Posted by: Doug Geiger | 2012/06/22

Why you shouldn’t sponsor us

Henry isn’t going this time around. We just gave him peanut butter a couple months back. Taking him to the third world or on a 30 hour (each way) trip will have to wait a couple years…

Preface

If you want to skip the details (we need $2500 by July 25th and the link to give is here), you could do that. But please don’t. Please read this whole post first. This is the weirdest pitch for a donation you might ever read. Weird because I’m going to be totally honest about why I don’t deserve to be supported. I have been an irrational, self-satisfied ass for more than a decade and the act of writing this is as much about me coming clean and showing some humility as it is about trying to get some financial support and prayers.

Confessions of an ass

I need to get something off my chest that doesn’t make me look like a nice guy, a Christian or even a rationalist. Let me start off by admitting the cynicism I’ve had every time I have been on the other end of one of these “support letters” since I was in my late teens. I never showed it (I don’t think) but I felt like missions trips were vacations wrapped in a thin candy shell of altruism. I never “got” it. If you are reading this and I supported you somehow. Sorry for giving you a few bucks but not respecting your motivations or believing in your cause. Sincerely.

How I viewed “mission trips”

Here is the thing. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around sending some middle class American white guys and gals 10,000 miles away to go paint the side of a crappy hospital some obnoxious color or kick soccer balls around and take photo ops with clearly poor African kids for their Facebook profiles. I felt justified in this because, like any emotional experience it didn’t last forever upon their return home. I felt vindicated when I observed someone spend three weeks eschewing American consumerism over cups of Starbucks. The only thing that seemed to me to  change was that they now were drinking “free trade” coffee. I’m not trying to be funny. I am trying to tell you how much of a dick I was. I used to joke that there was only one picture of an African kid and they sent the same one to every refrigerator in Kansas. Like I said, a real dick.

I don’t know these people. I got this from Google images. I am certain they are good people and it is a nice shade of green, I suppose.

Marriage weakened my defenses

Jordon’s experience growing up was a lot different. She went on a lot of mission trips and saw a lot of the world. She definitely had fun on her trips but she also saw real poverty and hopelessness and probably did some painting and soccer playing but she got something else, she got perspective and humility I don’t have. She became a better person than me. Over time, we have talked a lot about mission trips and third world living realities and identified some of the root of my cynicism.

First, if I grant that things are that bad “over there” wherever “there” is I have to accept that there are problems this project manager can’t manage. Put simply: I scoffed at missions and philanthropy because it staved off crushing hopelessness. Somehow, I constructed an approach whereby refusing to accept the depth of pain and evil in the world it wasn’t real. That is hardly the mark of a man that prides himself in objectivity. Proof of my approach: I purposely did not watch Hotel Rwanda because I didn’t want to know the truth, even the sliver of truth that that movie portrayed. I was still trying to block out an image in my mind of an overhead shot of refugees from the genocide lined up at the entrance of a neighboring country being denied entrance that I saw on an array of TVs at a BestBuy in high school.

The tipping point

Over time, I gave ground to Jordon that perhaps I was not an expert on the topic of the root causes of problems in Africa. It wasn’t until I joined Saddleback Leather, who is very active in serving Rwanda and helping others do the same that I had an opportunity to reevaluate my stance on a mission trip for white middle class Americans. We have an opportunity to go to Rwanda for 10 days and spend time with street kids and maybe even paint a hospital.

Somehow that alone felt hollow, so we further decided to sponsor a child named Kayesu Agnes. We may even get to meet her. She is a 16-year old girl who lives in extreme poverty and somehow our $40 a month will make a big improvement to her life. We sponsor Kayesu through Africa New Life Ministries (ANLM), a highly regarded Christian aid organization. Regardless of whether we raise the funds for this trip, we are going to make a small dent and help at least one person, one human of billions, on that continent. That is the beginning of my penance and start to my newfound empathy.

We really hope we get to meet Kayesu!

The pitch – Here is how this works:

  1. The charity itself: You can’t have a support letter without painting a colorful vision of the good your dollars are doing. First of all, the charity is solid. I’d love for you to visit their website http://www.africanewlife.org to see all they are doing.
  2. Our trip details: Now I tell you about our trip: we are heading to Rwanda with an Africa New Life team this September 2012. We will be serving women and children–doing several projects and programs with them. We will also have the opportunity to see the progress ANLM is making on their seminary, street-children’s ministry, dream center and schools in three different Rwandan cities. We are really hoping we get to see Kayesu in person, too. Her picture is below.
  3. We ask for money: I ask you for money but make it easy to bow out gracefully. There is also a significant amount to be raised in order for me to pursue this calling. If you feel led to help by contributing to the cost ($2500), I would be so grateful. Contributions are tax-deductible as ANLM is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.
  4. We ask for prayers: We ask for your prayers for our health and that we would be a blessing to the rest of the team we are traveling with and with the Rwandans we will meet.
  5. We ask you to support a child if you can: There are thousands of children in Rwanda that still need sponsors. To sponsor a child please visit our Web site www.africanewlife.org and choose one of the many children who are ready for sponsorship today or contact children@africanewlife.org.

Some notes

  • We are well aware that some of you are not Christians. So, maybe the Christian part is off-putting. Sorry about that. The organization we are going with is Christian and so are we. If those facts make you uncomfortable, we understand. We were your friends before and will be after, regardless.
  • While the trip is in September, we need to gather the money as soon as possible because the expenses keep rolling in (inoculations are around a $1000 for Jordon and I and that is to say nothing of the gear and clothes we need to buy).
  • We have $2500 left to raise by July 25th we will need to pay for out of pocket or without tax-deductible contributions. So, if in spite of all I’ve said, you would like to donate any amount, please do so quickly. 

How to donate to our trip:

If you would like to support us financially, you can give online at www.africanewlife.org. Find our name at the bottom of the page here and continue the online giving process. When writing a check please do NOT put my name anywhere on the check as that will eliminate the tax-deductible status for giving. Rather please attach a note that designates the funds should be applied to me specifically. All checks should be made out to Africa New Life Ministries. A tax-deductible receipt will be mailed to you whether you give online or via a check.

Thanks

Thanks in advance for those that give us money and pray for us. And thanks for letting me get that off my chest. I doubt in ten days Doug will do a lot to heal all the parts of Rwanda that need it, but here’s hoping Rwanda can help heal the parts of Doug that need it and bring Jordon and I closer together as husband and wife through the experience.

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