“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Friday, January 10, 2014

They Didn't Want Any Party

The Ethiopia/Uganda Chronicles
Chapter 3 - The Offerings

Ethiopian Mother and Child
photography by Anthony Kaetzel

Religion that God our Father accepts
as pure and faultless is this:
 to look after orphans and widows in their distress 
and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  
James 1:27

It was sometime in October, I think.  Anthony went to the mailbox and came back with a stack of mail.  He handed me a handwritten envelope as he opened another one that was addressed to himself.

He didn't recognize the name.  Perhaps it was the name of a neighbor from his childhood?  But he couldn't be sure.  And as he opened the letter out poured a check for $5 and a note that said,
Hello Anthony & Sheri - Just a little to help you on your mission, far away from home. 
 Huh?  Who would be sending us $5?  And what would have prompted them?

We shook our head and thought it best to call Anthony's mom to see if she knew anything about it.  But before we did I opened the handwritten envelope that was in my hand.
Sheri/Anthony - Congrats and Happy 25th Wedding Anniversary!!  An incredible accomplishment.  Have a great and safe trip in February --
It was from one of my cousins.  And out poured a check for $25.

Double HUH?  Anthony's former neighbor and my cousin?  Both sending checks for our trip?  Um... couldn't be a coincidence could it?  After Anthony hung up from speaking to his mom, I heard all the details.

Both of our moms had wanted to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary in August.  We nixed it.  We're not party people.  The anniversary is just significant to us, so why would we have others celebrate us?  Some of our family gave us cards and gifts, but that was the end of that... or so we thought.

Sometime in September Anthony's mom drafted a letter and met with my mom to discuss it.  They would send out a note to a few family and friends that said,

Sheri & Anthony just celebrated their 25th Wedding Anniversary.  They didn't want any party.  So we didn't plan anything during their visit in August.

Anthony did mention that they plan to celebrate their anniversary in February with a missions trip to Ethiopia.  While there they will be ministering to a group of Widows and Orphan Children.

Ministering in Ethiopia is what Anthony & Sheri feel called to do.  This is what they are all about.

If you would like to give a gift/donation for this ministry, Widows & Orphan Children, send it to...

This announcement is from Donna (my mom) and Ruth (Anthony's mom).

We were so touched.  To be so loved by our parents.  To have their support for the trip to Ethiopia.  To be understood and validated.  This is what they are all about.  That's what touched us the most.  That our mothers would be so bold as to send a request like this to others is out of their comfort zone.  To be an adult child and to hear your parents say, "Well done."  It was all too much.  We were honored.

At the time our pastor, Ray Noah, had been preaching on generosity.  About how you can't out give God.  That if we give generously towards those things which touch God's heart He will prosper us so that we will give even more generously. 

God's circular law of generosity: 
When we share more, 
We will have more, 
So we can give more 
Which will enable us to do more. 
~Ray Noah

And what it meant was that those family and friends sending us checks would be blessed by God.  It wasn't just a blessing to us.  We were blessed to receive it, but it was going straight to Kingdom work.  And those blessings belonged to those who had given this offering that we were just being the conduits of.  We were excited for them.  For those who were giving this offering not knowing how and when it would be used.

It was a few days later that the card came.  It was addressed to us but Anthony wanted me to open it.  He could tell by the return label that he thought I should open it.

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.  ~ Jim Elliot

"'For whoever desires to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.'" 
Matthew 16:25 NKJV

Dear Anthony & Sheri,
Happy belated 25th wedding anniversary.  May God bless you with many more.

We were so blessed to learn that ministering to Ethiopian widows & orphan children, is your hearts desire.

Enclosed is a check for $1,000.  Thank you for giving us the opportunity to give this gift.  We will be praying for you.

May God's richest blessings be showered upon you in ways you could never hope or think.  Love in Him... Please keep in touch.

Tears filled our eyes and we both choked back deep sighs of wonder.  Partly over the generous amount.  Partly because it came from someone who only had faded memories of me of years gone by.  Partly because God must have been doing something in their hearts.  Partly because Ethiopian widows and orphan children were going to be blessed.  And wholly because God orchestrated all of it.  And we got to see Him do it.  For just a moment He gave us His eyes to see a picture that is so huge and beyond what we could ask or imagine...

Even now it is almost too much to share.  The generosity that has continued to pour in over the last few months.  That we get to take these offerings with us.  That we get to present them for you.  To say I am humbled... Well, that is the understatement.

What is it that God will do?  What has He already done?  How much more could He bless?  Who can say?  But we are excited to take you on this journey with us.  

Anthony, Christopher and I will be leaving Portland in February for Ethiopia.  We will also spend time in Uganda.  I'm not sure how much I will be able to correspond during that time, so I am sharing as much with you now as I can.

Wait... I think I hear the door bell.  Yup, it's the nurse.  The final three of eight immunizations and I guess I am ready to go.  A couple more Snoopy band-aids and I'm all done.

And who knows... maybe we are party people after all.  
At least Ethiopian style.

For more of my thoughts on my trip to Ethiopia and Uganda visit here.


gideonmommasita said...

tears welled up in my eyes, beautiful! I'm so excited that all three of you will be going to Africa. Added bonus is that you will be getting more sun durring a particularly dreary part of home weather!

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

This is just so beautiful, Sheri. I don't even really know what to say except that there was a season not long ago when Billy and I felt the incredible generosity of so many during my cancer season. It really is overwhelming - to think of this kind of tangible love given without restraint or expectation. I only pray to have such a giving heart as the Lord prompts. This is going to be some trip, friend.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...
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