June 17, 2015

Just Do It

What a slogan. I like the shoes, but sometimes it's hard for me to "just do it."
Whether I like it or not, my life and my choices are constantly being looked at, and sometimes even being judged. It comes with being human. It's magnified with being a Christian. And sometimes, unfortunately, it's directly related to our income as missionaries.

We knew when we followed God's prompting to become full time missionaries to Tanzania that it would mean sacrifices. And we are totally fine with that. We kind of like not having a microwave. And life without TV is quite peaceful. Not having access to good ice cream is better for our waistlines. And it sucks being away from friends and family but thank heaven for Internet- even if it is slower than dial-up AOL used to be.
But what we usually fail to realize is just how much we sacrifice of ourselves, how little we care for our own well-being. Not only because we're so busy with ministry and doing life, but also because we know people are watching. Financial supporters are watching. Potential financial supporters are watching. And if we make the wrong choice, do the wrong thing, we might loose $100 a month from our income. We might risk offending that new "like" on our page and their "maybe I'll support you financially" turns into a "no."
But what we've learned over the past 12 years, is that God's got it. We have always, whole-heartedly trusted him with our finances. We are faithful with our tithe and always give generously above that - it's who we are, it's part of the DNA of our marriage and something we discussed before we even said "I do."  So why did becoming missionaries make us hesitate? We still tithe. We still give to others generously. But we rarely give to ourselves. Why? Because it's not our money this time. It's not the money we earned. It's the hard-earned, generously and sacrificially given money of our dear, faithful supporters. And what must they think when they see us living in a four bedroom house when we could be living in a mud-walled, tin-roofed hut? What must they think when they see us splurge on a $10 steak and potato meal when we could live just fine off a $1 beans and rice meal? Okay - so maybe those are a little bit extreme, but what seriously and honestly came to my heart last month when we were dreaming of a get-away?  What would they think if we spent the money to fly our family to South Africa for a time of rest, to get to a developed country for a bit and unwind?  We really have had a rough year, a busy year, and we really, really wanted to get away.  But, that's honestly what I thought: What will they think?
Because of course our lovely supporters would rather us live in a four bedroom house with doors and windows than a mud hut.  Of course our supporters want us to splurge and buy a $10 steak - it's only $10!  But it's a whole 'nother ball-game when a $10 steak dinner turns into a $1200 vacation for roundtrip airfare for three. 
So we put it on the back-burner.  We told a few close friends about our desire to get away to South Africa and they were praying along with us that someway, somehow, it could happen.
Then a contact from the blog-o-sphere invited us to stay in their B&B/guesthouse.  Free.
That's when we started looking at tickets.  That's when we started trying really hard to make it happen - because who passes up free housing in South Africa?! We looked, we searched, we finagled the cheapest, and I mean cheapest (like they-don't-even-serve-water-on-the-flight-kind-of-cheap) tickets we could find and ended up with a total of about $1200 for all three of us, roundtrip.  It would mean some 8 hour layovers, using a sketchy airline, and taking no checked baggage, but we were ready to make it happen.  But then that thought crept in, what will they think? So we decided to wait a month, to see what our next support check would look like, to play it safe. It came and we were feeling pretty comfortable, but still trying to make the right choice.  Still wondering what our supporters would think.
Then a friend told us she had a connection with friends in Johannesburg that could put us up for our overnight layover on the way to the coast. Free.
Then we went back to searching tickets. Finagling the fares that were there, and had already risen by $5 a ticket.  In the midst of searching and putting them in the 'cart' to see the total with taxes and then checking the exchange rate to see how many dollars the 2 million shillings (literally) ended up being, one of the fares that was only 110,000 shillings was gone.  Just like that.  Because this airline is known for cheap tickets and they fly off the griddle like hot cakes.  Now we were left with a later departure date and a higher price tag.
So right then.  We decided: JUST DO IT.   Do it now before the other cheap tickets are gone.  Just do it.  Something in us broke.  We didn't care what other people thought.  We knew God was on our side, he wouldn't have made all the pieces thus far come together the way they had to NOT let us go on this trip.  So I clicked: RESERVE.
             *                          *                        *                  .... to be continued...

*Part 2 is published - check it out here: Just Did It