I'm so happy to have a bit of time to sit down and update you on what is new here. It's been an unbelievably full week. To start off, I want to take a minute to really thank you if you have become one of my prayer partners, covering me and the ministry here in prayer. You have absolutely no idea how much I need and appreciate your prayers. Even if you wouldn't consider yourself a prayer partner, but you just say a small prayer as you read this blog, I want to express my thankfulness to you as well and just let you know that more than anything else, I desperately need mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual prayer covering from my friends and family in the States.
Having said that, I have to report that this week held more frustration for me. I want to briefly list out why in the hopes that you will join me in praying for God to resolve these things.
- My police clearance/background check is still an issue and time is quickly becoming a serious concern. I have a couple of avenues being worked on, but this report is still not on its way to Botswana. It really must be here by the beginning of March when my temporary permit expires. Joel in HR here thinks the chances are very slim of them giving me another extension on the temporary permit. I would probably have to leave the country and come back in just to get day allowances to be in the country. Needless to say, this is all a HEADACHE. I just want it to be resolved and taken care of quickly. I am praying for favor and cooperation with both the immigration office here and the government office in Texas.
- There is a new mail issue that has come up. My mom sent three packages to me a few weeks ago and I only received two of them. One of them had tape added on from the postal service here that said my box was opened or damaged. I am assuming this happened to the other box and if so, I am pretty sure it is long gone. You see, in that box was the iPod that Gary ordered to use with the youth ministry. If that box had been opened and the iPod was seen, the box most definitely was taken. Gary, my mom, and I are all very disappointed and discouraged by this. I pray that either God miraculously gets the box to me or that He will provide a financial refund for the iPod and to help us get another one here safely. (Sidenote: if you ever send a package here, never put the value on there. Always write "Personal items, no commercial value". And you might want to let me know it's coming so I know if it doesn't arrive.)
- Finally, I've been feeling especially tired this week. I don't know why, but I just haven't felt rested lately. This is not good because I become irritable when I don't feel rested and it affects my interactions with the kids, which is the last thing I want to happen. Part of it I think is that I didn't really have a restful Sunday last week. Our children's ministry needs so much help (which is a whole other prayer request) One of our teachers didn't show last week, so I needed to fill in on the spur of the moment and it was total craziness. Thankfully this week was so much better after Gary, Stacy, and I met this week and did some problem solving and planning. I pray that God gives us the needed ideas and creativity so that children's ministry runs smoothly Sunday mornings and we can all get the needed rest on the weekends to prepare us for our full weeks.
Aside from the above needs, I am still very happy here and totally know I am walking in God's will for my life at this time. I adore all of my kids and am so thankful for deepening relationships with them. Tendai has moved into the boys' side of the hostel and it looks like he is going to fit great there. And Valentine's Day was totally precious! It's the first holiday I've experienced here in Botswana and it was great! The kids don't buy the pre-made valentines, but hand-make their cards if they want to give them out. Candy isn't given as much as more practical things like pencils or other school items. Also, I received a wonderful package from the States that had 144 pencils and 48 packages of Fun Dip. Because of that, I was able to give a Valentine's pencil to all the kids in the junior dome (1st-6th grade) and a pencil and Fun Dip package to my boarders. Everyone was very excited about their little gifts. (Thanks Julianne!)
Friday night during "Fire by Nite" time, we had a formal dinner for the teenagers. They were to come dressed up in black, white, red, or pink. I was blown away by the kids' response! The guys were all snazzed up in suits and the girls looked totally beautiful! I will put pictures in my online album so you'll have to check them out. At the dinner, a missionary couple here talked to them about purity and when finished, God led Gary to encourage any boys who had disrespected females in any way during their life to take the opportunity to apologize. What a moving scene to see many young men go to the front, take the microphone, and sincerely apologize for anything they'd said or done that was disrespectful to the girls in their lives. The kids were then encouraged to make a personal commitment for purity in their lives. (This is SO important here. I just read that 50% of university students here test positive for HIV....50%!!!) I praise God for how He spoke to the kids that night. To remind us that we are in a spiritual battle, as soon as the kids made those commitments, a HUGE storm blew in. The tent poles began coming out of the ground, the tent almost completely fell down, the kids ran to the bus only to find it was locked and had to stand outside as it was lightning and then began to rain. Once the rain died down, we were able to return to the tent, but the rest of the night was ruined. Thankfully everyone was safe and unharmed, but I am disappointed that the thing that sticks out in their minds the most about the night is not the beautiful message or the important commitments made, but is instead the scary storm and soiled clothes.
I am reminded more each day that there is a real spiritual battle going on here. I really cannot express enough how needed and appreciated your prayers are for this country and the ministry going on here. Thank you so much for investing in these kids with me.
Here are a couple pictures from Valentine's Day: