I never imagined when my friend, Denise, began sending missionary care packages several years ago that Doug and I would one day be a recipient of them. Denise shares her heart for doing this and some great packing tips:
I began sending packages when a friend was serving as a missionary in Uganda many years ago. Back then there was hardly any communication such as email or Facebook so I had to just go with what seemed like items he would like to receive. The focus was on items that were light weight. It was expensive and we wanted to make it all count. I am certain he was tired of Ramen Noodles, Kool-aid packets and Mac & Cheese but I felt like I was ministering to him and had a connection even though he was across the ocean.
Now fast forward to 2011, my very best friends decide to become missionaries in Mozambique. They were leaving everything they knew, family, friends, church, and all the favorite foods from home. So it became my personal mission to make sure they did not feel forgotten, they had everything they needed, and was available to send them something as the need arose.
Luckily for me in the age of technology I have full access to the Crawfords. I am able to communicate in many ways. I can keep in touch and find out if any special needs or items are needed. This last box had a phone battery in it for Debbie’s phone. It is sometimes hard to find the right item in a foreign country. I feel like I am doing my part in ministering to them so they can in turn minister to others. It may only seem like a few food staples but to them it may be a sweet reminder that they are missed, prayed for and thought of more often than they think.
It is least expensive to use Large Flat Rate Boxes from the Post Office. The boxes are free and the cost is the same up to 20 pounds. And believe me the box will be full way before that unless your are sending canned goods.
Let other family and friends of your missionary know you are sending a package. They may want to send and item, card or pictures. They may also like to donate toward the shipping which spreads the cost.
Always plan ahead, in my case packages take 3 weeks to arrive. So if you are planning on sending for a holiday, birthday or special occasion you need to prepare your box a month before you want them to receive it.
I always have an extra box on the counter to put things I find in it as I go along. I try not to buy everything last minute. And usually I have more items then I can fit so I start another box!
When packing the box, I try different arrangements to make the most of the 12 x12 x5 space. Sometimes I will open packages of wrapped candy or other items I can scatter in the the cracks and crevasses to fill every inch.
I put flat things on the bottom and things that are cushioned on top such as pouches of biscuit mix or cookie mixes.
I know it is not possible for everyone to be able to ship boxes overseas. But it is possible to send a Birthday or Christmas card, write a note telling them they are thought of and missed or send a family photo to keep them up to date with what is happening at home. The cost is minimal but the blessing and encouragement they will feel is priceless.
Some missionaries might question the cost and wouldn’t we rather have the money instead of the goodies but I can tell you that a box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is great therapy for a homesick heart that money could never accomplish. The dash of flavored creamer in my coffee every morning reminds me of the love and encouragement of my faithful friend…along with the lime green nail polish!
What does a missionary care package mean to you? Do you have any other shipping or package ideas? Share in the comments below.