Friday, December 6, 2013

The Light in Their Eyes?

Week of November 3-10, 2013

Before I begin I must simply say “woowie” has this last two weeks been a blur and a learning experience!

I rolled over in bed, actually I think I had just gotten to bed when the light went on. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to have the light get in your eyes,” Sister Cloward said as she all but fell into the bed beside me. It was about 3AM and we were both beyond dead tired. Especially Sister Cloward who had had far less sleep than I over the last nearly two weeks. It was an unbelievable marathon of... requesting, finding, deciphering, inputing and sending Seminary and Institute attendance, reading and assignment completion records through the Church’s CES WISE reporting system to SLC ... to try to get reports back as to who had completed the courses and who would and who wouldn’t get Certificates and graduate. “WHEW! IF you think that was hard to read, try doing it!

As the light clicked off and out of our eyes, I was left pondering the concept, “the light in your eyes.” That was it! That was what I had been noticing even through the busyness of the last two weeks. IT was the light in their eyes that was drawing us into greater love for these wonderful Latter-day Saints in Botswana. Their eyes do have the light in them and there is no apology needed.

As I looked back at some of the pictures I had taken and as I thought about it, I realized just how drawn I am to those eyes and that light. You’ll see it too in some of the pictures, especially of the children. That light and sparkle in their eyes bespeaks the joy they feel and the joy they extend to all who will but look into their eyes.
With some, especially the children, it is a light mixed with a little impish glee and shyness just begging to be engaged. With the youth it is a light of happiness and joy of being together. With the adults it is a joy and light of love and happiness to greet you, know you, shake your hand and give you a hug. And for the few older folks we get to meet, and there are not many of them, it is a deep smile of peace and knowing born out of a lifetime of the challenge of life in Africa and the pride and contentment of having found the light.

Light is a wonderful word. Light is the opposite of heavy. Light chases darkness out of the room and away from minds and hearts. Light reaches all the way into the corners of the room and the world and light ignites more light such that those who have it can share it without losing any of it.

Light is recognized by and in the eyes. Light makes it possible to say “I see” which means “I understand.” Light brings in a new day and dispels the darkness and gloom of night and benighted thoughts, and lives. But mostly, light empowers those who have it to know and to live in the freedom and priority and power of that knowing.

Crazy as it may sound, the difficult journey of these last two weeks of recording and processing the Seminary and Institute records was in a way trying to measure the light that had been offered, taken and would continue to add to the life freedom, vision and perspective for each of those whose eyes we have been so drawn to.

As I turned over to snuggle to Sister Cloward for a couple of hours before we would have to be up and at it again, I shut my eyes, but the light did not go out.

So we witnessed a great baptism, we sent off six returning missionaries who had served faithfully and who had loved Africa and Africans, especially Botswana, and who had treated both with diligent service and respect. Now they return to their various homes in America and across the world taking those memories and that love of the nation, the people and their service and growth with them.

We made one more attempt to get medical help for a Sister missionary whose health has deteriorated in spite of some very competent and wise health care professionals. In the end she had to leave her beloved Botswana and Mole to return home to seek even greater care. Her departure was sad, but she too took the love and the light with her.

We captured a few birds for you to see. Well we captured their light in the camera. There is a very large dove, or pigeon-like bird that likes to sit on the corner of our bedroom. The song is like a very loud monkey, and no, it’s not pretty, like some of the birds. I keep telling Sister Cloward that one of these mornings I am going to serve her sqwab for breakfast. The bird insists on starting before sun up (about 4:30AM). Maybe he is just calling us to come out and see the light of the new day - hmmm...maybe I could get him to turn out that light.

Then there is a strange looking woody woodpecker looking bird - modeled browns and a tuft on the back of its head that about matches the narrow long beak on the front. No obnoxious song coming from that feathered friend. Then there was this yellow and brown bird that came to our little flower pot base bird bath and watering hole. Talk about having a bird-ball! That little guy really played it up royal to the dismay of several others that thought he had taken more than his fair share of time in the bathroom.

We have regular visits from our large blue lizard neighbor. He makes his rounds around the top of the cement wall around the property pretty much each day. That is a very long walk (crawl?) for the critter. Anyway, he let me take his picture for you.

We did have a nice rainstorm last week. It was short but so welcomed. We are all praying for more rain. Only a few plants remain in the little garden I planted. Lack of water and the blistering UV of the sun has taken its toll on our hopes for a few home-grown veggies. I am still hopeful that we will yet get a bit of basil, some green beans and tomatoes from all our efforts and investment. The mangoes continue to grow and I suspect in the next 30 days well be having some mango-de-light. See, there is more light coming our way.

We were deeply saddened by the message that our dear friend and sister Myrna Emmett had passed away this week. We have been her home teachers for ten years. Our family loves her as an adopted grandmother. Though we were sad for her death, we were so filled with joy from the light and knowledge we hold that she is now back with her beloved Jim. You go girl! Congratulations! You endured to the end and your reward and joy is sure.

That is the assurance and joy that comes from the light we are helping to turn on here. It is the source of that peace that is shining back from the eyes of the members, children and aged faces of those who know the light and its source.

The Seminary Graduation was Sunday. We had a record breaking 324 in attendance. There were a lot of errors in the certificates, due to the last minute sending in of reports and the difficulty of processing the records. But we got through it, in spite of a major windstorm and power outage - just as the Stake President was starting his remarks. We are looking forward to putting what we learned to work next year and will work towards having over 500 attend and far more certificates and graduations.

This is further evidence that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is becoming “generational” in Botswana. These seminary and institute students will carry their light and love into a future of service throughout the country and will yet prove to be worthy and capable assets to their families, communities and country.

This week we will head up to Francistown to conduct a youth activity for the Seminary and Institute aged members. We will teach them the fine art of “smoring” after they “light” a fire and have a fireside discussion about the light of the gospel and shining it into the lives of their families and friends. More on that adventure next week.

And now it’s late, we are ready for a little shut eye, I think I will turn out the light…

Oh, yes one more thing. I don’t think it was the light (sun) but I was outside the other morning and when I came in I was a deep purple and scarlet red on my chin and up the sides of my mouth and nose. Obviously I was allergic to something (or someone). There is a picture of just how bad it looked (no pain or itch, just looked bad).  I hope that I am not becoming allergic to Sister Cloward. That would be bad. Oh well, she wouldn’t be turning the lights on just to see me if I look that bad for long.

[The pictures Elder Cloward took--will have to be posted later.]

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