Friends: Are you going to renew your theme park passes for 2016?
Me: No, I’ll be leaving for Germany soon.
People: Are you going to get your own place?
Me: No, I’ll be leaving for Germany soon and don’t want to furnish a place I will soon leave.
Friend: Do you want to go to the upcoming women’s conference?
Me: Yes, but I won’t be here for that. I’ll be in Germany.
Co-workers: Are you going to try to move up from being a bakery clerk?
Me: No, I don’t plan to be here long. I’m moving to Germany soon.
Westwood staff: How long do you think you will be here? How long can you commit to the student director position?
Me: I have no idea. I’ll gladly serve here until I am sent.
It’s official, I’m done setting deadlines. I don’t even feel that I can say “soon” when people ask me when I’m leaving for Germany. The truth is that I have no idea. Fundraising deadlines I have set for myself have come and gone with the seasons. Friends and co-workers have mentioned plans for things in the future. I have listened, with excitement, and said “I probably won’t be here for that.” That response never seemed unreasonable. Yet, I feel foolish about it now. I should have been careful with my expectations.
In many ways, being in the US longer than I had hoped has been a great blessing. I’ve had the incredible opportunity to invest in the lives of students and friends here. I’ve even had the privilege of others investing in my life. That could not have occurred, had I gone to Germany in my own timeline. Yet, there is a frustration and a guilt that lies beneath.
(Video recap of the youth retreat we had this summer: https://vimeo.com/171882065)
The team that I will be joining in Germany has hoped for my funds to come in. Whether or not they share my frustration and disappointment, I imagine that they do. Even though I am trying to commit to a lifetime of service in another country, I feel the need to move forward faster. I can’t decide if a year and a half of fundraising is a long, appropriate, or short period of time. Fellow missionaries have shared “encouraging” stories about how God provided their funds within a short period of time. These stories have left me with two feelings. The first being comfort. I’m comforted by the fact that God will provide when the time is right. He is the one who called me to this and He will send me when the time is right. The second feeling is insecurity. I begin to wonder what is wrong me with me. I ask God: “Why won’t you send me?!” I’m so willing.
I hate to admit this, but I recently found a huge error in my financial planning for Germany. I have a budget sheet which I fill in with all of the monthly donation commitments I receive. Every time someone gives a verbal commitment to fund me, or gives a donation, I update the spreadsheet. A graph of my progress is automatically calculated. It’s fantastic! However, I recently learned that I’ve been filling it in all wrong. I’ve been marking my one-time donations as annual donations. One time donations help me cover moving expenses, my language school, my travel funds, and my backup funds. Annual and monthly donations collected now (before leaving for the field) also contribute to that fund. However, the main purpose is to secure my future income. An annual gift of $1,200, for example, would be counted as a monthly donation of $100. The funds collected now go to my one time goal of $24,000. I cannot leave the US without reaching that goal. I am also unable to leave until I have 100% of my monthly funds.
A couple days ago, I updated my spreadsheet and found that I had 85% of my monthly funds promised. I was ecstatic!! After correcting my error of recording one-time gifts as annual gifts, I found that I was only at 65%. I had been telling people for over a month that I was at 75%. So now I have taken a step backwards, seemingly. Talk about feeling defeated! I’m trying to regroup and make new fundraising plans. I’m waiting on the Lord and trying hard to trust in His timing, but I’m frustrated with myself. I can’t escape feeling like I haven’t done enough. Yet, I am not sure where to go from here.
This is where I usually conclude my post with a positive outlook and/or a biblical perspective. Unfortunately, I’m still living in this tension of trusting God but feeling like a failure. I don’t believe these two are mutually exclusive concepts. I’m sure I haven’t done as much as I should have to raise the funds. On the other hand, I’m not really sure where to go from here. So, I’m waiting for God to lead. That’s all I can do.