It has been an interesting year, but I have to say that it has still been a good year. Yes, this year has been a series of unexpected, unprecedented, and unpleasant events, but at the same time, there has not been an absence of good things happening. Psalm 23:6a from The Passion Translation says, “So why would I fear the future? For your goodness and love pursue me all the days of my life.” I love that. I don’t have to be afraid of the future. God has promised that His goodness – good things, the best things – will pursue me all the days of my life. This is a promise that stands true no matter what – even in the midst of pandemics and any other undesirable circumstances. I do not have to be afraid and good things will always happen to me. Yes, in spite of everything, I have had a good year so far. I serve a good God. And I will continue to share His goodness with others.
In January, I attended a youth camp in South Africa where I had the opportunity to share about my passion for missions. I prayed with a young man who told me that he felt God calling him to do missions in the Philippines. I’m Filipino, so I thought it was so cool that a Filipino got to pray for a future missionary to the Philippines! My heart was so full after this camp. It reminded me why I love youth ministry so much. What a great way to start my year!
In February, I took a trip with my mom to visit our family in the Philippines. It had been almost 13 years since I last went, so it was a long overdue visit! I enjoyed reconnecting with my family and learning more about my Filipino heritage. I am so grateful I was able to take this trip and for such a special time with family.
In March, I was able to return to Botswana from my Philippines trip before travel became restricted. I’m thankful I made it home safely and I believe I am where God wants me to be during this very interesting time in history. We are very grateful that Botswana has been one of the nations least affected by COVID-19. We’ve only had one death, several recoveries and have maintained a relatively low number of active cases compared to other parts of the world. I thank God for His protection and healing and I continue to pray for other countries that have been more severely affected.
For most of April and May, Botswana was on national lockdown. I realize lockdown was not an enjoyable experience for many, but I appreciated having a time to rest and pause and reflect. It was a time I spent in self-care, connecting with friends and family (virtually, of course), counting all the blessings in my life, and having amazing times of prayer. For me, my time in lockdown was not empty or oppressive. It was full and meaningful and good.
Ministry has been challenging and different, but not impossible. Since the start of lockdown, the majority of our ministry has been done online, and we’ve continued to broadcast services and devotions on our Facebook page even after churches were allowed to reopen at the end of May. I have helped with our online ministry by filming services, moderating comments/messages on our Facebook page, and praying for any prayer requests that come in. It’s been encouraging to see how many people have been impacted by our online presence and I’ve enjoyed getting to pray and share about God with so many people through this platform. I’ve also prayed for ideas of how I could show God’s love to others, even in small ways. In June, I prepared gifts for each of our youth who celebrated a birthday from January to June. Ministry has not been “usual,” but God has given us ways to still be impactful. Restrictions continue to gradually lift in Botswana and we are looking forward to resuming other areas of our ministry in the very near future.
I am in good health and good spirits. I am thankful for everyone who faithfully supported me during this time. And special thanks to everyone who sent me extra gifts in the past few months. It is much appreciated and it is a blessing to see generosity still going strong even during a time when it could be difficult to be generous. Many of my African “mothers” have also blessed me with meals, groceries and money during this time. God has truly provided for my every need and more.
I would love to be able to travel to the States this year to visit my family. Currently, there are no flights leaving Botswana and international borders are closed. Please pray for an open and safe window for me to be able to travel home this year.
Botswana’s economy has been hit hard like everywhere else. Lockdown was a difficult time for most Batswana (people of Botswana, plural), with many going without basic necessities. There is currently a fuel shortage. Health screening of delivery drivers before they enter Botswana has delayed the import of essential goods. The government has begun using its reserves, but we are limited to how much fuel we can buy per day and availability varies from day to day. Pray for a quick economic recovery and that God would use this time for people to come to know and experience Him as their Source and Provider. Pray we also continue to be led by God in what part our church can play in addressing the needs around us.