Five Member Branch

Sundays in Africa are always special. The church in Botswana is not as strong as it is in Zambia or Zimbabwe, and we were afraid that when we went far into the African bush we would not be able to find a church to attend. Cornelia was an answer to our prayers. Not only did she live in Maun, a place that we really wanted to visit, but she also organized the few members in the community to get together every Sunday and hold a gospel lesson.

Cornelia was the first to bring the church to Northern Botswana (from Zimbabwe) where she organized a group with enough priesthood members to form a branch. She is still working on permission from the South African church headquarters to start a branch in Maun where they have three priesthood holders (the minimum required to form a branch). Cornelia has worked so hard to gather the saints in rural parts of Africa, very similar to the pioneers in the early 1800s in the United States.

We went to church with Cornelia around 11am and the church was hosted at one of the local members homes. This weeks lesson was on Nephi chapters 18 to 22. We spent two hours discussing Nephis interpretation of Isaiahs accounts in the bible and sharing our stories with each other. There were only four other members in the small room besides Andrew, I, and Cornelia. Although our numbers were small, the spirit was strong. As we sang the cosing hymn, I Stand All Amazed, I could feel Gods love for me and each of his children in that room. I am so blessed to be a part of a worldwide church and have the gospel in my life.

After church, Cornelia took Andrew and I out fishing in the boat (literally in her backyard). We saw crocs and heard hippos and only caught one fish, but it was a blast. The Okangava Delta is beautiful and we have been so lucky to have such a great guide to show us its beauty. Thank you Cornelia.

We cooked our fish, some steak, and Botswana sausage, for our Braai this evening. We also had delicious vegetables, tomato gravy, and garlic bread to savor during the meal. Braais are very common in this part of Africa and are very similar to the American Barbeque, but with more different flavored sausages.

Our experience in Maun has been incredible, thanks to Cornelia, and I can honestly say that we have left better people than when we arrived. We are so sad to be leaving her tommorow but know we will be back to visit her soon. Like I said, we plan on coming back to Zimbabwe and spending time with Cornelia and her friends. While we are here we also plan on visiting several more of the National Parks like Chobe and Moremi. There will always be something exciting to plan for…

Meerkats tomorrow! See you soon Gweta Village and Kalahari Desert.

                           (Below: Andrew’s post)

I’m starting to realize how important it is to attend church, even in the middle of your travels. The experiences I’ve had at church here in Africa have been sacred, memorable, and special. 

Kylie and I were up with the rising sun as we gathered our things and prepared to go to church with Cornelia. Kylie’s been a little frustrated with my method of packing things (grab the bag and stuff), so I’m going to try and work on that.

Cornelia started the ‘church’ here in Maun, just like she did back in Kasane. By ‘start’ I mean that she found the various members through her contacts (mission president, friends, etc) and then organized a place, time and schedule for them to have weekly scripture study together. While they couldn’t take the sacrament as an informal group, they were meeting to hold a simple Book of Mormon study group, wow- incredible dedication.

As we arrived we were greeted by two young girls and ushered inside a small Botswanan home where 4 others were sitting. It was a humble, simple setting, but the spirit was strong as we sang church hymns and read from the Book of Mormon. 

I’m grateful that no matter where we go in the world, I’m so glad to be able to attend church and feel peace in troubled times. 

Our meeting was a short 1.5 hours and we left with Cornelia for her home. As we pulled in she looked back at us and said ‘you guys up for taking the boat out?’ Of course we were.

We hitched the boat up and launched into the river, fishing rods in tow. After nearly 8+ years of not fishing, who would’ve thought that Africa would break the gap! 

We were out for a few hours and caught nothing… Well nothing big enough to keep. That is until Cornelia’s line dipped and she reeled in a nice sized pike. Perfect for our braai later that evening.

African braais are the same as an American barbecue, tin foil wrapped garlic bread, hearty biltong sausage, steak, and of course, Cornelia’s pike. Everything was delicious and it was a nice change from Nsima (even as enjoyable as Nsima is).

Botswana, while a very simple country, has given us the chance to meet some wonderful people. Cornelia and get brother were so kind to us and I’m so grateful they opened their home to us and took care of us. While we’ve been able to have many adventures here in Africa, time and time again I’m starting to see that it’s the people we meet along the way that make this journey special. 

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