Monday, August 28, 2006

Here It Comes

There are two or three "draft" posts which I've started to write here but opted not to publish. I'll be honest that they deal with issues which have dominated my thoughts and prayers lately, but I fear writing about them here would only result in more stress for people caught in the middle of those situations, so I'm going to let them least for now.

That's a first for me. I don't normally have to censor myself, but in this case perhaps it's for the best. Preserving the illusion of harmony.

So instead I figured I'd fall back on God - not a bad fallback position - and tackle another uncomfortable topic - also a first - that I've had several emails about, and some wonderful counsel, regarding our trip to Moldova.

: This is going to be a pitch for money. Clarence you can stop reading now :)

I've wrestled with this since Amy and I committed ourselves to the CERI project.

I had no problem asking blog readers to search their hearts, and wallets, when it came to supporting the Gomez family, for whom, a little less than a year ago, we were blessed with the ability to provide housing and other assistance following hurricane Katrina. That catastrophic event was so well publicized, the family's story was so compelling, and so many people "wanted" to do something but weren't sure how, that I didn't hesitate whatsoever.

However this is different. Amy and I are now asking for money. I know this is a mission trip, I know it is worthwhile, and I know that we feel this is God's will.

But I still feel like a beggar.

My "blog friend" Doug, who writes the blog Virtual-Doug spent many months as a missionary in Vietnam. When I expressed my reluctance to him, he was quick to shut me down with generous and loving advice. I'm not even going to paraphrase, I'm going to quote him verbatim from one of the emails he sent:

I understand the angst at asking for support. However - - think of a few other topics.

First - its Biblical. Paul himself justified his request for money.

I Corinthians 9:3-10. We get wrapped up in Paul's "tent ministry" because that is closer to our culture.
Jesus commented on the idea that a missionary should accept help when He sent out 72 people. Luke 10:7.

Second - you involve people. You helped others, and through that experience, you participated in their work. So - give others the opportunity to help you in your calling.

Third - its a grace thing. It's just like accepting the free gift of salvation. As Americans, we all love to give, but our culture tells us to be self-reliant.

Fourth - seeing how others contribute will be a joy to you and Amy. Trust me on that - it may be the biggest blessing your receive from the trip.

Fifth - telling your story to others while raising support will help you prepare spiritually.

I can not express how much Doug's counsel meant to me. I read his words over and over. We exchanged a flurry of emails for which I will be forever grateful, and I prayed.

And now I'm getting off the dime...stepping out of the boat...and presenting the specifics to you.

First off, if you're completely confused by this (you wouldn't be the first to become befuddled by my ramblings) you can read more about what our intentions are in an earlier post by clicking here.

Here are the specifics, as best as I know them.

This trip is going to cost us approximately $3600.00 primarily for airfare to Moldova...and back. Getting back is also a top goal of mine, but I'm digressing a bit. That's not including anything extraneous including our passport costs, the cost of buying clothes that will be of no use to us in San Antonio but which will come in handy in December/January in Moldova, purchasing hookahs in Turkey (I'm kidding), and all the little stuff that seem to add up along the way of every trip. 3600 bucks is what we need to provide to CERI. Make no mistake, our goal is to raise the entire $3600.

Those of you who have read this blog for some time know that we're not rich people. We're in debt (although we've slayed a lot of dragons in the past couple of years)...not a day goes by when I don't receive a notice of another medical bill that has gone unpaid for too long, but we're paying those off total.

I don't dare to dream we'll be successful is raising that much money from outside sources and let me hasten to add we're doing our best to sock money away, doing without, scrimping wherever we can. We have a special bank account - which we can't touch until CERI asks - that's completely set aside for Moldova. If we raise more than we need, there are other folks who will be part of our team whom we plan to help.

We'll also be doing some local fundraisers within our church family, hitting up friends, relatives, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett - heck why not?

But no matter the result -barring health issues with Amy - we are going on this trip.

Okay, enough beating around the bush. Here are the details should you be in a position to help.

First and foremost: Pray.

I know, every mission trip letter you've ever received says that, but we really need your prayers. Pray for Amy's health, pray for discernment, pray for safe travel. That will truly mean more to us than any financial gift. I mean that.

If you are in a position to give financially, there are several options.

1. Write a check to CERI and make a notation of:

"Moldova Christmas Mission - Michael & Amy Main" in the "memo" area.

This is the absolute preferred way to do it.

For one, you know the money is not ever touching our hands, and you will receive a letter in return acknowledging your contribution which can be used for tax purposes. This is a completely non-profit organization.

The address for CERI is:

Children's Emergency Relief International
909 N.E. Loop 410, Suite 800
San Antonio, Texas 78209

2. You can make a donation on-line.

I'm not big on asking folks to use their credit cards (see previous reference to being in debt) but if you are "plastic sensible" and prefer to do it that way, you can follow this link.

There is a spot to "designate" how the money should be used, and if you'd be so kind as to designate us, that should be sufficient. This way will also make sure you receive a letter for tax purposes.

3. You can mail a check to our church, again with the designation in the memo line.
The church address is:

Covenant Baptist Church
19204 FM 2252
Garden Ridge, TX 78266

Again, put in the memo line...okay you know the drill.

I wish I could say our church was organized enough to guarantee you'll receive a letter for tax purposes, but I'm not going to promise that. Please consider one of the first two options, although I'll notify our treasurer (Hey, Claud does this count as notification?) to be on the look out for checks of this nature. I must add the caveat that Gordon (Real Live Preacher) picks up our mail. I love the man to death, but he'll be the first to admit he's not the most organized guy on Earth...or Mars...or Neptune...or, well you get the picture.

NOTE: If you make a contribution through CERI or Covenant, please send me an email or leave a comment so I can make certain to account for your generosity.

4. You can mail the check to Amy and me.

We're not organized either, but we'll be sure to put it in the right account.
You WILL NOT receive a letter for tax purposes this way unless you make it out to CERI or to Covenant.

If you don't care about taxes and want to write a note of encouragement - even without a check- we love receiving mail, which says more than I wish to admit about the excitement level in our lives.

This is our address:

Michael & Amy Main
14655 Hillside Ridge
San Antonio, TX 78233

Again, you can still - and should - make the checks out to CERI or Covenant. Please be sure to include your email address.

(Aside) For those of you freakin' out that I just posted our address, I've been in radio for 30 years with a listed phone number, and no one has ever stalked me, called me, bothered me. We're not hard to find, and have no intention of ever becoming so.

5. You can use the PayPal button on the sidebar. I STRONGLY discourage this approach because quite frankly PayPal takes a cut, and is therefore taking money away from our mission. However several people have asked me to put up a PayPal button, as we did with the Gomez family, because they have PayPal accounts and are used to working in that realm.


I will however send you a thank you note or email, which you could attempt to use if the IRS comes banging down your door.

Okay, that's it. It's long...95 percent of the folks who stopped here never got to this line.

Thank you for caring enough to read all of this and thank you for your notes of encouragement, wisdom, and foremost your prayers.

This was difficult for me, but now that it's done I feel better.

Isn't that how God always seems to work?