About the End of Year Ask: What not to do.

Have you heard the ad recently on talk radio that is sponsored by some government committee on why kids need to go to college? (that’s a rough approximation of their name) It has a hip hop (ish–I hate to insult an entire genre of music by association) beat and a “rapper” who sounds like this is what he raps when he doesn’t get callbacks from Sesame Street.

The jingle on this particular ad literally uses the pronunciation “axe” for the word “ask.”

In a commercial about going to college.

I wish I could remember the exact phrase so that I could google it and prove I’m not making this up (or that I heard correctly…) but it really went something like “…and you have to axe yourself, if going off to college is the way to health…”

In honor of that commercial, today we are going to discuss some of the strangest things that missionaries have ever “axed” for funding for in their year-end “axe.” And maybe some that they haven’t “axed” for, for good reason.

Now that we’ve gotten the admittedly rough segue out of the way, let’s talk about that special creature known as the year-end ask. It’s a known fact that, like Clark Griswold waiting for a Christmas bonus to put in a pool in the back yard, many folks are itching to put holiday money to good use. It’s also a perfect trifecta where tax code meets nativity meets american consumerism, and you know who wins?

Missionaries win.

And the folks who came up with the idea for elf on a shelf. They are probably still winning, also.

Because the end of year ask is such a lucrative thing for missionaries, it’s entirely conceivable that we’d get excited and ask for some really strange things, against better judgement. Below are three things I have never asked for and one thing that I may or may not have asked for, in my year-end ask letter. Your job will be to ascertain which one I actually did ask for.

Money for Student Loan Repayment.
Yeah, this is one you are going to want to avoid, fellow missionaries. Asking for money to pay off your student loans comes off a bit like you feel entitled to other people’s money. They all have student loans, and you are asking for a student loan fairy. Don’t be that guy.

Money for a Llama.
While we are avoiding certain unexplainable expenses, you need to mark this down on your don’t-ask list. Livestock is tricky in general, so trying to nonchalantly slip it into a list in between “budget shortfall” and “winter conference expenses” is going to be difficult, to say the least. What do people use a llama for in an urban college setting, anyways?

Money for an XBox 360.
Students use very few llamas, per capita. What they use a lot of? Gaming consoles. The average dorm room has at least 3 consoles, unless you count the “vintage” ones, like the Super Nintendo. (Mario Kart–all day, every day. You can keep your Call of Duty and Zombie killing…) But just because students have it is no reason to ask for it in your year-end letter. It just doesn’t come off well to be asking for size 3 baby diapers, a box of ESV paperback bibles to hand out, and Madden ’11 for your PlayStation 3. Trust me on that.

Money for Summer Expenses.
Nothing makes people get amped up for a good summer missions trip like December. Or November (some of us like to get our stuff out to beat the rush, like Starbucks Coffee–the leading purveyor of the finest coffee in the world–and their holiday cups/beverages). Yep. People get really excited about your trip to some beach in California when they are scraping the ice off of their Hyundai. Go ahead and try and raise a few more dollars for that trip. Should work great. Trust me. I (may or may not) have done it.

So what do you say? Which of those did I actually ask for once? Chime in with your answer in the comments.

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