I know I’ve been posting a lot lately (you may find that a blessing or a curse!), but there’s something I need to write about. Here’s the deal: Over at Missionary-Blogs.com I challenged bloggers to write about care packages. My idea is to create a page over there with general ideas for people who want to send a care package to a missionary. The deadline for posts is the end of June, so I figured I’d better follow my own instructions.
However, writing general ideas and writing on your own blog are two very different things. I underestimated how hard it is to write about things like this on your own blog. Other missionaries who have already posted have had the same problem.
In the end, I decided to write more generally (with some reference to us). It seems a little silly, because you’ll probably find better ideas once I collect all the thoughts of many missionaries. And like some of those who have already posted, I include a disclaimer. Really, we are encouraged by your calls, emails, and gifts. But also, we are content here – the Lord has blessed us in so many ways.
So in the end let me just give you a few things to think about if you’re sending something to someone living in another country, with reference to our limited experience:
- Shipping: Will the package make it (especially if it’s a long, hot trip)? Sometimes it takes longer than expected for things to arrive. We have had people send packages to our mission office in Dallas, and some things sent in January still haven’t reached us. Success varies when sending things to other countries – at times they may not arrive, or may be very late. But sometimes it’s worth the risk – we’ve gotten letters from Canada to Mexico in a few days.
- Many missionaries now have "Wish lists". We have one for our kids (mostly books for school) and I have one (which includes some things for Shari or all of us). This takes the guesswork out of what to send, and you don’t even have to package it up.
- Think ministry – I know, some people think that a care package should be "just for fun". Well, fun is good too – and that encouragement will help in service too! But maybe a missionary would appreciate something for her/his church, or Bible study materials, or other tools.
- Think of the kids – our kids have gotten balloons and stickers and pictures and puzzles – simple things, but a lot of fun. Find out how old the kids are and what their interests are, or what they’re learning in school.
- Think local – send something local, especially if it’s hard to find in the other country. This might even include something your kids made.
- Think personal – I’m talking about sending part of you in the package. Pictures of you or your family. Prayer requests – that’s one way someone far away can actually be involved in your life! And newsy letters are great. Don’t assume someone else shared the news – they probably didn’t.
- Feel free to ask – surprises are great, but sometimes it’s worth it to call and ask, or call one person to ask what the other would appreciate.
- What’s not available – find out what’s not available (or not at a reasonable price) in the other country. You might be surprised.
- There’s something we and many missionaries wish some of you would send… it would be more valuable than any of the above. This is an item on Jesus’ wish list too. What is it? You! What an encouragement it would be if some of you would come to serve the Lord in Mexico, short term or long term. The harvest is plentiful, but — to paraphrase — we need more people to finish the job! If only we could multiply ourselves … no, 1 of me is enough! We need different people – older people to minister to seniors, young people with energy, people with expertise in their business or trade, people who are just willing to serve. I guess according to Luke 10:2 that would be a care package from God! What could be better?