We just want to start by saying thank you to our friends and family in the US, Botswana, the UK and elsewhere for your support in various ways as we transitioned from Botswana to the US. We miss our amazing friends and family in Botswana and remain excited to be closer to other amazing friends and family in the US. We love you all so much and feel so loved by you. It has been a blessing to reconnect with many of you in Maryland and get to know others during our frequent trips into town. His People Gabs, THANK YOU for graciously and generously releasing and sending us out. Monument Church, THANK YOU for welcoming us with so much love and enthusiasm.
Increasing Dependence on God
We left Botswana over 8 months ago. Our intention was to stay with Laura’s parents in Lititz, PA area for a few weeks (up to a couple of months) while getting jobs sorted out, and then move to Gaithersburg, MD. For a lot of reasons, this seemed like a plan that would work. However, despite our efforts, that door has not opened, at least not yet. We trust that God’s plan for us has included this season of patience and persevering in faith (with lots of stumbles and lessons along the way). Our planning decreases daily while our dependency on our Father increases. His hand of direction becomes evident when He closes some doors and open some. He makes is easier to TRUST AND FOLLOW HIM when it might not all be making sense.
Act 16: 6-10: The call to Macedonia?
With the help of Laura’s parents, God has provided a home for us in Akron, PA, just outside of the city of Lancaster. The way it happened has been providential and we believe it is the Lord’s doing. It appears that, at least for the time being, He is redirecting us. We are scheduled to close and move into our new house in April. We are so grateful! Lancaster has an amazing legacy of faithful believers and we have enjoyed our visits to several local churches here. We look forward to fully engaging in one of them.
The house we are under contract for!
As for work, Laura is a StoryBrand Certified Guide, marketing consultant, and website designer. If you’re curious about what that means, you can take a look at her website: www.pulamarketing.com. She has customers locally and internationally whom she loves working with. Now that we plan to stay in Lancaster, she is continuing to grow her business while also being open to full-time jobs that would allow her to continue this line of work as part of a team. KG is continuing to provide regulatory support to some pharmaceutical companies with products in Botswana while studying hard for his pharmacy board exams in both the USA and Canada. We really appreciate prayer for us work-wise.
Children are a blessing
The girls are having a lot of fun through all this! They love and enjoy their grandparents. They think ‘Pops is tops’ and ‘Mumzy is the true Fancy Nancy’!
Our girls with their grandparents and cousins.
As I think about the time I will spend at immigration tomorrow, checking to see if my residency permit has gone through, I am reminded of the frustrating aspects of living in Botswana. I have spent six days at immigration so far — arriving before 6am to make sure I am early enough in the queue to be served before lunchtime. The immigration computer system is appalling — on a good day, they usually can input one person’s paperwork every 30 minutes. This is just one example of a bureaucratic battle we have been fighting since coming here.
I just read the 2014 Gates Annual Letter, which is Bill and Melinda Gates’ update on the state of international development. It reminded me of what an incredible country I live in, in spite of these frustrations. 50 years ago, Botswana was one of the poorest countries in the world. Now, things have changed dramatically. Here are quotes from the annual letter which directly address Botswana:
“Here is a quick list of former major recipients that have grown so much that they receive hardly any aid today: Botswana, Morocco, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, Peru, Thailand, Mauritius, Singapore, and Malaysia.”
“In 1960, almost all of the global economy was in the West. Per capita income in the United States was about $15,000 a year. (That’s income per person, so $60,000 a year for a family of four.) Across Asia, Africa, and Latin America, incomes per person were far lower. Brazil: $1,982. China: $928. Botswana: $383. And so on.”
“Since 1960, China’s real income per person has gone up eightfold. India’s has quadrupled, Brazil’s has almost quintupled, and the small country of Botswana, with shrewd management of its mineral resources, has seen a thirty-fold increase. There is a class of nations in the middle that barely existed 50 years ago, and it includes more than half of the world’s population.”
“Of course, these regional averages obscure big differences among countries. In Ethiopia, income is only $800 a year per person. In Botswana it’s nearly $12,000.“
Kagi’s grandmother, who is about the same age as my grandmother, didn’t finish primary education. She was never taught to read (I’ll have to tell you her amazing story of how she can read now someday). She gave birth to six children, and only three of them are still living. She is lovely — quick-witted, very intelligent, and a strong leader in her community. Even though she doesn’t speak English and I still don’t speak Setswana she is one of my favorite people to be around here in Bots. The Botswana she was born in, with its expectations and opportunities, was nothing like the one we live in today.
