It was July 17, 1997. Jerry had just returned the day before from a trip into the Central Kalahari and left the team of 100 teens & leaders behind to continue ministry to the Bushman (Basarwa) tribes who speak in a clicking language, of that region. He felt an urgency to come home and check on the family and the mission. Mason, our 3rd born son was only 4 months old and due to all the guests and traveling immediately following the birth for the first month, I had been staying in for some time. In Botswana the culture is for a woman to retreat totally for several months following the birth of the baby. I broke all the rules with all 3 of my births, including this one, so I was trying to make up a little and stay put for a while.
Traditionally, the mother of the woman who gives birth comes and takes care of her, seeing to all her needs. All she has to do is feed and love the baby! When the second child is born, the mother-in-law comes and takes care of them! The husband is not allowed to sleep in the same room with the wife for this period of time. There are many customs and traditions during this “bosetsi” as it is called, that are purely for the benefit of the mother and the baby. It is a wonderful tradition that would do well to be followed in other countries! By the time bosetsi is over, mother and baby are rested, healed, and the baby is ready to be exposed t the outside world. I have been blessed to have my mother-in-law with us since the time we opened our school in 1992. She has lived near us all this time and has been a tremendous help and blessing to all 4 of our children.
This particular day, I decided, since Jerry was back from weeks of being away, that I would go into town with him and the baby. I hadn’t been out for a while. We got the 2 boys ready for school, packed the baby a diaper bag, grabbed my computer so we could check email and headed for town. We left the base in the care of the workers and headed off down the deep, sandy, bumpy road to town. Jerry dropped me at the school and headed off to town to run some errands while I visited with staff and students and showed off baby Mason to the staff and students.
Mogomotsi was a tall, strong, young man from the Humbukushu tribe, known as the “River Bushmen” of the Okavango Delta. He had given his life to the Lord on one of our outreaches and we asked him to come and work for us. He was growing in the Lord and his whole family came to Jesus through his salvation. He was such a hard worker. The school was housed in one of the oldest buildings in Maun. It was originally built by the London Mission Society and Jerry’s office was situated in the very room where, according to Maun Historian, Pat Dance; Robert Moffit did the first translation of the Setswana Bible, which is the first bible in Africa translated into a local language. There was a closed-in porch that separated the office from the outside. Around 10 a.m. I heard a noise outside the office door. It was Mogomotsi. He fell down, out of breath. He said, “Mma Moruti, (they called me for lady teacher/preacher) the house, the house is burning”. We later realized he had sprinted 15 kilometers from the farm, 5 k’s of that in deep sand to tell us the house was on fire! (look for Part 2 soon!)