2015 Pre-Mission Registration Letter - Full Copy - 04.29.15

by Shawn Smith, Mission Director

First and foremost I want to thank you for your patience with my  lack of mission information this year, and to ask for your forgiveness for being so late with launching registration.

Some of this was due to having less leaders this year than in the past, which affected how many mission weeks, and types of projects we could offer.

However, most of it is on me - not our leaders, not the village leaders, not Damaris, but me. At the very least, I should have been in more consistent communication with all of you.

I know this lack of communication has been very frustrating for some of you. All I can ask is to please forgive me. This was not my intention.

I truly value both your time, and your resources, and I understand that late registration, and lack of info, has put a burden on you.

Does this mean you’re canceling the mission this summer?

No! Don’t worry, we are still going full-steam-ahead with our summer missions! We are launching registration on Friday, May 1st, and we have some powerful mission projects planned.

Damaris and I have been diligent with our meetings on-the-ground here in Guatemala throughout the year, preparing for your arrival, and we are confident that we will serve many children and their families who are in need of help.

However, due to the lateness of registration, we need to ask for your help in getting your registration payments in as early as possible.

2015 Mission Dates and Sites

Week 1     June 14-21     Hogar Miguel Magone - Aguacate
Week 2     June 21-28     Corazon de Los Niños - Santo Tomas

Week 3     July 05-12       Paso a Paso - San Antonio Aguas Calientes
Week 4     July 12-19       Corazon de Los Niños - Santo Tomas


Why is everything so late this year?

The short answer: I've been more busy than ever, building a new business.

The fact is, due to the Church shrinking, and less and less youth events, I have had far less paid singing and speaking events - half as many as 4 yrs ago.

Plus, over 1/3 of my income has been in music sales at events.

However, due to YouTube, Pandora, Spotify, and other free music listening options, music sales in both the Christian and secular music world have declined dramatically.

iTunes, the largest music store, has lost 40% in music sales in the past 3 years. My sales, due to less events + less people buying music, has dropped 70% in the past 3 yrs.

As you can imagine, this has been an incredible financial burden for us.

So, even though according to my event hosts, my music and ministry is more effective than ever, the lack of sales and small number of paid events cannot be ignored. Something needed to change.

As a result, I have spent the past two years quietly studying online marketing and sales - taking online courses, going to conventions, and networking.

I’ve spent the past year putting in very long hours building a new online business, in addition to maintaining my only source of income - paid music and speaking events. ]

This online business will allow me to create online products like ebooks, and online video training courses, that will train entrepreneurs, church staffs, and missionaries how to quickly and easily set up websites and online businesses.

It will also teach how to create and manage blogs, podcasts, videos, and online businesses from anywhere in the world (like I’ve done with our mission website, with shawnsmith.com, and and now, with my new online business)

How does this new business affect the mission?

These paid training courses I’m creating, will earn passive income for me 24/7, worldwide, and allow me to run this business from a laptop from anywhere in the world.

This will allow Damaris and I a flexible schedule, a flexible location, and supplemental income in order to continue the mission work that we feel so called to do.

The good news is that God has blessed my efforts, and over the past year I have established myself as the foremost authority on Mobile Podcasting.

My first ebook, and video training course is called, “5 Ways to Record Pro-Quality Podcasts with an iPhone”, has been extremely well received. (you can read testimonies of my video training guide, and keynote speaking here)

These are mic, app, and equipment setups that I've tested over the past 3 years through our nightly podcasts from Guatemala during our missions.

I never intended to create a business from it. But my pursuit of trying to find the smallest, least-expensive, pro-quality recording setups that will fit in a backpack and not require batteries or extra power, has produced some valuable information that I can now teach to others.

The other advantage, is these are very simple, low-tech solutions, that I can teach to non-tech people. In fact, through my video training, I can now get anyone up and running recording a podcast in less than 1 hour, with less than a $200 investment in equipment.

These “Mobile Pro Podcast SetUps” are a $200-$400 podcasting solution with the iPhone, as opposed to the complicated and expensive $1,000-$5,000 traditional podcasting solutions currently offered by many schools that teach newbies how to start podcasting.

Just over the past few months, I’ve been invited to speak at many state-wide events, and even the largest podcasting conference in the world this August, on the subject of Mobile Podcasting.

Although any serious income will not come from this business until next year, the ground-work has been laid, the market has been tested, and the trees have produced fruit, Praise God!

Now it’s about scaling the sales and distribution. My new online business can be found at: TheMobilePro.net

The bad news is, the time I’ve had to devote to our mission work has been affected dramatically.

I can’t apologize for needing to put my family and income first, but I should have kept you all in the loop.

The truth is, I’ve experienced a lot of shame and embarrassment about these financial struggles, and I just didn’t know how to share this with you, without sounding needy or inappropriate.

For the past 20 yrs, I’ve been blessed to have had more than enough work as a full-time, professional singer and keynote speaker. And now I don’t, by no fault of my own.

