Thursday, February 21, 2019

Some plant, some water, God makes it grow...

Written by Sherra Still:

Isaiah 55:11 states, “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” However, sometimes, as missionaries, we wonder, is what I am doing making an impact for the kingdom of God?  We recently had the privilege of seeing the answer to that question for a missionary to Botswana over twenty years ago!   
This past week, we traveled several hours outside the city to a village 17 km off the paved road.  As we bounced along the dirt road to this village, we anticipated meeting the chief who had invited us.  In the car were three IMB missionaries and two national pastors.  We prayed for the kgotla we would attend, in which the chief would lead his community in deciding about Bible teaching in their village.  
We arrived at the village and greeted those present at the government building.  We waited in offered chairs for the chief to arrive.  Once the chief arrived, we greeted him appropriately, met with him and discussed the opportunity to teach Bible in the village.  The chief shared his burdens for his people and the bad things that were happening in the community.  We discovered that he believed that Bible teaching could make a difference there. He, however, did not express personal faith in Christ and we wondered why he thought the Bible would help his people?  
The chief then walked us to the kgotla and we were given seats at a table in front of the gathered community.  After about three hours of presentations and discussion, the community was in agreement that the Baptist Convention Seminary of Botswana could provide Bible classes in the village.  Pula!  Pula!

As we began to meet the people, afterwards, it was one gentleman who captured our attention and answered our questions about the Bible influence in the community.  He smiled with genuine joy and showed us what he had in his hand.  It was the Bible Way notebook that he had been given by David Carlton, some twenty years ago.  He explained that he had been taught and discipled by David and that he wanted that for his village again.  He introduced us to his son and explained, he wanted him to be taught the Bible, just as he had been discipled so many years ago.  He was so happy that we had come!  What a celebration we had as we drove home from the village and thanked God for the work of a faithful servant so many years ago.
L to R: Pastor Jack, Coye, Brent, Pastor Kabika

In Kokong, the chief is the very tall man. The older gentleman on the left
is the one who studied with former missionary David Carlton

2nd wedding-"White Wedding"

Our pastor's daughter recently got married (see post on Lobola or Traditional Wedding) and this is her 2nd wedding called the White Wedding. This is the Christian Wedding that we are most used to in the States with a bit of an African twist.
The wedding was slated to start at 8am, but everyone actually arrived to the church around 9:30am and things finally got started. Both the brides father and mother walked her down the aisle where the groom and his father met them and the bride was then handed over to the groom.
The ceremony went on until around 12:30pm when they went for pictures. We all then went to the bride's home where a big tent was set up and much rehearsed dancing took place by the bride and groom and their bridal party. The bride did 4 outfit changes during the reception...yes I said 4!! We partied til dark and then the bride and groom went to the grooms place the next day to do the whole thing again (this is the 3rd wedding).
We have been so blessed to be a part of these events and we are so happy for our pastor's daughter Karabo.
The bride being walked down the aisle by
Pastor Kabika and his wife Theresa

The bride and groom dancing out of the church

The reception
Outfit #2

The brides mother along with Mama T

Pastor Thokwane who represented the Uncle's for the bride and
the bride's father, Pastor Kabika

Outfit #3

The bridal party dancing
Outfit #4

Lobola (Traditional Wedding)

Our pastor's daughter recently was married. There is so much that goes into weddings here, there actually are 3 different weddings. The first wedding is the Lobola (Low-bow-lah) or traditional wedding which are then followed by the white wedding at the bride's place and then another wedding at the grooms place. Months before the traditional wedding takes place, the uncles from both the grooms side and brides side get together and discuss what the bride price will be or what exactly the grooms family will pay to the brides family for the bride. On the day of the traditional wedding, it happens right at dawn (around 6am) and if the grooms family is not on time waiting outside of the brides family's plot then they are generally fined another cow or two. Depending on where the bride is from is how many cows she is worth, the normal going rate is about 8 cows valued at $400 for each cow. Most Batswana have a hard time putting together enough money to actually get married due to this so many are married years after living together and families have already started. If the bride and groom have a child together, they are fined an additional cow for each child they have had out of wedlock.
On the day of the traditional wedding, the brides family comes to the event, all men wearing jackets and all women wearing a white shaw, traditional skirt and head covering. The grooms family comes to the event, all men wearing a jacket and kneeling before the brides family, and the women wearing a multicolored shaw, traditional skirt, and head covering.
There is much singing and dancing that happens after the exchange of cows and the families unite. Many here in Botswana see this as the bride and groom are married, but in Christian marriages, they often wait to live together until after the white wedding a the bride's place happens. What an amazing cultural experience to be a part of!
The grooms family kneeling before the brides family.

