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.
|Family photo, May 2019
It has been so long since I have blogged. Since I last wrote, I have lived in Botswana for five more years (almost 6 total), had three little girls, and experienced a life very different from the one I had before. I have learned what it is like to not have the expectations and benefits we first-world people rarely even realize, deeper than “first world problems.” I’ve lived abroad before, but never married to a local, living on a local salary, figuring out how to provide for a family.
And I only know what that’s like when your husband is a highly educated professional who also happens to be an extremely hard worker, and especially gifted in business. I’m still white, and often treated with a special level of respect because of that (a topic for another time). I still have a family who would have helped us if we ever couldn’t have figured things out on our own. I still have a US passport and credit card. And we live in one of the most stable countries in Africa, and most peaceful in the world.
It’s different than I imagined. I was pretty naive to many of the struggles people from other places face. I was pretty naive about many luxuries I take for granted. In some ways, I have come to treasure, and in other ways despise, the first-world assumptions I grew up with.
A moment that stands out most to me was when we had been here for about six months. KG was still doing his pharmacy internship and was working at the main government hospital as a pharmacist. He had a terrible, debilitating toothache, and decided to see one of the hospital dentists.
The dentist explained that all of the dental imaging equipment had been sent away for maintenance, and they didn’t expect it back for months. ALL of the equipment. At one time. Based on the pain of his tooth, she decided she should remove it, and he agreed. He would do anything to get rid of that pain.
He was not given pain killers and they pulled that tooth out of his head. He says it was excruciating. When the tooth finally was out, she looked at it and said, “Oh, that’s a shame, this tooth is healthy. It probably just had a minor cavity.”
Guys, when he got home and told me that story, I seriously wept. I know it’s just a tooth, but it was the principle of the matter. This would never, ever happen in my world. If it did, heads would roll. But it wouldn’t happen. It was over five years ago, and it still bothers me.
KG, on the other hand, was never very bothered about it. He could not understand the grief it inspired in me. His expectations are just different.
Living abroad is such a rich experience, but it can also be disorienting and confusing. I’ve experienced so much change these last five years it’s sometimes hard to know where to start. In some ways, I am really different. In others, I am very much the same. Similarly, when I look at the States, I see lots of differences and similarities from the country I grew up in.
And all of this feels really important, because we are moving to the States in less than a month. I’m now a wife of an immigrant and mother to three Batswana-American children. I am learning a whole new role in life, and I’m aware of how much I don’t even know I don’t know.
I hope there is some of the “me” that I left behind still there, and that I can rediscover parts of myself. I hope that I will be quicker at understanding jokes and have to think a little less about day-to-day interactions — I’ll be back with people who grew up like I did. I hope I will feel more free to step out on a limb, inspire change, and lead, than I have here.
I hope I’ll also be more mature, that the lessons I have learned in the nine years since I was primarily living in the States will have given me wisdom and grace. I hope I’ll be humble, and remember that the experiences I have had are not shared with most of my peers. They have answers and experiences I don’t have, and I hope I can reenter my culture as a learner.
Even with all of these hopes it is probably obvious that I am scared. I realized a few weeks ago that I feel a little like someone who wakes up from a coma, only to realize that it has been ten years since they interacted with society. Now, suddenly, there are self-driving cars, different political and social perspectives, new products and new norms that may have been heard about through the fog of the coma, but not with much actual understanding.
At the same time, I’ve had a very full, busy, different, interesting life during these nine years. Now I’m mommy. Now I’m a website designer and marketing professional. Now I’m a permanent resident of Botswana, with a whole family who I love very much here. The transition feels big.
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.