Financial Update: May

The purpose of this post is to share the numbers, but I want to share the heart behind the numbers as well.

Before we came back to the States in December, I posted an overview of our budget changes for this coming year and our progress for 2016.

Since our return to Lebanon we have been having some paradigm shifts as we look at our future in Lebanon.

What Does a Term Look Like for the Lisses?

Initially we came with a 2 year goal in mind. We were coming with an open ended plan, but for my sanity and the sake of those we were asking to join as partners we said we were coming to Lebanon “For at least 2 years.”

Those first 2 years were nothing like we thought they would be, and full of so many joys and sorrows. For instance, the first 2 years after being sent out, I was only in Lebanon for a year and 3 months. When we came back after my unexpected year in America we decided to add a year to our first term and truly complete 2 years in Lebanon. It has been so full of changes and adjustments, that it doesn’t even really seem like it has been 3 years, while simultaneously feeling like it has been a decade!

Through prayer we have decided that Louis is going to dig in for another 3 year term here. We have new goals, and we believe 3 years is a good amount of time to get dug in on those goals and to continue our ongoing work. With this decision made, we can shift our fundraising to a bigger picture view. Rather than just focus on one month at a time, we can look at the whole 3 years and work toward the goals for our budget, while planning in some of the ventures we hope to be starting.

New Opportunities

We are getting involved with our local church. They recently bought a center of their own, and we are hoping to be able to work with them as well. In order to be able to truly commit to them it has become apparent that we will need a car.

We have finally achieved our goal of making our home a place people will visit! We are going through our coffee, cakes, cookies, and water at a rapid rate, and it is so exciting! We love having people over to have the personal conversations not meant for an office, and to allow our family the space they need instead of dragging the kids around.

Arabic has been going so well, and we are recognizing the different ways in which we learn and the different topics we have to learn the vocabulary to speak well. In the upcoming year Annie is going to enter a student role to learn some new skills and also in Arabic to break the plateau effect in order to begin speaking.

Louis got a promotion because he has been doing three jobs worth of work. This is great, and we are also seeing ways we want to expand our ministry as he grows in competence and leadership here.

The Numbers

Louis and I pride ourselves on being transparent with people about our ministry. We want to share our ministry with you on all levels, including financial. Especially since we are always hoping to gain new financial partners. We are always looking for God’s provision through you all so we can invest even more into the ministries we have a passion for: high schoolers, training and curriculum development, church relations, parenting, and education, to name a few.

Basic Financial Goals

$8,239.05 per month

Currently Pledged: $2,742 per month (33% of Monthly Goal)

2017 So Far

January

Contributions: $2,848.97 (35% of Monthly Goal)

Salary: $3,317.80

Online Giving Fees: $19.74

Administration Fee: $284.90

Balance in Account at the end of January: $1,871.91

Total Contributions so far into 2017: $5,494.35 (6% of 2017 Goal)

1 New Partner!

February

Contributions: $2,432.26 (30% of Monthly Goal)

Salary: $1,599.89

Reimbursements: $1,595.84 (Ministry Expenses in America)

Online Giving Fees: $17.17

Administration Fee: $243.23

Balance in Account at the end of January: $848.04

Total Contributions so far into 2017: $7.926.61 (8% of 2017 Goal)

Please feel free to ask us any questions about our budget. Annie is our budgeting queen and is ready to clarify and help you understand our budget. Just because we write the budget does not put that money into our account. Horizons does not pay us unless our partners put the money in our account. You are our partners, our shareholders. You are the ones that make this budget possible or not.

We need more people joining with us financially all the time. We want to share this ministry with you. Please Give by CLICKING HERE. Write Louis Liss in the memo.

We are fully relying on God for this budget. We know He will make it all possible. If the opportunities we are getting most excited about start to become realities there will be a great increase in work and it will be self-starter, entrepreneurial work which will require a strong support team backing our passions. Join our Prayer Team, Annie’s Blog (for moral support and accountability for her), and sign up to meet with Annie while she is in America to hear about everything we have been doing the last 3 years in Lebanon.

