Wednesday, 22 June 2016

A Fundraising Snapshot and a Reality Check

Hi Friends,

We wanted to take this opportunity to update you on a few things and share a snapshot of where we're at with our support raising. The last few months have been long and hard and full of chaos (which you can read all about in this post), but we're finally getting ourselves organized and experiencing a bit of peace in our lives again.

We enjoyed a nice Father's Day as a family and we've been laying low these last few weeks - it's been nice!

We got a nice heavy package in the mail from Romania the other day! It was full of the PDF brochures that Jerry and I helped create (we edited the text and PDF's designer put the brochures together). We will be attending the Torchbearers North American Tour on July 15 and 16, 2016 and we'll be speaking at one of the sessions, sharing about PDF and the ministry in Romania. We'll be handing out PDF brochures to prospective students, answering questions, and hanging out with Torchbearers alumni. Entry to the conference is by donation so if you're interested in attending to learn more about the Torchbearers ministry worldwide, just CLICK HERE for more information. We'd love to see you there! When we have more information about which session we'll be speaking at, we'll let you know.

Throughout this journey we've always had support-raising in the back of our minds, kind of where we'd like it to stay, to be honest. Asking for money is something neither of us enjoy doing or are particularly good at, and when we said yes to this opportunity we truly believed that if God wanted us to do this that He would be the one to provide for our needs, both financial and otherwise. We've never had to ask for money before as we've always had good jobs that provided for all our financial needs, and we've always done ministry in a volunteer capacity over and above our day jobs, so money was never a factor.

I was encouraged by a conversation the other day with a very Godly woman I know - she remarked that what we're doing is very biblical...selling everything and saying yes to what God wants us to do. We talked for a few minutes about how obedience like this is so hard because it goes against much of what the world would have us believe is wise, and that it's one thing to SAY you trust God, but it's a completely different story to actually step out in faith and ACT on that trust. Selling everything we own BEFORE we actually have all our monthly support lined up has certainly felt like an act of trust for us.  As we look back on the last 12 years of our life together and the things God has brought us through it is obvious that He has led us here, and at the right time. And because we are sure of this, we have no other choice but to trust Him, even though we have every logical reason not to according to the world's standards.

After receiving our most recent statements from The Great Commission Foundation we felt both so excited and a little deflated at the same time. Of course, it's amazing that God has provided so much for us through your generosity and obedience to Him in giving to our ministry. But in our humanness we feel the fear creeping in when we see just how far we have to go, and in such a short time. We believe that God will provide for us since he's called us to this, but at this point it's hard to see how that will happen.

Here's a snapshot of where we're at right now (as of June 20th):

We fly to Romania in under 2 months and we're at the halfway mark to our monthly support goal. We have some reserve in our ministry account, thanks to funds raised at our fundraiser and thanks to some awesome one-time donations, which we are SO grateful for! However there are many expenses we have to cover with this reserve once we arrive in Romania and we have to pay for the cost of shipping some necessities to Romania ahead of us (our winter outerwear, English books, etc.). Based on our most recent statement, we can't afford to dip into our reserve account for any monthly expenses and so reaching our monthly support goal is pretty important.

Essentially, we need approximately $1500 per month more in order to just cover our living costs in Romania (if you'd like to have a look at a more detailed budget, please CLICK HERE. Some of the amounts are an estimate, but it will at least give you an idea of the breakdown of our expenses).

The remaining amount we need to raise is $1500/month. That's 75 people committing to $20/month, 30 people committing to $50/month, 15 people committing to $100/month, or 10 people committing to $150/month. We know, it sounds crazy to us too, but we're trusting that God will provide both the people and the funds to support us so our immediate needs are met in Romania as we do His work there.

You might have some questions about our financial needs or how all this support-raising stuff works. We're asked a lot of questions about fundraising, so here's our attempt to answer some of the questions we get most often:

Q: If I want to support The Bakers on a monthly basis but not start actually giving until they leave in August, is that possible?
A: Yes! If you plan to support us monthly but start your monthly support in August, you can actually register as a donor now without giving a cent until the date you choose! CLICK HERE to set up a monthly automatic donation. If you register now that helps us immensely because then we know we can count on your donation come August.

Q: What if I can't commit to monthly donations? Can I still make a one-time donation?
A: Yes! One-time donations get deposited into an account with The Great Commission Foundation and we can use them toward our monthly expenses if monthly donations are low, and they're also used for covering ministry expenses, travel expenses, etc. CLICK HERE to make a one-time donation.

Q: Can I get a tax receipt for my donation?
A: Yes! All donors who donate over $50 per year will receive a tax receipt issued by The Great Commission Foundation.

Q: What if I can't donate right now but I plan to later?
A: That's great! You can contact TGCF and arrange for a post-dated donation (send them a post-dated cheque).

Q: Can I just sign up to receive your newsletters and partner as a prayer supporter instead of supporting you financially?
A: YES!! We would love to have people committed to praying for us every day! If you'd like to join our list of prayer supporters, please EMAIL US with your email address and we'll add you to our list! You can also sign up for our email list by CLICKING HERE.

If you have any other questions we haven't addressed, please just email us and we'd be happy to answer any questions you have.

Practical Needs:

- We're looking for a rolling, carry-on size laptop bag to help us transport our computers and other electronics to Romania safely. If you happen to have one you're planning to get rid of, or know where we can get one at a reduced price, please let us know!

