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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Week

Christmas in Botswana was pretty low-key. The several of the children in the apartment complex received water guns. Pretty snazzy water guns at that. (It was close to 100). In the stores there wasn't much Christmas music and people didn't seem to be buying lots of gifts. Of course, not many people have much extra money to spend but it's also not as commercialized here.

On Christmas, we had the East Bots and West Bots Zones as well as the senior couples at our house for a devotional (We had almost 40 people here.) We had a lot of fun listening to music, watching skits and reading the scriptures. After, we went to the Taylor's flat for our Mexican Feast. Yummy food. Lots of good company. Then off to skype with our children. (But first, the missionaries used our computers to visit with their families.)

We also had "snow" for Christmas. OK, at 100 degrees, it wasn't snow but thousands of small white butterflies. They were gorgeous! It did make our holidays happy.

Topping of the holidays was getting the stomach yuck." What's a good holiday with out it? One of our elders got sick during the feast and one that night. When I had chatted with the second sick elder for the 4th time and he was still ill, I prescribed "Medicine Coke". He was pretty surprised and I don't know if he got any, but the next day he was out working even though he was still throwing up.  Elder Gubler got "it" next so we missed the trip the SA. On Thursday, noon, we had lunch with another senior couple who was up from SA on business. We had actually flown out of SLC together. Anyway, after hugs and lots of hand shaking, we found out they had the "stomach yuck". *sigh* The next day I got "it". Good thing we stayed home.

Not too much exciting to tell this week, so I'm going to post pictures that have needed posting for quite awhile. *Note: the day of transfers, the elders took pictures with the Lobatse car wearing their shades and pointing out the rims.

Lobatse Church Building, in front, the chapel and in the back are the classrooms 

The is the building we meet in for church every Sunday. The main chapel (a double wide on concrete) does have two air conditioning units and several fans. The electric piano doesn't work because the power box is broken. We are going to try and replace that this week. In the classroom area, the Primary room is next to the RS room and the only thing between the two are bars (where the windows should be) and curtains. Not too sounds proof. The Bishop did say that there is another keyboard that we can use for Primary. Yea! Our facilities are much better than Molepolole, it only has a concrete rectangle with a couple of classroom and Mochudi has a tent with classroom in a back building.

Here is the infamous Lobatse car. Oh how Elder Stamp, the Zone Leader hated them but oh how the other elders loved them. We weren't too surprised to find out that everyone in the mission had heard about them. Elder Verde says that because of the rims, more non-members have noticed the missionaries and they have been able to teach more people. (I guess we'll find out what the Mission President thinks about them this week when he's down for Zone Interviews.) Greenie Mistake. What more can be said?

Elder Gubler with Pres. and Sister Omer overlooking Jo-burg
Here is Elder Gubler with the Omers. We were at the Johannesburg Temple grounds. Jo-burg is in the background. The temple is a beautiful but small building. The parking is underground and there is a security guard as you drive into the parking area. There grounds are quite small but beautiful. Here is Africa, a couple is married civilly first and then goes to the temple shortly there after to be sealed. 
Elder Gubler walking off the plane in Gabs

We arrived in Gaborone Nov 23, just a day after Thanksgiving. We had a very short flight.

Taylors, Rands and Kimballs

This is a picture of the other senior couples in Gabs.We are taking the place of Elder and Sister Kimball. They ended up leaving a bit early because of some health issues Sister Kimball has. Here we are saying goodbye at the airport. Oh wait, you can't see us because we're taking pictures!

Saw this Ence truck at Game Mall

Who would have thought we could find an Ence Truck in Gaborone? I just had to take a picture of it. Don't have any idea what they were hauling but really? An Ence Truck!

This picture is for you, Nate. The Gaborone College of Law, situated over a petrol station. Just had to take a picture for you.

Here is our all-country picture we had taken when our Mission President and Area Authority came to visit. If you look closely to the left back row, those two white heads are ours. Great photography wouldn't you say?