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The Saga Continues aka Never Use Humana

It turns out that our insurance company has spun us around too long and now Kyrie’s surgery has been cancelled. The hospital requires 14 days prior to be cleared, but we are past that now, so the surgery was cancelled. While we are furious, we have some hope in that the doctor thinks she might be big enough now to do the procedure in his office, so we are praying that the waiver with our insurance goes through prior to September 1st, which is the new date to attempt this procedure in his office. Please pray for us.

Many people are just as confused as we are in this process, so I would like to take a moment to put in Summary This Process from Kyrie’s Birth to Now.

  • Louis and I chose to have Kyrie here in the States because of the trauma of taking Davy to the hospital two days into our move to Lebanon. We also desperately want our children to know their family here (whether through blood or otherwise). This is a decision we will take up into prayer in the future as we continue to have children.
  • Upon arriving in the States we entered into the process of getting insurance that would cover us having Kyrie and any problems that might ensue for any of us while we were here. (In the future Humana will NOT be an insurance we choose). The numbers on paper looked good, and we were saved from thousands of dollars in the hospital having her by getting insurance.
  • When Kyrie was born the pediatrician that comes to see the babies found that she had an imperforate hymen. I, Annie, had this as well, but it was not discovered until I was about 8 and had had many infections, and it was quite traumatic for me to get the procedure done. So, we were blessed to find out about the need for surgery so early on.
  • We immediately made appointments for Davy and Kyrie to see our pediatrician here, but then found out that while our pediatrician does work with Humana they do not work with the specific Humana plan we have, making him out of network. Our idea of having a pediatrician we could always come to in the States was gone, and the referral he had given us for the surgery was also worthless. So we spent some time finding an in network pediatrician. The one we found has too many patients and not enough pediatricians, so every appointment we make is a month or so out. By the time we saw her to get another referral months were passing.
  • With the referral we made an appointment with a surgeon, but the earliest they could see us was June.
    At this point we made the decision for Louis and Davy to go to Lebanon without Kyrie and I in May. We had teams coming to Lebanon for our first sets of summer trips for VBS and we needed to have Louis there for that. We sent Davy in the hope that the surgery would happen soon after the consult and we could join them ASAP.
  • The teams went well, great in fact, but Davy did not handle the separation well. He was having a terrible time, as were we all, and the consult led to a surgery date of August 27th. So, we brought the boys back in the beginning of July. We took time in Colorado to check in with Horizons.
  • When we got back to Arizona in the middle of July, Louis spent an entire day on the phone with Humana to determine how the procedure would be covered. We made sure to do it over a month before so that there would be no surprises. We gave all the information to the surgeon’s office who said that it sounded routine.
  • Now it is August, her surgery is approaching and we receive a call from the surgeon’s office saying that Humana has denied coverage. Two more days Louis has now sat on the phone with Humana, our primary care pediatrician, and the surgeon’s office. The information we had at first, Humana claims, is wrong. And now that it is a week away from the surgery, the surgeon’s office cannot keep our place in line at the hospital, so the surgery has been cancelled for August 27th. The surgeon’s office and our pediatrician are very nice and on our side of this and have been working hard to help us out and get us back together as a family and back to Lebanon. Humana has blocked us at every turn. We are hopeful now that Kyrie is big enough to have the procedure accomplished in office at the surgeon’s on September 1st.

