Archives for the month of: July, 2012

I have been having trouble getting pictures to upload to our picture site so I thought I would use our blog to show you a picture or two.

We arrived here on June 13th after an interesting trip from Kanye – remember Elsa’s blog post a few weeks ago?  It’s a one bedroom small home with all the conveniences! The green thing on the left is a water collection tank for garden irrigation – those shorter trees on the left are mango trees.

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June 12th was a big day for us. Elsa and I were sworn in by the US Ambassador to Botswana and were then considered official PCV’s (Peace Corps Volunteers). If you are wondering why my hair is so short it is because the night before we tried out our new hair clippers and the number 4 attachment in Botswana is much different than the number 4 attachment in the US. Oh well it will grow back!  Good thing I have Els next to me – she classes me up don’t you think?

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Certainly not as emotionally taxing as Elsa’s but equally as challenging since it was the first time I began to get a sense of what it is I will be doing. Do you remember your first day on the job?  You didn’t have any idea where things were, not even the bathroom. You wondered how in the world you were ever going to remember everything that they were telling you and you may have even wondered why they hired you. Now magnify that sense of helplessness by maybe 10, and you will get an idea I what I experienced on Day One.

Let me fill you in with a little background…. I will be spending the bulk of my time working with a Community Based Organization (CBO) called Vision Support Group (VSG). It exists to serve the needs of people in the Mahalapye community living with AIDS or those directly affected by AIDS. The leader of Vision Support Group is Ontametse Rampoo – “OT” for short. He is an incredible person!  I have never met anyone quite like him. He has such a passion for the work of his organization. OT is a believer and serving Christ is a priority of his. Take a look at Christ’s words in Matthew 25:40 and you will get an idea how OT works. You need to know that Elsa and I were praying for many months ahead of our departure to Botswana, Africa for some kind of service that would be a picture of Matthew 25:40 and look what God did!  In fact, we made that our key verse for our service time in the Peace Corps. I think of that as an answer to prayer everyday when I set foot on the grounds of Vision Support Group.

Well back to my first day….. I really can’t explain what was going through my mind as I toured the grounds and made my first observations. By nature I am a “fixer”. It is what I was trained to do as an engineer. I see things, recognize the problem and immediately begin to plan a solution. I was not prepared for what I saw. The VSG office sits in the corner of an abandoned compound that once was the Mahalapye Hospital. It kind of reminds me of an old ghost town. The building we are in is sound, but inside it is pretty rough. We have running water (but it is outside – it’s called a standpipe which is just a spigot supplying cold water), a bathroom which is really an outhouse but it is equipped with an old flush toilet. No heat. No A/C. No phone. No Internet. No copier. No Storage cabinet with all the pens, pencils, stationary, staplers and everything else a functioning office needs. I came to the conclusion rather quickly that no one in the US would tolerate a work environment like this, But what was I going to do, complain to the Peace Corps that I found the work environment objectionable?  Their immediate response would be, “That’s why we need your help.” Later that day I got a look at their financial records – Whoa!  Looks like they have 168 Pula in the bank – that’s equivalent to just over $20. Everyone here is a volunteer even OT – but he is a full time volunteer. His family and some friends support him as much as they can but I know for certain that there are some days when he wonders how much longer he can keep going. But he does.

My mind races – what can I do?  At home we would consider this ministry endeavor hopeless and look for ways to cut our losses as we shut the thing down. Here though, that is not an option – especially since 25% of the population here in Botswana suffers with AIDS. Vision Support Group must continue and I must help but how and where do I start?  I recall the question and it’s corresponding answer I once heard at a Carrier Corp. training session – “How do you eat an entire elephant? – One bite at a time!”. There’s my answer – I must find something that needs to be done (shouldn’t be too hard) and then roll up my sleeves and just do it! Every step forward is progress! God be with me as I work alongside OT.

I arrive home exhausted but sleep is hard – my mind is racing. I know that God has placed me here for a reason but this seems impossible. But the elephant word picture comes to mind and I start to get a little excited – but then another question…… “Will two years be enough time?”