Mma Lesego, our Motswana “mother”, is one of the dearest people in all the world to me. My regard for her knows no bounds. For many decades, she was a hardworking woman who raised eight children in a hot and dusty climate, with no electricity and no running water. Now blind and limited greatly in what she can do, she is still a woman of great courage, perseverance, and faith.
By the time we came to Botswana in early 1992, Mma Lesego had been widowed for numerous years. She had pretty much finished raising her own children and had started raising the next generation. Then she was asked by our mission to raise Mark and me, too — in the Setswana language and culture. When we arrived, Mma Lesego had three grown children living with her and seven grandchildren. Mark and I lived in her son’s house next door, but we shared her toilet facility, so we visited her yard several times every day. In addition, we accompanied Mma Lesego almost everywhere she went — to the kgotla (tribal meeting place), to weddings, to funerals, on social visits, to the clinic, etc. We also “helped” her with chores — fetching firewood, building a kraal, mudding floors, and so on. (As novices, we weren’t that much help.)
Our vehicle was a great asset to her. We saved her many, many kilometres of walking. And I know that she appreciated Mark’s cheerful optimism. She was also extremely thankful for Mark’s willingness to preach (she was the leader of a tiny congregation) and his help building the church. But, it didn’t take us long to realize what a burden we were to Mma Lesego. She received a lot of opposition for hosting us. Jealous neighbors were sure that she was getting rich off of letting us live there. (She wasn’t.) Culturally, we made countless blunders that must have embarrassed her greatly in the community. But she never voiced disappointment with us. For nearly one year, she tutored us with the patience and love of a mother.
I had dreaded doing a “village live-in.” In fact, I cried when I begged our mission leader to excuse us from doing one. I’m so glad that he didn’t relent. If we hadn’t been forced to do a village live-in, we would have missed out on some of the most valuable lessons and some of the most important relationships of our lives.
Now KG shares our regard for Mma Lesego. I’m not sure if it’s because she’s picked up on how much we love her, or whether she has her own special reasons for loving her. Maybe it’s because she knows that Mma Lesego” prayed and prayed and asked God to give us a sweet little baby to take care of and love.” Whatever the reason, KG adores Mma Lesego. Whenever I say, “KG, who would you like to pray for?” she unfailingly responds, “Mma Lesego.” Whenever KG achieves something, she says, “Tell Mma Lesego!” And whenever she seems lost in thought and I ask, “KG, what are you thinking about?” her answer will likely be: “Mma Lesego!”
Some time ago I took KG to a friend’s house for a painting lesson. “KG,” my friend said, “You can make a picture to give to someone. Who would you like to give it to?”
“Mma Lesego,” replied KG.
“KG,” I said, “Mma Lesego is blind! She won’t be able to see it!”
“She can feel it,” responded KG.
Here is KG’s picture:
When I look at it, I see love. I hope that when Mma Lesego felt it, she saw the same thing.