    Please pray:

    • For the doctors and assistants who have been tirelessly working alongside us to get this taken care of now.
    • For the increasing stress to not take a toll (Louis and I have both begun to get sick during all of this and have had several minor injuries that I just know are a result of the stress. Davy and I have begun have nightmares every night again as well.)
    • For us to be able to put our energy into our work for Horizons and in discipling our senders here in the States (Look forward to some announcements soon of workshops we would like to do with those of you interested in learning more about ways to help out our mission to Lebanon and other missionaries you may know.)
    • For clarity as we make decisions for our family
    • For comfort in this time of disappointment and frustration

You do not know how important each one of you is to our lives. Without your prayers, concern, and love we would not be able to do any of this. We are battling loneliness and fear and culture shock all the time, but are able to see the hundreds of you that are supporting us by receiving this newsletter, and we know that you are behind us 100%. That is why we are running to you now with our need. We need prayer more than ever. Please ask your churches, small groups, friends, pastors, and anyone you can think of to join us in prayer as we approach this September 1st appointment. Thank you.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.

Philippians 1:3-5

The Day I Forgot The Rules Of Movies -Written by Louis

It was last Saturday when our team leader was helping us load all 10 of our bags into his car in route to our new apartment in Beirut, when he said, “I still can’t believe you carried all of this through the cobblestone streets of Rome for an hour at 1 in the morning looking for your hotel.” “It was probably the worst day of our lives,” I replied. He responded, “May it remain so.” Now any average film viewer knows that there are some cardinal rules to film such as: Never say, “Well at least it can’t get any worse,” lest you are immediately thrust plot first into an onslaught of tragedy. Little did I know that my declaration that our initial Rome experience was the most extreme stress we had ever encountered would jettison us into the actual worst day of our lives.

It was the trip from Heaven, which is to say that it was the trip from hell continually shown to be under the protective authority of God. It began by us realizing in Phoenix that our initial scale was inaccurate and our bags were extremely overweight. Annie’s dad was quick to jump to the rescue and help us move all of our heavy items to carry-ons which are never weighed at check-in. So we arrived at Sky Harbor Airport at 8:00 AM on Monday morning for a 10:45 AM departure only to find out that our plane was delayed for two hours. This meant that we were able to go have breakfast with our parents allowing them unexpected time with Davey that was greatly appreciated. We returned to the airport and loaded our bags only to be informed that our plane was broken, had to be flown to LAX and then to Toronto to be repaired returning to Phoenix at 8:00 PM for boarding. We were blessed with meal vouchers and so ate at the airport for free and we found a play place for Davey to spend the day waiting, though he was too stressed to eat or drink much. Then we were told that the plane was non-repairable and we were being transported to a new airline, rerouted to London, and would miss a whole day of our two day stay in Rome arriving there at 10 PM Tuesday. We e-mailed our bed and breakfast in the center of Rome to inform them and they told us the last thing we heard from them before boarding the overnight plane to London was that our new arrival time would force them to cancel our reservation. 10 hours later we touched down in London and began to try and contact the hotel owner, who did not speak English, over a payphone using credit card #1. We tried calling three times before our card was frozen having not informed the credit card company we were being rerouted to London. We then looked up on the board and saw that the connecting flight was also delayed so we rushed to the counter to see if we could get an earlier flight only to be told that the flight was not delayed but boarding right then in another terminal. After a mad rush we jumped on board at the last minute and landed four hours later in Rome at 10 PM.

We got on the phone with the hotel owner who said that he would hold the reservation for one hour. We picked up all of our luggage including 3 checked bags (50 lbs each), 3 carry on bags (30-40 lbs each), 2 backpacks (40 lbs each), a diaper bag, a car seat, and a stroller then rushed to catch the last train of the night to the center of town. We got off at the terminal at midnight and the Google Map 15 minute walk from the station to our hotel began to lengthen as paved roads quickly turned into cobblestones, sidewalks began to disappear, road signs became non-existent, and two carry-on bags broke their wheels. An hour later we arrived at the front of an apartment building in an ancient monastic section with one buzzer with the name of our hotel. Annie was in tears as we stood outside and rang the bell only to receive no response. Rang it again, no response. Time after time we buzzed the door at 1 AM with no answer. Finally a group of bikers in leather jackets came over and helped us call the number on the booking sheet. At last the owner came down yelling in broken English, “Why did you not tell me you had a baby!? I can’t have a baby staying in this room! You have too many bags, you can’t stay here with this many bags!” He eventually allowed us to come up on the condition that Davey makes no noise at all. We set Davey down in the room, and he took two steps back into a shelf corner and began to scream uncontrollably. After an hour of yelling in Italian and English from the owner and my child we all go to sleep in our bed.

