Saturday, July 19, 2014


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.
 This is the apartment complex where we stayed in one of the apartments that had belonged to another couple. The remaining couple also live here. A lot of the houses have walls as you see, but not many had electric fencing or concertina like here. They have a couple of sets of young sister missionaries there and they walk to their appointments so I think the city must be statistically much safer that Joburg. That would be an advantage of course.
There were lots of street vendors and really simple businesses like they have here, but there were NO beggars on the street corner. Botswana produces a lot of diamonds and the people receive subsidies so maybe there are not so many as poor as here. It is also possible that panhandling is against the law there.
 The city is a lot smaller--200,000 people as opposed to 10 million in Johannesburg, but there is a downtown section with a few skyscrapers and some big office building. Traffic is not nearly as crazy as it is here.
This is the house where we would have lived--bigger than ours for sure, but no one else around that we would have known. There is a room for an office here so we would have always worked at home where here we go to the CES office at least a few times a week. I don't know if I would have liked being that isolated. Hard to know unless you try it I guess. The bare yards are typical of the dry, hot country. They try to keep even the bushes that would grow clear next to their houses, I understand because of snakes. I wouldn't have liked them for sure.


  1. Well this is all very interesting, I guess I missed that you guys were going to go there to get all the stuff for that other couple. Why did they have so much stuff I wonder! And I feel better with you guys being across the street from another couple, with electric wires and concertina! And I agree with you completely, I think you'd be happier going to the CES office a couple times a week, at least to see people, interact, all the good stuff. Glad you guys are having such a fun time!

  2. I agree with Tim. I would prefer to have a little outside contact with office workers and other missionaries close. It would be interesting to help organize an entirely new mission, but glad it didn't turn out to be too long of a process!