A Bountiful Affair Fund-A-Need Story
ABA Co-coordinator Amanda Mojibi, Tanzania Head Teacher Alice Nanyaro, Superintendent Spencer Peregoy, K-4 Principal Patrice Appold, Tanzania School Director Pastor Joel Malaki (not shown, ABA Coordinator Pattie Yee)
A Bountiful Affair is the premeir fundraiser to St. John's Lutheran Schools. See a photo gallery of this year's Fiesta here.
“A Bountiful Affair” is the major fundraiser of the year for St. John’s Lutheran School. Each year, one of the last events of the evening is called the “Fund-A-Need.” Past “Fund-A-Needs” have raised money for specific projects to help our organization, such as a track, Chromebooks and science lab equipment. Not this year.
This year, we had the opportunity to respond with thankful hearts to the overwhelming blessings we have enjoyed here at St. John’s over the past several years – of new classrooms and a cafeteria under construction, among other things.
This year, “Fund-A-Need” went toward our school in Usa River, Tanzania, that desperately needs a school bus.
A few minutes and an overwhelming display of generosity later, we concluded the biggest “Fund-A-Need” response ever, $80,500 was raised, and enough was provided to purchase two buses with funds left over to meet other needs!
For a full account of this story of generosity written by
ABA event co-coordinator Amanda Mojibi, please read:
Never does the generosity of St. John's families cease to amaze. Specifically in regard to our annual fundraiser, A Bountiful Affair, we find our campus-wide constituents, hailing from St. John's Lutheran School, Children's Center and Church rising to the call for participation - the feet-, hand- and heart-moving kind of action. It is a physical movement of passion, dedication and collective synergy as God moves and works amidst all sorts of obstacles. Just as we begin to worry, oh dear, attendance is down, tickets are not selling...how will we possibly meet our goal so that we can continue to support our financial assistance programs, continue to keep tuition costs down and provide the means for sibling discounts? ... we find ourselves gently nudged by the Spirit to redirect our worry.
Naturally, our operating costs remain the same year after year regardless of how much our premier fundraising event, affectionately referred to as ABA, makes. And, hello...let us not discount the REAL possibility of increased costs of living and unstable job markets. Does that ugly economic variable ever really go away? Talk about serious pressure to deliver for our St. John's community. But, wait!! Is it our job to provide? Is it our job to worry? No, silly us. We are like small children, constantly needing gentle reminders. Our God is WAY more multidimensional and works at a level of divine algorithms infinitely beyond our meager perceived formula for success. This is where we are called to FAITH. God's grace enables us to meet him there in this place of complete vulnerability so that He can continue to talk us out on that narrow plank over deeper and more terrifying shark-infested waters. It is on this precipice of complete dependence on Him that we'll step even further into even greater acts of faith. Enter our Fund-A-Need at this year's A Bountiful Affair. Some new high-tech gadgets for our students, perhaps? Or perhaps replacing the trees that blew down in a storm? That sure would help eliminate the sweltering wait of school parents at dismissal during our hot seasons. No, I don't think so. Not this time. God has called us to abide in Him, to stand on the pinnacle of Faith as we consider not our own needs, but those of others...Let us segue to the Bible at this point, shall we? Bear with us here.
Consider the Jewish laws of the Old Testament. A man on Christian radio once spoke of something that would ordinarily turn my ears off due to sheer boredom. Legal lists of do this and do that are generally excruciatingly dull, and seem otherwise archaic. They call it the Old Testament for a reason, right? However, I could not forget this one which comes from Exodus 23:10-11 - it struck me so profoundly.
For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield,
but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat...
That's standard boring legalism, right? WRONG! What is the premise here? Why should God's people let the land go fallow on the 7th year? To provide for the weak, for those in need, yes? So, it is written in God's law. I suppose the Jewish people of the Old Testament just had to begrudgingly obey though they could otherwise profit if not for the fear of being struck down by the heavenlies. A year's worth of productivity is a huge loss, is it not? Shall we give it a go here in Kern County? Turn off the oil refining units, pipes and pumps and let our rich crops go by the wayside to be consumed by drought and scorching sun with no human intervention? Why should God's people even consider doing this when we could just give a portion of 7th year, or even every year, yields to those in need? The answer is one simple word - FAITH. We are to trust that in the years of productivity and profit He grants us, God will enable us to put away enough to provide for a season of non-productivity, whether intentional or circumstantial.
Subsequently, this season not only provides for those who are in need, but also transforms us with heightened dependence and faith. Do you know what else is happening here? Of course, you do...we're all predominantly ag-minded here, right? Land that is permitted to go fallow is inherently being restored with rich nutrients to ensure future grow power. That's a technical ag term, I'd bet - "grow power." But, get this...grow power can only be injected into our soil, into our environment, professions, homes, families and selves through faith. God can only transform us if we step out. We will only be restored and boosted with productivity and yields by denying ourselves every season and again, and instead diverting those fruits beyond us. Once you've tried it, you realize that you don't feel so denied, because the rewards of reaching beyond ourselves are poignant morsels of self-fulfillment for the soul.