We woke up the next morning to a group of Germans staying in the closely adjacent rooms who informed us that they were in no way bothered by Davey and were glad he got some rest. He could sense our anxiety and so had trouble eating and drinking that day as well. We left early with one bag and one stroller to see all of Rome in a day, and indeed we did! We went to the Coliseum, Palatine Hill, the Forum, Trevi Fountain, 5 Oblilisks, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, St. Angelo’s Castle, the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica. We hopped on the Metro to head home when we realized how close we were to the Spanish Steps so hopped off and I climbed all the way up to the church at the top of the steps which had a service in progress. After taking a moment of reflection I began to head down only to find that my wallet had been stolen. We then began retraced our steps and discovered it had been taken by a questionable 55 year old woman on the crowded Metro who pushed through to get on at one stop and off at the next. After a considerable amount of directions from half a dozen locals we were able to locate the police station and call Visa to cancel Credit Card #2 on the only phone in the station. The American number on the back of the card wouldn’t connect internationally from the landline, but thankfully the officer happened to have the number for Visa International with whom I was connected but who had no information related to my American account. The woman was kind enough to transfer me to American Visa while the officers yelled at me in Italian to get off their only phone. The American Visa people had to transfer me to my credit union who was of course closed, but I was able to contact stolen cards and cancel the card causing us to only be out of pocket $200, a driver’s license, and some Harkins gift cards. We finished the day at the top of the Spanish Steps overlooking the city of Rome at sunset.

I exchanged the last of our saved money at the hotel for taxi fare to save our luggage and our marriage after the previous “15 minute walk” from the hotel to the station. We arrived at the airport three hours early only to discover at check-in that when our tickets were transferred from Air Canada to British Airways, Davey’s lap-infant ticket under my name did not transfer. After an hour of the lady talking on the phone she began to take a good look at our luggage and correctly assumed that our carry-on bags were overweight, our stroller was too large, and our car seat wouldn’t be allowed. An hour later we had rearranged all our weight and even found a service that could shrink wrap two of the bags together. An hour after that we had paid the fees at the counter that was still using carbon copies for credit cards. The lady eventually scribbled something on our tickets and we ran through the “dear God please help us, we’re about to miss our flight” security and hopped on the bus that took us to our plane that after the tickets were transferred over no longer had us sitting together. Thank God for Arabs who had no patience for this inconvenience and moved us around three times until we got a row together to ourselves.

Four hours later we landed in Beirut. We breezed through immigration, which was a nightmare last time, and they didn’t check any of our bags at customs. We were picked up by an old friend and taken to the apartment of our team leaders, Pierre & Gigi. Davey promptly laid down in his car seat and fell asleep having not eaten or drank well for the previous four days only to wake up at 2 AM, crawl into bed with us, and throw up everything in his stomach. He spent the next day screaming as four new teeth came in, and he continued to throw up two more times at various places in Pierre & Gigi’s home every time we put anything in his body. He woke up the next morning and we gave him water on the couch on which he promptly vomited. I then declared that it didn’t matter if we had nothing in our new apartment except a mattress we were going to move in that day and he could throw up all over the house all he wants. So we began to load all of our belongings into Pierre’s car when He said, “I still can’t believe you carried all of this through the cobblestone streets of Rome for an hour at 1 in the morning looking for your hotel.” “It was probably the worst day of our lives,” I replied. He responded, “May it remain so.” Needless to say, it didn’t remain that way.

