Saturday, August 9, 2008

Girl Scout Cookies and S'Mores

Like many of my childhood friends, I became a good Girl Scout by memorizing the Brownie Promise, putting on that great big smile and weaving a bright yellow oilcloth sit-upon. But when I was a child, I earned no merit badge for selling Girl Scout cookies. My parents were concerned that our neighbors might find that intrusive. When I became a woman, I still hadn't learned how to ask for support, even for very good reasons. (And Girl Scout cookies, in my humble opinion, remain among some of life's very good reasons.)
I was taught to be supportive, of course, to share my time and treasure, to commit myself to a myriad of volunteer activities, to almost always say "Yes" to almost everyone and everything, and to follow through with love and determination. But I was taught to never, ever ask for anything. Well, dear family and friends, I am living proof that even retired Girl Scouts are not too old to learn. During these past few weeks, I have needed to follow through on my "Yes" to God. I have had to ask for both prayers and financial support in order to commit the next year/s of my life to working with people who have also had to ask -- for a whole lot more.

The children of Maseno thank you, and I thank you, for teaching me some valuable lessons, even in my dotage. Hm... Perhaps I should say thank you for teaching me "s'more"! I have learned to receive your amazing gifts of time and friendship, as well as your remarkable donations of dollars and cents. You have opened your hearts as well as your pocketbooks to join me in mission, and I am thankful. Times are not easy for some of us right now, but times are much worse for many others.
I am grateful to you who have been to Kenya, who know its people and understand their needs. I am grateful to you who have never been to Africa, who know its people through story alone, and who sincerely want to help. I am grateful to you who could decide to cope with local and global crises by simply "shutting down" -- but who don't. I am grateful to you who have great means and generously share it, as well as to those of you who have little means and still manage to share what you have. I am grateful...

To my mother, siblings, children, grandchildren and friends, all of whom will be sharing my life with the people of Maseno. To the people who pray me into confidence (yes, I feel it) and email me into strength. To my beloved employers and co-workers who understand "call." To a cherished soul who pledged "$10 a week -- that's just two suppers, Dianne; I can drink millk those nights, instead." To the couple who volunteered to sit at a nonprofit table for three days in the August sun to raise AIDS-in-Africa awareness, as well as money. To church friends collecting baseball memorabilia and family friends offering a quilt to raffle...

To Diomass companeros who inspired and informed my mission heart; to Jubilee, Samaritans Now and the many organizations already serving our sisters and brothers in need; and to those who are still finding ways to serve more.To the good cook who suggested a bake sale and the Fair Trade coffee buyers who support mission at St. Andrew's. To the committed couple who invited me to an "Africa Sunday" celebration, the Cape neighbor who drove me to Chatham, and everyone who welcomed me at the service. To the friends who gave me the perfect Tilley and the attorney's office that prepared my legal documents pro bono. To a nursing school classmate who miraculously found white uniforms (the requisite dresses, not scrubs!) in her attic for me to wear in Maseno...

To a struggling shopkeeper who wrote, "I sell African jewelry and would be happy to promote it as a fundraiser for your mission trip. My own mission is more spiritual than financial." To the parish priests who provide forums and the parishioners who sit through them. To the neighbors who shake their heads and love me anyway. To the niece who supports a young son and supports me, too. To the friends who are confronting cancer and still reaching out to others in need. To the missionaries everywhere (including you!) who live out their faith, step by step and day by day. To people who are praying with us and for us and the children of Maseno, all over the world.
We are over halfway toward our $27,000 mission budget for the first year, with $17,000 donated and another $400 pledged. I promised the Hardisons that I'd be in Kenya in October. Thank you for teaching me to ask and teaching me to receive. Thank you for helping me keep my promise. Girl Scout cookies are good, but your "s'mores" are the best! They are giving every one of us the energy to keep on fund-raising for our mission to Maseno.
"We are all missionaries," Archbishop Tutu reminds us. Bwana Asifiwe (Praise God) and Amen!

1 comment:

Marya DeCarlen said...

Dear Diane,
I just read the Jubilee Newsletter and found your blog....what an incredible journey of trust, faith and adventure you are embarking upon. The parish I serve raised $21,000 for our first mission trip to the Dominican Republic. I have to say that the fund raising was as faith raising as the actual mission trip...only in different ways....quite like you have explained on your blog. We are all missionaries...you will be in my prayers and in the prayers of St. James, Groveland as you prepare to leave for Maseno North.
As you prepare your heart for this invitation to love, our hearts are beside you.

in awe,wonder and praise,
Marya DeCarlen+
St. James, Groveland