Last month we received training on the Church's Self Reliance program so that we could provide that training to some of the more remote branches of the Church within our mission.
We then took that training to Francistown and Kasane, Botswana. We found that "getting the water to the end of the row" can involve a lot of driving!
Next day we drove to Kasane, Botswana, a small branch at the northern most part of our mission, a distance of 308 miles in 6 hours and 9 minutes.
For comparison, this is similar to driving from our home in Sandy, Utah to Winnemucca, Nevada, (a distance of 365 miles, on freeways-a little over 5 hours), provide some training, then drive from Winnemucca to San Francisco, California (385 miles- about 6 hours), and do some more training. Then turn around and drive all the way back home.
(For Americans, distances are in miles; here everything is measured in kilometers).
The trip helped us to realize three things:
1 .Africa is Big!
2. Our mission is very large, geographically.
3. Getting the water to the end of the row is worth the price.
1. Africa is Big!
This overlay shows the relative size of the continent of Africa in relation to other countries around the world:
2. Our Mission is very large geographically:
The distance from the eastern most part of our mission, Phalaborwa (Kruger National Park), South Africa, to the western most part, Swagopmund, Namibia, is about 1460 miles. This is roughly equivalent to the distance between Omaha, Nebraska, and San Francisco, California (1660 miles) - half the distance across the United States. Of course our mission is very sparsely populated in comparison.
The Tropic of Capricorn runs
through the middle of our mission
When it's summer in the USA it's winter here; For us, Christmas falls in the middle of the summer! We are now in the middle of winter; the nights get a little chilly at mid-40 degrees, but the days warm up into the 70's. In the middle of the summer the temperature will reach above 110 degrees. (Americans use Fahrenheit, but here temperatures are in Celsius.)
3. Getting the water to the end of the row is worth the price.
The Church's Self Reliance Program, part of the Perpetual Education Fund, is designed to help members become dependent upon themselves, and not others, for both their spiritual and temporal well-being.
"And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them." (Moses 7:18)
A catchy line from our training states: "Adam was told that by the sweat of his brow he would eat his bread all the days of his life -- not by the sweat of his brother's brow!" It is, however, incumbent upon those who have, to assist those who have not, in order that they are able to elevate themselves.
"And it is my purpose to provide for my saints, for all things are mine. But it must needs be done in mine own way; and behold this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low. For the earth is full, and there is enough, and to spare..." (D&C 104:15-17)
The program asks members to evaluate their current abilities and talents, their interests, and the jobs available that fit those interests and abilities, and then choose one of three paths to become self reliant:
1. My Job Search
2. Education for Better Work
3. Starting and Growing My Business.
After choosing a path the members join a group of others on that path, and these groups meet once a week for 2 hours, over several months, as they complete assignments in the workbooks and obtain a successful solution.
About 30 young single adults from the three branches of the church in and around Francistown, Botswana, attended the Self Reliance Training. These young people are wanting self reliance even though many of them are unemployed and others underemployed. Some are returned missionaries trying to figure out the rest of their lives. They were all very enthusiastic about the possibilities offered through the Self Reliance program. Eight of them opted for improved education, ten for getting or improving employment, and the rest (surprising to us) opted for starting a business.
In Botswana the government offers education funds that do not have to be repaid, so the church encourages members to go that route rather than the Perpetual Education Fund. Botswana also offers "sponsorships" to people who want to start a business - the government realizing that there are not enough jobs for everyone, and new businesses equate to new jobs.
In Kasane we experienced similar enthusiasm from the four members who attended (this is a very small branch of about 25 members).
The sister on the left has been a member for only two months. There are no missionaries in Kasane, but this sister was walking by the church one Sunday morning and heard singing, so she went inside. She immediately felt the spirit, and the warmth of the members, and from there she was taught the gospel by the members and was baptized. She has a remarkably strong testimony for a member of only two months. She works as a housekeeper at one of the hotels and sends money to her family in Zambia. She sees them only a couple times a year. (This isn't all that untypical for people in this mission - they go where the work is). She stitches pillow covers in her spare time from scraps of African cloth - she would like to start a business to sell them - we purchased two of them and became her first customers! (The brother bending over his kids is the Branch President).
