We are experiencing first hand why the prophet has asked us to pray for governments to allow missionaries to come in to their countries. The Church has had a good relationship in the country of Botswana for the past 20 years. Botswana is part of our mission. When we got here there was one zone of missionaries and now there are three. The missionaries are having tremendous success there! There are many Sundays with 10, 20, 30 baptisms taking place. Because Botswana is a different country it has different visa requirements than South Africa. When a missionary is transferred to Botswana he needs to have a visa to stay in that country. In the past it has been a little bit of a hassle and inconvenience but now it has become a very difficult thing. We’ve had missionaries visas denied, and they have had to leave the country and new ones sent in and visas denied again. Documents not requested before are now being required. In fact the government of Botswana is investigating all churches in their country or those requesting to come in. This process should be completed by the end of March and then a decision will be made. In the meantime we are trying to get our missionaries in on 90 day visas. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. The Visa Czar at the Area Office is very much involved. He has personally escorted missionaries across the border trying to get them as many extra days stamped on their visas as possible. This last group got three days. The church has hired an attorney in Botswana to handle the hassle. We needed a local man who understands the customs and traditions, not a white American. Even the missionary name tag can be offensive. It says Elder. These are basically young kids that are expecting to be called “elders”! Can you picture this and how it can go against tribal customs.
I had a ‘melt down’ when this all hit the fan. I am the person who gathers up all of these documents from our missionaries’ parents who are in far off countries. I was receiving urgent requests from Botswana for documents needed “now now” and missionaries needing to sign forms and get medicals and…and…
It just so happened that our quarterly interview was scheduled the Friday of that week. After chit chat and smiling faces he asked how things were really going. I wasn’t going to say but Elder H told on me. Oh my goodness…please pass the Kleenex! I finished with saying “President, don’t let these tears bother you. The dust will settle and I’ll be fine”. Poor guy!
Well, the dust has settled. ..at least the stress and pressure of the initial frantic few days. Now I am fine and the work will go forth in Botswana with much fasting and prayer. I may have said this before but I believe that the governments and bureaucracy of countries do not realize it but the adversary is using them to slow the work. I love this scripture Moroni 9:6, “And now…not withstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness…” Please pray for Botswana.