Friday, July 22, 2011
We want to thank you for all your prayers and support, so please don't read this as a complaint, it isn't. We are Individual Volunteer Missionaries trained by the General Board of Global Ministries. That means we have the church's blessing but receive no funds for our work. It is a joy to do what we do here, but I'm not sure everyone knows what all we do. Every single day, we help someone less fortunate than ourselves. It takes many forms, money for medicine or the hospital, money for food (prices are rising), money for school fees or uniforms, helping a community raise money to build a school, or helping to put a roof on a church. We pay for lay pastors to attend Bible college, and we provide travel money for church leaders to attend meetings. We do all this out of the $3,000 a month we get from retirement and social security. Of course, out of that same money, we pay the wages and social security of eight full-time staff members so their children can eat and attend school. We pay for all the repairs to the mission and whatever improvements we want to make. We pay $100 for food for 100 orphans at St. Wiggins Academy every month and add another $100 for school supplies and teacher's salaries. We get $280 a month from the U.S. to operate Karen's two sessions a day English school (Thank you, thank you). We get $200 a month to help with diesel which is now $10 a gallon here so that's about 3/4 of a tank. That's it. We get special gifts sometimes that go to special projects and we are so very, very grateful for those. We have eighteen scholarships at the local teacher's college for needy Christian students funded by at least two churches in Arkansas and have graduated over 24 teachers (thank you, thank you). We got $2,000 after our trip to the U.S. last April that allowed us to buy twelve bicycles for evangelists to carry the word of God to farther villages. We also used that money to buy seventy-five Bibles in Swahili so every circuit could have at least fifteen for their several churches (it was actually 100 Bibles because we paid for 25 more). We also sometimes get money to hold sanitation and hygiene training in the villages and to buy and distribute mosquito nets (over 1,000 so far--thank you, thank you). When we get money we also have seminars for the pastors and evangelists. The point is simple. We spend all of our own money and all the money people send us to help expand God's Kingdom and ease the suffering of God's children here. Today, I just put antibiotic ointment on four-year-old's knees. We don't know who God really needs for His Kingdom, but we do what we can for each one who asks if we can. Lately, we have had to turn away almost ten people this week, most of whom only needed $10 to $30 dollars, but we can't give away what we don't have. God did not send us here to do great and wonderful things. He sent us here to use what we have to help those we can--mostly in small ways. That's all. It's all he wants from you, too. It is very hard to turn people away and the decisions about whom to help are the hardest ones anyone has to make. You'd think we'd feel very proud of what we are doing, but mostly we feel like failures wondering about how better we might have spent what we had. Still, we came to help, and help we do. Sometimes, just putting some ointment on a child's knees is imitating Christ. I wish we could see it that way more often--it would make us feel better. Yet we can do no other. It was for this we were called and for this we stay and serve. Over the years, many others from the U.S. have come to work with us, sent money, built buildings, and helped us with our health needs. Without the generosity of folks like them and you, we couldn't do what we do. So, keep us in your prayers. We know of your suffering economically as well and include you in our prayers in our churches. Just remember, sometimes all God needs you to do is put some ointment on a child's knees. We are just humble workers in a distant vineyard.