This week’s ROOM contributor is Kaylie Kuhn. Kaylie is serving as a full-time, permanent missionary in Honduras. She manages the Orphanage Care program in Honduras and provides critical childcare for ROOM Transition Homes. Kaylie is passionate about orphan prevention and family reunification. She spends most of her time and energy supporting Lizzie, her former foster daughter, as she transitions back into the care of her biological family. As both the youngest (age 20) and longest tenured ROOM Missionary (Kaylie began her missionary work with ROOM two years ago when she was a foster mother at age 18), Kaylie’s experience, personal relationships with the orphan care community and passion for children, are tremendous assets to Reach Out Orphanage Ministries’ work in Honduras.
As the ROOM 2 Come and See matching gift fundraiser continues, we’re all trying to do our best to keep the fundraising spirit high! In honor of this great campaign, I’d love to share a missionary perspective on fundraising, in order to give you an outlook of what it’s like for us. Thank you, ROOM family, for all you do to support us and our beautiful kids everyday! Now, without further ado…
Things missionaries won’t tell you about fundraising
1) We don’t know how to talk about ourselves.
– We tend to have no problem talking about the children we care for or the people we’re serving; but we have no idea how to talk about ourselves. We love talking about our programs, and even the other missionaries in our organization, but when asked about ourselves we go silent. Mission work is so outreach focused that it’s hard to think inwards. It’s not that we don’t appreciate ourselves, or think the work we do is unimportant, it’s just not the first thing that comes to mind when we’re so used to speaking about our organization and programs. It’s also hard because it feels like we’re “tooting our own horn.” We don’t want to come off as overly confident or prideful, especially when missionaries are expected to be humble. It’s a hard thing to try to balance.
2) Updating your donors can be a nightmare
– As missionaries we feel an overwhelming pressure to spin everything into a happy, inspirational story. It’s not that we think our donors won’t understand our struggles, but more because it’s another one of those false missionary expectations: Missionaries always succeed. I’ve definitely felt this type of pressure, being compared to Katie Davis (of the book “Kisses From Katie”) before. While I know the person who compared me intentions were good, it still put an immense pressure on me to be more like Katie Davis. I knew our thoughts, personalities and callings were different, but I still couldn’t shake the comparison and became discouraged as I saw myself as the underwhelming version Katie Davis instead of the awesome-in-my-own-way Kaylie Kuhn. When it came to Lizzi I didn’t “succeed” in the typical way, and it was hard to update those praying for my success. I struggled to spin Lizzi’s story into a happy ending. I didn’t know how to inspire others when I was lacking inspiration myself. We all get into that place of devastation in our lives, the only difference with missionaries is that we have to broadcast ours. So if you haven’t heard from the missionary you support in a while, just give them time. They may need a little while before they’re able to give you the full story.
3) There is no such thing as a budget on the mission field.
– While utility bills and rental costs usually stay the same, our budgets change constantly. On the mission field, you never know what you’re going to get. One month you’re in the green, raising three foster kids, and the next month you’ve accidentally taken on a family of three for emergency care and are one month in debt. Or your foster son needs a surgery. Or there’s a baby girl with a hole in her heart desperately in need of your care. As much as we’d love to have savings and emergency accounts we generally just don’t have enough to spare to prepare. As much as we can show you our budget, our lives change too often for us to really keep up with it. Which is exactly why we constantly need to fundraise, whether or not our not our needs are met at the moment.
4) We’re not always on the best terms with God.
– it’s a common misconception that missionaries are always happy and pleased with God. We have just as many struggles in our relationship with the Lord as anybody. Every time we lose a child, every time we’re taken out of comfort zone and put into a situation we weren’t prepared for, every time we lose hope seeing all the unquenchable need around us, it’s hard for us to stay inspired. Our incomes rely completely on God. Even those given salaries, the salaries come from donations. Our work is also dependent on God, whenever He wants to change it, He will. All too often He tests us by restraining the income and doubling the work. He puts us in a place totally reliant on Him. I know everyone in any job is put into these situations, it’s just so apparent on the mission field. I’ve had many moments where I’ve cried out to God in frustration and anger. I’ve taken His work into my own hands rather than depending on Him. I’ve been hopeless and refused to look for the lesson He was teaching at me at the moment. Just because we’re on the mission field doesn’t mean we know God better, or listen better, or even obey his calling. We struggle daily, sometimes even hourly, to listen to His words and depend on Him. Being a missionary does not make being a Christian easier. Like I mentioned before, it’s hard to talk about these times with our donors since the general expectation is to make all situations into inspiring stories; to have no doubts. The reality is – missionaries struggle in their relationship with God just as much as any other Christian.
5) We’re not asking you to just support our jobs – we’re asking you to support our lives.
– A missionary’s work isn’t defined by hours in a day. For us, there is no nine-to-five. Our “job” is our lives. It takes up our nights as well as our days. We’re not just asking you to just support us when we’re working with the boys at Senderos, but also when we’re up at night with the babies of the Transition Home. There is no point in the day where the Transition Home gets to say, “Well, I’ve done enough today, you babies go take care of yourself,” or when Kacey gets to say, “Jesus, you’ve been to enough therapy appointments. Let’s just stop going,” or when Johana gets to say “That’s not a part of my job description, I’m not going to help with that.” Our lives surround the jobs we’re doing. It truly is a lifestyle for us. So when we ask for donations or prayers, it’s personal, and it means more than you could ever imagine to us.
6) Our supporters are family to us.
– Ok, so maybe you guys did know this one. Even with our updates lacking or our communications failing; we love you guys. We could never do what we do without you. We love to share our success stories with you because we know you feel the same joy as we do. We love your prayers. We love it when you “like” our stuff on Facebook, we love to receive messages from you to see how we’re doing. We know that every donation we get is God-inspired, and we love to see God working through you as He calls you to our mission. Although we may not have enough time or energy to express how much we love and appreciate you – please don’t doubt it. Juvencio talks more and more everyday because of you. Eda, and countless others, got a chance to find a forever family instead of growing up in an orphanage because of you. Lizzi and I get to laugh our days away because of you. Thank you so much for every donation and prayer you have ever sent our way – you are family to us, and we love you dearly.
To learn more about Kaylie’s story, please visit her personal blog at https://n2yhonduras.wordpress.com/ To make a financial contribution to her missionary work, please visit https://www.razoo.com/story/Kaylie-S-Mission