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The Botswana Diaries

In January of 2010, at the 195th Convention of the Diocese of North Carolina, Bishop Michael Curry appointed Lisa Towle, President of the Episcopal Church Women of the diocese, to the Chartered Committee on Global Missions. The North Carolina-Botswana Companion Link Committee comes under the umbrella of Global Missions, and Lisa has served on this committee since its inception in January of 2008. It was the first time, in recent memory at least, that ECW was specifically included in a Companion Diocese agreement. (Point four of the seven-point agreement signed by Bishop Curry and Botswana’s Bishop Trevor Mwamba said, “We will support the ministries offered together by the Mothers’ Union of Botswana and the Episcopal Church Women of North Carolina.” To see the entire Companion Link Agreement for Ministry between the Anglican Diocese of Botswana and the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, click here.)

In June of 2008, Lisa traveled to Botswana as part of a delegation from the Diocese of NC. The other members of that delegation were the Rev. Canon Michael Hunn and the Rev. Dr. Murdock Smith, chair of the link committee in NC.

Two years later, at the invitation of the Mothers’ Union and Anglican Women’s Fellowship, she again journeyed to southern Africa. This trip was longer and was made solo in the month of August. She spent two weeks working to build the relationship between ECW and the two primary women’s ministries in Botswana. During this time in 2010 she kept a handwritten journal. Here are the transcribed entries from that spiral bound notebook. New entries will be announced via our Twitter account.

Wednesday
Mar072012

28. Cold Night, Warm Meal, Long Agenda

The hand over in the parking lot of the Choppies grocery that sits on the edge of Gaborone, Botswana’s capital city, is complete. My possessions and I leave the Mothers’ Union officers, with whom I’ve spent the past week, and join five representatives of the Anglican Women’s Fellowship. As we drive toward the center of Gaborone and the home of Cyril and Magdeline Mabuse, I make small talk with my fellow backseat passengers.

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Sunday
Feb262012

27. One God and Father of All

On Shrove Tuesday I shared a Lenten meditation with some friends in Botswana. It included a message that had recently been forwarded to me: Pray for the International Anglican Women’s Network as it connects Anglican women across the world, encouraging them to become influential, equal participants throughout the Communion and in their own communities.

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Sunday
Feb192012

26. An Unexpected Blessing

Since, a week earlier, Cecilia was the last person we collected on our journey into Tsabong for the annual conference of the Mothers’ Union, she is the first person to get home. Home is Moshupa, a large village with a population of about 20,000. The afternoon sun is waning as we exit the van to help wrestle Cecilia’s belongings from the overfull trailer.

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Monday
Feb132012

25. Heading Into Week Two, Part II

Travel on the two-lane Sir Seretse Khama Highway (named for Botswana’s first president) is uneventful except for encounters with those animals who prefer meandering in the middle of the road. Singing, talking, eating and dozing in the sun streaming through the windows of the Mothers’ Union van help us pass the time.

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Saturday
Feb042012

24. Heading Into Week Two

There’s a problem with the trusty, hard-working white van that will take us out of the Kalahari Desert and back to Botswana’s capital city, Gaborone. While the repair is being made I take a seat outside to bask in the morning sun and watch the village of Tsabong come to life.

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Saturday
Jan282012

23. Good-bye to Tsabong

The early morning procession of the flags, where members of the Mothers’ Union carry the standard for the MU branch at their parish through the streets of the host locale, has taken place, as has the closing communion. Chairs in the meeting hall have been stacked, posters removed from the walls, the hiccuping microphone unplugged (the large cow bell which was also rung to get the attention of conference goers worked as well as anything else anyway), and meeting supplies put back into boxes.

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Saturday
Jan212012

22. Speechifying and Sharing

There’s hazy sunshine and a good breeze the day I’m to address the annual conference of the Mothers’ Union in Botswana. In the hall are MU representatives from neighboring South Africa, clergy from a range of faith groups, the chief of Tsabong (which has been hosting the assembly), and John Toto, who represents in the national legislature the district in which Tsabong is located (and whose mother was a devout member of the MU.)

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Saturday
Jan142012

21. Committing to Women's Ministry

Years ago I went to Canada on the business of the missions office of the Episcopal Church. My time north of the border was spent with Anglicans from Canada, the Caribbean and Africa as well as American Episcopalians, and it struck me then how, though we spring from the same root and share many things, Anglicanism and Episcopalianism can at times seem dissimilar. I get this feeling again while in Botswana.

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Sunday
Jan082012

20. Stewardship with A Smile & A Song

It’s 8:30 p.m. and a group of us attending the Mothers’ Union annual conference in Tsabong, having finished a late dinner capped with cups of hot tea and bowls of cream and fruit (the fruit bearing a strong resemblance to what Americans know as canned fruit cocktail), are ready for the last act of the day. It’s time, one of my dining companions says with a big smile, for “some fund-raising.”

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Sunday
Jan012012

19. Speaking a Universal Language

The choirs have finished competing and are again sitting with the other members of their delegations from churches throughout the Diocese of Botswana. The judges are huddling together, conferring about the energetic performances of the women. Then - BAM! - as if out of nowhere a person appears.

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