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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Final Transfers!

The week following the "Launch" was the final transfer before the mission split. (The mission will be completely separated by June 21st ... we hope.)

This week started with a bang Tuesday morning at 6:45. The elders who were crossing the border into South Africa called. One of the elders had over stayed his stated time in country. Now, it's legal to stay in country for 90 days, HOWEVER, when he came in country, he stated that he would be here 3 days. So, he had overstayed by 87 days. The zone leaders asked me to bring 1000 pula to pay his fine. I had just gotten out of the shower when I had received the call so I quickly dressed and was on my way to the border.  Normally the border is 30 minutes away from our flat.  However, 7:00 am in Botswana is rush hour traffic and it took me an hour to get to the border.  I told the zone leaders to head to Jo Burg and I would take care of the missionary with the fine. They were already an hour and a half late and they had the luggage trailer for all the missionaries moving on transfer. There were four cars involved in the transfer with four Elders in each car.  Three cars moved on and the one stayed with me.  Normally the Elders leave at 6:00 am and arrive in Jo Burg by noon then the same vehicles refuel and two of the four cars with four Elders each leave at approximately 2:00 pm and return to Botswana arriving at the Border at approximately 8:00 pm if everything goes well, which makes a long day for those elders.  The  third and fourth cars stayed an extra day for a special zone leaders meeting with President Omer and the A P s. At the border I was told that the missionary and I would have to travel 15 K's back to a police station in Tokwein to pay the fine of 1000 pula.  After arriving at the police station we were asked to fill out some paperwork.  While the Elder was doing this I was escorted by a young female police officer to the other side of the building to pay the fine and get a  receipt for the border.  While we were walking she asked me if I had the pula for the fine.  I told her that I had 1000 pula and handed it to her.  She told me that I would only need 800 pula for the fine and that she was going to keep 200 pula (about $25) for lunch for her and her friends. I told her that the fine was for 1000 pula and I had given her 1000 pula and what ever she did with it was up to her. When we arrived at the cashier she proceeded to give him the 800 pula and told him the fine was for 800 pula.  He wrote out a receipt for 800 pula. On the way back I told the missionaries what had happened and we were all concerned about what was going to happen at the border.  At the border we handed the receipt to the border officer.  He mentioned that the fine was for 1000 pula and the receipt was for 800.  I told him that I had offered 1000 pula to the police  but was told the fine would only be for 800. He excepted my explanation and allowed the Elders to cross the border. However, I did not mention that the young police officer had kept 200 pula for her and her friends lunch.

That night I received a call from the border from the elders who where in the two cars returning.  Everything had gone well at the border and they were just calling to let me know they were in Botswana.  However, the next day I received a call at about 1:00 pm from one of the zone leaders in one of the cars returning.  One of the zone leaders that had received residency previously in Botswana had been in South Africa since last July.  He was told that his residency had expired because he had been out of the country for over six months and that he would have to go to the immigration office by 2:00 pm and reapply.  When I received his call I was waiting for Elder Watson to bring me our extra set of car keys because I had locked my keys in the trunk at a bank.  I told them that I would meet them at the immigration office.  We were told at immigration that although the elder had a residency sticker in his passport it was invalid because he had been out of the country for over six months.  I asked them if he was illegal at that time and they said no because he had residency sticker in his passport and if he reapplied he would be okay.  We might have had further problems that day if the other car with the AP's and the other zone leaders had come thru the border with them. However, they went thru a different more remote border post that night because they had to retrieve one of the zone leaders passports that had gone to another area by mistake. One of the zone leaders in this car had also been out of the country over six months.  We found out the next day that two other elders had been out of the country over six months but had crossed the border in the night time and had not been detained.  We have other issues at immigration but I have already gone on to long so I won't discuss them at this time.

We now have two AP's and a pair of office elders living in the Rand's (our CES couple that went home) old home.  They are here to help us get ready for our new mission president and help train him.  We took them over to our new mission office on Friday to show them the office that they would be working in and found some friends just outside of our fence in the back.  Baboons!!!!!

