Before I get to the topic, let me share a few of our family pics. Yes, these were done in September and even though I had them within 24 hours, I am just now sharing them here and putting them up at home.
We set the goal of first quarter of '13 as our target move date so that we could have a deadline, or at least a goal, for our fundraising. We needed to raise money for moving expenses (plane tickets) and living expenses for the first year. What happens after the first year? It gets scarier. We need to find supporters who are in for the long haul. At least a few years, although we hope to be there more than that. Keith says he wants his bones buried in Ethiopia. However, once we're there, we want to figure out how we can survive and not be 100% funded by outside support. There's a goal for that, too!
Through God's providence, we are surrounded by friends who have been giving since before we even made our move public. That's right. A few devotees have been giving each month for over a year. As word has spread, so has the number of supporters.
We had our first fundraising event in September. My friend Gina, who is one of our pastor's wives, organized it. She's a yard sale guru...and apparently comes from a long line of pro yard salers. We're still in awe of our full-on, make-shift thrift store (if you're BFF's with us on FB, video is here. And, our first customer rolled up literally to the door 3 days before we opened.
We made a nice chunk o' change without even putting a dent in mounds of our junk and the other donations that we needed to get rid of. Much of the leftovers went to storage, and a few trailer loads went to Goodwill.
Thrift Sale #2 was held in October, the weekend after I returned from Ethiopia. Through no fault of anyone involved in the organizing of the event, the location was listed incorrectly in the advertisement. When Keith found out about the mistake an hour and a half after opening on Saturday, he declared an end to our yard sale days. Within the hour he had the first of 6 full trailer loads to be dropped at the nearest donation center. Seven hours later, everything was gone. Yep, it took 7 hours to haul everything about a mile down the road.
The sad part wasn't that the event was a total bust, or even watching thousands of treasures being hauled away. No, it was that I wasted 4 days away from my kids and husband organizing the thrift store mass of merchandise.
Another sad part was how many people haggled with me over one measly dollar. When I told one grumpy old man that no, I would not drop the price on a brand new with tags name brand winter coat from $3 to $2, he put his things back and left. I finally started telling people, "Yes, I'll discount it a dollar if you make a one-dollar donation to our cause." And, while a few caved, broke the bank and paid that extra dollar, one man countered with, "But we're on the same team," as he claimed to work for a church. I told him that this wasn't his church's fundraiser. In the end, he paid the asking price on a sporting goods duffle bag, $2. Cha ching.
Did I lose sight of our goal? Get rid of stuff and raise money? Maybe. Probably. Okay, yes. Still, I'd rather give all of it to an organization that helps the community than to fight over a few cents.
We visited some families and one church over Thanksgiving, which brought us close to 60% of our goal. Then it snowballed. It was like the closer we got to 100% the more people wanted to give. Long story, and we are fully funded for the first year! Much still has to be done, but our tentative timeline has us leaving Georgia early March, saying goodbyes to friends and family for a few weeks, and on a plane to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia early April.
We have put it into high gear these last few weeks, although Keith says I have no other speed except "Granny Gear." He acts as if I can really save time by sprinting from my passenger seat of the fan in the garage to just inside the back door of the house to grab my sunglasses. So, high gear. I do know what it looks like, (Keith). And I have been in it.
If you haven't joined our supporters, it's not too late. We still need recurring donations, even small, very small. Although we are covered for living expenses for the first year, there will be some start up cost once we get there which includes a water filter system for our house (Keith here...we'll have to "test" our body's immune system before said water filter system is purchased!).
Last, we have an official website that tells what we're doing, latest events, info on the organizations we're teaming with, a link to our church's donation page for us, and all kinds of goodies. Check it out...SteadfastMission.org.