Howdy, Neighbor!

Posted on February 15th, 2011

“Howdy, Neighbor” in Setswana goes like this: “Dumela, bathu banna le rona!” (Literally, the people who live nearby us) Upon entering my neighbors’ yards, Elise and I announced ourselves with a “Koko” (pronounce cocoa) a verbal knock. Both neighbors were cordial, inviting us in to chat in the shade, as it is HOT here. We learned their names, their professions and a little about them.

Our nearest neighbors are a working mother, Anna, and her 4 daughters, Dorcas, Christina, Margaret, and Blessing, and various grandchildren. It is evident that one of the daughters is sick, probably AIDS. We see a stream of young men come and go, but none that seem to stay. SAD.

Dorcas asked Elise if she had a child as it is common for young women to have children out of wedlock. Elise replied that she had none and I responded that Elise does not have a husband. Dorcas looked at us and then stated that we must believe that a woman should be married before she has children. “Yes,” we replied. Later, I wish I had said, “It is because that is how God wants children to be born, within a proper marriage. And we want to please God.” At least, I have left the door open on that subject for many more visits.

The other neighbor, Mrs. Kachana is a Christian and her husband pastors a local church. She and her female relative another Mrs. Kachana, who was visiting, were delightful and full of useful information about the local schools and community. This area is rapidly growing and there is only one primary school. Mrs. Kachana told Elise and me that sometimes a teacher can have 70 children in one classroom. Thus she said the teachers are always complaining. Wow! So would I! This overcrowding results in many children not passing their classes because of the high student-teacher ratio.

The Kachanas also said there are many churches in this area, as one can hear the drum churches on several nights of the week. These churches usually meet and drum for healing late into the night. After a thoughtful pause, the visiting relative remarked that she often wondered why there are so many churches when we all worship and praise the same God. Good food for thought!

Before leaving, both sets of neighbors expressed delight and thanks that we, as foreigners would come and greet, visit, and speak with them in Setswana. Anna and her daughters even called us kind for doing such a thing. Pray for our neighbors that we can show them the Father’s love.

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