Our Living Room
Our Kitchen 
Our Dining Area

Me at the computer blogging today!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Things we have learned in Gaborone

1. Pula isn't Monopoly Money.  It is pretty and colorful just like play money. Even though 1 Pula equals  13 cents, and there are 100 Thebes (te-bees) in a Pula. nothing costs 1 Pula. Most of the time the prices aren't much different from the US in cost. Food is pretty comparable. Gas is sold by the litre. It's interesting to go to KFC and order a 2 piece meal for P54.00. We are getting pretty good at dividing all prices by 8 to give us an approximate amount.

2. If you read the book, No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, the places talked about in the book are real. Kgale (Call-ee) Hill is by the Game City Mall. Kgale Hill is where the missionaries take the greenies after transfer day to climb to the top of the hill. Yes, they have been known to anger the baboons and been chased by them.

3. Everything closes for the Christmas Holidays. Specialized Panel Beaters, the Doctors and most everyone closes for the holidays. There are only a few places that stay open. Everyone returns to their village to be with their families. Several of the grocery stores stay open, but that's about it. (The senior couples in Botswana are going to take a road trip because there isn't any work to be done here for the next couple of weeks)

4.  I can remember how to cook after all, and from scratch even! On Christmas Day, we are having all of the missionaries in the Bots East and Bots West Zones over for dinner and a devotional. We are having Mexican food. Several of the Senior Sisters are making chicken enchiladas (pretty easy to find the stuff). I'm making Beef Enchiladas (making corn tortillas, enchilada sauce from scratch). I'm also making the refried beans. I made a batch of enchiladas for us this week and they were yummy!

5. Botswana doesn't believe in mechanizing everything. For instance, the streets needs sweeping, so the people who are on welfare sweep the roads. It's a win-win for everyone. People have jobs and the streets are swept.

5. It's virtually impossible to find everything you need at one grocery store. Two or more stores are normally needed to find everything needed. For instance, I went to 3 stores to find sour cream. The other thing you need to know, is if you find something you need, buy as many as you can because you don't know when you'll find it again!

6. There really is other animals in Botswana in addition to goats, cows, donkeys, etc. Sunday on our way home from Lobatse, this is what we saw:

Apparently at this time of year we will be seeing Baboons on the way to and from Lobatse. There were about 20 or more.

7.  No those pretty little "leaves" aren't leaves. They're termite wings. We wake up most morning with wings having blown in under the door. The buildings here are made of cement because of the termites.

8.   The Cemeteries are different here than in the states. The grave is dug, the deceased buried, covered by dirt and stones. Then, a canopy is placed over the grave to keep the deceased shaded from the heat. Apparently another custom in the villages is to ask if the deceased had cows. If they did, it means a huge feast for anyone who comes to the funeral. (So before anyone asks how the person died or if they even knew them, the question is "Did he have cows?")

We love it here in Botswana. The weather have been warm but we have had rain that cools everything off. Sunday we attended church in Lobatse. The youth are amazing. They taught their Sunday School class and the laurels are the YM presidency. I was very impressed. The Bishop told us that there wouldn't be many people at church for the next couple of weeks, but in January when we have a full congregation again, he wants us to help with the youth and the young adults. We also need to see what we can do to help the Primary.

When I think of all of the capable people I know back in the states, I want to wrap you all up and bring you to Gabs to help strengthen the church here. There is so much leadership training that needs to happen. If any of you want to come, I'll put in a good word for you with the Mission President!

Fun Story:
Today while we were at a fabric store, a young clerk asked where our church building was. She wants to attend and asked if we had church every Sunday. She got directions and I'm sure she'll be there.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Our moving day! We are using the zone leaders bakki and trailer to move our things, and yes, that is a decorated
 Christmas tree in the back!!

