Then Jesus came to them and said,“ … go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you …” Matthew 28:18-20.
It is Jesus’ command to all believers that they should take the Gospel, through word and deed, to the whole world. At Flying Mission we are blessed to have an international team serving with us in fulfillment of this command. Part of this team is Sonia Sutton, a teacher from New Zealand, who is doing a short–term placement with us. We asked her a few questions about what brought her to Botswana and Flying Mission. Here’s what she had to say:
1. You have done a placement with Flying Mission before (in 2012); how did you first get involved with us?
“God has given me the desire and ability to serve and teach through having a real heart for working with and caring for children. In a way I feel God has been preparing me for a long time to get involved in Mission work. In 2009 I consciously decided I wanted to use these gifts. In 2011 I felt God strongly calling me to go and use these gifts, skills and the experience I had gained, to serve Him in Africa. I contacted a sending organization, SIM (Serving In Mission), who provided some options and Flying Mission seemed like a good place to use my skills. I then spent five fantastic months, in 2012, assisting with the ‘Early Childhood Development’ (ECD) program, helping train and assess caregivers. Through this I really felt I was being used by God to make a difference for teachers and children.”
2. What influenced your decision to come back to Botswana to work with Flying Mission in 2014?
“God has made me a very relational person, building and maintaining relationships is an important part of working with children and parents. When I left Botswana in late 2012, I felt I was leaving too soon. I tried to settle back into life as I previously knew it in New Zealand, however a year later, I again felt God on my heart in a way I could not ignore, compelling me to return. So I started raising funds and was able to return for a longer period, this past April. Having the opportunity to come back to this beautiful continent is a true blessing and privilege, for which I am so thankful.”
3. What is the best thing to happen since you started volunteering with Flying Mission?
“The best thing has been the encouraging and affirming feedback received from trainee caregivers in the ECD program. Following our first two week training session they reported that they had really enjoyed it and learnt a lot of things which they can take into their teaching practice. On a personal level this work is really rewarding. I have also been able to build some great relationships and meet new people.”
4. What do you find most challenging about being a long way from home?
“Being away from family, with whom I am very close. However Skype makes it much easier! There are also some differences in systems, processes, procedures and the way things are done here that are different from home. This can make things slower or not work in the way you are used to or more difficult to negotiate, just because they are different. Generally people are very willing to help. If you’re reasonably adaptable, patient and accepting of these things then they aren’t really big challenges.”
5. What do you think other people need to know about Flying Mission?
“Flying Mission is a fantastic organization with a real heart for doing God’s work in various ways (e.g. aviation). But they need more funds, personnel and resources for the various ministries. This requires assistance of others from outside the mission. We can greatly benefit from time, funds and donated resources, particularly for the preschools we support and work with (e.g. materials, books, children’s bibles, and warm clothing for the children). The people within Flying Mission are welcoming and inviting and there is a family feel in the way people get together and fellowship with one another.”
6. How do you think God is using your time here to impact you?
“As I came here alone, and with the obvious distance from New Zealand and absence of close friends and family, during my time here I rely more on Him. I have more time to myself which is quite nice and during those times I can draw closer to God as I delve into His word. He challenges me to trust Him in all situations as I rely on Him for provision of things like funding, accommodation and new friends etc. I am also challenged as I lead devotions with trainee caregivers as this is something I am not used to doing. Training caregivers is a step out of my usual role of teaching children so that in itself is a challenge and I rely on God every day to give me the things I need to teach effectively.”
7. What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering?
“DO IT!! Botswana is an easy place to live and transition into, and a wonderful country. Flying Mission could use more people to help in its work, and volunteering is a great opportunity and experience.”
8. Are you involved in any church? What has been your experience of church in Botswana?
“There are many opportunities and possibilities when it comes to being involved with church here in Gaborone. I am now settled into a church which I attend regularly. The congregation is made up of locals and expatriates. They have great teachings and worship, and offer small group studies also. Attending church is a good way to meet new and different people.”
9. What do you do outside of work?
“I spend time with others from Flying Mission, getting together for meals or to chat and sit around the fire at night. I enjoy exercise to keep fit. I enjoy quiet times listening to music or reading. Being on the African continent I also like to take opportunities to see more of Botswana and the surrounding areas (e.g. I have had the opportunity to visit South Africa and Swaziland and see more of Gods wonderful creations).”
If you would like to find out about possibilities of using your expertise, skills or gifting to serve with Flying Mission (short-term or long-term) then please get in touch with us at: http://flyingmission.org/contact.php