Ok, biblical diversion complete. Back to this year's Fund-A-Need at our 5th annual A Bountiful Affair (hmm...unseasonably early, you astutely note). In the past our Fund-A-Need contributions from ABA attendees have resulted in amazing tools and assets for the educational and developmental purpose of our St. John's students. From a track, to Chromebooks and state of the art science lab equipment for our new classrooms, our kids are rolling (and running, pun intended) in abundant blessings. This year, Superintendent Spencer Peregoy said, "Hey, why don't we shake things up and get a little crazy this year." Sure, Mr. Peregoy. You're the big boss here, but you may just be on the verge of insanity. I like it! You see, St. John's Lutheran Church has been involved with the Diocese of Meru in Arusha, Tanzania since before 2010 via the mission involvement of a couple of our own church members in the community there. A delegation went over not long after that and plans for a school partnership began to formulate with the Diocese. St. John's wired over some funds and a private, Christian, English-speaking school (Makumira-Kilala Pre- & Primary English Medium School) was erected out of the dust in Usa River, Arusha and opened in 2014 to predominantly serve the poor. Problem number one arises: most of the poor cannot afford private school tuition. Shocking revelation. No problem, the people of St. John's (school, preschool and church) can sponsor 30, 80, 120, 200 students? Sure! We've got it covered. Problem number two: a class has been added every year as the school's student body marches its way up to grade 7. With the 5th year upon us, the school is officially out of space. No problem, we can give you a portion of our yields. With our own campus expansion, we're quite tight...but we're doing okay, we'll make it work. Problem number 3: many students and staff walk several kilometers on dirt roads to get to and from school. During rainy season, they are often late and arrive muddy. Brown uniform bottoms are quite strategic in disguising encrusted remnants of the long journey through inclement weather. Wait, why did we think white uniform tops were a good option for our own spaghetti-slurping, ketchup-dripping, monkey bar-clinging, soccer-sliding, grass-stain-go-lucky students of St. John's? For some of us, it's a measure of how "good" of a day our child has had. The filthier that white polo, the more fun they surely had...now that was a GOOD day! Where's the bleach?! However, turning our attention back to our Tanzania kids, mud-encrusted pants from walking kilometers on a perilous road somehow do not strike us as very fun. Furthermore, those students who arrive by motorbike or taxi do so in a very dangerous manner. Again, not so fun. Their exercise - the act of walking kilometers to school - is very functional, mundane and risky. Our students' exercise is discretionary play. We call it recess; our educators call it intentional physical activity amidst a culture of modern conveniences and too much screen time. For those Tanzania students who come by car, it is not as glorious as you may think. Have you ever transported 20 kids in a car the size of a Subaru? Can you imagine the liability and risk?! Where helmets are far and few between on motor bikes, and roads laden with heavy traffic produce great peril to pedestrians, there has to be a better way. Oh, but it will cost a good chunk of change. How do we address this very serious problem? Yes! You nailed it...Fund-A-Need! Superintendent Peregoy’s idea was that the goal of our Fund-A-Need be to raise funds for a school bus for the Tanzania school.
Switch to A Bountiful Affair, not our 7th annual, but our 5th annual. Our auctioneer responded in shocked silence as we conveyed our intentions for ABA's Fund-A-Need this year. His first utterance was something to the effect of: "no one does that...never in my career has anyone had a fund-a-need that does not directly benefit their organization." With that said, Mr. Grigg of Elite Auctions was soon on board and fired up to take Fund-A-Need up and out a notch or three. With that said, his warning was clear - we would either bomb it or reach the hearts of our generous audience and knock it out of the park. If you were in attendance, you will know which direction it took. There really was no chance of a middle ground, we were told. We are beyond pleased to announce that through faith, in utter dependence and fully prepared to fall off that steep, jagged peak of risk, the people of St. John's and event attendees from the community responded with love and unexplainable, overwhelming giving. Even with a snafu in our program and a heart-grabbing video that could not be shown, hearts and ears were at attention and ready to bestow safety and logistical blessings upon our students in Tanzania. God had it all figured out, with or without our "help."
Another powerful and most timely piece to this wonderful evening was the presence of our honored guests from Makumira-Kilala School. School Director, Pastor Joel Malaki and Head Teacher, Alice Nanyaro had just rolled into Bakersfield after a long, arduous, sleepless journey from across the globe. They literally made it just in time given many other snafus we won't here mention. God had us sweating for a moment or several, but He worked it all out, not by our doing but in His time and by His plan. In total, among a room of 370 heart-wide-open individuals, we raised a total of $80,500. We set out with a goal to attain a single refurbished bus from Japan which costs around $30,000, plus perhaps a bit of extra money to cover operation and maintenance costs. Now, we are looking at the real likelihood of affording two buses plus over $20,000 for related costs. Wow! We were floored by the generosity permeating that fairground building. The Holy Spirit was at work! Fittingly, Pastor Malaki coached us in church the following day in an interactive recitation he uses with own congregation in Tanzania. He starts, "God is good," the congregation follows, "All the time." Next, he says, "All the time," and the congregation chimes in, "God is good." Indeed, how true this bold statement stands in a// situations.
We are continually reminded that through our blind faith, we are His vehicle and He is our Divine Navigator. Where our plans and strategies are often short-sighted and crumple under pressure, He shows us a different course, His course. He is truly our Renewing Resource both in fallow seasons of life and in productive, fruit-yielding seasons. We are transformed through Christ Jesus and so grateful for the relationship that has been forged with our brothers and sisters in Tanzania. This partnership and our Love Across Borders mission that has resulted, has been an unexpected, unplanned blessing. We are infused with so many rich nutrients just through our engagement with Makumira-Kilala on a personal level of interaction and giving. They have become a part of our St. John's family and culture indefinitely. St. John's has gone global, folks! A big thank you to all of our sponsors, donors and volunteers who had a part in A Bountiful Affair 2017. We are exceedingly grateful to our school and church families, event sponsors, attendees and supporters from the community at large, and most importantly, to our Lord above, to whom belongs all the glory.