Dear Family and Friends, Since our last post we have moved through the shortest days of the year and are now in July which is the middle of the winter or dry season here. Yes it is dry but, these are very lovely days with nights around 40 and days in the 70's, bright blue skies and nearly no winds. Our cement houses and tile floors do get chilly and thus we use small heaters to stay warm as there is no central heat anywhere around these parts. We have become accustomed to this climate and even where our jackets from time to time. Our little friend on this big billboard is saying welcome to Botswana. We love the billboards here as they are just huge. Actually dumela is a very polite way of saying hello in Setswana and we use it all the time in our greeitngs because there are not too many words we get to know or understand.
One of the best parts of our mission time here is when we get to be involved in the lives of some of our members and their families. The man on the left has been a member for many years now and has served many years a the branch President before we came. He now serves as the 2nd counselor in the Mission Presidency and we have the pleasure of spending time with him and being taught by he and his great family. The wedding you will see now is for his daughter and these folks are long time friends of his who live out in a small village 50 kilometers away. They live very different styles now but remain extremely close friends.
Elder Davis was lucky to accompany him to their farm and pick up a goat and a chicken and firewood as gifts for the wedding day dinner and party. They raise corn for human consumption along with a nice herd of goats and and some cattle too. Their friendship goes back to their childhood and the love for one another is really evident and fun to witness. They each try to out do the other with gift giving on important occasions. They actually have a nice home in a small town and then this farm house and acreage out in the bush. Life has a really different pace out here and one could really enjoy the open space and quiet if time was not a huge factor.
Yes, this is the goat our friend was given to take home and butcher for the festivities, along with enough firewood to cook many pots of food for the big wedding party.
As we spent some time with these dear friends it was evident that they have strong family values and goals for each of their three children. The oldest son is in the Czech Republic in medical school and soon to be finished to be a doctor. And the daughter in the picture recently returned home after graduating from the U of Botswana in information systems and will get a good job with the government. The youngest son is in a boarding school in South Africa.
This is the third wedding we have been pretty closely involved with and always enjoy seeing the support from all the church members and the neighborhood too. No matter how the family is set up financially these events must be put on and turned into a good gathering of family and friends with lots of food. The brides stepmother actually made the bridesmaids dresses and is an amazing seamstress.
Sister Davis was asked to speak during the wedding ceremony concerning the goal of preparing and reaching the Temple to be sealed. Using the 40 years of experience she has under her belt she did a great job of talking frankly to the bride and groom with some outstanding advice and counsel. This seems like an opportunity that comes to we Senior Couples each and every wedding day here.The ceremony took place in one of our small rented homes which we use for a Chapel and is very near where the brides family lives.
The neighborhood families along with some of the relatives do the cooking which takes all day. You can count that there are seven large pots of different food cooked on these open fires and it takes many hours to make it all happen the way they want. All guests are treated to a huge plate of food and drink with several vegetables and two different meats along with "pop" which is a ground meal based food that resembles mashed potatoes.
Before the dinner most of the wedding party took a drive out to the Shashe River for pictures of the couple and their families. The Donkey Cart just happened by and seemed like a good place to get the honeymoon started.
The grannies and aunties are here wearing the traditional Botswana attire and making sure the customs and the traditions are kept intact.
Of course this time of year the river is mostly dry with just a few standing pools. It makes a great place for pictures and a fun place for all the youngsters to run and play.
Our four young missionaries were able to attend the wedding event and all of them know these families very well. Many of the members in these pictures are working with the missionaries nearly on a daily basis to help find and to teach the Gospel along with the full time missionaries and us. This was a great Saturday and will be one our best memories from Francistown and the Gerald group.
There are no Dune Buggys, Sandrails or Dirt Bikes running around on this long sandy track like you would see at home.
The house that the Church rents for a Chapel in Francistown has been long overdue for some maintenance on the outside in the gardens and behind the building.
The Branch President made the plan he wanted to carry out and we six missionaries joined him for a Wednesday early morning service project.
We all pitched in to haul junk, burn dead branches and weeds, trim trees, rearrange flower beds, rake and sweep all the frontage and just make the place look nice.
A trip to the sanitary landfill with all the stuff we could not burn was most interesting. The Elders, Branch President and I were just happy the Sisters were not there as we are very sure some of them would have lost their breakfast. We also do not think it will be necessary to return for any more experience there. As luck may have it the Facilities Maintenance Director for the church came the very next day from South Africa for his quarterly visit and was very impressed on how the grounds looked.
Since our arrival here in Botswana we have seen the people carrying these large bags of "cheetos" home to their family and have really got a kick out of the many different flavors and sizes of this snack food. Some of our grandchildren are often seen at home with orange lips and mouths after sharing something like these too. As you can see there are some big warehouse type stores here in Francistown and most are owned by either Chinese or Indian people. The market really is very competitive and a little cutthroat too.
Our missionary efforts and relationships with the people just continue to get better all the time. Having
a small group of missionaries is really great as we get to interact with one another a lot. Our Sisters do not drive so it becomes necessary for us to go teaching with them sometimes and to help get them to appointments and get home at night safely. They stay in a flat right by us so it works out quite well. We celebrated the 4th of July by singing The Star Spangled Banner and My Country Tis of Thee in our district meeting Friday the 4th.
Thanks for the great pictures and stories of your summer celebrations. We are feeling great and having much success. Love Elder and Sister Davis