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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Today it was 100* so it didn't feel very Thanksgivingish. This afternoon, Elder Gubler and I went to visit a village and pay rent on the 3 missionary flats we have there. The missionaries we visited with are so happy. They had their flats sprayed for bugs, we brought them rice krispie treats and more importantly, they are teaching so many wonderful people. On our way back into town, we saw lots of lightening strikes off in the distance, close to our home. As we came into town we realized there had been a real down pour of rain. While the storm hadn't lasted long, there were lots of flooded streets and people who were pretty wet. When we got to our flat we were delighted to see that our little garden had been amply watered (yea!) and a little beat up. Then we noticed the pretty white stuff in front of our flat. No, it wasn't snow but it looked so nice, white and icy. We had grape sized hail. It almost looked and felt like winter in So Utah, except for the heat :-)

Now the sun is out, the water is soaking into the ground and the hail has melted. But, for a little minute, it felt like a bit of heaven to feel like home here so far away. We'll eat our chicken stuffing casserole and enjoy the evening trying to watch Shenandoaha. Heavenly Father gives such kind tender mercies to his missionaries who get a bit homesick during the holiday season. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Another trip to Kasane and it was all work, work work! :-)

This week in Kasane, Botswana, we were able to participate in the Measles, Vitamin A and Deworming Campaign. This campaign was planned for 4 years and finally came together the past two weeks. After storing 7,000 t-shirts in our office (yes, about 77 huge boxes of t-shirts) we were able to hand out the shirts to various organizations and wards.* We had more difficulty finding the brochures that needed to be passed out to the population to let parents know about the shots, vitamin drops, deworming etc. Finally, last weekend, with or without said pamphlets, Elder Gubler and I headed up to Kasane in the Presidents Trail Blazer with 2 Sister Missionaries with us. We stopped in Francistown to pick up 2 more sisters, offload bright orange hats and the few brochures we could find. About 2:00pm we headed up to Kasane with a fully packed car and sisters eager to see the wonders and sights of northern Botswana. We left at 7:00am and arrived at 7:00pm. About 100k from Kasane with started seeing animals. We saw 1 giraffe and 30 elephants, in two different groups.Oh the excitement and cameras clicking! The elephants actually crossed the road in front of us.
This gives you an idea of how large these elephants were!
Finally, we made our destination and arrived at Cornelia's home. (Cornelia is a wonderful woman and one of the first members of the Church in Kasane. She is from Zimbabwe and is an amazing woman and hostess. She allowed all 6 of us to stay in her home and graciously took us to see Kasane when we weren't working in the clinics. We absolutely LOVE Cornelia!! The LDS Group in Kasane is amazing.) Cornelia met us there with some nice warm Mac and Cheese with bacon and we devoured all of it. We found our various sleeping areas in her home and were dead to the world by 10:00 pm. That night we had our first elephant visit. About 1:00 am, there was a huge uproar of dogs barking and Cornelia got the girls to come and look at the elephant. Oh My! (The old people slept through this visit.)

Sunday morning, we attended church, taught classes and helped out in various ways. Kasane has a group and meets in a house. Right now there are only a couple of children who are members who attend church, but they bring their friends so there are normally 30 children. It's very amazing how quiet and respectful all of these children are at church especially without adult supervision in Sacrament meeting. After church we divided into groups and visited some of the ward members and less actives. It was quite a fun experience.

Monday morning, we were up with the crack of whatever and at the clinics by 8:00 am. There were 5 clinics in Kasane and we supplied volunteers to three of them. Elder Gubler and I served in the Habitat clinic. (Named after Jimmy Carters pet project, Habitat for Humanity.) 2 sisters were at the Kasane Clinic and 2 were at the Plateau Clinic. Cornelia was at the Kghota clinic (where the chief of the villages stays). No one was at the Habitat ready for shots so the Gublers went walking to find some small children.  Oh what a walk we had! It was about 100 degrees and 85% humidity and we walked for about 3 hours. One of the clinic workers came with us because she wanted to practice her English. It was really wonderful for us that she came! All of the people we spoke with told us they would be bringing their children. We were so proud of the work we were doing because we had gotten commitments out of so many parents. Later the helper told us that she had told the people, in Tswanan, that clinic workers would be checking on Tuesday to see if they had really taken the children for their immunizations. Such a deflation on our part! Here are a few people we saw along the way:

Just finding out that he gets to go to the clinic for vaccinations. Lucky!

Elder Gubler finally found someone in Botswana that is older than he is! This gentleman is 78 and came to Kasane when there were only 3 houses. He's a retired customs officer

Mom washing her clothes. Her child saw us and ran screaming back to his mom. I don't think he'd seen white people before, at least not dressed in orange shirts and hats!

This grandma was taking her grandchildren to the clinic in the best chariot she had, her wheel barrow
Monday night the Sisters presented a fireside/home evening. The sisters had us sing songs and then discussed what they loved about the song. The members loved the family home evening. The treats were cake and rice krispie treats, what more could they ask?
The Kasane Group with our missionaries
Day Two, Tuesday, we took an early morning game drive. Cornelia did a wonderful job showing us everything she could find in the Chobe park. The Chobe has no fences so you see what you see. We saw elephants (got surrounded by elephants) and some of these other animals:

Dwarf Mongoose

Cape buffalo

Elephants showing their best sides

Warthog babies
After our fun excursion, we went back to the clinics. I started taking pictures of the children and their parents. We had the pictures developed and gave the pictures back to the families when they came back. Here are a few of those pictures:

Aren't they beautiful? We have absolutely fallen in love with the people here.

