Today I want to talk some serious stuff with you. Mainly because sometimes I go back over my blog and read it to myself (narcissism?) and I want this to be a reminder to me. So - here in e-world it gets documented. For myself. And you, I guess. But mostly, me. (wow.)
I want to talk about finances.
I know, booooringggg. But important. Because when I evaluate my personal finances, I see a bigger picture - I see God.
My current situation goes like this: I am 25 years old. I am single. I am a full-time PhD candidate at the 3rd best school in Chi.na. My housing, tuition, books, lab fees are all comped by the Ch.inese gov (thanks!). In addition to everything free, I recieve a "living stipend" of about 250USD a month that is direct deposited into a Chin.ese account for my personal use, (thanks, again!).
I pay no bills, and receive a stipend for electricity. If I go over my per-month limit, I pay $10. In 12 months, I have only gone over once, (my first month I went nuts on the AC - it's hot).
This government stipend is not enough to accomodate my desired lifestyle (gym membership, internet in my room, phone calls to people in other cities ($$), bike maintenance, tithing, shopping, the occasional Starbucks coffee ($) and eating in restaurants.) So I have 3 other jobs. (private tutoring, Professor, English teacher at the hospital). Between all these jobs I make enough money to live comfortably in Ch.ina and save to travel.
If there were ever an emergency, I'm screwed, and still rely on my parents for plane tickets home (although technically, I could pay these, but my daddy is uber generous and likes to take care of me in this way - thanks, Dad!). I budget every month, sometimes I get dangerously close to have zero money to my name, but I know that at the end of the month another wad of cash from the Chin.ese gov is coming, so it's all good.
So what is the deeper meaning of all this?
The first semester of last year I was not tutoring, just working at the hospital and getting the living stipend. Because I had moved and had to buy a lot of big-ticket items (fridge, internet, etc) I was not making ends meet. It was rough. I prayed, "God, am I destined to be poor as dirt? Because this really sucks." And He was like, "You need more money? Ask for more money."
So I did. I called up my boss, bargained hard, and got a significant raise at the hospital. (about 12 dollars more a week).
Then second semester my dad called me. "Want to meet your family in Spain?" ding ding ding travel opportunity of a lifetime to backpack Europe!!! But there was no way I would have enough money for that because the Chi.nese yuan is like monopoly money when held next to the Euro.
About 2 days after I talked to my dad I got 2 phone calls from Chin.ese people wanting English tutors. A few days later, a third. I stacked my Saturdays to tutor the 3 seperate kids (about $80 a Saturday) and after 2.5 months, these tutoring days practically paid for my 3 week trip. I would not have been able to go otherwise. Talk about timing and provision.
I was still nervous about affording the trip, and then my sister showed up in Prague with a gift from my grandparents of $100. At the end of the trip when my parents showed up in Barcelona, I had literally 20 Euro in my purse. Without my grandparents' gift I would not have made it - or would have had to be more frugal. Their generous gift sustained me.
Then when I came back to Chi.na, I literally had no money. I had left myself a small nest egg in my Chin.ese account to live off of until I get my stipend again in September. But then the gym had a sale. A two year membership for 2200rmb. I had 2300rmb in the bank.
I took a leap of faith and paid it.
The day after the sale was over, there was a new sign in the gym. Now a 1 year card is 2200rmb (the price I paid for 2 years) and they have eliminated the half year membership (that I had before I bought the extension). This is a 50% increase in price. If I had not bought the sale, I would have had to quit the gym, (and that would have made my quality of life awful because I love the gym.) I really believe that the timing here is miraculous. It just baffles my mind that if I had missed the sale, or chosen not to do it, that I would have had to lost this part of my life.
Also, after I made that huge purchase, an old student emailed me to go tutor her son every day for 10 days. So I did. And that money became my living money until September, meaning that buying the gym membership was canceled out.
Timing and provision. Over and over again.
Between the work raise, tutoring gigs, gifts from family, and the gym sale, I see how just when a situation could go bad, I am saved. Just before I run out of money, I recieve a gift - whether it be a gift, sale, or opportunity for more work. All of this can't be a coincidence, I am being provided for by the ultimate Provider.
Recently I've become nervous again about money. The stipulations of my new work contract are that I am only paid in 2 incriments - October and December. Because I have lessoned my work at the hospital from two days a week to one, I will have to live off less until I am paid in October. I am also not making as much as I thought, so my big hopes of moving off campus (and thus obtaining more personal freedom and an automatic washer) have been dashed.
While I am so pre-disposed to complain and wonder, "Why me?!?! Why do I have to live like this scrubbing my undies in the sink??" I need to remind myself of the million ways I have been provided for along the way. It will work out.
I have faith that I won't have to live here in this piece of crap dorm 3 more years. I have faith that I will live fine until I get paid in October. Maybe it means I have to work more. Maybe it means I have to be satisfied with less.
God's timing is perfect. His provision is generous and sufficient for where I am at now in life. (translation - I won't be left dead in a ditch somewhere, I have a free place to live, so I need to shut up and be thankful).
So, you hear that, Jessica? (ya you - reading this blog months later) ... don't worry about money. You've been provided for in the nick of time a thousand times. Trust that it'll happen again.
walk slow. xoxo.