Lindsey and I were fortunate to take a gorgeous vacation and final African adventure to Cape Town over Christmas. We saw amazing, natural beauty and many things worthy of capturing with a picture. Although there is beauty in everyday life (sometimes we have to search for it), it’s often easier to see when you are able to slow down and relax…especially when visiting a particularly beautiful place. When snapping a picture or sharing it on social media with others, like Instagram, you can doctor photos and choose the filter you want to enhance the picture to your liking. Using different camera filters for lighting and color, we can make the world seem more colorful- darker, clearer, or even black and white. Much of how we experience life and the world around us has to do with the lens or filter we look through. Our perspective on anything can be similar to a camera filter.
The past two years in Botswana have been unique for me because I’ve seen the world around me through a variety of different filters and perspectives. Initially, when Lindsey and I were starting our service term here, it was easy to see and fixate on the glaring differences between an African nation and where we’re from. That was Botswana seen from an American filter. I’ve learned to embrace the differences, simplicity, uniqueness, warmth, beauty, and many other positives here in Botswana with a more open-minded filter (global filter). At times, I’ve been frustrated and pushed by some experiences here when looking at things with a partially-closed lens. But, I’ve laughed and made the most out of those same experiences, when trying to learn something from them and looking at it with a panoramic view: seeing the big picture and what is most important in the grand scheme of things. I have viewed time differently here with filters as well. Sometimes weeks and months have seemed to drag on when service work felt slow-moving, when heat or other realities of life felt heavy, or when I chose to look at things with a more negative perspective. But when I have been engaged in projects, do my best to stay active, make a focused effort to do what I can, and even simply look at things through a more positive filter…time really flies by.
The last few months of our remaining time here in Botswana has been a mix of fast and slow. Some struggles and frustrations, but definitely some joys and highlights as well. Life is not as simple as just selecting a filter for the day and getting the results you want from it. Our circumstances and environment significantly shape our perspective and view of the world. But choosing to look at things with a certain mindset, perspective, and open-minded filter considerably shapes our experience(s).
Sometimes rain comes in November and rainy season in Bots commences…but not this year 😉 It was a hotttttttttttttt, dry month and the last “normal” one for us in terms of our work and schedule. Things really slow down around the beginning of December (due to the school-year ending and people gearing up, clearing out of city centers before Christmas) and productivity diminishes with the closing of November. This makes the month busier than usual. We helped coordinate Bokgoni Sporting Club’s last few workshops for the year, with some local facilitators. I was able to participate and contribute to the last weeks of netball training for the year 2018.
Lindsey and I had been working the previous few months to build rapport and a partnership with Mpatane Primary School, which is in a small nearby village called Mathangwane. Village schools (outside of places like Francistown and Gaborone), do not receive as many resources and attention as the city government schools. We had been hoping to “adopt a school” and help support Mpatane Primary in any way that we were able to. We were pleased to be collaborating with a fantastic, caring teaching staff in order to benefit them and their students. We had the privilege of speaking to the whole student body at an assembly; to encourage them and give them a boost before their end-of-the-year testing. Weeks later we were able to contribute and present some awards and certificates to students who had achieved the top of their class in Science and Math. This was part of a lively graduation ceremony for the school. At the end of the school year, we led a half-day workshop for the teaching staff- on how to address the needs of diverse learners and use a variety of teaching strategies across subjects to reach all students, especially struggling ones.
Highlights: Visiting the Nata Bird Sanctuary a couple of hours away and celebrating Thanksgiving with some American friends.
We ran into some adversity towards the end of November and beginning of December with an extended power outage and a couple of weeks without car use and internet: the “trifecta.” The timing of doing without these things was not ideal, seeing as it coincided with the last couple of busy weeks of our service work. We were able to finish up our work projects, thanks to friends who lent their time and transportation to help us get things accomplished. Getting around in a taxi in Botswana is common and doable, just not convenient when you have to travel far, be at a number of scheduled events, and wait outside during some of the hottest temperatures of the year. However, everything worked out. We lost a little bit of sleep and weight, due to sweating; but we gained more patience and perspective!
The middle of the month was very chill and relaxed. Car problems: fixed. Power outages: None. Wifi: Back for a couple weeks. High temperatures and dryness: Adios thanks to rainy season finally hitting.
Highlights: Many functions with various friends including playing games, having great dinners, and even an early Christmas celebration weeks before the day. Long-awaited #CapeTownChristmas. Amazing sights, activities, tastes, and weather. Oh, and also our 5th anniversary!
I’ve been writing this post over the course of our last week here in Botswana. We’ve already said most of our goodbyes, wrapped up all our service work, and taken care of all the final details. Other than packing and taking care of moving logistics, the last couple of weeks have been full of time with friends and tasty get-togethers: braais and byes. There are still some important goodbyes and baggage (including emotional baggage), that need to be properly taken care of before we fly out of Francistown tomorrow (Jan 14th). We are thankful for the past two years: all the friendships and partnerships made, unique experiences had, and lessons learned. Lindsey and I are very grateful to the wonderful and welcoming people we have spent time with here in Botswana. We are blessed and honored by all the kind words and warmth we’ve received from our Francistown community lately. Although we are sad to say goodbye, we are happy and very much looking forward to reconnecting with friends and family back in the States. We are ready for what lies ahead. Excelsior!
Pictures from two Bokgoni Sporting Club braais: A holiday feast & a wonderful farewell party for us
Lionel & Sazi: Amazing couple and amazing friends
Saying goodbye to our dog Siggy. Always cute and always up in your face 🙂 She will be taken great care of by Lionel, Sazi, and their boys!
Braai meats above, veggies below
We will be spending the next several weeks in Harrisonburg, VA staying with Lindsey’s brother and family. We are excited to spend a few weeks in our old stomping grounds and eat some of the treats we’ve missed (Klines and La Morena to name a few!). The whole month of February we will be in Dalton, OH with Lindsey’s parents. The next month and half we will be reconnecting with our family and friends, as well as speaking at several supporting congregations about our experience in Botswana. A thank-you tour! At the end of February, we will start a long trek with a trailer full of all our possessions to a new, but familiar home in Boulder, CO. We will stay with Asher’s parents while we get our feet on the ground.
There are many unknowns about life in Colorado (i.e. currently no employment, vehicle, or long-term housing), but we know that God is faithful and doors of opportunity open at the right time. We are trusting in what lies ahead and excited for what God has in store for us. We know that this journey in Botswana has shaped and molded us…we can’t wait to see how its impact unfolds.
As always, thank you for following and contributing to our journey in Botswana. Our faithful supporters (emotional, financial, cheerleaders) have been a great blessing and we thank you for walking with us. See some of you on the other side of the pond! Blessings and stay well.
-Asher and Lindsey-