Saturday, February 18, 2012

Shame and the USPS

If you're reading this, chances are high that you'll be getting a piece of mail from me through the USPS in the next couple weeks.  You'll see the envelope, a spark of recognition and anticipation might light a fire under you. Perhaps the Webers finally got around to sending me that Christmas card-turned-New-Year's greeting they are late with? Nope. Maybe Heather was affectionately thinking of me, and her fondness was so rooted and ageless and meaningful that she felt the need to do something as quaint and concrete as sending me a handwritten note through an old-fashioned, honest to goodness postperson?  Close. I was thinking of you. And regarding most of you, I admit affection of varying depths. But I did not send you a handwritten note to express it.  I'm very sorry to disappoint all of you who will look at that envelope expecting personal sentiments or trinkets or, in the case of one friend who replied to my request for her address: "Please send money and gluten free cookies."

God help me, and God help all of you.  I have written a fundraising letter. Horror of my deepest horrors. I have described a humanitarian adventure my daughter and I will take in July and I have requested that you take up the adventure with us, in spirit of course, by way of two things: 1) prayer, if you're the praying type and 2) financial contributions to our trip, if you're the giving type. Of course, one may also pray and give. 

In my heart of hearts, I believe this is a great venture to invest prayers and/or dollars.  I believe the work done by Iris Ministries is changing lives in ways both athiests and believers would deem worthy. But it's terrible to ask for money.  Which is why I don't "ask" for it per se.  In my letter, I let you know that if you'd like to partner with us, there is an opportunity.  But I'm not fooling anyone. It's a fundraising letter, with a self addressed envelope included so that you can all send money back to me so that Una and I can buy our passports and plane tickets to Mozambique.   Were it not for the possibility of financial help, I could have sent you all an email and asked for prayers, best wishes, and blessed thoughts.

My friend and pastor, Rich, who was a missionary in Bangladesh for nine years says people are more likely to give if you present them with some numbers, if you suggest $15 or $100 or $1000 donations.  So I printed up these slips to go with the envelope. They say somethign to the effect of (imagine a perky voice): If you would like to financially support us on our trip, we welcome any contribution you would like to make!!  Small numbers add up to big numbers when many people are involved!!  And then I list how many people would need to give if everyone gave $15  or $100, and so on. 

I put these slips in five envelopes and then I had to stop.

Do me a favor, if you get this letter in the mail, forget that you even have a wallet.  Just read the story in the letter. Read it and see how your insides feel when you're done.  If some piece of yourself is crying out in agreement with this story, with our adventure, with the work we have ahead of us, then, maybe, possibly, remember that you have a wallet and see if that place inside of you is leaping at the chance to open it.

But if you read the letter, and you think, eh, then you might want to just cut out the picture of me and Una to remember us by.  And then add the rest of it to your recyling bin.

1 comment:

C.Cary said...

Very clever my friend :)