Wendi, myself, and Sherra

Washing of the hands before tea and bread

Enjoying time together

The uncles

This is the bride and groom after the ceremony

Ministry to the deaf

We were so blessed to have Janice Tankersley (lovingly known as Mama T here in Botswana) with us for 11 days in February. Mama T has made about 6 or 7 trips to Botswana so far and comes and works so faithfully with the deaf and sharing Christ with them. During her time here, she met with the deaf each night and on her last day, we did a big braai (grilling out) for all of them...I think 30 showed up this day. It was such a fun time together and we played games and just had an amazing time of fellowship. 
Mama T is 74 years old, a widow, and has very limited money, but she has never allowed any of these things to stop her for coming to share Christ where the Lord has called her to go. May we all step out in faith as she has. 
Mama T and the pastor to the deaf-Tshonolo

Red team winning the relay

The group for the braai

They all showed her so much love and thanks as they were leaving

Relay races

What an amazing group!

Valentines Day

The 5th-7th graders attended a Valentine Disco at school. This years theme was "The 80s" and Taylor had so much fun getting ready with her friends and going and dancing...did we mention she is our outgoing child :) Love this girl but she is just growing too quickly!

Kids could wear pink/red/white for Valentines
Day at school in lieu of their normal uniforms

1st day of school

We officially have a 6th and 3rd grader in our house. Our kids attend year round school so their school year begins in January and end in early December. We are so thankful for the amazing school they get to attend!
Our 6th and 3rd graders

Smiles and excitement for Day 1

Taylor was picked as one of the Librarians
for the year which is a huge honor

Bradyn in action, batting

Bradyn tried out for the cricket team this year and made the squad.
We are enjoying getting to know this sport we know absolutely
NOTHING about. So proud of Bradyn!

Welcome, Coye and Sherra!

On January 4, our new colleagues-Coye and Sherra Still- arrived here in Botswana. Over the last 1 1/2 months it has been such a joy to show them around Botswana and introduce them to some of our amazing friends and ministry partners and let them be introduced to the amazing culture that makes up the beautiful people here.
Coye was a pastor in the Charlotte area for the last 14 years and Sherra was working as a social worker and we are just so thankful that they listened to the call of God to serve Him here in Botswana. They have 5 beautiful children who are all grown. We have just so enjoyed getting to know them and we thank God for the blessing of teammates!

Arrival at the airport
Sherra meeting my seamstress friend-Mma Simba
 and getting a traditional skirt made

Girl day shopping for material and outing to our favorite-Sanitas

Visiting a little boy from church at the local hospital
Attending a Lobola (traditional wedding) where the cows are
brought to pay the price for the bride to her family. 

Washing of the hands

Yummy food

Attending the white wedding for the bride/groom
from the Lobola

Fun at the wedding

Monday, January 14, 2019

God Stories

Sometimes God reveals himself so clearly that it’s impossible not to see that He is in control of all things. God has just showed himself in so many details lately that we can’t help but want to share 3 stories with you.

Yard Worker
We were getting ready to welcome new personnel the following day and had arranged for someone to come clean their house and sweep the yard. The house cleaner showed up as planned but the yard worker never showed up. Because of several storms, the yard looked a mess so we begrudgingly went over to do a quick clean of the yard. We had a security company looking after the house while it was empty and the guard started pitching in and helping us. We started talking to him about his hard work ethic and he shared with us how his parents died when he was young and he had to work hard to earn his keep. We asked him if he knew Christ and he said he was searching. This opened a clear door for us to share the gospel with him. He told us how he believed he could pray to his ancestors and they would help him, and we proceeded to share truth with Him about Jesus Christ. If the yard worker had showed up as planned we never would have been able to share Christ with this young man, God is in control even when we think things aren’t going as we had planned, they are His plans.

Lollie’s at the hospital
The other day we went to visit a little boy at the hospital who is part of our children’s Friday ministry. I grabbed some Lollipop’s from my house to share with kids who may be in the room with this little boy. I only had 7 lollipops and just prayed it would be enough. Guess how many little patients were in the room with this little boy…yep, 7. God is so good! We were able to share a lollipop and the hope of Jesus Christ with these sweet children.

Bags at church

Brent’s mom loves making bags for the children here in Botswana and stuffing them with goodies like toothbrushes, soap, face cloths, flip flops, etc. I had 9 bags left over and took them to church after Christmas. During Sunday school, I shared Romans 6:23 and we talked about the “gift of God”. We talked about the true meaning of Christmas and why sometimes we give gifts at Christmas. Over half of the kids didn’t raise their hand when I asked if they got a gift for Christmas. Guess how many kids we had that morning, yep you guessed it…9, exactly how many bags I had left. They each got a gift and heard about the best gift of all, “eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God is in control!!

Sweet Smiles

We are so thankful for our sweet Ellie. She makes us smile and keeps us busy chasing her. Thought she could bring a smile to your face today.
Crazy glasses

This girl only pulled our tree over once this Christmas

Kindness really does matter

She loves riding in the wheelbarrow

Vroom Vroom just like her Grandad

Stealing mommy's ice cream cone
Face planting and dropping mommy's ice cream cone

Christmas Play

We held our annual Christmas Play at Gaborone Baptist Church. The kids were so excited to get dressed up and present the story about the birth of Jesus. Love these kids!




3 wise men


Yummy hot dogs afterwards