Beginnings

Fr. James Amanze, who heads the Diocese of Botswana’s companion link committee, has given some good thought to my coming, and to my work while here. I arrive on Friday, and Saturday morning finds the two of us already sitting down, note pads at the ready, to sketch out what my schedule might look like.

I am here because folk here have a vision for an Anglican House of Studies, one that might train ordinands, help prepare lay ministers, and offer continuing education for clergy. At least I think that’s what they want. The plan is to meet with clergy and lay leaders to hear from them what they think this thing might look like, and a House of Studies may be quite a different animal before we finish. Anyway, they have asked me to help them think through their hopes for theological education.

It doesn’t take long before Fr. James and I are anticipating three workshops; even the dates are set. We are to have one with clergy, another with lay leaders in the south, around Gaborone, and another in the north, around Francistown. Sounding vaguely familiar to me from School of Ministry days in the Diocese of North Carolina, I am even to attend two wardens’ retreats, one north, one south, as well. Energizing plans.

 

Meanwhile, I have a place to stay, and a kitchen, and I am provided a car, so as soon as possible I make my trip to the grocery, carefully driving on the left. Food ‘independence’ is a reassuring sign of becoming settled, removing reliance upon restaurants and the generosity of others.

Grocery stores in other countries provide a glimpse of their cultures. I browse around. In the ‘butchery’ section there are nicely-packaged slices of ‘cow hoof,’ and some kind of entrails that I don’t want to even think about. Many of the staples are from South Africa, and I’m drawn to their juices made from exotic fruits. I find some Coke Light, though unlike multi-can packaging of Coke and other sodas on the shelves, they are only sold individually, and the prices seem higher. The very fine African beers – Windhoek lager, from Namibia, comes to mind – barely cost more.

As I leave a woman sidles up to me in the parking lot, as if she has something illicit to offer. ‘I have some potatoes to sell,’ she tells me.