We wait and wonder, “What will they be like?” It’s a question we ask ourselves every time we make a trip to the airport to meet newcomers. We have seen their photos, read their CV’s (resumés), communicated by e-mail, but until we see them, there is still that question.
The doors open and there they are; Deborah from Switzerland, and Christian and Stefan from Germany. The youngest is 18 and the oldest 20.
Their enthusiasm is infectious, and they settle in quickly, though there are some bouts of homesickness. To move from the familiar to the unknown in such a short time is not easy.
They are given a chance to introduce themselves briefly to the Botswana FM family at a mini-retreat, held a few days after their arrival. It is so encouraging to hear the stories of these young people, of how they came to know the Lord and what brought them to Botswana; the stories are so varied. They readily join in with the morning’s serious times of teaching and prayer, and the afternoon’s fun and games. What do they think of us?! I hope they see that we aren’t spiritual giants, but ordinary people whom God has planted in this country to minister for Him and be transformed by Him.
The following days of orientation include discussions on culture and language (everything is new and interesting); time with the heads of different departments; viewing our orientation DVD, “Botswana: This Beautiful Land”, going on field trips, etc. Travis, another short termer who arrived back in July, joins us for these sessions. His main adventure is being part of our team of pilots.
A trip to the local game park is a must. There, a termite hill provides an “African experience”, as does a zebra that has taken a liking to humans.
Then comes two weeks in a rural setting. Monday morning Stefan and Christian get on the 6 a.m. bus to the north-central part of Botswana and after some 7-8 hours arrive in the village of Rakops, a meeting point of people from 5 different ethnic groups. It’s a grey, dusty place. They will spend two weeks with John Walters and his colleagues, helping wherever help is needed.
The next day I take Deborah to the village of Letlhakeng, some 100 kms. northwest of Gaborone. It’s a sandy, barren place on the edge of the Khalahari Desert. For the next two weeks, she will become an intricate part of my friend, Femelia’s, household. The children quickly sense her love for them.
They all will gain an understanding of what life “out there” is like.
After their time in the villages, they will return to Gaborone, ready to be involved in the various ministries in which FM is involved — so many different experiences. Some will be challenging and some will be fun; some will be tedious and some totally absorbing. But all will be a part of God’s great plan.
We enjoy and appreciate these young folk who come our way. They bring their youth, their creativity, their willingness to do any task asked of them, and their desire to be of service to God and to the ministry here in Botswana. At the same time, they benefit as their view of the global community is greatly enlarged and enriched. They return to their home countries with a sense of fulfillment, having made many new friends.
Isn’t this all a wonderful adventure with God??!!