A few things about the Botswana Outreach that stood out for me or meant a lot to me include the following.
It was freezing at night. Those who have been on the outreach previously will tell you that it is cold but they don’t tell you that it is THAT cold. With that, I must add that it definitely brought the group closer and made fellowship around the fire special. On the very first, very cold, morning Stephen was the first to have a very cold shower – sorry Uncle Stephen! The group had a few good laughs about that and we all learnt that it isn’t a very wise idea to shower first thing in the morning when there is only a very unreliable solar geyser for hot water. The older people in our group definitely taught the younger kids a thing or two!
The first time you go on this mission, you go out there completely blank. You’re in a different country, with people you don’t know much about, you’re camping in a tent on a church ground, in the middle of a village in the desert, in the middle of winter… but for some reason, it still feels like home. The people around you feel like family, not once do you feel unwelcome or unwanted, everyone adds value to the mission. Whether you went out to chop and fetch wood or helped in the kitchen, (or should I say, at the kitchen, as it is outside under a gazebo), whether you sat on the roof of the toilet to capture the sunrise or went out to tell the people about God, you were appreciated!
I think the first timers on the mission worry about what they’ll be eating for a week out in the desert – I for one can say I was worried that we would be ‘braaiing’ (barbeque-ing) every day, from morning to night, but I was wrong. Barbara made sure we ate like kings and queens every day. We had five star meals daily. Coming home most of us needed to get our “fat pants” out to fit into anything but we didn’t complain. Barbara was definitely God sent!
I went on the mission to work with the children and what a lovely bunch we had – those children have very little but they are the friendliest, most loving and welcoming kids ever! We had a few hiccups along the way, especially one specific day when a lot of the kids got a little out of hand. The incident left the team members involved with the children a little confused and feeling despondent. The next morning, during morning devotions, Steph shared a Bible verse from Isaiah 43: 18-19 which says: “But the Lord says ‘do not cling to events of the past or dwell on what happened long ago. Watch for the new thing I am going to do.’” So every morning we put a new smile on our faces and anticipated the great things God was going to do that day and we again ended up having a fantastic time with the kids.
You go to Botswana thinking that you are going to share God with everyone in the village and come back the same person. Without realising it, you are drawn so much closer to God and your relationship is strengthened BEYOND words! He really opens your eyes to how amazing He is – suddenly so see things in a way you’ve never seen it before, you start to appreciate the little things in life, you see how Blessed you actually are! Until we got home I never realised how little I appreciate the soft, green grass we have. Spending a week with people who have no idea what it’s like to walk out your front door and have green grass outside opened my eyes to the fact. Needless to say, I walked around barefoot for about two days.
I would like to thank God for making it possible for me to go to Botswana, but I’d like to give Him an even bigger thanks for making it possible for me to share this wonderful experience with my gran – it’s been a dream of hers and I feel privileged to have a part of it.