Friday, October 24, 2008

Botswana Outreach 2008 - email from Lidia

Last Tuesday we returned from our trip in Botswana. The Lord has been with us the whole time, from the beginning to the end. So many things happened in this trip that I pray to God to guide me to only share with you what is most important to you.

We had been praying that the Lord would show us where to have our outreach, having a heart for Botswana, Malawi or Mozambique. The Lord revealed to us that we should go to Botswana.

So we left on Saturday, 21st of June, in a van, 7 girls and tannie Ilsa with her husband- Tobi. Tannie Ilsa is the vice principal of our Cedar College. Saturday , we traveled nonstop and by evening we arrived in Pretoria, at our
Kwasizabantu Mission and we spent the night with them. Sunday we attended the Service and we left very early the following Monday and continued the rest of our journey to Botswana.
Sunday night Dries and Oom Jan Piennar, who were in the second vehicle from the mission caught up with us. Dries had not been able to come with us on Saturday because he was getting engaged on Sunday here at the Mission.

Oom Jan is the one who used to live in the little apartment inside the Auditorium. He is the one who lost all of his belongings from the recent fire and his entire house burnt down with the Auditorium. All he was able to salvage were the clothes that he was wearing at the time.
Looking at them both preaching in Botswana and how they cared about the lost souls, I realized that …"nor tribulation, nor poverty .. nor lack of clothes, or joy or engagement .. can separate us from the love of Christ".

When we reached the border, uncleTobi realized that his passport was expired so he and tannie Ilsa had to go back to the nearest town to get a temporary extension for it while the rest of us continued our trip to Rakops, in the van. They arrived in Botswana only Tuesday night. For four days I wore the same clothes because our bags were in their car :-) .

Our host in Rakops was John, an Englishman who sacrificed his life for the people in Botswana. He went there when he was young, about 25 years old. Today, almost 20 years after, he is still there, alone. A man whose life and example touched many. When he was very young he was an atheist, but later when he pledged his life to Jesus he said, "If God really exists, then the greatest thing that anyone can do is to go and tell people about the Saviour Jesus". So he left everything behind and went to Africa not knowing exactly what country he had to stop in to complete his mission. So, one day driving through Rakops, the Lord spoke to him to settle there.
He has a round little cottage and in time he opened a small leather workshop, a bakery where they bake 200 loaves of bread daily and a kindergarten for 40 kids. I vaguely knew him. He visits our Mission in South Africa, and believes and teaches the same path of holiness as we do. He has about 5 co-workers, all wonderful and trustworthy people; true pillars for his mission.

Rakops is a very dry and sandy place (close to the desert) and the pow
ers of Satan are at work here; there is much witchcraft and prostitution. It didn't rain at all the whole time we stayed there. It was very hot, a lot of dust and the water was yellowish... Most people are skinny and ill with AIDS or malaria. They live in round cottages with hay roofs and make fire out of cow manure. John told us that half of Botswana population are children under 15 years old, it goes without saying that adults generally die very young.

John speaks slowly with a low voice but from all his heart. He speaks and preaches in the tswana language. In the first 2 days he taught us a little tswana then he sent us out in pairs to invite the people to the service. He taught us how to say "Hello/goodmorning, ho
w are you?" (Dumela Ma/Ra, Utohile Jang?); "Numele meu este Lidia" (Lina La miki Lidia). "I am from South Africa" (Ghe toa co Afrika boroa). "I want to invite you to the service at "x" o'clock. ...Make time for God, etc". Some of the old people would ask us where should the sun be when the service begins. And we would point to the sky about where the sun would be at the service time… it was very interesting.

I was paired up with Bawinne. At one hovel that we reached, there was a little girl standing out next to it. We greeted her and asked how she was doing… She ran inside shouting something. Bawinne told me she told her mother :" Mother, I spoke with a white girl!" But many times the kids from the kindergarten would start to cry when the 3 of us white girls would walk in, especially if we wanted to get close to them.

The service is every night. Right before it, John goes outside and shouts : "People , enough with the work… the Service begins".
And people around his rondawel would hear and come. For the service we girls had to cover our heads.

The first week we helped in the crèche, went to church and to the women gathering. Saturday we had Sport Day with the children
from the village. Had outdoor activities and we fed them a lunch consisting of water and bread. Then we had a puppet show and a sermon at church.