 Elder Gubler driving to our apartment, notice the goats on the right side.
It was a herd of about 25 goats
We Moved!

Monday we moved into our new flat. We now have a place to call home. It's been fun to hang the curtains and to bring everything over from the Kimball's home. We have everything we need. To all our children who served missions: we have air conditioning, a washer and dryer, internet connection, 2 showers, and water and power most days. (The water is good and clean so we don't have to purify it. The food is good and we don't have to treat it either.) Life is good. It's just nice to have our own apartment.

This is our washer and dryer area. As you can see, it's utilizing the storage space under the stairs. The dryer is on wheels and pulls out (with a long extension cord) so I can use the washer and to dry the clothes. A load takes about 3 hours, 1 to wash and 2 to dry. Normally I could hang the clothes out but it's been really rainy and humid lately so the dryer it is today. If you look closely at the dryer, there are a bunch of holes in the front. That is where the air vents and deposits the lint.

Lest you think we are heathens and not doing missionary work, let me assure you that there are a few minutes here and there that we do work with the people.

We went to G-West 1 Ward this week. This is a well established ward and we needed to meet with the Stake President (our Mission Pres. asked us to talk to the SP) to find out which wards and branches he wanted help in. We got to bear our testimonies. After Sacrament Meeting we were stopped by a couple from Sweden. The 4 of us had the only white faces in the place. Oh how we have grown to love these Botswana people already, they are so eager to shake our hands and get to know us. They have beautiful children. The testimonies I have heard here are real testimonies of our Savior and the gospel. Botswana is a truly a remarkable place.

Our Stake President has asked us to work with a branch, Kanye (Con-yea) and Lobatse (La-bot-see) or as our Garmin says, Labats. Lobatse was just barely made a ward and he hopes that Kanye can be a ward in a year to 18 months.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Our post office address:

Elder and Sister Wendell Gubler
Postnet Kgale
AD 172 ADD

Driving in Botswana

Driving in Gaborone, Botswana isn't much like driving in Utah. We trained to drive in the rain the first Saturday we were here.

The passenger in the front seat has the responsibility to call out: keep right, pot hole, donkey, cow, sheep etc, or walker. Some other things we have learned are that an overpass (over railroad tracks) is a fly, a robot is a traffic light and the streets have names but we are the only ones who know those names...because the streets have NO SIGNAGE! Here are the directions to our new apartment from our old apartment: Turn right on the main street by your flat, go straight through the round-a-bout and turn left at the four-way stop, then turn into your flat complex. (Of course we didn't know that it would take us about 20 minutes to get to the 4 way stop!)

There are interesting "robots"on the major streets here. Some blink red all the time, some aren't turned on and some actually work. The yellow lights are a "suggestion" to get ready to stop. However, NEVER go as soon as the light turns green. Big mistake. Someone always runs the red light and you don't want to get smashed. Don't stop at the blinking lights unless there is someone you need to yield to. If you stop too quickly someone will rear end you because they weren't planning on stopping.

Round-a-bouts are also a kick. These round-a-bouts are on major intersections and you can see them on the map as the small circles. People really whip through them and you have to be really careful not to smack the car next to you. Everyone is really aggressive and goes into the smallest opening possible. Horns are frequently honked. When a driver gets aggravate they raise both hands above their head and shake them letting you know that you are an "imbecile". (Both hands instead of a pointed finger)

As one of our assignments we are in charge of the cars in Botswana. Sounds easy enough. Yeah, right. We have been driving the "cow car" named because of the cow wreck that put it in the body shop. In our area we also have the "donkey car". The donkey was hit by a truck, which then flipped over the truck and was hit by one of our cars. The rule is that if you hit an animal during the day, it's your fault and you must pay for the animal but if you hit one at night, you can just drive on. Not your fault. We are still waiting for the left side rear view mirror for the cow car.

