This is going to rock your world. I am about to TesTify.
As I mentioned in my inaugural post, it costs a modest fortune to get a family of five to Africa and back; our best guesstimate of how much money we would need was $18,500. Not long after we got our acceptance emails for the school, we contacted our home church in Ohio to see if they would be willing to let us run our finances through them. This way, our generous benefactors could get a tax write-off and it would provide us with financial accountability. Our other accountability option was written on the memo line of a check made out directly to Shawn: if you use this money for anything else besides Africa, I get to choke-slam you through a wall. We have pretty good friends...
Our church in Ohio said "yes" and encouraged us to come out for a visit to reconnect since we've been gone for two years. We don't need much of an excuse to pack the van and drive to Ohio, so we made plans to make a weekend of it. Well, a weekend turned in to a week when we found out that Georgian & Winnie Banov were speaking one Sunday and Bobby Conner was going to be there the next. And to make it awesomer, our friends told us that they were going to host a fundraising event for us while we were in town. I'll get back to the details on the fundraiser, but needless to say it was imperative to spend a week in Ohio.
This is when things start getting crazy. When we left our house on Saturday we had gathered about $2,000. This money came from a few people - most of whom we wouldn't have thought to ask for financial support from. Each of these has a longer story, but to sum up, we got money from a good friend (the choke-slam check), the people who own our house, a man Shawn met when he stopped by a car dealership to buy a truck (this guy ended up knowing one of our good friend's dad - this is a good story, but for another time), and another woman whom I've had coffee and conversation with a few times gave us money. Each person had essentially the same story: I have more than I expected to have and I just felt like I should give money to you. One of my good friends - part of the Ohio fundraising brain trust - told me to write those instances down on post-its to always remind me that God is in this adventure. She said, "He's moving the hearts of people to give you money so that you can follow the call of God on your life. That's proof right there that you're in the right place."
We got to Ohio and on Sunday morning the church prayed for us again (I'll never get enough of that!) and generously took an offering for us. These people definitely believe that there's always enough because we're not the only ones from the church that are going overseas and people didn't hesitate to give. If you ever find yourself in Powell, Ohio check out Zion Christian Fellowship (zionequip.com).
Then on Tuesday was the big fundraising event. Our friends worked crazy hard to put this together. These friends have walked with us every step of the way and have believed in the call God put on us from the beginning - they are just as invested in this adventure as we are. They pulled out all the stops to make sure the fundraiser was a success. When we got home from the event that night, we recalculated what we had raised and we had gone from $2,000 to $17,000!!! Did you just read that? I think I need more exclamation points! That kind of thing doesn't just happen - God moved Heaven, opened up his storehouses, and made quick work of our budget. Done. And the next day we bought our plane tickets.
Among the coolest of the cool ways God provided the money is this one. One of our friends is a college student and she felt like God gave her an amount to give. She kept this amount to herself, but went about raising it by telling friends, classmates, and I think some strangers what we are doing and then getting money from them. TOTAL strangers have given us money. It just gets better. Our friend is also a nanny and she told her employers what she was doing and they thought that was cool so they said they'd match what she raised. What?!? Other people she babysat for gave her money because she told them what we're doing and God moved their hearts. Someday I'm gong to find out the rest of their stories because whether they know it or not, God spoke to their hearts and they obeyed. They sowed into God's plan for our life and there is no way they won't get to enjoy the blessing that comes from that. I know that it will happen because I asked God for that. I don't know what it's going to look like, but they are going to be rocked! When we got home from the fundraiser she told us how much she had raised. $1,000! God told her to get $500 together and her employers matched it. Ca-Razy!!
Not long after we were accepted to the school, Judah was praying for dinner and in his prayer he asked God if it was okay for us to go to Africa. He got quiet for a little bit and then finished his prayer. I asked him what God said and he answered, "God says it's 'okay' for us to go to Africa and he's fundraising for us." Mmmmhmmmm.