I never anticipated that the Church would shrink to the point of affecting my work so dramatically, and frankly, I’ve not handled this change well.

My apologies again, for not keeping you up-to-date with our mission plans.

In the 9 yrs of hosting missions, we have never played the, “We’re just volunteers” card as an excuse for not being professional, organized, and keeping everyone informed in a timely manner.

We take this mission work as seriously as any job we’ve ever been paid for, (probably moreso) and we pride ourselves in the mission work we’ve been blessed to accomplish.

We’ve been blessed with a very high rate of returning volunteers, and in keeping over 1,200 missionaries over the past 9 yrs safe, healthy, and productive during our missions.

But the truth is, we don’t have a staff to delegate work to. We don’t have an ‘organization’ - it’s just us. That's how we have kept your expenses and overhead so low, and our impact so high.

We’ve been blessed with a flexible work schedule through my music ministry, and with God-given gifts, and a heart to lead these endeavors, but it’s a ton of work, even when all of those things are working well.

When one thing suffers, like my time, due to needing to create a new business, it affects everything.

As you know, Damaris and I have never taken a salary from this work.

In fact, except for a few very generous donations from three very kind people from our mission, we have never taken any money for our work.

We raise our own financial support, the same as you, except we generally need to raise $7,000/yr.

Plus, we need to set aside 3 months of our time away from opportunities to make income for our family, in order to be on the ground in Guatemala setting up and leading these mission projects.

This year, we took the leap of faith that God would provide, and with your help, He has.

We are blessed to be serving 3 communities, and we are grateful that several of our past leaders have stepped up to take on the role as Program Directors, which will take work off our plates.

But, we need more help - specifically, we need mission team members to pay their registration fee as early as possible this year.

So…how does all of this affect me?

Well, due to the registration being so late, we are concerned about paying our deposits for the stoves, building supplies, hotel, and ground transport - especially the stoves, which is 50% down, due 30 days before delivery of the first stoves.

We need to ask your help to pay your full registration fee earlier this year - as soon as possible.

Why? Well, The $800/mo we ask for at this time of year goes to pay for your flight - nearly all of it. What’s leftover from that, the ‘extra', along with our small reserve, goes to pay the deposits.

Because we have about 1/2 the number of volunteers coming this year, as opposed to previous years, that ‘extra’ is not enough to cover our deposits.

So, we need to ask your help. We are simply asking for you to pay earlier, if at all possible.


3 Options for your Registration Payments - Starting this Friday, May 1st

If Serving for 1 Week

Good - Pay $800 on May 1st, pay $900 before May 29 

Better - Pay $900 on May 1st, pay $800 before May 29

Best - Pay $1,700 on May 1st, or ASAP


If Serving for 2 Weeks

Good - Pay $800 on May 1st, pay $900 before May 29 

Better - Pay $900 on May 1st, pay $800 before May 29

Best - Pay $1,700 on May 1st, or ASAP


Again, your full registration fee needs to be paid within the next 30 days anyway. We are simply asking you to pay as much of it up front as possible.

If you can pay most, or all of your registration fee early - even this week - this would help us greatly to pay our deposits for building supplies, hotel, and ground transport.

If you are able to, we would deeply appreciate this, so we do not need to sweat out the next 30 days, worried if we can make our deposit payments, which may delay receiving our building supplies, and affect the mission.

Mission Registration will open on Friday, May 1st, and you can make your first payment, and complete our online Registration Form then.

Stove Fundraising Campaign

We are also doing our part to raise project funds, by having a stove fundraising campaign.

Especially if you are NOT able to join us this summer, we ask you to prayerfully consider donating a stove during the month of May, for us to install this summer.

You can donate a stove for $125 today on our Donate Page. All donations are tax-deductible.

Now is the time…

My sincerest apologies again for the late registration, and for not communicating better with you throughout the year. I promise that you will be receiving lots more information on a timely basis from now until our mission starts.

We are here, in Guatemala, trusting that God will provide, even through difficult times.

Something Damaris and I have learned,  is that even our worst days are better than the best days of most of our friends here. They don’t get a day off, or a year off from their difficult life - why should we, in our efforts to help them?

Remember: Now is the time…because there’s never a good time to go. Please join us this summer - and bring a friend!

Thank you for your love and support of our friends in Guatemala, and of Damaris and myself, and our mission work. We could not do this without you, and we are deeply grateful for your partnership. 

I will be in touch again very soon with the official registration launch, our stoves fundraising campaign, and our new podcast launch! Until then...

God’s Peace to you in Christ,

Brother Shawn

p.s. Remember, if you would like to donate $125 for a high-efficiency stove that will be installed this summer, go to the Donate Page on our mission website.

p.p.s. If you would like to make a donation to Damaris and myself, you can also do that thru the Donate Page, just select the button under, “Sponsor Shawn and Damaris”.

p.p.p.s. If you would like to support my new online business, you can make a donation here: themobilepro.net/donate