OK, so Sunday on our way home from Molepolole we got a call from the Sisters. They were in an accident. They needed our help ASAP because the police were taking them to the police station to get their statements. Their car already needed a new battery, we had jumped it that morning. Imagine our surprise when we found out that they had borrowed the elders car and wrecked said car. We got to spend our Sunday afternoon at the police station. The other driver was a grandpa with his daughter and wife. Oh my, they were unhappy! They wanted their car paid for immediately or at least given some pula (money) so that they could ride public transportation (Combies--a Toyota Van filled to capacity and then about 6 or more people). Now, the man had a point, our Sisters pulled out from a stop sign and broadsided his car. (It was raining pretty hard at the time). When we all got home, we went to break our fast but dad couldn't think about eating our crock pot dinner of potatoes and pork so he took most of it over to the Sisters to share. They were pretty excited for a hot meal and some comfort food.

Now, because of Sunday, our preparation day got off to an interesting start. At 8:30am we had to meet the elders (who had the sisters car) to get a new battery. It only took us 30 min. to find the battery shop. Remember no street signs, so the elders directed us and stood out front of the store until we found it. In the mean time the Labotse elders were having a problem with bad tires. We met them to get new tires on their car. Imagine our surprise when we saw the damage that had happened to their car when a beer truck had run into them. Oops. Someone forgot to file the accident report. Anyway, we took the elders to Broadhurst elders for the day. Next we went back to the police station to see when we could get a copy of the sisters accident report. It will take 3 days from when the fine is paid. The sisters came down to pay the fine, we found the line of people that were waiting to pay fines. Just as we arrived there, people started leaving. We asked where they were going. Apparently the person taking fine money had run out of receipts in his receipt book so everyone either had to come back the next day or find an other police station to pay at. (This was all before 11:00 am Monday)

Next, we went to Specialized Panel Beaters, the auto body shop the church contracts with to do their car repairs. We had our sisters there and Albert, the man they had run into. We left with calendars and pens for the new year. (All of this would have happened faster if we hadn't gotten lost several times.....once again, no signage!)

After all of that excitement we went to clean our new apartment. At 2:00pm While traveling there, we got a call from the elders that the tires were on their car however, the rims were bent so an alignment couldn't be done. Oops. We went to Tyre World to try to find out what the situation was. Yes, indeed the elders needed new rims. We called the mission fleet manager to see what we should do. 3 of the 4 hubcaps on the car were missing. The fleet manager told us to get mag rims for the car. They weren't much more expensive and we won't need hubcaps to keep the car looking nice. Imagine our surprise when the car pulled out of the shop with shiny silver and red mag rims! The elders were more than delighted. We were aghast! Another big Oops! Oh well, a greeny mistake. Next time we will check to see what the mag rims look like. We think they gave us a deal, the mag rims were cheaper than the standard rims, so they must have been trying to get rid of them. I'm sure that soon it will be the talk of the mission.

But to top off the day, when we arrived home, we found that my computer had been stolen. Arghh. Luckily we have Carbonite so it's more of a pain in the neck that a complete disaster. Thanks Russ, for downloading my files.

Tonight after we called the fleet manager about the "beer truck" car, we called the Lobatse zone leaders to find out about the accident because the fleet manager hadn't heard about it. SHOCK! We found out that the zone leaders car is being repaired from a second accident they had. Oh my. We didn't know we had a car in the shop getting fixed!

We are flying pretty blind. The Kimballs, the couple we replaced, left unexpectedly last week because of a serious illness of Sister Kimball. There is so much we don't know but I'm sure it will all unfold in time.

We are meeting with the Stake President, President Clement Matswagothata (pronounced Mat-swa-hotata) Sunday to see which ward or branch he would like us to work with. You would like our Stake Pres. He's 32 and totally amazing. He was the bishop of the YSA ward in Gaborone before his call to be the president of the first stake in Botswana.

