“Your GYC mission trip food budget is only $7000 US dollars?” Our local Iceland mission trip contact questioned somewhat dubiously as we traipsed through an Icelandic grocery store. “I don’t know if that’s possible.” He explained that he had been involved in cooking for church retreats and other groups there many times and that it took much more money than we’d been allotted for our trip. My heart sank. But this was God’s mission! I was just here to serve, and I knew the rest would have to be up to Him, even though now it seemed like we were trying to cook for a mission trip group on an apparently too small budget.
Several months before, my friend Ellen had been contacted about potentially cooking for the Iceland GYC mission trip. “I’ve really been wanting to do more for God,” she confessed. “And I feel this could be an answer to prayer. But I can’t do it by myself,” she told me. “You have to come with me if I end up going!” “I’d love to help you,” I replied, “but I don’t know if it’ll be financially possible for me.” I’d quit my job almost one year before and had spent some time volunteering in Thailand since then. I didn’t have a lot of extra spending money. But I prayed that if it was God’s will for us to go that Ellen would be chosen as the cook and that it would be financially feasible for me. One month later our prayers were answered. The mission trip leadership invited Ellen to officially be the trip cook and since they were paying for her flight, she graciously paid for half of my flight. We were going!
“Our Iceland mission trip food budget is $7000 US dollars for 28 meals for about 50 people each,” Ellen explained. Doing some quick math, it seemed to be a doable budget at $5 per person per meal. But as we were getting ready to leave, the trip leadership informed us that a bunch of mission trip participants were coming earlier than they’d thought and we’d need to provide 3 more meals now. That’ll affect our budget I realized; that will be less than $5 per meal now.
Soon we found ourselves stepping out of the Reykjavik airport into blustery gusts of wind. Our local Icelandic mission trip contact met us there to take us grocery shopping. As we began perusing the grocery store shelves struggling to identify ingredients in the Iceland language, we told our Icelandic friend about our budget amount. And that’s when he told us he wasn’t sure that was possible. My heart sank as I thought about our now seemingly impossible food budget. Of course, I wanted to do our best to stay within our given budget to help keep this mission trip affordable for everyone. So Ellen and I began to pray. We’d prayed before the trip, but now our prayers were more urgent and more specific.
After tallying up how much we’d spent on groceries for our first shopping trip, I estimated that yes, I thought it would be possible to stay within our $7000 food budget for the trip. But it might be tight. We’d just have to see.
The missionaries soon started arriving and I didn’t have hardly a second to even stop for the next 10 days as we rushed around cooking three meals a day for 50 people, as well as taking regular trips to go grocery shopping. As the receipts from all our shopping excursions began to pile up, I wondered if everything with the money would work out. But I was too busy to have time to tally up the receipts.
In the evenings when the rest of the group returned from their daily outreach of passing out Glow tracks and praying with people around Iceland, bursting with exciting stories of how God had led them, I sometimes felt a tinge of disappointment that I wasn’t getting to experience these blessings of seeing God working like they were. But I would remind myself that God needs people to serve in every area and he could bless us here in the kitchen too. Ellen and I continued praying that we’d stay within the budget and be a blessing there to others.
As the trip neared its close, we did our final Friday shopping trip before Sabbath. I added that receipt to the big stack in my wallet and felt a bit of guilt. I had literally no idea how much we’d spent on food. And while I was guessing we were not over budget I felt bad that I actually didn’t know. But I’d not had a second to spare to add things up.
After a blessed Sabbath of fellowship and testimonies with local believers and our mission trip participants, the trip was over: Our last meal had been cooked, the kitchen cleaned. As Ellen and I drove towards the capital city of Reykjavík on Sunday, I pulled out all the receipts. Now I finally had time to do some accounting; the moment of truth had come. What would the results be? Had we made our budget? Gone over? Hopefully maybe come under a little?
I typed in all the receipt dates and amounts and did some quick formulas to find out the sum. No, that total amount could not be correct! I checked my dollar amounts back to the receipts. No, they were all right. Then I checked my formulas. They looked fine too. But something was wrong; there was no way that the total amount could be accurate. Maybe something really was messed up with my formulas. So I quickly added it up manually. Same number! How was it even possible? The total amount that had been spent on groceries and food for the entire mission trip was less than $3000 US dollars! That was not even half our budget! It was not humanly possible. Our local Icelandic contact had thought that even our full budget of $7000 was probably not enough. I got goosebumps as I realized that God had worked a miracle for us, a total financial miracle! And I knew with no doubt that just as much as God had been right there with the other missionaries going door to door, that He’d also been with us, as we rushed with 6 carts of food through grocery store isles and chopped boxes of potatoes. He’d blessed us with this miracle reminder that He’s involved in every aspect of our lives, whether that’s mission work on the streets, finances, or slicing at the kitchen counter. He’d given us this special blessing to show us that He cared about our service in the kitchen, that He had answered our prayers above and beyond what we could have even imagined, and that this was His mission trip!
As I jumped into life back in Canada after the trip, God had one more big blessing for me. Remember how I wasn’t sure that I would be able to afford to go on this trip due to my own personal finances? Well, during the Icelandic mission trip, I’d ended up having to put one grocery bill from the trip on my own credit card. I’d sent the receipt to GYC for reimbursement. Now, a month after the trip, the cheque finally arrived in Canada. As I tore the envelope open, I stared in disbelief at the amount. That was not correct. That was way more money than I’d spent on groceries. I glanced down at the memo line: “groceries and flight” it read. As tears threatened, I realized they were reimbursing me for my flight over. My heart burst in thankfulness to God for taking such good care of me and of my finances, for answering all my prayers, and for honoring my limited efforts to serve Him in Iceland.
Alissa Dreher, Canada
GYC Missionary to Iceland, 2019
Alissa Dreher is looking for opportunities to serve God in any capacity that she can and asking God to direct her steps each day. She will soon be heading back to Asia to help support a missionary family there
To attend GYC and become an active part of this worldwide movement, visit www.gycweb.org