Mission Launch and Humanitarian Aid Signing

Speeches at the signing
This past week, we had a combined Mission Launch and Humanitarian Aid Signing. This is a pretty big deal here in Botswana. (At least the signing was). The Church has committed to hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide training in Neonatal Resuscitation as well as wheel chairs, eye care training and such. This event was hosted at the Phakalane (Pa-Ka-La-Nee) hotel near where our new mission home is. We had the Health Minister and several of his department, the District Commissioner, Council of Churches (checking us out), and other prominent departments and people were invited. Many people came but didn't sign in so we aren't sure who they were.
All we know is that no one from Immigration came (or no one we were aware of).
Two of our elders, Black and Jorgensen ready to work
We had our sister missionaries and one set of zone leaders there to help man the displays. Additionally, we had the Area People, including, Sean Donnelly, head of Public Relations, Dube, head of Translation, Thabo, head of Welfare, senior couples over Employment (Herb Basso's brother and wife) and Humanitarian Aid. This conference was put together by Bro. Leonard Thebe, Country Public Relations and Stake High Councilman. President Tembo (1st councilor in the Stake) presided and President Makweni ( 2nd councilor) also attended.

Many good things were said about the church humanitarian effort in Botswana by the Minister of Health and the District Commissioner.  One of the speakers talked about his first experience with the church when he went to the United States.  He saw a t-shirt that said "Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow you might be in Utah."  He found that Utah is just that way, a dry state. But, he found a peculiar people that impressed him very much. He was very appreciative of all the aid that the Church was giving to Botswana. At 10:30, we broke for Tea (light refreshments). We had an opportunity to speak with the people who had attended the signing. One of the women I spoke with was from the Dept. of Registry, the group that registers all of the churches in the country. She was so appreciative of the Church and was going to give a glowing report to her boss. Dad spoke with the Minister of Health and he was extremely positive about the Church and what had been done that day.

Two of our sisters, Gehring and Anderson, manning a display
 During the Tea, our missionaries passed out information on Families, Employment, Humanitarian Aid, and of course all of our pamphlets and Book of Mormons. At the end of the day, everything had  been taken. Part of that is because the people here love to get free stuff and part of it was because they were really interested in the Church. I was able to speak with the representatives from the Council of Churches and she was extremely amazed that we weren't there to take over Botswana but to help the people. I think the Reps from the churches took one of everything. They love the youth in the country and want to help them in any way that they can.
Sisters Tw and Gillis
The Band of Brothers from Mochudi

 We began the second part of the Conference at 11:00. At this time we had members of our High Council, most of the Bishops and their wives, the Band of Brothers from Mochudi and several community groups. The Council of Churches and some of the Department of Health really wanted to hear what was going on during this time. (And, they were favorably impressed again.) The highlight of this meeting was the Band of Brothers. These are 12 young men who are were the only members of their families to join the church. Previously they had been involved in all kinds of stuff they shouldn't have been into. But now, 6 are serving missions, 6 either have their calls or their mission papers have been submitted. They are an extremely humble and knowledgeable group of young men. Elder and Sister Taylor have been working with the Brothers to get them out on their missions. In July, there is supposed to be a big article in the Ensign and Liahona about them.

The main topic for this meeting was that we would have a permanent mission office and a new Mission President would be coming at the end of June. The official name of the Mission is the Botswana, Namibia Mission. The Bishops and wives ended the Conference with an impromptu chorus singing "Hark All Ye Nations". It was truly beautiful!

After this part of the conference and after all of the dignitaries had left, the staff of the hotel came into the meeting room to find out what had been happening. All of the materials that were left were snatched up and our sister missionaries spent a great deal of time teaching and getting phone numbers. The elders also got some great referrals.

An African lunch was served to all who had attended the second meeting. 
Sisters Gubler and Taylor getting ready!