We unloaded our bags at our apartment that only housed a 100 cm mattress for Davey and went together to buy us a mattress downtown. We put Davey on my shoulders and were joking around when Davey asked for water. Having thrown up everything for the past two days we asked him to wait until we left the store and then 30 seconds later I was holding onto his legs as he fell limp down my back. We immediately picked him up but he was unresponsive. His eyes rolled back in his head and he began to foam at the mouth. His arms tensed and shook and then went limp. I ran outside and sat on the ground with him in my arms yelling and shaking him with no response and no breathing. A worker at the mattress store screamed for me to come with him. I jumped in the car with him as he drove like a maniac through the streets of Beirut towards the nearest hospital. All he could tell me in English was, “give him breath.” I began to perform CPR on Davey whose lips had turned blue and was completely limp. After two minutes of screaming, praying, and compressions Davey woke up. The color returned to his lips and he began breathing again, but he was still unconscious as we pulled up to the hospital. They took him in and took his vitals which had begun to return to normal right before making us leave to go to a hospital with a pediatric unit. We drove continuing to pray until Davey began to cry. The sound which had been a source of stress so many times before became the sound of life that brought tears to our eyes. We brought him in to the emergency room where they performed a CAT scan and took blood work before hooking him up to an IV. Six hours later he was diagnosed as having experienced a seizure brought on by extreme dehydration compounded by every other stress experienced in the previous five days. He was released that day and we took him home and cried for the rest of the night as he slept quietly between us. He has made a full recovery.

We’re sharing this story with you for several reasons. One is that you are our family and our support system. By sending us you share in both our joys and our sufferings as we do with you. We want you to know the reality and the cost of sharing the gospel in the calling of God on our lives, but also because this is a story of God’s unending provision in times of unfathomable, crushing pain. We’ve prayed for years that God would prepare us to go and do what we have now embarked on. In so doing He has prepared stores of resilience within us that we did not know were there. As we left the first emergency room in a foreign country without any Arabic to explain what happened, without a diagnoses, carrying our unconscious child in our arms we sang this song: “God is so good, God is so good, God is so good, He’s so good to me.” That came from our most profound depths to which we know that the lamb of God is worthy of all of the honor and all the glory and all the praise forever and ever. No matter the circumstances and trials of this life the majesty of the cross cannot be shaken from its foundation. His love endures forever and his mercy is everlasting. We are ineffably thankful today that the grace of God was made manifest in such a way that we still have Davey with us. We thank you for your continued support of Jesus’ ministry here in Beirut. It is your love through Christ that sustains us and holds us as the darkness of the valley gives way to an impenetrable light of healing and salvation.

SAVE THE DATE!

Lebanon Send Off & Launch

Phoenix:

April 27, 2014
5:00 PM
St. John’s Lutheran Church

 

Tucson:

May 3, 2014

11:00 AM

Mt.Zion Lutheran Church

Come and bring anyone who might be interested in partnering with us to fund our mission work in Lebanon or find out more. Our team is desperate for us, and we are leaving this May in faith that God is going to provide the remaining funds.

Our team leader sent us a list of just a few of the things happening there and we want to be able to tell you the stories first hand from that country. So, the week following this Launch we are getting on a plane and leaving. (I am publishing this blog post as we are looking at plane tickets.)

Pierre, our team leader just sent us this encouragement in our email correspondence with each other:

Once you arrive you will be able to send back tons and tons of stories of God doing miracles and changing lives. This week a man’s shriveled hand was mostly healed and he’s writing with it, which he couldn’t do before , a woman’s face that had been saggy from her stroke was restored , a kid came out of a coma, Jihan came to Christ 6 days after she came from Syria and is eating up the word if God. A teenage kid named Roksha prayed to accept Christ last week, Boutros has a carpenter’s assistant named Ahmed who came to Christ a couple weeks ago, my dad preached last Thursday and over 30 people responded to the altar call. There are more new believers than we can follow up on.”

We need to be there. Right now those are just stories that are happening there, but that is just a taste of what is happening and our team needs us. We have a heart for discipleship to follow up with these people. We are being called, and we are changing our strategy from asking for money to just leaping out in faith. God will provide. Plenty of people know the need, and it is time to GO!

