Unification Sermons and Talks

by Reverend Joy Pople

Fundraising Story - Nice Police

Joy Pople
February 18, 1999

For a year, I think I held the state record for highest daily total in Mississippi, slightly over $100. I think MFT teams passed through the state without stopping in the early years. All I remember about the Belvedere fundraising condition of autumn 1972 is walking to the bus station in Oxford to pick up cases of scented brandy snifter candles and carrying them on my shoulder one at a time across town to the cottage that was the first church center in the state. I didn't want to waste $1.00 on taxi fare and risk keeping Father and Mother from having a home in America. I'd come back at night, manage to get through the door, count my total and pray, and fall asleep on floor just inside the door. Once a week I would treat myself to a tiny root beer float at the Dairy Queen. Those who think fundraising with a team is onerous should try it by yourself, day after day after day. I remember calling telephone operators in places like North Dakota and asking the telephone number of our pioneer there. I couldn't waste precious money on a long distance call, but to hear the voice of someone in the same town as a member made me feel less isolated (directory assistance calls were free in those good old days).

I researched the entire state and found very few towns that allowed door to door soliciting. When an OWC team was heading our way I would pay a call on the county sheriff (they have the last word in everything down there) and plead for an exemption, and after considerable discussion I was usually able to obtain some concessions. Every time a team left town, however, we had to find a new center. Landlords couldn't deal with a couple dozen traveling missionaries camping out at their place.

In Hattiesburg on a fundraising stint, I'd buy peanuts by the large sack in New Orleans for roasting and bagging. Fresh roasted peanuts were as close to irresistible as anything I found there. A sister and I were camping out on the living room floor of a dear lady. We roasted peanuts in her oven and children from the whole neighborhood would crowd around, drawn by the tantalizing aroma. Of course, we'd give out samples. This was the black section of town, where streets were not paved. One day our hostess announced she was going fishing and was going to cook us dinner that night. That fried catfish, turnip greens and cornbread was the best cooking I had for years. We bought her a roasting pan and a fancy nightgown as a parting gift and she was speechless.

Later, I remember fundraising in the hot sun with a case of poison ivy so bad that by the end of the day my arms were so sunburned and swollen with perspiration spreading the poison I could not bend them. I used to think that people stayed up all night dreaming up reasons why they couldn't buy products. I can still hear the southern drawl, "Why honey, I'm so poor I can't pay attention" or "I'm broker than the Ten Commandments." Down on the coast near Gulfport a woman asked me what church I was with and I started explaining that I was raised a Mennonite. She interrupted me excitedly and asked me about my family. Turns out she had been a classmate of my dad's at Goshen College (a Mennonite school in Indiana). She insisted that we stay at her house, and she treated us royally.

Fundraising . . . .

I remember when our OWC bus on its maiden campaign voyage through the south in the spring of 1972 broke down in Albuquerque I went to the student council at the State University and appealed for money to help repair our converted school bus so we could continue on our missionary journey. They couldn't figure out how giving a missionary team money would fit into their budget categories, but I had met the vice president of the student council and he told them that we didn't have time to ask every student individually for money and he was sure that many students would be willing to help us out. After considerable discussion, they voted to give me $55.00. That was before we were well known enough to be persecuted. I wonder what the going rate in later years would have been to get rid of a bus load of Moonies. On a roll, I walked into the biggest Cadillac dealer in town and got a $25.00 check from the president to help get us out of town.

This was before MFT was invented. We were just asking for donations and offering no tangible product in return.

On assignment further south in Mexico in the late 1970's I would take a bus to Texas to renew my tourist visa, pick up packages of literature, and fundraise. After selling all my product on one trip, I saw a sign offering to pay $5.00 for blood plasma. I was the only non-Hispanic in the established, strapped on the table with tubes draining my life fluids. They put a pint of blood through a centrifuge to extract the plasma, replace it with saline solution, and return the fluid to the donor's veins. My blood was flowing so slowly that by the time a pint had been drawn it would soon be time to catch the bus. I told them to keep the blood and waltzed out, awed at finding yet another way to offer my blood, sweat, and tears for the providence. My heart goes out to that large room filled with Mexican women coming twice a week to sell their plasma in order to buy food for their families.

There were fundraising tales floating around the San Francisco area during the 1980's that would have people in tears. My favorite anecdote had to do with a fundraiser at a convenience store who could no longer keep his eyes open. He put a sign by his bucket listing the prices of his flower bouquets and set out a can for buyers to leave the money. When time came to pick him up, the driver shook the brother's shoulders trying to awaken him. A lady nearby protested the disturbance: "Leave him alone, won't you. Can't you see he's been working too hard?"

Maybe the closest I came to MFT was a stint in Seattle in December 1982/January 1983 when all the members in the World Mission Center were supposed to go out fundraising for 40 days for some kind of emergency. I adored Seattle but really hated blitzing. One Friday I was left at the Sea-Tac Airport, which did not have a lot of traffic at 1:00 am. I went to a cafeteria to play with my cloisonné jewelry, and behind me I heard two airport employees making comments in Spanish about the sparkly pins. In front of me sat two security guards, glaring at me, having told me in no uncertain terms that no selling was permitted in the airport. I cupped my hand over my mouth and whispered in Spanish to the workers behind me. I passed pins one by one behind my back for their inspection, and they returned pieces until they got what they wanted. They put the money in my hand. The security guards never knew anything was going on.

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