Monday, June 29, 2009

This is day four of our "Simple Ways to Support Missionaries" series. To catch up please click on the following links: Praying, Communicating, Volunteering.

Today our means of support requires a little more work and money, but it is such an encouragement to people. We all love getting personal letters in the mail - how much more so, packages! I remember how exciting it was to get a box from the states. Not only did we examine every item, we would sit there and smell the box because it "smelled like America."

Here are some ideas to make this a little more feasible:

1. Schedule it. Decide how often you want to send something and put it on your calendar with reminders ahead of time to be preparing. Christmas and Easter are great times to send gifts.

2. Keep it simple. Don't feel like you have to fill up a great, big box. Even filling pre-paid envelopes with a few seasoning mixes or blank cards will be appreciated.

3. Build up. If you find something that you like on sale and it's worth sending, buy two. Or even consider those "buy one, get one free" offers as opportunities to be preparing gifts. Keep these in a box under your bed or in your closet and slowly accumulate a variety of items.

4. Enlist help. See if other people in your church or mutual friends of "your" missionaries would like to work together on this project. It will definitely give you more motivation to get it done and out the door, not to mention the advantage of shared finances.

5. Save up. If you do want to go bigger, work together as a family to save your spare change in a jar. Use the change to purchase gifts and pay for postage.

The world is shrinking, so very often it is possible to find imported items from western countries or local versions, but some things are just not quite the same in condition or quality or price. Here is a limited list of ideas of what people might like (keep in mind that some things will be restricted in creative-access countries):

Seasoning Packets
Flavored teas and coffees
Unique baking decorations/Flavorings
Holiday decorations
Scented candles
Lotions/Soaps/Pampering items
Blank/Thank you cards
Sermons on audio
Art/Craft supplies
Homemade gifts

I'm sure there are many, many more things unique to each situation. If you don't plan a surprise, then you can always ask the missionaries what they would like.

Again, this one takes a lot of discipline, but it is awfully fun to send off a package and imagine how excited they will be to receive it on the other end. It is also an excellent way to involve your children and teach them the value of giving.

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