Diamond in the rough: Craig woman planning to give aid to county ravaged by HIV/AIDS | CraigDailyPress.com

Diamond in the rough: Craig woman planning to give aid to county ravaged by HIV/AIDS

Bonnie Flanders is preparing to travel to Botswana for a three month mission.

Taking a break from the work of teaching, children and missionaries gathered around a small stone, kicking it between themselves until a rousing game of "football" was underway in the dirt streets of a small town in Botswana.

Botswana is a land-locked county that calls to Craig woman Bonnie Flanders.

"It's a God thing," she said.

The country is about the size of the state of Texas located north of South Africa. Diamond mining is the principal economic activity in a country where over 22 percent of people have HIV/AIDS, according to the Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook.

Just because you’re in a small town doesn’t mean you can’t do big things.
It doesn’t matter how long ago God called you, if he called you go.
You go expecting to make a difference; you don’t realize the difference it makes on you.

— Missionary Bonnie Flanders

Flanders has raised $1,800 of the $3,000 needed to fund a three-month mission trip to Francistown, Botswana, Africa as part of Global Missions through the United Pentecostal Church.

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Upcoming fundraisers include a rib dinner planned for 1 p.m. June 25 at Lighthouse of Craig Church, 3107 W. 1st St., and a yard sale and lemonade stand starting at 8 a.m. on July 1 at 1240 Barclay St.

About two years ago Flanders made a short-term trip of 10-days to the counrty evangelizing, helping with a children's ministry and teaching in the capital city of Gaberone.

"Everyone I've come in contact with there has touched my heart. You go expecting to make a difference; you don't realize the difference it makes on you," Flanders said.

If her current fundraising efforts are successful, this time, she will leave on July 11 for Francistown and will return to Craig about 3 months later at the end of September.

During her mission trip, Flanders plans to assist with the children ministry, youth ministry, bible school teaching and, if the land had been secured, help build a new church.

"Just because you're in a small town doesn't mean you can't do big things," said Bonnie Flanders, Craig resident, universal banker at Bank of the West and missionary.

To accomplish this mission, Flanders is giving-up her job, her home and her wardrobe, along with most of her other belongings. She had been raising funds by painting faces at area festivals.

"Giving up my job is probably the hardest thing. I love my customers and the people I work with. Most people go and hate their job, I go to work and it's not a day of work if you are having fun," Flanders said.

She makes these sacrifices to make a difference and to fulfill her own dreams.

"When I was a little girl, I loved seeing missionaries come from Africa. When I was 16, I met a missionary from Africa who is a super sweet lady. I realized that was where God was calling me," Flanders said.

Flanders hadn't been confident of her ability to raise the money needed to support her trip and she's worried about being so far from her family for three months.

"Other missionary friends have told me, 'Expect to be uncomfortable and get comfortable with the uncomfortable,' " Flanders said. "It doesn't matter how long ago God called you, if he called, you go."

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education

How to help

Here are three ways to help Bonnie Flanders’ Mission to Botswana Africa

• Church Diner
A rib dinner will be served at the Lighthouse of Craig.
When: 1 p.m., June 25
Where: Lighthouse of Craig, 3107 W. 1st Street
Cost: $10 for adults and $6 for kids

• Yard Sale and lemonade stand
Bonnie Flanders is selling most of her belongings prior to leaving for Botswana. Her 11-year-old niece will sell lemonade.
When: starting at 8 a.m. July 1st final
Where: 1240 Barclay St.

• Donate
The “Botswana Missions Trip” account has been setup to accept donations.
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday
Where: The Bank of the West

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