Thursday, December 31, 2009

Plans Have Changed!

So my next 4 months in Botswana will be much different than I was expecting...I am going to be the internship director!
Kevin and Sarah (the usual directors) are on furlough in the states; they had lined up another couple to take over the internship from January through April, but we just found out this week that due to some health issues, they won't be able to make it.  This is definitely a full-time job and there needs to be one set person in charge, so they couldn't divide the duties up amongst the other missionaries (who are all working 24/7 as it is).  I am thrilled to be able to step in and take over at the last minute.
The internship starts in the middle of January and will go until April 15th- so I guess that's about the time that I am coming back to the states!

There will be 6 women coming out for the internship; the ages range from 20-48.  Please be praying for them as they prepare for the trip out here...and pray for me, too!  I have about 3 weeks to get things lined before they arrive.  There's a lot of work to be done still.

Oh, and on a different topic, many people have been asking about Roger.  He is doing very well in Kuwait; he's staying incredibly busy with work, and in his free time he is doing as much reading as he can.  He is coming out to visit me in Botswana on February 8th and gets to stay for 2 weeks!!  I am planning some fun things for us to do; we'll probably be on site in Maun for a week, and off on some adventures for the other week.  Can't wait!!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from Botswana!

It is 10:00, Christmas night.  I have had a full day with my Botswana family, was blessed to be able to talk to my  family back home, and am now "patiently" waiting for Roger's internet in Iraq to work so that I can talk to my husband.  I figured that a good way to stay busy as I wait is to update my blog :)

Well, first of all, Merry Christmas!!  All of America seems to be dealing with a snow storm right now, but especially Minnesota.  I can't believe I am missing such a beautiful white Christmas!  How do you celebrate Christmas in Africa, you ask?  What a great question!  Let me tell you...

This morning, Dietra and I got together for a nice Christmas breakfast (scrambled eggs and toast! fancy!), then spent a couple of hours just catching up and playing with Olisego, the beautiful baby that is under the care of Love Botswana.  Around noon or so all of the missionaries headed out to the Tree Lodge.  We played games (I won), helped the kids decorate the approximately 5 dozen cookies that Brenda and I made, chatted for a couple of hours, and then enjoyed a delicious dinner.  We had turkey, salad, rolls, and another kind of meat.  It looked like roast beef, so when I bit into it I was confused.  It didn't taste like roast beef.  I found out shortly that I was eating kudu, which is one of the animals at the game farm and was shot last week.  Here's a picture of the animal that died so I could eat well on Christmas Day:

pretty, right?
After dinner, we opened presents.  I didn't even know that we were getting presents, so that was a wonderful surprise and treat!  Then, after I felt like I spent enough time talking with the adults, I jumped in the pool with the kids.  We had a blast playing The Game.  I don't think I have ever been swimming outdoors on Christmas before, so that's a fun memory to hold onto.  As dusk started to fall, we realized that we had forgotten to go on a game drive, so we hopped on a safari truck and took off.  We didn't see many animals (saw springbok, gemsbok, kudu, impalas, and elands), but it sure was a treat anyway.  Really, these animals are so beautiful.

We left the Lodge around 8pm, singing Christmas carols the whole way back (can anyone sing the 12 Days of Christmas off the top of their head?  It's hard!  What was the 12th day gift??).  I got to come home and call the family, which was wonderful, albeit a little difficult.  I got a little choked up while talking to some of the fam; this is a once in a lifetime experience, and I loved it, but it's still a little tough to be away from family on Christmas.

Anyway, Merry Merry Christmas!!  Hugs and Kisses from Botswana!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Children's Church

Today, because the church tents went down in a storm yesterday, we did children's church at the park (which is about a 10 minute walk from the church).  While there, I was hanging out with some of the little ones.  I was letting a 5 year old boy, Sheldon, do my hair (because I have yet to meet someone out here that doesn't love to play with my hair).  As he was trying to put it in a ponytail, he says to me, "Your hair is really soft!  Do you use Dark and Lovely?"  Dietra just about busted a gut with that one.  About 15 minutes later, while he is alternating between doing my hair and just petting my arm, he says "You know, I really love you.  That is why I am touching you so much." Ah, kids.

