As Lindsey and I are nearing the end of our two-year term of service in Botswana, I find myself reflecting over many things; even more so than usual. I’ve mentioned it before, but the pace of life here in Francistown, BW is quite a bit slower than I’m accustomed to. This has not been a huge shock to me, since we had expected it to a certain extent based off of the homework and preparation we did in advance to moving here. In an always on-the-go, cold climate culture like the U.S., it wasn’t hard for me to fill up each hour of the day with activity (work, time with Lindsey, chores, errands, social events, exercising, church-related things, catching up on my favorite shows and the news, etc.). Some of these activities, like being on Facebook or watching Netflix, were and continue to not be very meaningful. But despite plenty of time spent towards trivial activities, it always felt like there was something to do. “There’s never enough time in the day”, was a common thought of mine.
Over the past couple of years a more common thought for me has been “There’s too much time in the day!” Often, Lindsey and I have felt like we should be doing more with our time and there has to be some way to engage ourselves in “service work” more. We have a lot of down time together and alone. I am thankful that this down time has made Lindsey and I even closer than we were before service. Spending more time with me and becoming closer/stronger is no small feat by the way (I have a hard time being around myself for too long!). It’s easy for us to complain and moan about this extra time we have. Ultimately we can either view and look back at this excess time as a positive (though challenging at times experience), or a negative one with more cons than pros.
One can over-process and over-reflect (I may do a little bit of that from time-to-time), but in general having more time to think large and small things over has been good for me. In general, I believe the world would be a much better place if we all took more time to stop and reflect, to be more intentional about what we give our time to, and to think more about our actions and words. It is said that time is the most valuable currency. I agree that time is valuable, but for me it is more important to think about what we give our time to, and what or who we value with our time rather than just having a “time is money” mentality.
If we choose watching T.V. over exercise, what are we valuing the most? If we choose Facebook over a book whenever we have a choice, did we spend our time doing something meaningful? If someone is in need or they ask us for something reasonable, but we are “too busy” to help, what or who are we valuing? Everyone likes to think that if someone was in dire need, of course he or she would help them if they could. Only a monster would be so selfish, right? That may not be the case though when a similar situation comes up in reality. Whether someone else’s need is big or small, we assign their need value. Even if a need is small, if we address it and value the need, the other person’s self-value increases. Though someone’s need may actually be quite important, if we deem it as not worthy (due to time, resources, or something else), than we tend to look at it as something of little importance. Through our actions, by disregarding someone else, we are telling them that they are cheap and of little value. How do we assign value to the significant needs of others? How do we value other’s smaller needs as well?
Recently a friend came to me with a problem (it’s strange how opportunities to help others seem to come about when we actually are busy). It wasn’t an everyday request. I won’t get into the specifics of the situation, but it wasn’t as simple as just giving a few minutes of my time. As I was pondering what to do, I started thinking about value. Was I able to help the friend? Was my time too valuable for this friend? Was helping them worth it? I don’t always make the right decisions, but I did this time and am very glad for it. I pushed some things in my day aside, made sure the situation was addressed and taken care of thoroughly, and helped my friend.
After that day, I didn’t think back on the situation much, until this past week. I saw the friend again and they told me that they were extremely grateful. My help meant a lot to them and they really appreciated it. They valued me, by coming to me in a time of need, hoping I would help. In turn, I valued their time and their need.
The feeling of gratitude that was shared with me came on a particularly bad day. I was feeling down about the world before that moment due to tragedies that happened to some friends’ families, some inhumanity surrounding those situations, personal physical aches and pains, and too much depressing world news that I had been following. All of those aches were overtaken by this moment. I won’t toot my own horn and say that I did an amazing thing. I don’t see it as a big thing that I did, but it was big for someone else.
I can’t think of a situation where I was upset because I helped someone else. When we value others, our value as people increases as well. My favorite basketball players aren’t the ones that dominate a game single-handedly, based on their own individual contributions. But they are usually the players that can make their teammates better. Loving basketball and sports, I feel as if one team always has to win and another always has to lose. In the real world, there doesn’t have to be a loser though. We should always strive to uplift others. Even when we succeed and win, it doesn’t have to be at someone else’s expense. If we help others win, than we cannot lose. I feel as if this strategy is not only a win-win and valuable…it’s invaluable.
Update on work and soon-to-be transition
Over the past few months we have continued to walk alongside Bokgoni Sporting Club, assisting the Club and coach in various ways. The Club has been offering both educational and fitness workshops to the community. It has been refreshing to bring in some community members to help lead the workshops. We recognize that we have skills to offer for workshops, but we do not have certain cultural understandings. It has been beneficial for the attendees to hear from someone local on topics such as career development and peer pressure. Asher has been attending several netball practices a week and helps to lead one of those trainings, offering new strength and conditioning skills for the team to work on.
We received some good news within the last few weeks! After years of waiting for formal permission to develop the land, Bokgoni received a letter from the local council, which has granted the go-ahead for development. Now the Club can more seriously look into design and implementation. Praise God for this great news!
Speaking of our time, our term is rapidly coming to an end! We will be flying home to the States on the 14th of January. It feels like things are busier as we close up and we feel as if we are between two worlds: our life here and the goodbyes we will need to say and our life and family back in the States, who eagerly await our arrival home. It’s strange to think about saying goodbye to this place that has been our home for almost two years. It hasn’t been an easy ride, in fact, it’s been downright challenging at times. But this country and people will always hold a special place in our hearts. We would appreciate your thoughts and prayers as we wrap up our ministry work, say goodbye, and make arrangements for moving overseas.
As always, thank you for walking this journey with us. We could not do it without the support and love of our family, friends, and encouragers.
Asher and Lindsey