At Missionary Training, there was a great deal of fundraising and itineration information and assistance, and I am afraid it plunged me into discouragement. Which was definitely not the point.
I knew my own fundraising was not going well before I came, that I ought to have several thousand dollars in monthly commitments, and I didn’t even have even a thousand a month committed, and I knew I was not going to enjoy my meeting with my itineration specialist (though he is a kind and friendly person). The meeting turned into a meeting with AGWM’s head of mobilization/itineration and an analysis of everything I am doing and what more or different I needed to do. He actually invited me out for dinner with his wife so they could give me some tips and help. Which was good and lovely of them but oh so humiliating and served to deepen my discouragement about my progress and abilities. Until then I had actually been enjoying itineration while still recognizing my lack of financial support.
Later on in the first week there was also a session in which a number of new missionaries who were doing really well in fundraising were interviewed about how they did it. In my currently discouraged mind, I heard a lot of people who had all kinds of advantages I did not have (a spouse, to give support or fill up their lack, or a big district with lots of churches in a small radius to go to, or skills in marketing), and no wonder I was not doing well in my own progress.
But gradually, over the course of the three weeks, as my emotions went up and down and I had lovely times with God and He sent people to encourage me in certain ways…gradually I was thoroughly encouraged, even though my financial situation did not change, nor did my marketing skills change nor the difficult size of my district. I gained some tips and strategies for things to do, but more importantly I had a turnaround in my thoughts about myself, my calling, God’s plan for and thoughts about me. I still don’t know in any way how I am going to raise my budget, but I know how to face discouragement and try to combine trust in God’s plan with my own hard work.
I learned to see value in discouragement. For one thing, discouragement shows you that you’re paying more attention to circumstances and your own inabilities than God’s plan and abilities. I tend to find it harder to believe that God will do something than that He can. But if I hold on to trust that He has a good plan whatever the circumstances look like and whatever I think He should do, it puts things into perspective.
For another thing, my discouragement, coming from feeling alone and small and unable, made me realize what a lot of the churches I will be speaking to are going through. Montana churches tend to be small and poor and isolated, and it must be so easy to feel discouraged about where they are and what’s going on. If I can use my own experience with feeling that way to encourage the churches I will be speaking at, then it was worth it.