Matt (children's pastor) shared the Christmas story with the 300 kids that were there today.  I was sitting amongst the kids to try to keep them quiet...all of a sudden, Sheldon comes running up to me and sits down.  Here is the conversation:
Sheldon:  "Oh, here you are!  I have been looking for you."
Me: "Shhhhh.  Pastor Matt is telling the story of how Jesus was born."
S: (gasping, with wide eyes) "Jesus?!"
Me: "yes"
S: "How was he born?!"
Me: "Listen to Pastor Matt"
S: "Do you have makeup on your eyes?"
Me: "yes...shhhh"
S: (as he spies my wedding ring, then holds my hand) "I love this ring.  May I wear it for a little while and then give it back to you?"
Me: "no"
S: "Ok!" (gets up and runs off) "See ya!"

After Matt finished the Christmas story, we went back to the church and it was time for...Operation Christmas Child, round 2!
It was quite the job to get all of the gifts distributed today, and I must say, the church kids were sneaky little buggers.  They would hide their boxes in the tall grass and say they didn't get one, or sit on their boxes, trying to make it look like they hadn't gotten one yet.  All in all, I think we ended up distributing close to 350 gift boxes today.  The kids were SO HAPPY.  Oh my word.  So wonderful.  I had dozens of kids running up to me, showing me excitedly what they got for Christmas.  One girl was so sweet.  Seriously, almost out of a movie...She was probably about 7 years old and had 2 younger siblings with her (maybe 2 and 3 years old).  She was showing me what they all got, and as she was packing up the boxes, she looks up at me from the ground and says with a smile, "I am so happy."  If that doesn't melt your heart, you are made of stone.

I was happy to see the little boy I met yesterday, Omaatla, at church today.  Omaatla is the child that lives on his own at a shelter, and who has suffered terrible abuse during his short little life.  This is his first time at our church, and I am thrilled that he was able to come on Operation Christmas Child day.  He is such a great kid; I hope for opportunities to spend much more time with him in the future.

Anyway, that was my morning!  It was wonderful (as usual).

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Caroling and Mmapula's Birthday Party

What a day!  My goodness, it's been a great but tiring one.  The day started at 9am when I left with Ms Pat to get the church kids ready for Christmas caroling in town.  We were allowed to bring 20 kids (and roughly 20 have been coming to practice for the last 6 weeks, give or take a few).  The day of?  45 kids show up.  It's a lot of fun to tell kids they aren't allowed to go Christmas caroling.  Lots of fun.  We had to limit it to that number based on actually many things: we couldn't control more than that, the council only approved for us to take that many kids, and the business owners we talked to about caroling outside their stores were told that this would be the number we were taking.  Well, since we're softies, we ended up taking about 27 kids along, and that's only because we literally could not fit one more person on the bus.  So, we went caroling in 3 different parts of town on what was possibly the hottest morning of the year.  Ever get sunburned while Christmas caroling?  Cause I have.
We were hoping to finish around noon today, but actually didn't until a little after one.  When we got back to the church, we discovered that a storm had taken down the tent AGAIN.  It is so important that a permanent structure is put in place; it's really getting ripped apart.  I feel so bad for the pastors as they have to put up with this time and time again.  I want to say it's the 3rd time in the past 4 weeks that it's been torn down.
I got home a little after 2pm, then approx 7 mins later I was out the door for Mmapula's birthday party.  She turned 6 on Wednesday :)  We went to a new chain restaurant in town that just opened last week called Wimpy.  They have the BEST milkshakes!  Yum!  Anyway, it was a fun party (although I did stay busy watching over the kids).  Ok, today's heartbreaker?  A boy from the local shelter came to the party.  He's 10 years old, lives there alone, and has permanent scars on his back from abuse.  I sat with him for a good chunk of the party, just talking, laughing, and coloring with him.  He is one of the sweetest boys I have ever met.  It took every single ounce of my willpower to hold the tears back today.  Heart is broken.  I want to take that child home with me and just love on him for the rest of his life.
After we finishes at Wimpy's, we went on a game drive at the Tree Lodge!  I didn't have my camera with me!!  We saw giraffes, zebras, kudu, elands, etc. again--and so close up, too!  Very fun, but still somehow quite tiring.  We got home around 7pm, then went over to the Lackey's to go swimming.  Played water volleyball, played another game that I am obsessed with that doesn't have any name other than "THE game," then around 9pm crawled home.
It was a great day; I would definitely say the highlight was meeting that little boy.  Talk about someone who is going to stick with you for life...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