We are happy and loving the work.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Good, Better, Best

Our Bathroom

Well, now that we've landed and I think we're almost over jet lag, AND I have a chance to use a computer, I'm going to post about something we think is great! (obviously from our apartment)

Good. We are very fortunate to have a nice big bathroom. We have a bath tub shower. There are windows that open, we have a sink with a small mirror above it. No plugs or outlets because it's illegal to have electricity in the bathrooms. (That would surely take care of the warnings about not using curling irons and hair blowers while bathing!)
As you can see, we have nice tile floors and tile covering the walls. Old but very functional and pretty nice.

Our other Powder Room
Better. Ah we have two bathrooms. Always nice. There is a sink and small mirror in the second bathroom as well. These bathrooms are place conveniently between the two bedrooms. Nice and functional

But the BEST (bottom picture) is the pass through between the bathrooms. it reminds me of the old two-seater bathrooms but with a little privacy. Someone in Botswana must have a fun sense of humor!

Top Left, 1.5ft pass through between bathrooms

We absolutely love the Botswana people and the country. There is so much for us to learn.   I will be posting about driving, pula, shopping, lack of street signs and anything else anyone is interested in learning about.

Sunday we went to the Molepolole Ward. Oh my, what a wonderful spirit. The elders were filling the baptismal font (a tall swimming pool). I'll take pictures next week and tell you more about Molepolole. Just let me say that the next time someone tells you that there are too many wards in a building or the hall ways are narrow, just tell them about Molepolole Ward (I'll tell you later) and that they would gladly trade you.

Sunday night we attended, at the Broadhurst building, Seminary and Institute graduation (yes, school is about over because it's summer). It was tremendously hot in the building, the air conditioning wasn't working but all of the men had on long white sleeved shirts and suit jackets. Everyone was hot but no one complained. The Stake President is a very impressive young man of 32 who does a phenomenal job. Ten youth bore testimonies and they were wonderful. I don't think I've ever heard such strong testifying from some so very young. The Botswanan people are gorgeous. So many things to post about.

The pronunciations of names is quite different than in the States. Gubler is pronounced Hubler and they really struggle with it. I'll write about that too.

The couple we are replacing are going to Johannesburg tomorrow to see the doctor. We have so much to learn from them before they go home but they could be leaving this week because the Sister is so ill. Pray for all of us!

We are having a delightful, eye opening experience here. I definitely believe we are spoiled in the US and I believe that everyone should have to opportunity to serve outside of the States.  Love you all.

PS Story of the week:
Saturday morning at 6:00am we decided try our luck at driving. No street signs, it had been raining buckets all night so there were huge puddles of water on the side of the road. People were all out walking with their beautiful floral umbrells. We drove past a woman enjoying her walk, then we hit a HUGE puddle and drenched her. Not easy to watch the road, placement on the road, water puddles and people walking. OOPS!

Friday, November 9, 2012

At the MTC

Elder Wendell and Sister Linda Gubler

    And so we finished the first week at the Missionary Training Center (MTC.) What a wonderful experience! So many things have happened. I think we're ready to get to work in South Africa. We have taught "investigators" and "less actives", we learned to prepare lessons and then teach by the spirit, not the plan. We have been "less actives" and "investigators." We have made amazing friends. What an experience!

    The first day at the MTC, we got settled in our room, in the Jacob Hamblin building (how great is that?), found out the basics of the MTC and got our mission badges. After lunch, we had an Orientation Meeting. We met the MTC Mission Presidency and the missionary couple supporting Senior Couples. During the meeting we all introduced ourselves. (There are 58 Senior Couples this week) We used to think that South Africa, Johannesburg, was a really unusual mission. Not so much. We met couples who were going to the Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, Turkey, Germany, Chile, Honduras, Madagascar, Australia, Romania, Vanuatu (just below Fiji), Taiwan, and Rawlins, Wyoming (where there are 22 bars and 9,000 people.) We were divided into districts and Elder Gubler was designated the District Leader. (His duties were limited to calling on district missionaries to give prayers.) Our District included Elder and Sister Shupe (serving in Madagascar as Mission Nurse and assistant), Elder and Sister Burt, (serving in Rawlins, Wyoming as Leadership, Members Service Missionaries), and us (serving in the South Africa, Johannesburg mission, serving at Office Missionaries, or whatever we are assigned.)

