Photo: Natasha Schmale
Feature

Full Circle

Wycliffe Canada's receipts manager returns to the finance department in Calgary after three decades.

Dolores Wuermli has a gentle presence. Perhaps it’s because her outlook on life has been seasoned by raising two children. Or maybe the grace and peace the tender-eyed Dolores radiates is simply caused by the way her brain is wired toward numbers. It could even be that the stories she hears daily from donors as Wycliffe’s receipts manager has given her a holistic perspective.

She oversees processing of about a million dollars of donations from Canadians each month and speaks to many of the donors.

Her job is crucial for hundreds of Wycliffe Canada staff around the world who need their salaries paid each month.

“Processing all the gifts from donors for Wycliffe Canada members helps them to continue doing their work, knowing that’s taken care of and that they can buy groceries and send their kids to school.”

"I'd never thought that I could use what I like to do and the training I already had for God."
Dolores Wuermli

In addition, field project managers overseas needed funds that the finance department sends their way, explains Dolores. “It helps management make decisions.”

Dolores’ role may be important and serious, but it’s also fun. She finds particular enjoyment in her connections with donors. One young lad, she says, sold his pet lizard so he could donate $100, and a 5-year-old donated 40 cents.

The boy who gave the 40 cents was sent a receipt and a letter from Wycliffe Canada, says Dolores. “We wanted to encourage him to continue giving as the Lord leads.”

For Dolores and her husband Sam, a donor’s commitment will sometimes be close to home. Ever since the Wuermlis became Wycliffe missionaries serving in the U.K. in 1995, Sam’s parents in Switzerland were consistent financial partners. However, whenSam’s mom passed away in 2012, his dad dropped his support from 500 Swiss Francs (SF) to 400—because he no longer received her pension. Before Sam’s father passed away, Sam and Dolores realized that the entire pension he received was 500 SF.

“He gave us 80 per cent of what he received. When we asked him about this he said he was taken care of in the [seniors’] home. He didn’t need any new things, just toothpaste and soap,” explains Dolores. “What sacrifice!”

(Top) Dolores Wuermli (left) has a laugh while opening mail filled with donations with her colleagues in the receipts department. (This photo) In her living room, Dolores helps Wycliffe accountant Bota Davletova and her mother Sauliya make greeting cards, a hobby of Dolores’ for nearly 20 years. She hosts a group of ladies once a month to make cards.
(Photo: Natasha Schmale)

Meshing Accounting with Missions

Dolores first realized that Wycliffe and her love of accounting could mesh in 1980, when she was attending the Canadian Lutheran Bible Institute in Camrose, Alta. She had already finished a business administration diploma before attending Bible college, but it wasn’t until she saw a bright orange paper that her Wycliffe career was birthed.

“It was from Wycliffe and it was all the accounting and bookkeeping positions in the world,” she recalls. “I’d never thought that I could use what I like to do and the training I already had for God—I just never knew that.”

Dolores applied for a short-term mission position with Wycliffe and after only a couple months of being in Calgary, she met her future husband Sam, whom she married in 1982.

Three years later, Dolores became pregnant with their first child, Natashia, and stepped down from her position at Wycliffe to focus on being a mother. A year later she and Sam had their second child, Josiah.

With their young family growing, the Wuermlis decided to move to Fort St. John, BC., to work alongside Sam’s cousin at his dairy farm. The move north was a return to where Sam first immigrated when he moved to Canada, and was close to Dawson Creek, where Dolores was born and spent some time as a child.

However, after more than eight years raising their young children around cattle and the fresh country air, the Wuermlis felt like they needed a change.

“We had always considered doing missions together,” Dolores explains. “We thought we’d check out Wycliffe and found out they had a need for a bookkeeper for the South Asia Group [based in England].

“We prayed about it as a family. We talked about it with [the kids]. It wasn’t just that we said to them one day, ‘We’re doing this and you’re coming along.’ We wanted them to feel a part of the whole ministry, too, and I think they did.”

The Wuermlis’ next move would be a big one, across the Atlantic Ocean to England.

Dolores creates a Swiss delicacy called zopf in her Calgary home, for the Wuermlis’ Sunday morning breakfast. Dolores’ Swiss husband Sam taught her how to make the braided bread more than 30 years ago.
(Photo: Natasha Schmale)

Changing Roles and Disappointment

The family settled at the Wycliffe U.K. Centre in England in 1996. Dolores was the bookkeeper for the South Asia and the North Eurasian entities of SIL (Wycliffe’s main field partner), while Sam worked in information technology and maintenance.

A decade later in 2006, Dolores and Sam were given added roles at the Wycliffe U.K. Centre as house parents for those who came to Wycliffe England to volunteer.

“We were there to care for them, listen, pray with them and encourage them,” Dolores explains. “The hardest part was saying goodbye every six months to another group of amazing young people.”

The program, however, ended in 2009, when the England office was closed. The Wuermlis were devastated.

“Lord, what are you doing that we don’t see?” Dolores asked. She describes the pain she felt as a loss or a death.

“What now?” the Wuermlis asked themselves, feeling disappointed in those making the decisions.

“I knew deep down in my soul that God was calling us to come back to Canada and Sam wasn’t on that page for a while,” says Dolores. “I had to just pray and let God do His work in his life to also bring him to that point.”

Transition to Canada

Helping the Wuermlis make the transition back to Canada in 2011 was a 13-week Freedom in Christ discipleship course they took in England and now teach in Calgary.

The course teaches participants how to apply forgiveness to their lives and to walk in freedom in who they are in Christ, by going to God with their hurts.

“In the pain we experienced in 2009 and 2010, we knew God was with us. He felt our pain. He held us. He showed us where we needed to confess sin and repent. He taught us to forgive and forgive and forgive—and when the emotions raged He reminded us to be honest with Him about how we were feeling and cry out to him.

"He would love us, no matter what we said.”

After some time, Dolores and Sam began to feel more comfortable in their new roles for Wycliffe Canada. Although Sam still misses England to this day, his new role as the Race to 2025 co-ordinator has been his dream job, combining his passion for the wilderness and working with young people. The adventure race is a fundraising and recruitment tool.

“I realized that we need be where God wants us to be.

"Otherwise I may not be as happy over there and definitely not as effective,” explains Sam. “Through the race we have an incredible influence on young people.”

Dolores, like Sam, has found her new role fits with her passions and skills. It’s a position co-ordinated by God.

“I love being here and I love the team I have. I think they also enjoy it,” Dolores says. “They don’t find it stressful. They look forward to coming to work. We just try to create a space where people want to be, who want to do this job, but also that we can enjoy each other and pray for each other.”

Because Dolores and Sam took a leap with God, today they find themselves where they are supposed to be—in God’s plan.

                                                                  •••••

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