So, In order to make this trip, I had to raise about $18,000. Which sounds like a lot of money but if you think about the fact that it's what I'm living on for a year, it really isn't that much.
I'm not going to lie, I was terrified to start fundraising. As I've probably mentioned before, fundraising is something that every beginning missionary dreads doing. Who really wants to go around asking people for money? That's just awkward.
Anyway, I had managed to raise about $10,000. Which is pretty good. How did I do it? Well, mostly I just sent packets out to individuals explaining what I was going to be doing the next year. There was one congregation who took up a collection for me and who are also supporting me monthly. Most everything else was one-time gifts.
Now, my fundraising kind of hit a stand-still. I was hovering about that ten thousand mark and it seemed like the gifts had pretty much tapered off. Oh dear. Because there is no way I could go to Russia and be able to stay the year on $10,000. So what did I do? I sat down and figured out that if 8 individuals or congregations would pledge to support me $90 a month, I would reach my goal. I also figured out that if I had five people willing to pledge that, I would be able to make it through the year. So my goal became "five pledges but ideally, I need 8" So I prayed about it and got ready to call churches and beg for money.
But a funny thing happened. Wednesday night, I was at church and I asked for fundraising prayers. I explained what I needed and several people asked questions. The next thing I knew, one woman had said that she would be willing to pledge 90 a month. I was so excited. But then it got even better. Thursday someone else said they would pledge and Friday a family who knows me said they would support monthly as a birthday present. I prayed and waited and within three days I had three pledges. But it gets better.
The teen group I spoke to back in June was inspired by what I had to say. They decided that they wanted to kind of adopt me and help support me. So they started collecting money and they also decided to hold a comedy night fundraiser with donations going towards my trip. I had also heard that the elders at their congregation were going to match whatever they raised.
I thought about it and started praying "God, I could really use $500..." But then I stopped and thought. I mean I assumed that $500 was about what they all could do. Yet, ask and you shall receive right? Besides, I've been studying about the power of faith lately and thought this was potentially a good way to test it. So I changed my prayer. "Actually God, what I really need is $1000. It would make it so much easier if I could get $1000 from this fundraiser." After praying about it, I didn't worry about it. I figured God would make it happen.
Saturday night we went to the comedy show and had a great time! The teens did a good job and it was just and all around great evening. At the beginning of the night, one gentleman stood up and talked a little bit about my trip and what the teens had been doing to raise money for me. For example, when they went out to eat they would order water instead of pop and then take the money they would've spent on the drink and put it towards my trip. Cool things like that. Anyway, so they were talking about my trip and this man goes "They asked the leadership to match what they raise. Unfortunately, we can't write a blank check but we will match a thousand dollars." Bam! Right there, five minutes in, my prayer was answered. I was getting at least a thousand dollars from the church. Plus whatever the teens raised on top of it. Grand total I was expecting $1,500. God wasn't done yet.
Sunday evening I was visiting another congregation. After church, I got a text message from my dad. He informed me that the unofficial count from the fundraiser and teens was in. The church was giving me $1,000 and the teens managed to raise another $1,500. Grand total I'm getting about $2,500 from them. I was blown away.
When I started this post, I was going to go on and talk about how God must want me in Russia because he's brought me the money with minimal effort on my part. Maybe it sounds trite but the most work I've done specifically towards fundraising was send out those packets. Other than that all I've done is talk about it and express need. God has done an amazing job working out, not only the money but potential issues with getting into and staying in Russia as well. I am extremely blessed!
And speaking of blessings, I was thinking as I was typing this about the effort the teens put forth. I mean, they set their minds to helping me and were committed to it and look where they ended up. It's amazing! Not only that but look at the way God blesses us. I gave up time to speak to the teens. I didn't think it was a big deal but through what I said they were touched and blessed. In return, they have blessed me as well. I don't think they realize just how much having that $2,500 means to me. It's the difference between going and staying. This is the way it's supposed to work. We each give, each throw our hearts into blessing others and the blessings will come back tenfold.