Interview with Will Folger

The Office of International Mission of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) has been transitioning to a new accounting system. The Asia region has requested extra support in the process.

Recently, Will Folger answered the call and traveled to Chiayi, Taiwan to provide help. He agreed to answer some questions about this opportunity. 

Q: Give us some information about yourself. Who are you? Where are you from? Where do you work? 

WF: I’m from the Dallas area. I graduated from Baylor University last December, and I had a gap in my time before starting work at a public accounting firm. I actually start full time in January. During the gap, I studied for the CPA exam and was able to take the trip to Taiwan. While there, I used my education to help the Asia region and also gained some valuable experiences before jumping into the workforce. 

Q: How did you learn about this opportunity for service in Taiwan? 

WF: A good family friend recommended that I reach based on a Facebook ad that she saw. 

Q: During the five weeks you were in Taiwan, can you briefly describe what you were doing? 

WF: I worked directly under Rick Sovitzky [LCMS Asia Regional Business Manager]. The primary task was the importation and transferring of data from one accounting system to the new, improved system. 

That process included reconciliation and error correction, tracing transactions and developing a better understanding of transactions. The goal was not only to transport and import the raw data, but also to understand the nature of these different expenses moving forward so the new system will have an improved impact on budgeting and tracking different levels of expenditures. 

Q: As you look forward to your full-time job with your firm, did this volunteer opportunity help you prepare? What did this opportunity add to your skillset as an accountant? 

WF: First of all, professionally, I was able to gain exposure to a non-profit organizational structure and accounting system. Overall, the experience of working with Rick was incredibly valuable. He’s a great example of a diligent worker and selfless leader. I was able to see his application of Christian faith and values in the workplace as well. It was only a five-week project, but Rick’s mentorship and example will have a lasting impact. 

Therefore, the personal lessons that I will be able to apply include maintaining a mentality of hard work and service, as witnessed in the overall work ethic I saw on a day-in and day-out basis in Taiwan. I’ll be able to take that into my job in the workplace and daily life. 

Obviously looking after myself in a foreign country for five weeks provided some additional lessons as well.

Q: Was this your first time living in an international context for an extended period of time? 

WF: Yes. I’ve done quite a bit of traveling but nothing quite like my experience in Taiwan. Living in an apartment, cooking my own food, walking to the grocery store, communicating with people in a restaurant where I did not speak the native language: those are some really unique experiences. Overall, I think it gave me a level of confidence that I can take into future roles. 

Q: What did you enjoy most about your time in Taiwan in terms of country and culture? 

WF: One weekend, I took a trip up to Taipei. I’m really interested in politics and economics. Having the opportunity to be in one country for an extended period of time helps you get to know the people and connect what you read in the news to the faces of people in that country. 

That was something I enjoyed the most: any sort of conversation and hearing the things that really mattered to people in Taiwan. I enjoyed being able to connect those things that you read in news and textbooks with people you have some sort of relationship with in Taiwan. 

Q: In your new role in public accounting, are you going to have opportunities for travel or will it be primarily US based work? 

WF: I’m sure I’ll do some travel, but I’m going to be in New York City for that position; I head up there next month to start work. Most of the work will be there, but I’m sure there will be a little bit of international travel. And if not, there will certainly be an international element in the work that I’ll be doing. Many international firms have a presence in New York City. 

Q: Was this your first time living in a missionary community like you did in Taiwan? 

WF: Yes. I’ve traveled a lot with my family and we’ve visited missionaries abroad before and been to different churches across the world. However, I have not experienced anything like this sort of opportunity to live in this sort of community. It was a really great experience. I enjoyed developing relationships and learning from the missionaries. That was one of the most impactful elements of the experience. 

Q: Any last comments? 

WF: I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to learn from Rick on a professional level, gaining exposure to his work ethic and leadership. 

On a personal level, getting to know the people was a great opportunity. I saw and talked to the missionaries on almost a daily basis through chapel or eating dinner with the families. That will be, by far, the impact that stays with me the longest. Those conversations, whether it was with missionaries in Taiwan, teachers from Concordia Middle School or locals, offered many valuable insights and lessons. 

Again, I’m very grateful for the opportunity. I look forward to having some sort of role in the future. Hopefully I can recommend this kind of opportunity to someone else in the future. 

You Can Help Too

Will Folger provided vital assistance to the Asia region in this project. The work continues, however, and more assistance is needed. 

If you have experience in accounting and would be interested in learning more about this opportunity to volunteer your time helping the Asia region, please contact Erin Alter and request more information. 

Roy S. Askins

The Rev. Roy S. Askins now serves as managing editor for The Lutheran Witness the official publication of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.