Supporting Us as Missionaries: Where Does the Money Go?

Hello again…wow, two posts in one month! A record!

We are in the process of raising more financial support, so we can continue the ministry God has called us to here in Nairobi, Kenya.

We want to be transparent and honest with you all about our lives here, and finances are not excluded. Hopefully this blog will explain our needs and our hearts, but if you have any questions, feel free to email us at shannamast@gmail.com or nmast2@gmail.com!

Currently, we are in need of about $250 per month to be in a healthy spot financially and continue ministry. Below are some hypothetical questions that we’ve answered for you!

 

Why do you need more support now?

There’s a few reasons: 

  1. We began living off support when we moved to Nairobi in August 2016. Initially, we had quite a few supporters give “One Time Gifts,” which was super helpful. For the most part, we divided those gifts over the past 24 months to help cover monthly costs. Now, those 24 months are ending. In addition, over the last two years, some supporters have needed to re-adjust their monthly giving.
  2. We had a baby! That may seem like a big one, but we’ve been careful not to spend too much on Levi! (We use cloth diapers, used clothes and toys, etc.) We do have the regular monthly costs of  formula, wipes, doctor appointments, etc. that were not accounted for in our initial support raising in 2016 when it was just the two of us. These monthly costs total to about $150 per month and come out of our budgeted salary. We also have set up a small monthly saving for Levi, that also comes out of our salary.
  3. When we first planned our move to Kenya, we met with Bluesky leaders to estimate a budget to meet our family and ministry needs. Since then, we’ve discovered we slightly underestimated the costs. Now that we’ve had two years in Kenya, we have been able to create a more accurate budget.

What does your support money go towards? 

Salary – Our salary, just like any job, goes towards regular lifestyle expenses such as groceries, furniture, baby needs, savings and other day-to-day things. Our salary is not extravagant at all…it is similar to that of youth directors in the U.S.

Admin Fee – Bluesky, along with most missions organizations, has a monthly administrative fee that covers costs to keep Bluesky running as a non-profit and provides us with administrative and accounting resources.

Housing – We are renting a house that fits our family’s needs but doubles as a location for ministry, since our church does not have a building (it meets on a school campus). Utilities such as water and power are included. Fun fact: we don’t have heat or air conditioning in our home…Nairobi weather is the best!

Medical Insurance – This covers routine medical needs as well as any potential medical emergency we may have. (We are switching providers in August, and it will increase our monthly payments, but will have better coverage. It was a Bluesky-wide mandatory switch.)

Flights to the U.S. every 1-2 years – Flights to the U.S. are fairly expensive, averaging around $1000 per ticket.  We want to honor supporters well, so we plan to visit the U.S. every 1.5 years. These visits allow us to spend time with family, connect with supporters and rejuvenate a bit. (a.k.a. get our Chick-fil-A fix!) Any visits to the U.S. for personal reasons outside of this will come out of our personal salary.

*International Christian Fellowship, our church here in Kenya, is one of our supporters. Along with supporting us, the church also covers ministry costs such as Bible studies and snacks for youth group. On special occasions, we’ve asked donors give towards youth events and scholarships for students. 

 

 

Sometimes I see photos of y’all traveling. Does that come out of your support? 

Firstly, we don’t use supporter money to finance vacations or “extras.” Honestly, as missionaries, we definitely feel this immense pressure to live simply and avoid luxuries such as vacations and little “extras.” However, Nate and I truly love traveling and seeing different cultures. We are even willing to give up other things, like eating out or buying new things to do so! We have traveled a bit since our time in Kenya. Fun fact: traveling in Kenya can be much cheaper than traveling in the U.S, especially as a Kenyan resident!

We save up our salary, just like we would with any job, and travel on the money we’ve saved. The only exception is when we purchase a flight to the U.S. on supporter money, we may adjust it to have a layover in a city we want to travel to. For example, last year, we went to Italy on our way to the U.S. Nate poured over numerous flight prices to find a good deal to get us there.  No matter what, flights from Kenya to the U.S. require a layover in Europe/Middle East (and with a baby, a few days to rest between long-flights is super helpful!). So, it made sense for us to plan a vacation that fit into our travel home. All extra expenses, such as our AirBnb, food and train/car travel came from our personal money. We promise to never abuse our supporter money on anything personal!

 

 

What’s it like living on support?:

Initially, it was a scary thought. It requires tons of TRUST. Trust in God to provide and trust in others to follow God’s guidance. There’s a part of us, as Americans, that clung tightly to the “do-it-ourselves” mentality. We had to let go of that, because we can’t do it ourselves…we can’t serve God in youth ministry overseas without leaning on others for support.

Since our first dive in support raising, it has been a really freeing and beautiful experience. Honestly, it paints a great picture of how the body of Christ is designed to lift one another up. Some are designed to send. We were designed to go.

We view our supporters as a team…a special group of friends and family who are partnering with us to serve the Lord in youth ministry here in Nairobi. We are all one body working together for the glory of Him!

We make it our goal to keep supporters in the loop on how ministry is going here. We post blogs, photos on social media and send out bi-annual physical updates. (FYI: physical update going out next month!) Just like with finances, we want to be transparent with our supporters on our lives and ministry.

Support us! 

Lastly, we kindly ask that you consider and pray about joining our support team. Partnering with us is a way for you to reach the international students of Nairobi for the glory of God. Any amount is deeply valued and encourages us immensely! Click here to begin the process.

Love,

Nate, Shanna & Levi Mast

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