- We're going to need some help to clean our house before we leave it (washing walls, wiping out cupboards, cleaning windows, etc.). If you love to clean and would be willing to lend an hour or two and some elbow grease it would be so helpful and would save us having to pay a cleaning company.

Prayer Requests:

- Please pray for our kids. Specifically for how they're coping emotionally with all the change in their lives and for peaceful, restful sleep for them at night (and for us!).

- Please pray for our physical health over these next few months. We're feeling worn out and a little run down, and it's important that we're able to hit the ground running when we arrive in Romania as there is much to do in the first 2 weeks we're there. 

- Please pray for our financial needs. We are well on our way to raising support but there is still much more we need to raise in the next 2 months.

- Please pray for buyers for our 2 vehicles. We really need to sell both our van and Jerry's truck before we go so we can buy a vehicle as soon as possible after our arrival in Romania.

Click here to make a donation online!


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Monday, 13 June 2016

Doing the Hard Work

Hi friends,

We are, in a word, exhausted.

The last several weeks have felt like years, except for the fact that time is whipping by us like a high-speed train. When we first began talking about the logistics of this journey and the work it would require it felt so easy to gloss over tasks like selling our furniture on Kijiji, having multiple garage sales, and planning and hosting a fundraising event. And now that we're in the thick of it, we are really feeling just how hard this is. Emotions aside, selling everything you own is really, really hard and it feels like we've been working day and night and there's still so much to do.

As I collapsed into a chair the other day (because we no longer have a couch...) to spend some time in God's word, I was reminded of Jesus' words to the rich young ruler in Mark 10 - "Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." After he hears Jesus' words, the man walks away sad because he is rich with earthly possessions. Now obviously we're not selling all our possessions and then donating the money to the poor...we're selling our possessions in order to be able to buy a few basic things for our home in Romania (like beds and a kitchen table and chairs). But what I connected with in this story is the attitude in which the rich young ruler walked away from Jesus. He was sad and downtrodden because it's our human nature that causes us to be attached to the temporal rather than the eternal. He was disheartened because he knew in that moment how difficult it would be to do what Jesus was asking, even though it sounded like a simple task. And though we're not technically giving away our money to the poor, we are leaving behind our careers (read: earning potential, savings, and a comfortable retirement) and selling all our furniture and belongings at a fraction of the cost it's going to be to replace them, just so we can pour out our lives in service to our Lord and to the people in Romania. 

And let's be honest, there is not a day that goes by where we don't wonder what the heck we're doing, or feel that materialistic nature trying to take over. Make no mistake, selling everything you own is such hard work, even if you take the sentimentality and materialism out of it. It feels so wrong in so many ways...our "stuff" is worth so much more to us than the amount of money we can sell it for, but in those moments when we feel like we're 'losing', stories like the one in Mark 10 remind us that it's actually the opposite.

The best part of this story is the promise that comes after Jesus' command to the rich young ruler: "and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News,  will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life. But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then." And so we trust, that God will keep his promise, of course, and we also trust that day by day He will sustain us and give us what we need to get through each gruelling day of packing, each garage sale, and all the organizing and cleaning, phone calls and emails, and fundraising.

We are so thankful for how God has already provided for us through many of you and your generosity. And we appreciate every person who has helped us out in tangible ways too - our family and our small group has rallied around us like a mighty army and we have no idea what we'd do without all of you!!

And the last several weeks haven't been all difficulty - we've enjoyed so many sweet moments like our little ballerina's first ballet recital, fun times outside enjoying the warm weather, and the summer's first ice cream cones (but certainly not the last!).

So, that's all we can really share as an update at the moment, but there will be more information to come in the next few weeks. In the meantime, here are some praise and prayer items and a list of practical needs.

Prayer Requests:

- Praise God for his provision through our garage sales! We've raised about 2/3 of the amount it will cost to furnish our house in Romania with basic furniture (beds, kitchen table and chairs, living room furniture, office furniture).
- Thank God for how he's drawing our family closer together. We've had so many sweet moments together as a family of 4 in the last few months and we're so thankful for this!
- Please pray for our kids. Specifically for how they're coping emotionally with all the change in their lives and for peaceful, restful sleep for them at night (and for us!)
- Please pray for our financial needs. We are well on our way to raising support but there is still much more we need to raise in the next 2 months.
- Please pray for buyers for our 2 vehicles. We really need to sell both our van and Jerry's truck before we go so we can buy a vehicle as soon as possible after our arrival in Romania.

We need:

- More suitcases or large duffel bags!! We're short about 3 pieces of luggage and we'd rather not have to buy brand new luggage before we go. If you happen to have some lying around that you'd like to donate, please CONTACT US! We'll come pick it up, and even if it's a little bit worse for wear (a partially broken zipper or handle), that's ok. 

- We'd love to have more email addresses for our email newsletter list. We'll be sending you blog posts as we update regularly as well as subscriber-only updates and prayer request lists. If you'd like to sign up, fill out the form below.

- Of course, we are still in need of monthly financial support and one-time donations. All information on how to donate is below, and if you were one of the people who pledged to us in the beginning stages of our fundraising, feel free sign up for your donation anytime by clicking either of the links below.

Click here to make a donation online!

If you are one of the people who pledged monthly support to us over the last few months, we are completely set up with The Great Commission Foundation to begin registering monthly donors and taking donations. You can CLICK HERE to head over to our donation page for more information about how to become a monthly supporter or to make a one-time donation. 

That's all for now, friends! Thanks so much!

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