General Update

So, the past couple of weeks have been slightly uneventful, with the exception of the snake and the Christmas Party.  After the other interns went back to the states, I moved into Kevin and Sarah Witt's house (they are on furlough in the states through April).  It's a lovely home, and I have air conditioning.  I never want to leave the house!  I am also cat sitting for them.  Here's the thing- I have terrible cat allergies, but God has blessed me.  I don't seem to be allergic to Bubba.  I actually like this cat, too!  She is very cuddly...I am worried that I am turning into a crazy cat lady now.  When I come home after working in the offices all day, I'll sit and tell Bubba about my day.  I don't live with Dietra anymore (and I really miss her!), so this cat is the only company I have on a consistent basis.  Fortunately, all the missionaries on the plot live within a 3 minute walk of each other, so it isn't hard to find people to hang out with.

We're still doing game nights and movie nights.  I feel like I am doing a lot less ministry right now than I had been during the internship, but that's because the town kind of shuts down for the month of December.  I know it will pick back up considerably starting in January.  I have been able to continue with ministry at the church through discipleship and children's church.  I will probably start to be much more involved with children's church than I was before; this past Sunday we had 250 kids there (the original 235 that I had been telling people was the number of kids at the beginning of the service- more trickled in throughout the morning).  They need more helpers there, so I am going to step it up.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Party

Last Wednesday (December 9th) LBOM hosted a Christmas party for children who are orphaned and/or HIV+ or kids whose parents are severely suffering from AIDS.  Over 250 kids arrived for the party.  I must say, I felt very blessed to be a part of it.  Seriously...look at all the amazing things I have been able to do, and all the amazing people that I have met over the past 4 months!  I am so, so, so thankful to be out here.  I kind of never want to leave.  But, I digress.  Without further ado...the Christmas party!

People lining up to get a bottle of water and muffin before the program starts
The girl I made cry by asking her if she wanted me to take her picture.  Wait.  Just hit me...was it wrong for me to take this picture of her anyway, while laughing at her reaction?
See?  These kids liked having their picture taken!  (I love this boy's jaunty hat)
Setting up for the luncheon
The crowd beginning to get settled before the event
She was a cutie!
Yep.  Cute kids everywhere.
Some teens who were visiting from the capital (Gaborone) performed a (20 minute!) skit that they put together that morning.  I was supposed to get "reaction shots" of the kids, but most of them weren't paying attention.  Here's one cute one:
See?  Cute.
Here was another reaction shot :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Sneak Peak at What's to Come

LBOM partnered with several organizations throughout Maun last week to host the 2nd (shoot...or 3rd?) annual Christmas party for orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC).  One of the things that we were able to do at the end of the party was hand out gifts from Operation Christmas Child.  It was very fun to be on this end it; I have been filling shoe boxes for kids since I was in high school.  I will post more about this event later, but I thought this picture was just too cute.  Had to share it.


Thank you, Hedlunds!  The care package containing tons of ROSEAU RAMS stuff made my day!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

One Thing Has Been Confirmed for Me...