Elder Gubler, Sister Thurston, Sister Gubler
     Day 2, we met our teachers. What wonderful young women! Sister Thurston, our morning teacher, had us roll-play getting to know a nonmember. Boy, were we awful! If I had been pressured like that I would have run away. Luckily, Sis. Thurston lovingly taught us the correct way to work with investigators. We learned to be quiet and listen as well as gently ask questions. Imagine our surprise when we found out that we would be teaching our first "investigator" the next day.
In the evening we were able to attend a fireside given by Elder W Craig Zwick. The best part of the evening was listening to his grandchildren sing "I'm trying to be like Jesus". Totally angelic! The second best was listening to all the missionaries singing "Called to Serve".

   Day 3 The MTC has volunteers come to the Teaching Resource Center (TRC) so that the missionaries can teach them. Talk about terrifying for the volunteers. I can only imagine how it was to be bombarded with a fire-hose dousing of information! Hopefully, we didn't damage anyone's testimonies! Sister Thurston was so kind when she evaluated with us after the "investigator" experience! Needless to say, we were pretty humble after that experience! .
Sister and Elder Gubler, Elder and Sister Burt, Sister Fillmore, Elder and Sister Shupe
    Day 4, whew! By now we were much more ready to teach "nonmembers" again. We learned to listen, pause and really think about what was being said. The hardest part was to not speak for more than 2 minutes at a time, MAX. Everyone of us had a totally different experience this day. We were more humble, much quieter and much more thoughtful. Sister Fillmore, our afternoon instructor, was very kind and gentle as she had us roll play being investigators and as well as teaching each other. After classes and dinner we were at my sister Sandy's house to check on her and spend the night after her surgery she had that day.

    Day 5. Today we got to teach "less actives". Luckily, each companionship was able to teach another companionship. We got a turn to roll play as well as teach. It is much harder to know how to approach less actives than nonmembers. I am so glad that we had this experience because I could feel how pressured less actives can feel. It reminds me of a saying my grandma used to have on her refrigerator, saying "Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care." We need to feel a deep love for the people we teach and that can only happen by getting to know them. 
    One of the most touching experiences we witnessed today during the teaching experience was when two companionships were roll playing "less actives" and being taught by the missionaries. As we started into the room, Sis Thurston stopped us to tell us what was happening. Years ago, one couple had been less active and the elder in the other companionship had been their Bishop at the time of their reactivation. Here were 4 people in the MTC together because of a Bishop reaching out to this less active couple. When we walked into the room, tears were streaming down their faces. What a feeling of love.

Stories for the week:
     I had a "Wendell" Week. I had someone tell me how familiar I looked to them. (Ok, so they didn't know me but I did look like someone they knew...) Wendell got turned around in Provo and I was able to direct him around (extremely unusual. Wendell is amazing at directions.) But, my favorite experience happened this way:
    We had to check our Travel arrangements at the travel office. I noticed the name tag of one of the women working there. Interesting. Her name tag said Sister _______. Oh my, it was a very different name I had only seen once before. I asked her if she was related to the ______'s in Orem. She asked if it was so and so. I told her that I didn't know his parents. She looked at me shocked and said "What is the name of the person you know?" I told her and she said, "He's my husband! How do you know him?" Me, "uh, I dated him in high school." Awkward! Oh well, It was a Wendell Moment for sure and it happened to me.
    And, so ends the first week at the MTC and the end of the missionary teaching training. Next week we will be learning our responsibilities, learning the computer and learning how to manage mission monies.