Greetings everyone, Those of you who read our posts regularly must have thought we had been transferred to a village where there is no internet or mail or such. No, we are still staying in Francistown but over the past six weeks have been on several errands around the country and not always having access to the internet nor the time to put together a letter. Luckily we can converse with our immediate family more often than this blog, and they are really good at posting on instagram and imessage to let us see the grandkids and things from home. As we prepared to write today it was a bit of surprise that we have posted 36 times over the 16 months being here and still have not been able to share all of the adventure, fun, learning and growing we have experienced.
We are in unbelief that in less than ten weeks the big birds will be bringing us back to Utah and our work will need to be finished for a season. With a great schedule of events and so much to do to finish strong here in Botswana we know the time will go very fast.
In the last week of July we learned about a local missionary returning home from his service in Zimbabwe. Each of these guys are such an inspiration to the young members here and also are the strength of leadership. It was on Monday I heard the rumor he would be coming (which was a month before his scheduled release) and so I checked with the area leaders and found it to be true. Tuesday morn they emailed the flight information and we organized a welcome party to meet him at the airport. It was a very fun and rewarding experience to deliver him to the place he will stay about 15 kilometers out of town and see the (Botswana) welcome home by his native family and friends. He had no immediate family present and only a sister who came to town a couple weeks later. We are so glad to have him here now serving as the Branch clerk and taking on many teaching opportunities.(pictures following)
We participated in a school fundraiser where a few of our members attend and one teaches. All the music and dance was from the 80's which brought back a lot of memories and was very successful. These kids are awesome missionaries in their own way at school and in the community.
Of course the baptisms continue to come with those who have been prepared well by the Lord, the other members, and then taught by our two Sisters and three Elders here in our area. We certainly never get tired of helping organize and preparing for these great days.
After 13 months as the Botswana/Namibia Mission we were able to hold an all area Mission Conference at the home of our Mission President and wife. They really made the Monday evening fun with a (beast feast) cookout and all the other food to go along. The more hungry Elders the better in a deal like this! Sadly 4 of our missionaries from across the border in Mafikeng were held and stopped at the border and missed the two day event. The meeting was taken to them later in the week by President and Sister Wilson who we are sure treated them to great food also. By the way the meats were Impala, Wildebeast, Ostrich, Gemsbok, Kudu and Elan. Even Sister Davis tried them all as they were mostly cooked on shish kabobs and pretty much tasted the same.(Just like chicken). The spirit and motivation we all feel at these conferences is what keeps us all moving forward and really is a great gathering for the young missionaries.
Having three separate groups in Francistown and yet still all being the one branch leads to some good competition and fun sports. The guys love to get together on Saturdays and play a little Futbol (soccer). Our missionaries always try to transport some of the players and also play themselves but those without shoes are just killing us!!! We usually try to supply water, oranges and treats as they play full length games on dirt and are exhausted when they finish. In another two weeks they plan to have a round robin with 4 teams in one day.
We have told all of you and maybe some more than others about our great little congregation in Kasane at the top of Botswana on the Chobe river. We were not scheduled to visit there for about a month when we learned that the group leaders (without missionaries) had eight investigators ready for Baptismal interviews. At first our Mission Presidents second counselor was going to ride the bus up there and visit, but when we learned of the number and the three families this involved it was apparent we needed to go with he and his wife. Of all our visits there this was really so great and so inspirational to witness. One mother and her two children who have been attending for nearly two years were baptized, along with young adults from 12 to 14 years old from two other families. The young men were also given the Aaronic priesthood on the following Sunday. Immediately all of these members are really part of a strong group of Saints in a very beautiful place in Africa. The day before the baptism we were able to treat our friends to a ride on the river to view animals and enjoy the evening. The floating restaurant in the picture was opening for the first day on Sunday afternoon and our dear friend in the Kasane group was in charge. She was under a lot of pressure but still found time to be with us throughout the weekend and through Sacrament meeting. Through her we were also treated to complimentary rooms in a brand new hotel by the river that is not even open for business yet. The mangers used us as sounding boards and feedback as to the decor and comfort of the great suites. Our children and grand children should be coming to this part of the world to witness this for themselves.
Our mission Presidents youngest daughter completed her mission in New York a couple weeks ago and we just happened to be in Gabs as she flew in to see them, directly from the mission. She will be leaving to go to Utah and get into school at BYU soon. The reason we were in Gabs at the time is because of the transfers from both Sierra Leone and Liberia of all the LDS missionaries. We have two native Botswana boys who have returned home to serve their missions here. You may remember that we helped our young friend from Monarch to serve and sent him off in November. Well now he is back to Bots and serving in Gaborone and we were there to help get he and his companion to open an area back up and get to work. This is great news for his mother as she has been so worried about him in Sierra Leone with the Ebola virus problem. All is well!
Lastly, we have been in mourning here with one of our best friends and strongest members of the church as her older brother and really her best friend passed away at 44 of apparent suicide. This is a very hard thing for this really large family to deal with as only a few of them are members of the church and understand the plan of salvation. He was a very educated and influential attorney and past magistrate of the court here in Francistown and now was working in Gaborone with the BIHL as a lead attorney. He made plans and left good letters to his wife and children and other family and friends but as usual no one really knows what he was dealing with. When we first arrived here in Botswana he was serving as Bishop of one of the Gaborone wards and was released about April and then called as the Stake Young Mens President. Not a single soul could see this coming, but the members and friends have come to the aid of the family in great support. We did go to Gaborone to attend the funeral last Friday and it was huge. Completely filling the Broadhurst Chapel as if it were a Stake Conference. It was a very uplifting funeral if there is such a thing and we all enjoyed the messages shared by his family and friends.
This is a whole lot of writing to try and catch up on many weeks of our time here in Bots, and hope it doesn't bore you too much. We love all of you and ask for your continued prayers on behalf of Botswana and Namibia and our missionaries serving here and those who may serve here as we all continue to work on the visa situation. Our health and welfare is really good as we feel great and eat well. May the Lord bless each of you in your own missionary efforts.
Love, Elder and Sister Davis
Sunday meetings with the Kasane group