Wednesday, November 30, 2011

House Building

Since I've started writing on this blog, inspiration hasn't been too far away.  Every couple of weeks there has always been something that I could write about; some unique or quasi-unique thought or weirdly interesting incident that has been fun to write about and share with everyone.  For some reason, the last few weeks every time I have stopped to think about what I can write about, nothing has come to mind.  I contemplated coming up with a short work of fiction that might have some random or abstract point to it and would make a few people smile, but that's not really what this is about.  So I've finally figured that when I have nothing spectacular, amazing or weird to write about, I can always share some of the "normal" things that have been happening to our family in the past little while.  So here goes nothing... (or something...)

Last December 1 was a very exciting day for Karen and I because it was the first day that we were officially working for Mission Aviation Fellowship.  At that time, the time that we wrote our very first newsletter, our support thermometers were right at the bottom.  0% outgoing support and 0% monthly support.  We were right at the beginning looking up at a $35,000 outgoing foothill followed by the $6,000 monthly mountain.  We were both excited and nervous about how things were going to go.  How long was this going to take?  Where would all of our Ministry Partners come from?  Did we even know that many people?  Where were we going to end up in the world?  There was pretty much an unending stream of questions that ran through our heads, but through all of that we knew that there was one thing that we could lean on.  God had called us.

I Thessalonians 5:24 tells us that "The one who calls you is faithful, and He will do it."  As I look back on the second article that I posted on this blog, I still like the verse that I put there.  "Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it." (Psalm 127:1)  We did have tons of questions and uncertainties, but we knew that God was in control. We still do.  We have seen so many evidences of that throughout the last year that there is no doubt about it.  Along the way we have covered a lot of kilometers and seen many people and many things.  We've heard lots of encouragement and advice along the way as well, some of it quite random.  For instance, one gentleman, I'll call him Sparticus (even thought that's not quite right), told me that he had started shaving when in the shower rather than over the sink, and really liked the results.  I thought, "Why not?" and so I went and bought one of those little suction cuppy mirrors that parents can mount on windshields to see the kids in the back seat.  It sticks nicely to the shower wall.  Since then, almost no nicks or cuts when shaving, and it also feels like the shave is closer than ever.  Shaving in the shower.  Who knew?

As the months flew by we saw our monthly support come in fairly steadily.  On average, we watched about 10% of our monthly support come in every month.  That works out to about a $600 increase/month.  January, February, March... up until July.  On July 24 we had 71% of our monthly support pledged.  Then it felt as though the support tap was turned off.  August went by... 72%.  September... 75%.  October... 80%.  FINALLY!  It felt as though we had been wading through the molasses swamp of "70% land" forever, and to enter the numbers and see 80% come up was a tremendous relief and encouragement for us.  I feel that I should point out at this time that I am a math kind of guy.  I like the numbers.  They make things make sense to me.  I do know and realize full well that each one of those numbers represents someone whom God has called to join with us, and who has responded to that calling.  The thought of it still boggles my mind.

So, we were at 80% finally.  October had seen an increase in percentage of 5% which was a noticeable rise after the previous months.  We hoped and prayed that this trend would continue until we reached 100%.  Then we started hearing rumblings that the board of MAF was considering raising monthly support requirements to $6,600/month, a 10% raise in support.  We understood why and agree that it was time, but when the news came through official channels it was still a little bit bittersweet.  We love that we are taken care of and that we have a mission that is committed to that and on top of their finances, but it still meant that now we were back in the land of 70%.  Overnight we went from 86% down to 75% again.  Whoa.  By this time we knew that we were headed to Uganda, and that our date of departure was tentatively set for March 31, 2012.  What we didn't know was if this news meant that our date of departure was at risk of being bumped back a matter of weeks or months.  When I posted this news on my Facebook status, I also mentioned that we still realized that God knew about this since even before we had started out at 0%.  I was reminding myself that "The one who calls you is faithful, and He will do it."

That brings us to the past few days.  Monday is usually the day where we receive the news of any new donations and supporters.  On Mondays we tend to monitor our email a little bit more closely as we wait for "The Email".  This last Monday, no email.  This isn't unusual, but it always makes the day a little brighter when there is news of something new.  Then in  the afternoon we received news.  By phone, not email.  Very unexpected, knock us flat on our backs leaving us stunned and gasping for air kind of news.  We received word that there had indeed been a significant increase in monthly support.    In a bit of a haze, I input the new numbers, and even after the $600 increase in support requirements, I saw that we had now jumped from 75% all the way up to 90%.  Even with the new requirements!  That's right!  We are now standing with $5,935 pledged in monthly support, which leaves $665 to go.  Wow, and Praise the Lord!

At times it has been easy for us to forget that God is the one who is moving people to partner with us, and we feel that it's all on us to get things done.  Then we wonder what we have been doing wrong, or what we could be doing that we haven't been doing already. "They labor in vain" indeed.  This week has been a great wake up and reminder and encouragement that Psalm 127:1 is spot on. God has proven Himself faithful over and over again, and we can do nothing but praise Him for His work in our lives.  Over the course of this year our outgoing support has also been rising.  As I sit here typing this, our outgoing support is at $22, 137.00, with $35,000.00 needed.  Run the numbers and you come up with 63% of outgoing support received and $12,863.00 to go.  Our mountain has become a mole hill, and we continue to glorify God for what He is doing for us as we work towards serving Him in Africa.

When the shepherds saw God revealed to them when Jesus was born, they "returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told."  Their response was to glorify and praise God, and I cannot help but to do the same.  Praise God for what he has done for all of us!

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