If this humble sister in Kasane, Botswana, is able to start a business selling her hand-stitched pillow covers, then our time and travel to this small place in the Lord's vineyard will have been more than worthwhile for us!
But in Botswana you must be on the lookout for animals crossing the road in front of you. (There are no freeways in these parts).
As we were driving into Kasane we came across these to side of the road:
Leaving Kasane we almost ran into these:
|Donkey Carts - Very Common|
|African Sunset in Kasane|
Temple Flowers from Last Month
Farewell to the Senior Couples
In May our friends and fellow missionaries, the Campbells, completed their 2 year mission and went home to Prescott, Arizona. In June our other friends, the Gublers, ended their second mission here (nearly 36 months) and went home to St. George. Our Mission President and his wife will end their service here at the end of June and return home to West Jordan. That will leave just the office couple, the Hawkins (from Idaho), and us. We do, however, have a new Mission President coming from Zimbabwe, and another senior couple from Idaho Falls will be joining us in August.
|Elder and Sister Gubler|
|Three Princesses: Hall, Gubler and Campbell|
|Brother James, Nico, Thalita, Brother Humphrey|
Nico, second from the left, is blind. One third of his braille Book of Mormon is about six inches thick - and after three or four readings the dots will deteriorate. He also has the scriptures on disc, but he prefers to "read" them. His wife has not been interested, although she has sat in on the missionary lessons. She attended his baptism, and his confirmation the next week, and was treated warmly by the members and so she has warmed up. She says she is still not ready, but she sits in on the after-baptism lessons and she attends church every week. Members make all of the difference!
Flash Photo of Nico and family: They have one light bulb in
their house - but who cares - he is blind!
Feeding the Elders
l to r: Campbells, Elder Smith-Halley, Elder Hamilton
Elder Going, Elder Tuschi, Elder Dixon, Elder Bagoole
|Elders Campbell, Hunt, Madonsela, Bagoole, Dixon, Burgess, Diogo|
One of our joys is feeding the missionaries every Thursday evening. We used to split up, but with the Campbells gone, we feed all six every week. It's a lot of work for Sister Hall, but at least food is cheap here in South Africa. It's amazing how much these elders can put away!
|Elders Dixon, Diogo, Madonsela, Burgess, Bagoole|
We also took the Elders to Kruger Park on a P-Day so they could "shoot" wild animals. Working with and getting to know these great young men is one of the highlights of our mission. We feel bad when they get transferred, but then we get new missionaries to love.
BYU Young Ambassadors
In May we went to Pretoria (on P-Day) and got together with the other Senior Couple Missionaries to attend a performance of the BYU Ambassadors. Needless to say they were spectacular. At the end of their performance they invited an African musical group (not LDS) to come on stage and they together sang an African medley. Sister Hall was in tears.
On a grant from the Harmon family in Salt Lake City, the church has a program where piano keyboards are loaned to members who are interested in learning to play the piano (usually young people). They receive a weekly lesson (Sister Hall). If they practice five times a week and "keep up" then they are allowed to continue in the program. If they don't practice and "fall behind" then the piano is taken back and given to someone else who might be interested. At some point (usually a year or so) if they are able to play the simplified hymns, and if they play in church, then they receive a brand new keyboard free of charge from the Harmon's. The program is designed to help the members develop talents, but also, provide people who can play for church services in these small branches. In Lenyenye there is one sister who has completed the course, and she is the only one right now who can play in church. Sister Hall is currently teaching five students in Lenyenye, some or all of whom will someday help play in church (we hope)! In Motupa, three young men completed the program last year and they alternate playing the hymns during sacrament meetings.
A BIG thanks to the Harmon family for providing this opportunity - it helps the members individually and the branches collectively.
As we were driving home from our trip to Botswana
we were tempted to made a left turn here:
But we know there is more work for us to do here so..... stay tuned....
Teaser: On P-day in Kasane we took a three hour game drive (some of you think that all we do is play). We have some fantastic photos that we will post next time. Here is a small sample:
If you come to see us we will take you here and spend some days playing!