I was not created to sit in an office all day.  I am only on my 5th day of working in the offices, and ready to call it quits.  I cannot wait for school to start back up so that I can get back to working with the kids.

That's all!  Have a good one!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Finishing Up Last Week and Trying to Move onto This One

It's time to finish telling you about last week.  Unfortunately, I didn't write anything down to help me remember what happened, so hopefully looking through some pictures will jog my memory.
Thursday was a pretty busy day!  No pictures from it, so here's hoping I remember what went down.  That morning I was at my placement as usual- nothing too exciting happened that day.  The kids were cute, funny, etc...same old, same old :)
That afternoon we had set aside time to hang out one last time as an internship team; I had to skip out of the first part of the hangout to get some pictures printed for a card we were making for Suhail, Farras and Amir (the kids who are moving to Gabs).  The rest of the group went over to Mma Sibongile's house to say goodbye to her and her family.  We had gone and spent a day at her house at the beginning of the internship (she was on staff at LBOM for many years and is Kevin and Sarah's "African Momma").  The group had a fun little surprise waiting for them when they arrived.  One thing you should know is that it was an insanely hot day; sickeningly hot.  When they drove up, they were greeted by topless women :)  I wish I had been there, just to see the expressions on the guys' faces.  They were horrified.  Sarah and Dietra got out of the car to go find Mma, who turned out to be laying on the floor of her house, naked.  It really was that hot.  So, they said a quick hello and goodbye and told them we'd be back when the entire group was there.  About 30 minutes later, and big storm came through.  I was running from our house over to Brenda's and a tree branch fell to the ground about 10 feet in front of me; I was so thankful that I hadn't left the house 3 seconds earlier.  That could have been bad!  We ended up spending the rest of the afternoon playing Monopoly (I HATE that game.  Stupid game) and drinking frozen coffees and hot chocolates.  Yum!  Right after that, Brenda had the interns over for one last dinner, then it was time for church.  The storm that had been raging that day knocked the church tent down; the maintenance men spent hours frantically putting it back up, but there were rips and holes everywhere.  After church, I was off to the school Christmas party!  That was a very fun night over at Ms Rhonda's house.  Ms Rhonda is the school principal; I adore her!  We finally got home between 11p-12a and I collapsed into bed.  

Friday, December 11, 2009

I just found out that there is a package for me in town from someone in Roseau and I can't pick it up until Monday! AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ok, Time to Catch Up

So, I am kind of on break right now.  The internship is over, school is out, and I am now working with Jana and Theresa on the Christmas Newsletter and annual magazine.  That will be a great way to spend my time over these next few weeks until school starts up again.  I just realized that I never finished writing about last week.  Time to catch you up on my life!

Last week was the last week of the school year.  It consisted of a lot of fun activities (sports, contests, parties, etc.) for the students and staff alike.  Monday afternoon we had a staff vs. students volleyball game.  There were 6 of us for the staff team and we played against some of the students in secondary school.  I thought this was just some fun little game, no big  The entire school was there to watch us.  I didn't have time to change, so I played in a skirt and Dietra played in black pants and a nice top.  We weren't prepared, to say the least.  We had a blast though, and that's all that matters, right?  :)

As I mentioned in a previous post, Tuesday morning I went to the Tree Lodge with Andrea's class.  It was a very hot and sunny day, so by the time we got back to the plot I was wiped.  In fact, all the students (who are ages 11-13) were so wiped that they could barely walk while on the guided tour.  So I got home and took a twenty minute rest and then...time to move!  For the past 6 weeks, our work projects have consisted of getting another house on the plot into a livable condition.  It was decided that we needed to live there for a little while to make sure it's all set up for the next internship group that comes here...problem was, the place was a construction site.  The bathrooms were being completely redone and the roof needed to be fixed.  I really wish I had my camera on me as we were moving was absolutely ridiculous.  Scaffolding, ladders, tools and trash everywhere.  Not only did we have to move our personal items, but we also had to move furniture, a stove, a propane tank, a washing machine, and a refrigerator.  The Stallion (our pickup) is broken down, so we didn't even have a vehicle to move our stuff.  Needless to say, the move took a couple of days, and we were exhausted.

