour of the city where some of this took place.
 For those of you who are familiar with the story this will be a quick look at some of the spots and the location of the movie set that still exist "sort of". The top picture is on Zebra Dr and is the house that is now built on the corner where Precious Ramotswe lived. The next picture is of the business that occupies the building where Mr JLB Matekoni worked in his mechanic shop and towing business. The one who wanted to marry Precious.
 Sister Davis and Sister Gubler stand in front of the orphanage. This is now an S.O.S. school.
 Our friend was a great tour guide in the city and told us many fun stories about the times of the movie shooting days. We are standing outside Mma Ramotswes Tea Corner at the Presidents Hotel. It is adjacent to the Main Mall of Gabs and you can find any souvenir of Bots that you could ever want here.

 We believe the movie was made here by a South African company in 2007 and the temporary set is only a short walk from our Mission Office. We understand that the Botswana government did not realize what they had as far as a tourist attraction until all of the buildings and equipment and area had been vandalized and stolen.
 If you have seen any of the series it is easy to recall the location and looks and signs of this little neighborhood of stores and her agency.
Sister Davis spent a while sifting through rubble in an attempt to find something that could authenticate what she was looking for.

 Kgale Hill is the name of the area and still to this day has cattle roaming around and through the set area, it has been burned and looted almost beyond recognition. Our friends tell us that unlike many movie sets the security was so tight  that not any locals were allowed to get close during filming. Maybe the rest of us need to open the cover of the books and enjoy more of this Botswana culture.
 The mode of transportation for many people in Botswana is walking and or catching buses and taxis. If the family owns a vehicle it is usually a pickup or "bakki" or "van" and then everyone can ride together into town or back out to the village. Of course the Donkey carts are very often used for many types of commercial and personal activities.
We are in the dry season now which is also called winter. The days are really short but the winter weather here is just great as you can see. A person can really get hooked on 75 to 80 degree days and 40 to 50 degree nights. Although this year in May and June we have used heaters some of the time unlike last. Thanks to all of you for keeping us up to date at home and for all your prayers and support. There has been nearly no change to the visa issue and no new missionaries from outside the country are getting in. The local kids are stepping up and joining in the work though. We seem to wait long enough in between these blog entries that we put many pictures together and just write a little on each one. We hope and pray you can enjoy a little of this adventure with us as we serve. Both of us have had great health and almost no sick days thanks to good water filters and being careful with our fruits and vegetables. It sounds as though summer is heating up in the U.S. and you should all enjoy a great year. Love to all our family and dear friends. Charlie and Mary

1 comment:

  1. I love reading your blog. What an amazing experience you are having and also what a blessing you are to so many. You are an inspiration to me.