For many of you who have been with us along the way you are sharing our mix of emotions: Excitement, apprehension, nerves of all sorts. We are finally going! Now is the time to pledge a monthly, quarterly, or annual amount. We are running low on time for one on one meetings, and if you want to meet or visit with us, please contact us!

Many of you are giving to other short term missionaries, and we are thrilled because we have not been able to pour into those people (e.g. Charlie Wheeler). Please continue the commitments you have made. If you are considering giving to us after these short-term commitments end, let us know so we can keep track of the pledges.

Referrals

Maybe you cannot give at this time, or you wish you could give more to our ministry. You are a vital part of our work through your prayers and encouragement. Financially we are relying on God, and praying for people to be drawn into this work. At church this past Sunday one man encouraged me greatly when he said, “You are doing work that we should have been doing for a long time now.” Ministry to Muslims is relatively new work. As recently as fifteen years ago people thought Muslims could not be converted. When Louis and I were at our first training held by the founder of Horizons International, he said, “There are more people sitting in trainings about how to reach out to Muslims than there are people doing ministry to Muslims.”

So, we need you. We have been asking everyone who is willing to help us to pray about five names to refer to us. What this means is praying about people you know who might be interested in partnering with us financially. These would be people, churches, or groups who have the financial means, or who have an interest in global evangelism or working with Muslims. There are many ways you can refer them to us:

1) Plan an appointment where we can meet an individual or small group.

2) Invite us to an event at which people you think may be interested will attend and introduce us there.

3) Write a letter of introduction to the person whether by email, written, phone or in conversation. Then give us the information to follow up with that person.

4) Give us the name and contact information for a referral and we will tell them you referred us. Or, if preferred we can just use the names without telling them that you referred us.

As you can see there are many ways you can help us to get that last 60% of our budget in the next month. We really want to be fully funded by the end of March.

Annual Budget Review 2014

Every October we turn in a revised and updated budget to Horizons. We want to be completely transparent with all of you about our expenses and budget because we are funded solely by you, our friends, family, and partners in ministry.

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.
Proverbs 12:22
For we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man.
2 Corinthians 8:21

 

Living Expenses:                                                          Monthly Expense

Salary:  $3,167 (minimum) to $4,000 (maximum)    __3,167__

Social Security & Medicare: (.0765% x Salary)       ___242.27_________

Retirement: (IRA, etc.)                                               _______________

Total Living Expenses:                                               __3,409.27______

 Ministry Expenses:                                                     Monthly Expense

Medical & Dental                                                        ___125________

Ministry Auto Mileage                                                ___300_________

Overnight Travel, Meals & Lodging                         ___270_________

Conferences & Meetings                                             ___50__________

Postage & Printing                                                      ___33__________

Ministry Telephone & Internet                                  ___150_________

Ministry Meals & Gifts                                               _______________

Supplies & Materials                                                   ___50__________

Total Ministry Expenses (Non-Taxable):                  _978_______

Administration Fee:                                                   __438.72_______

Total Monthly Staff Budget:     4,825.99

As you can see, our actual salary is just over $3400 per month. Many people have asked why this is not the amount we need to raise per month. Why do we have to have so much more as listed below? Being a missionary is much like running our own business, the supplies and benefits usually provided by an employer are part of our cost. You are all our employer in a way, providing for benefits such as Medical, and also ministry iterms, such as postage and Bibles.

By having a detailed budget, we can stay accountable and within our means by checking in and showing you each month where your money is going. As you can also see, we are always hopeful for more, we never want to limit God’s awesome and amazing gifts of grace poured out through all of your generosity. As we gain your financial backing we will be able to pour into the refugee center and national missionaries in Lebanon. With extra funds we will be able to accomplish so much more!

Please continue to pray about your role in our finances. If you cannot give, we are so honored that you continue to pray for us, and would truly appreciate your recommendations to your churches, small groups, friends, coworkers, and anyone else you know of who might be able to make a monthly pledge.