Thursday, January 27, 2011

a word of thanks, and a request

Having in my last post just reflected on how truly blessed I am to be here—to be teaching and being taught; to be encouraging the cross-cultural understanding of others and broadening my own; to be serving and being served; to be challenging and growing my faith in a way I have never experienced—it is only appropriate that I also take a moment to thank all of the people who have made this year of mission service a possibility.

I am especially thankful for…
-Presbyterians all over the US, who (probably unknowingly) support the YAV Program through the Pentecost Offering
-My home church, First Presbyterian, who has been SO encouraging and supportive
-Churches previously unknown to me—Arlington Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville, FL, and Dunnellon Presbyterian Church in Dunnellon, FL—who took an unexpected and much-appreciated interest in this endeavor, and who welcomed me into their churches. I entered as a stranger, and left as a friend. 
-All of my family, friends, and acquaintances—and even some anonymous folks—who have contributed financially, in amounts big or small, making it possible for me to be doing this work in the first place.

Truthfully, the fundraising element (all YAVs are required to fundraise $9000 throughout the course of their year) almost caused me to not even apply for the program.  The Peace Corps didn’t require fundraising—heck, I would even get $6,000 at the end! The fundraising ‘problem’, however, became irrelevant as I continued to navigate my own call to the ministry, and became increasingly certain that YAV was where God wanted me to be.

Fundraising turned out to be a much more positive experience than I could have ever anticipated. I was shocked when, on multiple occasions, people I had just met, after sharing a little about myself and what I would be doing, made a contribution on the spot. One woman, whose daughter had been a YAV several years ago, wrote a check for $200 after I had barely gotten the words “my name is Madison and I’m going to be serving as a YAV” out of my mouth. Responses like that were heartening in times when I occasionally found myself thinking “a year in India…what am I getting myself in to?!” Someone believed in me, even if I didn’t always believe in myself.

After just having re-read this post up until this point, I realize that I’m speaking about my fundraising effort as if it’s something that was finished long ago. In reality, I still have about $4000 to raise. I have been so engrossed with my YAV experience, and my time has been especially taken up lately working on Seminary applications (wish me luck!), that fundraising has definitely been put on the backburner. Actually, it hasn’t even been on the metaphorical stove.

Ideally, I would like to finish my fundraising so that I can continue living fully into my YAV year, without this four-thousand-dollar-size task looming large on my to do list. To that end, I ask you (yes, you!!) to consider making a donation. Your contribution will help to support not only MY year of mission service, but YAVs all around the world.

Please consider donating if you…
-believe the education of girls, especially from disadvantaged backgrounds, to be essential
-value literacy and multilingualism
-appreciate the importance of engendering cross-cultural understanding
-agree with the rationale behind St. Francis of Assisi’s words when he charged us to "spread the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words"
-have enjoyed taking this journey with me via my blog, and want to participate in a more concrete way

Taking a quick look at the ‘statistics’ page of my blog, I see that it has gotten almost 200 views in the past couple of weeks (thanks for reading!!). If each of those people donated $20—the cost of dinner and a movie—I would easily reach my goal.

To help continue making this program possible, please take a moment and click here (yes, I am Position 4). Any amount helps, no matter how small.

From the bottom of my heart, and on behalf of all those who benefit the from the YAV Program, including the volunteers themselves—thank you :)

"The life you touch for good or ill will touch another life, and in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place your touch will be felt." –Frederick Buechner

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