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head...

When it's rainy season in Africa, you gotta do what you gotta do to stay dry.  Dietra and I were over at Brenda's for dinner tonight and were about to head over to the Clayton's for Prayer and Share (a Tuesday night tradition for the missionaries...Dietra and I are now invited!  Woo hoo for privileges of not being an intern!) when it started down pouring.  There weren't any umbrellas at the house, so we had to get a little creative.

Never a Dull Moment

Mason and Godfrey were over this morning playing cards, and all of a sudden Mason (who was sitting on the couch, facing the front door) said "Uh, might want to turn around..."  I turned around, and there was this banded cobra right at my front door.  My first reaction was to run and grab the camera (while Mason and Godfrey tried to convince me to get a stick to kill it...yeah right, like I would ever be willing to do that!).  By the time I got back, the snake had moved under the flowerpot and then then hopped on the banister and slid down the stairs.  Oh, and Mason yelled at me when I opened the door to get a better shot.  Nothing like getting yelled at by a 12 year old...
Needless to say, I am a little more cautious while walking around the yard.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Back to the Tree Lodge!

I had a wonderful opportunity to head back to the Tree Lodge (the game farm that was donated to LBOM) with Andrea and her classes (Standards 5 and 6).  Time for giraffes and zebras!!

The students listening to the living legend himself, Dougie.

I finally saw zebras!!

 I wish that some of the pictures I took had turned out better.  A dozen or so zebras and springboks had taken off in a run.  It looked amazing.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Crazy Busy Week, but Oh So Wonderful

So, it turns out that the last week of the Missions Immersion Internship Program and the first week of said program are quite similar.  You work non-stop, you go to bed more exhausted than you thought was humanly possible, and you get to eat lots of great dinners with all the other missionaries.
This was an incredibly hectic week, but it was fantastic.  I have been wanting to update my blog every day, but have run into the same two problems...lack of time and lack of internet.  Well, I finally have both!  So, here we go.

Starting with Sunday (now that I think about it, I should probably split this up into a few separate blogs)...
Sunday was a good day. The guys had gone out to Etsa to visit our branch church one last time before going back to the states, so D and I had a girls weekend...which was interrupted several time, but we enjoyed it nonetheless.  After church and discipleship, we had about an hour to rest and then went to town to pick the guys up from the bus stop.  When we got back, we headed over to Brenda's house for some games for a bit, then got an opportunity to do some kurios shopping in Kevin and Sarah's yard.

They have a friend from Zimbabwe who sells these, so it was treat to have him come by.  That night we made dinner for the Witts (we have weekly Sunday night dinners with them, and this was our last one) and enjoyed some delicious  blended hot chocolate/coffee treats.  I am definitely planning on mastering that little concoction.  Yum!

Sarah and Andrew enjoying the fruits of Kevin's labor

Oh, and there was some excitement that night...I saw my first LIVE branded cobra!  It was just a little guy (maybe about 3 feet long?), so I wasn't too nervous about it.  So, I have discovered something about myself out here. No matter how much I hate a creature (bugs, snakes, monitor lizards), I don't want them to die.  In fact, earlier that day, Andrew and I held a funeral for our buddy Freddy the Dung Beetle who sadly lost its head somehow.  Needless to say, I didn't enjoy having to hold a flashlight on our little friend while it was being bludgeoned to death.  Ish.

Ok, now brace yourself.  This is disgusting.

Ew.  After.

So, that was my Sunday!  I will be back to blog about the rest of the week.  Sala Sentle! (means "stay well!") 

[ed. note.  I want a nicer way to end this post.  Here is a cute picture of Andrew who wasn't feeling very well that night]