In contrast, Kagi’s mom is a qualified nurse and midwife, and he is a pharmacist. The same government with which I have so often been frustrated was organized and disciplined enough to pay to make that a possibility. Healthcare is freely available to all citizens. Public education is free, and most (if not all) children go to school. Those with the ability and drive go to university, and the most apt among them are sent abroad for professional degrees (usually medical or engineering-related).
As a result of this and other factors, there are stories like this:
In contrast to the previously abysmal child mortality rate, my mother-in-law told me about a baby born in her hospital at around 24 weeks gestation who is now healthy and home with her family. This outcome may not be as common as it would be in the States, but that is pretty great any time it happens, and I doubt it is very possible without the services and equipment found in a hospital.
Botswana still has one of the highest AIDS rates in the world (according to Wikipedia it’s about 23.4%). Kagi has been working in the dedicated HIV/AIDS units of the hospital for the last two months. In Botswana, because antiretroviral drugs are free, there is no reason someone with HIV can’t live a virtually normal life — including average life expectancy, the ability to have HIV negative children, and pretty much normal health. The goal is for the next generation to be HIV-free, and they are serious and making progress toward that goal.
Thinking back to the completely undeveloped Botswana of 1960, this is really amazing.
I am very proud of Botswana. In my frustration about bad systems and inefficiencies, I forget that these are growing pains. What an amazing opportunity and privilege it will be if God allows us to be a part of the continued growth and development of this beautiful country.
|Kagi with two of his best friends from childhood. Victor is on his way to the UK for his medical residency, and Lesh is a police officer.
One of the things I found most surprising and fascinating when I was in Bostwana is that the manikins at the malls we went to (there are many very nice malls in Gabarone) are quite different than the ones we have in the States or the UK. Instead of straight hips & flat butts they have the pleasantly curvy figure more celebrated in Africa. I thought it was awesome! Wish I had taken a picture…
Last week I went to a conference in the Yorkshire Dales (a place I love) for a conference hosted by Rob and Jane Garratt of 5000 Plus
. I was blessed to be the youngest (by quite a bit), spending several days with some very amazing servants of Christ.
5000 Plus was started by Rob and Jane as they listed to God about what He would have them do about poverty in the world. While on a visit to Nepal several years ago, Rob was feeling very helpless about the poverty he saw everywhere. One day, while worshipping with a local pastor and good friend, God spoke to Rob and told him that they needed to start with what the people have, not what they don’t have. Their ministry philosophy is derived from the story where Jesus feeds the five thousand in Mark 6. They note that Jesus tells the disciples, “You give them something to eat,” and that ultimately they use what they have (loaves and fish). Jesus then multiplied it, and gave it back to the disciples to feed the crowd. It’s exciting to hear how Jesus has done just this in the communities 5000 Plus works in.
Rob and Jane are looking for other “Gray Nomads” to work with them in taking the message and teaching of 5000 Plus to more impoverished communities. These people with life experience, financial and time flexibility are in a unique position to make a huge difference for the sake of the poor. Do you know anyone you think might be interested? The only requirement is that they are open for adventure!
Here are some pictures from my hike one afternoon in the Dales. They really are beautiful!
I am headed to Sub-Saharan Africa for the first time today! I am scheduled to fly to Johannesburg where I’ll meet up with Kagi and then travel by bus to Gabarone, Botswana.
Kagi and another friend Patricia have told me that I MUST bring warm clothing because it is winter and cold. Apparently people tend to not bring clothing for cold weather since it’s Africa and everything.
Because of their advice, I am bringing some warm clothing. But this morning when I searched the weather for Gaborone I found this:
|In case you can’t see, the weather is expected to be in the 80s (degrees F) all week and very sunny.
Needless to say, I understand why people don’t bring winter clothing. Even so, I’m going to trust my Botswana friends, and will have to let you know how it goes.
The conference I went to last week, Conference on Entrepreneurship and Economic Development in Africa
at the University of London, was SO good. I learned more than expected, rubbed shoulders with people I never expected to be in the same room with, and really enjoyed the talks and ideas shared. It is so encouraging to have experiences like that which affirm what our new organization, Anda Leadership
, is doing. It seems that the things God put on our hearts are timely and needed. Our task is to manage the opportunity well.
