Friday, March 22, 2013

Musings over our Mailings

We've been working on an honest-to-goodness, ink-on-paper support letter this week. We've stuffed 150 envelopes so far, and we have about 70 more to do. I've been reflecting on how different it is this time from years past...peel-n-stick advancements in stationary...sending out this letter as a couple...needing to raise more than five times the amount I did when I left for Russia in 2002...

The first batch went out on Wednesday; we're dropping another stack in the mail today. As each envelope disappears down the blue throat of the mail box, I'm praying that those who receive our letters will respond favorably - through prayer, through financial support, or through sharing this information with their churches.

As it often happens, we did some random calculations, such as "if every person gave a minimum of $10, that bring our total support almost up to 80%..." or "If there were 50 people who could pledge $50 a month, we'd be closer to 90%!" It's encouraging and frustrating all at the same time. Encouraging, because we believe we will see an increase in our support levels; frustrating, because it tempts us to think only on dollar signs.

I've thought about the many fellow missionaries I've met who, upon entering this season known as "deputation", "itinerating" or "support raising", have been counseled to make a list of every person they can think of, and then write a dollar amount next to that person's name. I've never done this. Why? What benefit is there in trying to guestimate who will support you at which dollar amount? Why should that matter? My experience has been that people who choose to support missionaries do so out of the fullness of their hearts, not the fullness of their wallets.

The people whose names are on our mailing list are people we greatly admire, appreciate or love deeply. They are individuals & families who have known us since we were children. They are people who served with us in ministry. They are are our friends, our mentors, our counselors, our voices of wisdom. They represent multitudes of encouraging words & prayers prayed for us.  Those people who are on the receiving end of our support letters are people who've made an impact on our lives. If they are able to be a part of our financial support team, that's wonderful, but we need them as our prayer partners first & foremost.

Regardless of how many mailings, e-mails, blog posts, or speaking engagements, at the end of the day, God alone is capable of supplying for all of our needs. How or who He chooses to use to accomplish this will only be a blessing on top of a blessing.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Prayer Needed!

For all of you who have been praying for us in this lengthy process of getting to Prague, we say "Thank You!!!"  Almost every day it seems that something else comes up that is frustrating or discouraging.  And now, another obstacle seems to have been placed in the way.

In order to get a long term (more than 6 month) Czech visa, the Czech government requires a criminal background check from any country in which we have lived more than 6 months within the past three years.  For us, that means getting  background checks from Russia.
We have called the Russian embassy and the Czech consulate, both of which have essentially said, "Call someone else."  We contacted the American embassy in Moscow, and we were told to have someone there in Russia try to obtain the background checks on our behalf.

We prepared and notarized no fewer than 6 documents and sent them to Moscow, in hopes that someone there could help us.  The word we have at this point is, as our documents were not notarized by a Russian notary, they were not acceptable for use.

What is the next step?

We will have a new set of documents prepared, then have them sent to the Secretary of State in Florida to be apostilled (given a raised notary seal) and then send them back to Russia again.  In the mean time, Christiana is going to call the Russian embassy in Washington D.C. once more to see if we can set up an appointment to meet with a consular officer, and present our case.

We need you to pray! Pray for favor with the Russian embassy, for speedy processing of papers by the Secretary of State's office, and for the miraculous arrival of these necessary background checks before we miss our deadline to apply for our Czech visas.

Psalm 146 tell us not to put our trust in powerful men, but to seek help in the God of Jacob, who is the maker of heaven and earth.  "He remains faithful forever.  He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry.  He sets prisoners free and gives sight to the blind.  He lifts up those who are bowed down and He loves the righteous."

Please pray for us, that we would not be so discouraged in this process.  Pray that we would be faithful to put our trust in Christ and not in man.