Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Trade Fair, Namibia, Conference

Family and Friends, We have had an exciting, educational and inspirational past few weeks. The pictures included with this blog entry are just a few of the many we have taken from all of our travels and experiences with the members and investigators in Botswana and Namibia. The Gaborone Consumer Fair is a huge event held once a year at the fairgrounds in the suburbs of Gabs. This year was a great success according to the local newspaper articles. Inside the large pavilion are booths from all types of business and local government organizations, along with some religious groups too.
Last year the local members kind of forgot to get registered so our church was not represented at the fair. But this year our mission took on the challenge and together with the Mission Pres and his wife and all of the office staff and some of the other missionaries a great display and educational booth was created and visited by thousands of guests. We missionaries were all treated to one or two days of working at the booth and over 400 referrals were recorded. Many of the local members got involved also and had some great missionary experiences as they could teach and testify in their native language.                            
It was also a great time for we missionaries to get to see and visit with some of the missionaries who have been serving in other areas like Mafikeng SA and were with us in Bots before. Outside in the parking area was a carnival for the kids and for some not so young too. Of course it was off limits to the missionaries (at least to those who were listening to the rules) but was attended by thousands. The only draw back was that the weather was pretty cool that week for Botswana standar
Over the course of our time here we have taken and sent home many pictures of the housing in the cities and in the villages of this country. Much of it is very traditional and most of the dwellings our members stay in are very poorly constructed, with only a few lights and no heat or a/c and  running water at a community tap outside in the yard. We included a few pics of these homes that are near where our Presidents home is at the Phakalane Country Club so you can see there is a civilized and sophisticated part of Botswana. The President of the country also has a home in this neighborhood but we could not get close to it.

After being in Francistown for a week after the fair we were asked by the Mission President to accompany them to visit the two Branches and the other small group in Namibia. As our plane took off from the Gaborone airport and reach about 7000 feet one of the two turbo prop engines flamed out and we felt a big drop and deceleration in our climb. It was sort of like climbing a steep hill on a high performance snowmobile and having a "bog" or like one cylinder stops firing and you either turn out quick or you are stuck in the trees. The pilot did a good job of getting turned around and calling the tower with out panic.
As we approached the runway the passengers fear level was not too high until we saw all the firetrucks and emergency equipment racing towards our direction. We had said a prayer before boarding and a few more as the plane made a perfect landing and all is well. With a couple hours delay we were still able to connect to our flight to Windhoek and Walvis Bay Namibia.

Walvis Bay is on the west coast of Namibia and the Atlantic Ocean. On one side you have an ocean port and the other for miles and miles is nothing but sand dunes. We took a few hours to rent "quad bikes" with very little horse power I might add and ride the dunes escorted by a local guide. There are places nearby with dunes that are enormous and world famous. We did have a little fun as the guide would go ahead with the Sisters and then the tail end could wag some.

The purpose of our visit to Namibia had many aspects. On the evening of the second day a baptism was held at the Swakopmund group building for three young kids of the members there. This was the first time they were not baptized in the ocean as they now have their own font.
 On the drive from Swakupmund to Windhoek, which is about 350 kilometers, we are passing through some really interesting parts of the Kalahari desert. Moon landscape is how this area is described on the map. We got a little lost a couple times and were reminded how tough things could be if you were out here without provisions like a good car or four wheeler.

In Windhoek our days consisted of conducting semi annual audits with the branch leaders and clerks, holding three firesides with the members to encourage them to prepare for the Temple and to make a Celestial marriage part of their goals. Also they were given some great instruction and role playing with the branch mission leaders and missionaries from Preach My Gospel by the Wilsons.

 The cities in Namibia are very very very much different than those in Botswana. It was a stark contrast to see how clean and the lack of litter lying around was great. There is a huge influence still from the original German immigrants and the roads themselves are so in so much better condition. A person could see many fun and unique areas from border to border in this country. We also spent some time reviewing the house and two flats that are vacant here as we do not have missionaries again. And also there are four cars without any drivers that all needed a little TLC. After just a few tires and batteries and some cleaning and general service they are all in good working order for when the missionaries can return. The members and congregations are really awesome and have strong testimonies and are really faithful. They are just a ways ahead of our friends in Francistown in that the church was established in Windhoek about twenty years ago.

Following our return flight through Joburg and drive back up to Francistown it was time to prepare for our annual branch conference. This was really special as we have all been working and planning for sometime to hold this conference at the F town Civic Center and re-divide the area and make three actual branches from one branch and two groups. Under the direction of our Mission President, the Branch President and the two Group Leaders were released with a great vote of thanks and then Jeffrey Mosweswe was sustained as branch President for the Gerald Branch, Billy Mabote was sustained as the President of the Monarch Branch and Boitumelo Bakoko was sustained as the President of the F town branch. Ironically all the buildings have just received new paint, some new tile, cabinets, one chapel expanded in size, private clerks offices plus many other great improvements. It was just over a year ago when we helped get the first bids from contractors and this project started to unfold with a new FM director for the church buildings in our area. We were almost convinced it would not happen while we were here, but the members faith pulled us through.

Sometime this blog gets us frustrated as we use this old PC to organize it and we lose pictures and have a difficult time with the format. We do enjoy trying to give you some of the flavor and the feelings of our mission and of the people and circumstances here in Botswana. It seems that our thoughts are beginning to shift to making preparations to leave here and it seems a bigger task than it was to prepare to come on the mission. We just now have learned that there is a couple who have gained some of the permissions they need to stay in Botswana for a while. They will continue to work on other documents and visa paperwork but we are encouraged that they may be coming to replace us. This would be so great and make things smooth to be able to hand over some of the connections and contacts we are enjoying, not to mention that they would be great for our missionaries serving here and the five flats and four cars will surely need their attention. It would also be so awesome to turn our flat over to them fully stocked and ready.

We pray everyday that each of you are doing well and serving to the best of your ability in your callings. Our health has been great (zero sick days) for I Elder Davis, and we have more comfort and convenience than we would need. Although we sure do like having our comforts!

May God bless and keep each of you as you strive to use the Gift of the Holy Ghost in all your choices.

Love always, Elder and Sister Davis

1 comment:

  1. I know your time is coming to an end, I just want to let you know how much I have enjoyed your blog! I think I might know one of the missionaries who rode some of the rides, her name might start with an f and end with an x...thanks for looking our for my crazy daughter, and thanks for not killing her, I am sure she has given you plenty of reasons to kill her! Can't wait to meet you!