I’m going to post this week about some of my favorite talks.
The first was the one I tried to record after it got going and I realized the information is critically important… not just because of what the speaker said but also because of the response he received from the audience. Sadly I exited the recording app on my iPhone before saving it, but thankfully was sent the slides so I can remember more of it!
In the world of African business and development, the fact that the Chinese government and Chinese companies have been investing there has gained a lot of attention. Before the conference, I heard that the Chinese are there to take advantage of business opportunities and are not known to have many scruples about how they do that. There is concern that they win business because they might not have a problem with corruption, and are not known for highly ethical work. It has also been said that China is trying to use the continent for its abundant natural resources.
At the conference, this came up throughout the morning. I think a majority of the attendees were African, and the emotion in the room was perceptible when it came up. People who care about Africa feel strongly about China’s presence in Africa.
In the afternoon, William So, from China Unicom Africa, took the stage. He holds a high level position in international leadership for China, particularly in business and investment. I was extremely impressed by his presentation and poise throughout his time presenting and being cross-examined. He honestly and directly explained China’s position in Africa… the good and bad parts. He continued to do this even though the audience laughed at him and scoffed at much of what he said.
Here are my notes:
– The major source of funding investment in Africa are government owned businesses. Gradually, private businesses are investing more. During the question and answer time, he said that government sponsored businesses generally produce the low-quality goods Africans expect from Chinese companies. He thinks private investment is much better.
– Funding from the government comes in two forms. The first is sovereign loan/donation, which is infrastructure focused. Sometimes this is done in the form of non-cash donations, which are usually infrastructure focused. So, maybe China would come into an African country and build a road or rail system. Because one of African development’s most important physical need is infrastructure (according to most speakers at the conference), this is important for Chinese businesses working in Africa. As one participant pointed out in the Q&A time, this investment might also be why Africa is the greatest growth-market in the world. The second way the Chinese are investing is direct investment. These are business acquisitions or new local entities focused on resources. Apparently this has become more popular in recent years.
– Funds in the form of sovereign loans/donations from the Chinese government usually go directly to local governments. China sees the reigning government as the legitimate one, and are hurt that they have been accused of supporting evil regimes like the former Libyan government when, in fact, they were supporting the only recognized, legitimate government at the time. He pointed out that Americans were supporting rebels. (Interesting cultural valuation difference, huh?) Then the African government can invest money back into Chinese companies, which can then build infrastructure.
– Funds from the government in the form of investment are put directly into the Chinese companies. They then support local economies in the normal ways, and taxes go to the benefit of local governments. The African government is able to access natural resources and then sell them to the Chinese. (I’m pretty sure this is what he meant).
– The benefit of funds from the Chinese government to Africa is that Africa reaps the long-term benefit of infrastructure development. However, local economies don’t see much short-term benefit since they bring in the companies from China, so not everyone is initially impacted. Mr. So seemed to think this is a reason the investment isn’t appreciated by the masses.
– Funds from the private sector “inject cash into the local economy.” Chinese companies begin an African operation, buy from African suppliers, hire African employees, provide goods for African consumers and by providing jobs create more ability for Africans to be consumers, and then those consumers can purchase from the Chinese company again. Mr. So believes this is the better way for Chinese investment in Africa.
Mr. So also explained why China got involved in Africa. They wanted more friends at the UN, and by making friends in Africa they figured they could get a lot of support with little resistance. I assume you can see some of the problems with this — friendships could turn into political strong-arming if a government owes significant money to a strong country like China. He said later they realized that the natural resources would be good for China as well and started investing to that end. China is not shy to say that they are investing for their own benefit, but also will point to the ways their input is of benefit to Africa as well. He pointed out that other superpowers have done the same thing, but lacking the honesty (think colonization).
The question and answer time was emotional and informative. It is clear that things have not been done perfectly and there is debate as to whether the outside involvement is good or bad. One African journalist asked to speak and thanked Mr. So for being so honest about China’s selfishness and then admonished the Africans in the room to take control of the future of their own continent, and not be mad that others are using them.
At Anda Leadership, we would like to be a part of helping African entrepreneurs to evaluate opportunities and do as the journalist suggested. We think that African leaders are fully capable of managing their communities in a way that will benefit them now and for generations to come. It is our mission to help them to that end in the ways they identify that they need… not in ways that makes us feel good.
I recently posted internship opportunities on our web site
. Take a look if you or someone you know might be interested!