I've come to the conclusion that I have been on an excess of short-term missions trips. Really, an excess. When I was thirteen I started, and since them I've gone every summer, sometimes two trips each summer. Most trips I've paid for out of pocket, but as I've gotten older and sought to do more, the financial pull has also gotten a little heavier. So Sarah and I have had to do some fundraising for the past three summers, which has involved sending letters to church members and a few of our parents' friends. This year especially, the idea of asking people for money was wholly distasteful to me. I sat at the kitchen table with Sarah and Maggie (three of us now, my soul!) with tears in my eyes asking, "Can't we pull a Keith Green and wait on God to move people to give us money?"
I feel as though fundraising is a much-talked about topic, not only in the Christian community, but through much of the West. My first semester of school I was involved with the student chapter of United Way Rhode Island, and I got a glimpse of just how vast the non-profit money network is. And so I've heard a sampling of the strategies and the important talking points and blah blah blah. Our youth minister always told us when we sent out the letters: "When people are financially invested in our trip, they are spiritually invested as well. What we really covet are their prayers." When my mentor told me that she sponsored me for Dearborn, I was beside myself. Why should anyone care? It's just a brief, two-week trip, to a random city in Michigan. Why should she care about whatever small impact we will make? I don't know, but it broke me that she did care.
I must confess, I was so anxious. I must've blogged about it a thousand times, my worries over funding and my subsequent uncertainty of whether I was even supposed to be on this trip. (Because I mean, as I mentioned, I've already been on an excess of STMTs!) Here I am, leaving this very week, and only just yesterday was fully funded. A miracle. Due to my generous church family and a well-paying job at a computer store, and God's abundant, abundant grace. And I'm not sure what this means for this trip. Dearborn: the first trip I freaked out about paying for it.
Luke says I'm too concerned about money, and as much as it pains me to say that Luke's right, Luke's right. I spend a lot of time thinking about money, and about as much time thinking about how to stop thinking so much about money. I feel like I'm always one step away from being trapped by money, and so from fear of making the wrong move, I'm helpless as to what to do with the few funds I do have. In the past, STM always felt like a worthy investment, but now I wonder, does God want me to do something different with His money?
Either way, I'm relieved that for this year, fundraising is over. A teensy part of me thinks (hopes?) it might be over for good. Still, nothing humbles a person like having to ask other people for money. And if that's what it takes to squash my money concerns, bring it on.