Not long after we arrived in South Africa. We were told asked if we would be willing to change our assignment to the Botswana/Namimbia mission. The CES couple that had been assigned there, along with a number of young missionaries had been asked to leave the country because of problems in obtaining permanent residency (they had gone in on 90 day permits hoping the visas would come by the end of that time.) I could describe the reasons, but I've heard so many views that it's hard to tell which one might be the one or if they all contribute--their requirement that missionaries have a pastoral degree, unscrupulous people who have started churches in the country to get money from the people, lack of coordination between the immigration/labor sides of the process, trying to just figure out the process for a new mission, etc. Whatever the reason, we alone with two other couples were going to serve as test cases for a new pathway. We were willing to go and filled out tons and tons of paperwork for both Botswana and Namibia. Finally though, because almost every one of the missionaries who submitted applications were denied, they decided that they would stop the process until they figure out a better process. Our applications were never officially submitted, but we were told to plan to be in South Africa for the rest of our mission.
We are absolutely happy to be here and enjoy the work and the people, but we were curious to see Botswana and what a mission there might have been like. This week we got the chance to travel to Botswana to see what we might have missed. The couple who left before we arrived, had not been able to pack all of their things into their car (they have TOO much stuff!) so our original purpose was to go and retrieve the rest of their things from the now empty flat that they lived in (and in which we would have lived.) Somehow the fleet management people knew we were going, though, and asked that we drive back a new truck that had been purchased there and could not be used (the humanitarian couple that would have used it were also not able to get residency.)
On Thursday, the couple whose things we were retrieving drove us to Mafekeng and then we rode to Gabarone with the mission president and his wife. In the evening, we had dinner with them and the other remaining senior couple then we stayed overnight and got a chance to see the place that might have been home. I'll post a few pictures of the area. I'm sure we would have become attached to it, but at least from first impressions, I'm happy to be in Johannesburg.