Every morning we would have "devotion" and we prayed that the Lord would guide us for the day. It was really special how He could speak to us and we could share with each other.
During our second week we were called to different schools in the Rakops areaspecifi cally to the primary schools and highschools. One day we had 5 meetings : 3 schools, a Police station and a church. But in general we weren't so busy. We typically only had about 2 meetings a day.
In schools we would usually perform a puppet show and talk about
"True Love Waits".

We introduce ourselves singing a song :
"We're forth years, we came from different nations
God called us to come here, to serve Him in His Kingdom
All together we stand, differences aside
All together we stand as friends,
Together we will walk as friends
South Africa, Romania, Botswana and Lesotho
America, the Indian, what a splendid cocktail mix"
( We sing it on the Osana, Osana tune )

Indeed our 4th year from the college is very special as we are only girls, the rest of the years are
boys and girls. Another special thing is that we are very few, just 8 students, but coming from 6 different nations. This song was created by the students.

We also visited a bushman community twice. They are 18 km away from Rakops where John preaches on Sundays. Our hearts were simply broken when we saw the conditions in which human beings can survive.
They have absolutely nothing except for a ramshackle hut. There we visited their king, played with children and assisted in the service under a tree – John's church.
Two crippled women from that community were healed since they were coming to church and making their lives right with the Lord. We got to meet one of them. John told us that when he started to come to the bushman community that the crippled woman was literally crawling on her hands; she hadn't been walking for years and her muscles were already atrophied. We saw her walking without any help.
Before we left, John shared with us that the last 2 months before we arrived there, things hadn't been the best at the Mission and he was disheartened like never before in 20 years of serving the Lord. So he cried out to God and He spoke to him through a verse: "From this day things will change". And he said that truly, our visit there strengthened him and people started to confess their sins again as if God started to work again in their hearts and everyone was willing to admit their part of guilt. …
There are 2 people I really want to tell you about. One of them is Dane. He is a 21 year old young man, living close to Rakops. He knew John but he hasn't decided to serve the Lord. John invited him to Rakops. He came Saturday and left Sunday night. We attended the service together with him and the rest of the time he spent with us. The Lord worked in his life and he spoke with John about his sins and they prayed together afterwards. Dane experienced such a joy in his heart. He told us he was so happy to have found it, he had always known there had to be something more. John told us that God really started to work in Dane's life, as he went very deep and confessed everything. A few days later he brought his brother too. I heard that soon they will join us here at the Mission in South Africa.

The other person I wanted to tell you about is a girl from England. One Tuesday while we had a meeting with the children in Church, a group of 4 English people arrived. They were two couples, I don't know whether they were married or just dating. They had rented a car in South Africa and intended to go all the way up to the North of Africa. But they ran out of gas in Rakops and someone directed them to the missionary's house. John helped them but they had to stay over night. The next morning when they were about to leave, their car broke down. John fixed it for them and then he invited them to the Service. They stayed about 10 min inside and then suddenly one of the girls ran outside bursting into tears. Tannie Ilsa spoke with her. As we learned later, the Lord had called her to be a missionary as a little girl. But she ignored and resisted her calling, and decided to go her own path. Her heart broke at that moment and she repented with many tears. They promised that on their way back from that tour they will come to the Mission in South Africa to spend a little time before returning to England.

We also had a "day off" and spent some time relaxing. John took us to a diamond mine in Orapa. It was really interesting to see how they extract and refine diamonds..

In closing, I just want to say something more about the wonderful uncle John. He was actually a headboy at some very famous school in England and went to Engineer School at Cambridge University. He left his position and humbled himself all the way to the ground for the cause of the Gospel. What an example! May we experience the same fire that is inside him, the same passion for the lost souls. To not value celebrity or wealth or high worldly standards but rather, to give our lives for the precious Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The morning before we returned to South Africa, I read Psalm 63 and the first verse says: "O God, you are my God; I will seek you eagerly. My heart thirsts for you, my body longs for you in a land parched and exhausted, where no water can be found".
When I read this verse I said to myself :"Yes, Lord, I want to long for you as I longed for fresh clean water and a cool breeze in Botswana."

May the Lord be with you!

All the best
Lidia Veciunca
Mission Kwasizabantu, South Africa.

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