Just the other day I finished reading a novel from the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. If you are not familiar with these novels from Alexander McCall Smith, they are clever, well-written books that take place in Botswana. These novels suck you into local culture, and portray the simplicities and complexities of life in this peaceful nation. These brilliant novels revolve around the main character, Mma Ramotswe (Mah Ra-moat-sway), and the detective agency she heads up and founded. Needless to say, the books are popular here in Botswana (they are internationally renowned as well).
Lindsey and I have read several No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books while we have been in Botswana. Many friends/family/people back home asked us if we had read any of these novels before we left for Bots. They highly recommended this series to us when they found out we hadn’t read from the series. A LOT of people asked us about these novels. I felt kind of embarrassed that I hadn’t read any of these popular books that take place in the country we were headed to live in for a few years. Lindsey and I are rounding the track and nearing a full-year lap in our service term. I’m glad we waited to read these books until being present in the country. Now that we’ve been here a little while, I can relate to places, occurrences, interactions, and various elements from the books as we are living life in the same culture. I can definitely say I appreciate the books more now, than I would’ve in the States, as I am experiencing the culture being portrayed in the series.
There are many books in the series, but they all seem to have a similar flow. There are usually various story threads that weave in and out throughout each novel. Sometimes the stories are interrelated and sometimes not so much. The mysteries and conflicts that occur often seem trivial at first and at times mundane, (seeing as they take a long time to develop), but as they unfold they become quite interesting. The main plotline and story isn’t introduced until some ways into the book usually, and often doesn’t seem to be a big part of the book until near the very end. The latest book I read from the series, The Double Comfort Safari Club, was like this as well. The books are not action-packed thrillers where life and death are hanging in the balance throughout, but I find them much more interesting than a lot of these sorts of novels because they are realistic.
Right now, I feel as if our life and term in Botswana is much like The Double Comfort Safari Club. It is often unknown what we will be doing day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month with ministry work. Things have taken a while to develop, and we still don’t have assurance of consistent work. Lindsey and I are no longer able to help support and offer aid to the Mother Theresa Resource Centre and our partner there, which was our main ministry work/focus. The program closed due to some unexpected challenges. Initially, when Lindsey and I found out in late November that the youth program would be closing, there was sadness and some anxiety. We still feel for the children that no longer have this program as a positive outlet, but we are no longer anxious or afraid with what to do with our time. When one door closes, another one opens. Lindsey and I have had more time to spend supporting our friend Mothusi and his netball club/sporting NGO (Bokgoni Sporting Club). We are excited for the things this program is doing in the community and are energized to help support its growth in any way we can. We also have more time now to try and plug in to some local schools and explore some other ministry possibilities.
Lindsey and I do not know of any measurable impact that we are having or how our ministry and time in Botswana will end. While it unfolds though, we are not worried about the resolution of our story. The story is not even about us. We trust that things will unfold and it might be well after our term ends that we will even be able to look back and pinpoint the plot or main storyline of our term. You could even argue that some of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agencies don’t have a main story or plot, because the book is made up of lots of small, yet important stories. The stories aren’t necessarily related to each other but they contribute to the same lasting impression. Maybe that’s what our service term is like. I have learned to give my best effort and approach moments/days with my best intentions, but leave the results up to God.
Double Comfort Safari of our own
In December, Lindsey and I attended our friends Ruth & Aziz’s wedding in southern Botswana. After a couple of days near the capital city of Gaborone, we drove to Eastern South Africa near Kruger National Park for a Mennonite retreat. We spent this Menno-retreat with the Smith-Derksen family, some other Mennonites serving in Southern Africa. We had a great week connecting with them and seeing some amazing natural sights. The highlight of the trip was a full-day safari in Kruger National Park. We saw countless majestic creatures and beautiful sites that day; none more majestic or beautiful than a resting leopard, who was trying to catch its breath and recuperate after making a recent impala kill.
Christmas & New Years
Lindsey and I were prepared for a different and possibly lonely holiday season this year, seeing as we would be thousands of miles away from family. We actually had an awesome Christmas and following week up through New Year’s Day! We spent time on Christmas and throughout the following week with friends, playing games, and eating some great meals and treats.
N-ball & B-ball
We are enjoying spending more time supporting Bokgoni Sporting Club this year. The team is undefeated so far this year, continuing an unbroken streak of wins when Lindsey and I attend Bokgoni games. Coincidence? Probably so.
I was recently approached and asked to organize a men’s basketball by a friend. The group has been meeting each week and seems to be picking up steam and growing. I have enjoyed playing basketball recently with friends and new acquaintances, mainly from the Rock Church, but that is open to the public too.
Light Of The World Youth
Lindsey and I were asked by our friend Mel Mendoza, who is the youth pastor at Light of the World Church in Francistown, to help fill-in for her and lead youth group events during January. She is currently spending a few months back in the U.S. before she returns to Botswana in March. L & I have had a lot of fun getting to know the youth groups, introducing/playing/learning new games with them, baking, and most recently leading a competitive scavenger hunt…yowza! 🙂
We are so thankful to have the love and support of so many people. Lindsey and I are very grateful to all our family and friends for thoughts, prayers, check-ins, and financial contributions. We had some generous end-of-year contributions to our ministry! It is because of you all that we have the privilege of serving others here in Botswana on our Double Comfort Safari Club experience! Much love.