Tuesday night, we used our pass to get back into Chobe and had a wonderful time seeing more animals:

We then went to the "platform", a man-made watering hole, where we can very quietly watch the animals come in to water. Its a beautiful and tranquil place. I wish we could have stayed there until late but we had to have our young sisters back by curfew. We saw lots of elephants, jackal, frogs and stuff.

Wednesday we worked at the clinic, Elder Gubler giving Vitamin A drops while Sister Gubler took pictures and painted left pinkie fingers with a permanent purple marker to designate vaccines had been given. Then it was off to get more pictures developed and home to cook dinner and make goodies for the party on Thursday to celebrate all that had been done at the clinic.

Thursday we woke bright and early to start our last day in Kasane. More clinic vaccinations, vitamin A drops, and deworming pills given to children ages 6 months to 5 years. We picked up the sisters and went to get our new pictures developed. And, we ran into Cornelia! She said she had a little time so she took us the border area in Botswana, actually the area where the four countries, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe meet. All in all we had a great trip!

*Note: All of us Kasane missionaries who worked on the campaign at one time or another had someone really, really want our orange shirts.. Yeah. Of course, we were wearing them so we kept them. However, with 1,000 shirts for the missionaries and church members volunteering and only about 400 being needed, we were left with a bunch of shirts in Gaborone. (We didn't take extras with us to Kasane).  While we were in Kasane, some entrepreneurs decided to break into the G-West chapel. These braniacs cut "sky-lights" in several different area, including the chapel, the library (only church books), the vault (only church books) but EUREKA!! They hit pay dirt, found and stole the orange shirts we had left in G-West and didn't know how to use. Took care of the G-West problem.
Out in the middle of the river is the point where the 4 country, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Botswana
corners meet.

Monday, October 21, 2013

YSA Game night

Last night we had a wonderful time with the Young Single Adults (YSA) group in Lobatse. The Clowards, our Church Education System (CES) couple went with us. We played a cards game that the Clowards had based on 5 Crowns and with the scripture mastery scriptures. It's a fun game we've played several times with them. The other game we had fun with was a game that Kim and Alli should remember well. It's the board game based on "For the Strength of Youth." We had 17 kids there and 4 missionaries plus the two couple missionaries. We had 9 member kids with 8 investigators. It was so fun. One of the young men that the missionaries have been working with came to church with a friend two weeks ago, last week, he brought another friend. This week, he asked the missionaries when he could be baptized. So fun. Have I mentioned yet how much I love being on a mission? Love the people here in Botswana and especially Lobatse!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Church Uniform

In Botswana many churches have "uniforms" they wear. Usually the color of the clothing designates what sect you are with. It's very common to see groups walking together on Sunday in their uniforms. Some of the uniforms are lavender, pink, pale blue etc. We are constantly asked why the girls in our church wear different colors when the men all wear dark pants, white shirts and ties. Yesterday was zone conference and Sister Wilson, our mission president's wife, asked me to take a young sister to the doctor. Elder Gubler, myself and Sister Cook couldn't resist taking a picture when we met at the church. Here is what we had all chosen to wear (of course without consulting with each other.) When Sister Cook and I went to the see the doctor, the receptionist smiled and nodded, obviously liking our church uniform. We just laughed. It was a fun time!


Monday, October 14, 2013

The Okevango Delta

We have been to three of the most amazing places in the world while we’ve been here in Botswana, Kasane, Madikwe and the Okavango Delta. All three of these places are so hard to describe. We are always asked which place we liked best and all we can say is that they are all so different! The scenery was definitely the best at the Okavango.

Lastly, we got to go to the Okavango Delta compliments of Hillary and Roger. We flew to Maun and then took a small (really small) prop to the Okavango Delta. I thought I would be nervous flying over but it was so beautiful I just started snapping pictures.  

As soon as we got off the plane, we went out on the mokoro (canoe). Our guide poled our mokoro out to an island and we started walking. It was amazing to be on the same level as the animals. We weren’t quite as close but it felt more intimate with the animals than the other two places. We walked about 8 miles a day (going out 2 times a day). Elder Gubler and I were there 2.5 days and Hill and Rog stayed 3.5 days. We stayed at a bush camp with tents on platforms. 

The sunsets were probably the most amazing I had ever seen. The only power at the camp was solar energy. We (I) woke up one night about 1 am, and heard then saw an elephant walking past out tent. The next night we had a hippo outside slogging by. We had hippos in the water channels next to our camp. An elephant came to camp after Elder Gubler and I left. He spent the evening causing delays in eating dinner and late bedtimes.

 We saw zebras, impalas, hippos, elephants, warthogs, cape buffalo etc . everyday. There was such an African feeling in camp. We loved walking around the islands. We noticed more plants and termite mounds. There was definitely a feeling of vulnerability being on ground level with only as fast as we could run between us and the animals. I think everyone else felt pretty safe because they only had to run faster than I could! 

We loved the time in the Okavango, it is so beautiful and spending time with Hill and Rog was awesome! 

Sunset in the Okavango


Birds in a thorn bush

Watching the Elephant knock down palm fruit


Hill and Rog in the mokoro

Hippo channel

Hillary and Roger in the mokoro on the hippo channel


Lion tracks

Mokoros in the evening

Above the Delta

At play


Hippo troll guarding the channel

Waiting for the plane

Elder Gubler