Monday, April 5, 2010

Coming soon to a refrigerator near you

After returning from Senegal, I’m living in a new reality.

I’m following my dream of becoming a full time missionary midwife in Africa. I find the process very fulfilling, but like all dreams, it involves day to day realism.

One of the aspects of my new reality is (as it is known in Christian circles) “raising my own support.” It means, essentially, raising money to pay for not only trips to Africa, but for my general bills and living expenses in the meantime.

Fund-raising of any kind generally includes mailing out letters. On real paper. With actual stamps. By post. This ancient tradition began before there was email or online networking, and continues as the holy grail of support raising in spite of recent and superior electronic advances. Additionally, somewhere in the dim recesses of recorded history it became a custom for Christian missionaries to send out a photograph of themselves with their fund raising letter.

I’m not sure how the pictures were displayed in ancient days, but in modern times, these photographs, after arriving at the homes of the recipients, are more often than not stuck on the refrigerator along with grocery lists and children’s art. The trend is so prevalent that some missionaries put magnets on the backs of their pictures to make application to said appliance more convenient.

In studying this phenomenon, I’ve found that these photos tend to be uncannily similar in spite of the subjects being from a wide range of countries, churches, and ministries. They are inevitably printed on a rectangle card that fits a legal sized envelope, bearing the smiling face or faces of the senders, usually in an outdoor setting, or perhaps wearing the national costume of the country of service. If the missionaries have children, they will be prominently displayed, front and center, squeaky clean and also smiling. The following information will be printed on the card: “Please pray for __________, serving in ___________, with __________ organization. Send support to ______________.”

Much as I tend to rebel against this display of uniformity among my peers, I have to consider that this time honored custom may have developed because it is known to be effective. Perhaps when people see our faces every time they go to the fridge for a snack, it will remind them that we need to eat too. It may also remind them that we are on the front lines in places they may not want to go, and that we are ministering to those who are also hungry- spiritually and emotionally as well as physically.

In my case, if I include my amazingly beautiful children, folks will no doubt have even more sympathy for my cause.

So, I’ll probably bow to the conventional wisdom and have a “fund raising picture” of my own made soon. But trust me, I’ll find a way to make mine unique. And I refuse to put a magnet on it.

After all, you might want break the refrigerator tradition and frame it and hang it in the living room or something.

2 comments:

  1. Well put me on the list to get one of those! :)

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  2. Ha Ha Ha Ha.

    Roxanne, you always are entertaining. I love to read anything you write. I really missed you while you were gone, because I didn't have those one liners on your status to entertain me when I needed a break from school or work....

    Love you!!!!
    Anita

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