“For this is what the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” (Acts 13:47)
It was last July and my husband had just returned home from a 10-day mission trip to the Dominican Republic with our church. As he unpacked his suitcase, he told me and the kids all about it. My son, rifled question after question “Who…?” “How come…?” “When…?” Then he noticed Dan hadn’t brought home his work shoes and asked, “Why?”
“I left my shoes behind because even though they’re really dirty, the Dominicans will clean them up and use them.”
“What kind of shoes were they?”
“Just a sturdy old pair of hiking boots.”
With that, our son ran to his room and returned moments later holding a grungy old pair of basketball sneakers. “Dad, are these OK?” he asked expectantly.
Suppressing a smile Dan replied, “Yep! They’re perfect.”
As if footwear was the biggest logistical hurdle to jump, our little guy’s gesture proclaimed, “Next year, I’m going too!”
For about eight years our church has sponsored a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. During that time they’ve worked in the village of San Miguel to build a church, school, medical clinic and on the most recent trip, a water purification facility. Each summer when the missionaries return and share their incredible testimonies I think, One day I want to go.
But time and circumstances said otherwise and it was Dan, not me, who went to the DR. For two years the kids and I have cheered him on from the sidelines, praying for him while he’s gone, listening to his stories when he returns, and pouring over gazillions of pictures. I’ve been so blessed watching Dan venture into an experience unlike any he’s ever had before and seeing his faith deepen as a result. God, maybe you want me to support my husband on these trips, but not go myself? And I was OK with that.
But, now with my son staking a claim in next year’s trip and my husband wanting to go again, could this be the year I get to go...that we get to go as a family?
Fast forward to the bitter chill of January. As the planners started to make solid arrangements for the 2009 trip, they required a firm commitment—accompanied by a sizeable down payment. It was time to separate the casual from the committed. Were we prepared to turn our desire to go into an actual PLAN to go?
With some rearranging of summer schedules and confidence in God’s leading, we said “Yes!”
The only things that stood in our way were immunizations, passports for the kids, mastering a few Spanish phrases, attending monthly planning meetings…oh, and fundraising $6,600.
“No problem!” Dan and I agreed. For his last two trips, Dan easily raised more than enough to cover his share. And both of us have had great success fundraising for other ventures in the past. It’ll be fun, we thought.
In March, Dan sent an appeal letter to his past donors. I hoped it would generate enough to get us most of the way to our fundraising goal and then I’d follow up with a letter to other family, friends and acquaintances to make up the difference.
However, I hadn’t fully considered two things. In the past Dan only had to cover one person, not four. And the economy is bad, really bad.
As a result, Dan’s letter brought in even less than last year. Again, I thought, No problem. I’ll send out my appeal to get us to the finish line. I cast a wide net, covering everyone I thought of—hoping a little bit from a lot of people was the way to go.
Within three days of sending out my letter, I received a donation from my great aunt in Ohio. The next day the mail carrier brought a donation from our neighbor. Hooray! We’re on our way!
The following day I eagerly awaited the sound of the mail truck puttering down the street. As I heard it approach, I darted out to check the mail Opening the mailbox and pulling out its contents, I expectantly sorted. Hmm, let’s see. Bills, circulars, junk…Let me check again…bills, circulars, junk. No donations.
I repeated this cycle every day for three weeks. Not one donation arrived.
. . . to be continued.