We Are All Our Hands and Holders

I just hosted my parents for two weeks in Botswana.  We spent a little time in Nata and then I took them exploring the great bush of Botswana.  Our first stop was the Okavango Delta, outside of Maun.  Here we boarded a wooden boat.  We were poled through the reeds and then we camped on an island in the delta.  It was a beautiful to glide through tall grass and clear water.  In addition, we saw a few elephants here and there. tip of mokoro

with out guide Martin

We spent a few days in Nata.  I showed them around the village and gave them a very big tour. During the tour, complete strangers would walk up to my parents and say ‘your daughter Refilwe is my best friend, we are always together.’ This made my parents think that I was very well liked in my community but it made me think that Batswana are pretty great liars! 

During their time in Nata, we held a GLOW meeting.  The GLOW club at this school is for guys and girls.  The lesson that day was about goal setting and my counterpart asked my parents to share a few words.  My parents were impressed by the kids and their ability to dream big.  Because these kids will literally be the future of Botswana.  And they can actually obtain their goals. Last week I also handed out the application to all the girls for GLOW camp.  We got 20 applicants!  Myself, two nurses and a teacher will sit down to pick the lucky five.  It is going to be hard to pick only five girls from those 20!

We then headed up to the Chobe National Park outside of Kasane for a three day safari.  Safaris are no joke and they a more than a little pricey. i figured my parents had earned their right to a safari and my default of being their daughter meant i could tag along.  The safari was unbelievable.  We saw every kind of animal you could see.  Buffalo, lions, elephants, kudu, crocodile, hippos, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest,impala, kingfishers, vultures, storks, wild dogs, blah blah.  so much!  And it was nice to be able to just watch the animals do their thing.

We came upon a pride of about 9 lions just seated under the tree as the cubs ate some scraps and the lionesses slept around the male lion. 

honestly, they looked like Zaza. (who happens to be pregnant again)

And just before they left i took them to my family in molepolole.  I introduced my parents to my african family.

In October, the Daily Herald in Utah published a story about me and they put a plug in for my GLOW camp.  My african family’s picture was included in the article.  This is a picture of them reading the article from the Utah newspaper in Molepolole, Botswana.

It was fun to go around with my parents having a grand adventure in the African bush, but it meant more to show them the people that had become so important to me.  Especially my beautiful church mates in francistown.

Will You Come Again?

In the beginning of March, my mom (!) and one of my friends, Emily, came to visit me in Botswana. I’ll admit, I was nervous to have people come and visit me, I didn’t know if it would impress them or if Botswana was even worth the trouble.  I know it is, but I’ve been here for awhile.  But I am happy to report that they LOVED it, wished they could have stayed longer and tried to convince me to take Zaza back to America (it turns out Zaza is the world’s best cat!).  We had a lot of really fun, neat adventures.  We went on safari in Kasane.  We went to a bush bbq in Nata with my local friends.  We went to Victoria Falls.  We had a bbq in the middle of a valley while elephants and hyenas were making their way to the watering hole. We waded in the Makgadikgadi salt pans, which is my backyard.  We saw lions, elephants, rhinos, hippos, kudu, birds, crocodile, zebra, giraffe, so many animals!

on safari

sunset on the chobe

Victoria Falls, Zim

Nata Bird Sanctuary

My favorite part of the trip was introducing them to people and places that haven meant a lot to me over the past.  I took my mom to Molepolole where we sat and chated with Sis. K and family (or otherwise known as the nicest woman in Africa.)  And afternoon having a wonderful afternoon of sitting, eating, painting fingernails and laughing, we went and visited my old host family and then some members of the branch of the LDS church in Moleps.  So much love and goodness.  Molepolole was so good to me and it will forever hold a dear place in my heart.

mom with Sis K

Host siblings

I realize that a very significant part of my experience here that I cherish is my involvement with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  My testimony and membership to the LDS faith has changed since being here and I like to think it has deepened.  It has not been easy to be in a place that is far from a house of worship, the nearest building being Francistown (180K south) or Kasane (300K north).  This distance, makes me connection to the sabbath day service and the connection with people more meaningful and rich.  For most of my life I have lived in areas with well-established branchs or wards and members.  This is not the case in Botswana.  In Kasane, the 10 members meet in someone’s house.  And in Francistown, we meet in a converted house with a large lawn.  Sunday school, young women’s, and priesthood are all held in group circles on the lawn in the backyard.  These realities have become so important to me and it has been so wonderful to show my mother and Emily these small, but important details of my life in Botswana.

covering our heads for a memorial

This was my first set of visitors, but I’m looking forward to the others… whoever those might be.  Come!