It's amazing that my first week in Botswana is almost complete. Time certainly goes by fast...and things have actually been pretty slow paced around here. I can't even imagine how fast time will go when the kids arrive!
This week has been kind of a "settling in" week. I won't actually move into my room until Monday, so I am still living out of my suitcases for now. The dorm looks so great, though, and I think I will really enjoy living there. School starts the 15th, so I will be spending the next week preparing both the dorm and my classroom!
I think the most important thing about this first week was relationship building and just letting the reality of me being here settle in. One of the missionary families here has been especially wonderful to me. Patricia and Jeremiah have two beautiful girls and a little boy on the way. They have made me feel very welcomed and like part of their family already.
My friends Gary and Stacy (the youth pastors) are living here at the mission now, which is a HUGE blessing. Also, Stacy's sister and I are staying at the same house right now. I met all three of them when I came in March and have loved keeping in touch with them the past nine months and looked very forward to living so close to them. God has been so gracious to surround me with friends already!
The only downfall of this week was adjusting to not having regular contact with my family and friends in the States. The internet has had many problems lately, especially at night when I would want to use it the most. Yesterday evening was the first time I experienced some homesickness and felt frustrated that I couldn't communicate with my parents. I believe the internet should be improving drastically during the next couple of weeks, though, so hopefully keeping in touch will be easier.
I had an important cultural lesson this week, too. I was in the office and made a phone call to a hardware store to ask a question for someone. In the States, after the person answers, we are free to ask a question. Well, after I hung up the phone after doing that, Gary corrected me. He told me that here in Botswana it is very important to take time with every interaction with people to greet them properly with a "Hello, how are you?" and to wait for an answer and possibly other conversation before ever asking a question. Relationships are extremely important here and it is vital to never make someone feel overlooked or unimportant. I'm so excited to become more a part of this culture. I think this priority on people and relationships is beautiful!
I can't stress enough how important and valuable your prayers are to me. Sometimes if I am having an overwhelming or lonely moment, I just stop and find comfort that someone, somewhere across the ocean is praying for me, giving me strength to move on to the next moment. God overwhelms me with His grace and His blessings. Reading through my journal last night brought me to tears as I remembered the incredible road He's had me on to get me to right where I am.
I look forward to being in contact again soon and sharing many more stories and pictures!