Saturday, 22 February 2014

Parcels & letters

There has been a lot of chatter on an facebook group I am a part of  (made up of missionary mothers only - can you imagine that?? I love it!!) - regarding parcels and letters. In fact before the boys had even been set apart I was taking all this information in and was better prepared for it. So this is what I have done over the last 6 weeks that the boys have been gone...

1. Old School is still the best
Regardless of what anyone says - a handwritten letter is the best! It is normal practice to email, and through places like you can send an email, which will get printed and put into an envelope and delivered and if blessed enough to be in the Provo MTC- it can be delivered free! We have done this, as well as sent care packages through - but when we recieved our own envelope of hand written letters - we were alittle - well, make that I was overwhelmed  - I cried! When the boys settle in the Dominican Republic I am going to hand write to them at least each fortnight!
2. Out with the Old and in with the Old ??
When I was a teenager and granted it was some decades ago - without the internet - we used to use old magazine pictures and write letters on the other side of them - and fold them in a way that they also served as an envelope. Well 30 years later, guess what I did for my missionaries - picked pages from magazines and wrote on them and turned them into envelopes. My niece is also a missionary - so I have to admit finding funky images for her was much easier - but for them I have even turned tv, appliances and furniture adverts into writing paper. The boys have loved receiving these  - every one!! So try it - look through the latest magazine and let your imagination take over ;-) If there was too much writing, then I found some scrapbooking paper and covered it up and wrote on that. The little superhero photo was a furniture advert in a house magazine, with a piece of scrapbook paper at the bottom to cover up the details.

3. Creative messages

I have heard that photos or images are worth a thousand words - so what happens if you combine them both? I have done this a few times - the first was at a beach activity. I painted an old framed picture (picked it up from a 2nd hand store) with blackboard paint and had friends and people my missionaries knew, write messages to the boys then photographed them holding their message.  After I had a handful - I made a collage - each one different - and sent them over inside a parcel. They were so surprised!! One of my boys loved it so much - saying it was an answer to his prayers - and he had planned to ask me to send him some photos of friends and family. It buoyed him up - especially when he was at the MTC in the snow - having left us and summer behind just a few weeks earlier. Be creative with your messages - short is good enough and remember - just because they are on a mission - doesn't mean they don't need to have a little giggle or laugh and see people from home!

4. Pictures are worth a thousand words
Recently Mr and I went with our friends to Wellington, NZ - about a 6 hour drive from where we live. While we were there we went to an international Rugby 7s competition. It has got a reputation of people dressing up in costumes (and other things) - and so I approached people to hold a handmade sign on the back of a paper bag saying 'HOLA'. I again put that together as a collage on one side of an A4 sized card and on the cover - I put a message and photos of Mr and I telling our sons how much we loved them!! 

5. Parcels and letters are not cheap
I sent a parcel to the MTC a week before the boys got there so when they did - they had a parcel waiting for them or arrived soon after landing. It made their day! It cost more to send it than what was in it!! I made a pact that I would send them a parcel every week - and yes it cost hundreds of dollars - but I needed to do that for me! I didn't want them to want for anything - turns out - they wanted (well one son in particular) more than what I sent and he will live without it!! But parcels are not cheap. Now the boys are moving to the Dominican Republic and parcels take 6-8 weeks to arrive IF AT ALL!! I need to be a little more organised and will be utitlising who will print emails and put them in envelopes and mail once a week -and also do something called a pouch - which is alittle bigger than a letter (photos can be added) with a small charge and this is done once a week as well. So I will be utilising all of these options as well as regular mailing. As it is expensive - think about sharing parcels and letters amongst your family and friends!

6. Be careful
I have heard of stories where missionaries never receive their parent's parcels -  I am prepared for this, hence using but will let you know if that works!! However, this is not what you need to be careful of - as I found out. There are rules about the things that you can send which I found out the hard way.. My sons needed some insect repellent - so thinking they would be able to shop on their PDay - we planned for them to purchase this in the States. Little did  we know that they were unable to go shopping AT ALL while in the MTC - so ended up with no insect repellent. Big problem!! It is a requirement for them to take it as Denghi fever and Malaria  and other insect carried diseases are big health concerns in the DR..... so I thought I would mail them some insect repellent - WRONG MOVE. Unbeknown to me until it was dropped off - a couple of my parcels had been stopped, opened, re-taped and then sent on to the boys - with the insect repellent sent back to me as dangerous and hazardous!! The drama and a lesson for me!! So be careful with what you send - although I declared it - it came back and my sons never got their parcel for that week....

7. Use every surface
Missionary mothers (MMs) are an amazing group of people and some of the things that are getting sent to missionaries is amazing - so that my babies didn't miss out I adapted it and did my own thing - but based on the same premise of filling every empty space on the parcel with love. Some mothers filled the insides of the parcel flaps with pictures of sunshines, other attached themed pictures like hearts on valentines day, flowers, you name it - it's been done!! I have stuck photos on mine so that the first thing my son will see when he opens his parcel beside the goodies inside is a reminder of the people who love him dearly!! Other times I have written messages and encouragement for him so that his eyes are full of things that I want him to know. Basically, I use every surface to let him know that he is loved and never ever alone!!

8. Guidelines on what not to do
There is this awesome article about what to do and what not to do when writing to a missionary that I thought was great. It is an older article but it is still a very good read. However, I think the most important thing to note is to use what you think is best for your child.... For example, after reading this article - Mr and I decided that we wouldn't tell the boys how much we missed them - so we wrote emails back and forward - never telling them that. They would tell us how much they missed us - but we told them we loved them but never concentrated on the "missing" bit - and remember I thought I was dying of heartache and grief - so it was difficult for me NOT to let them  how I was feeling. Then one day, I read a post by another MM who had a son return home and she said that her first two children - she never told them that she missed them but the younger two she did (without ever dwelling on it! - and that's the key).  She said - that it made a difference - the younger two appreciated knowing that they were missed - whereas the older two often wondered if they were missed, and never felt like they were - what a powerful lesson for me.... So since then, and in the last few weeks we tell them that we miss them and love them more.... Which has worked because one of our boys has been a bit homesick and to know that his mother and father actually missed him heaps - helped him - he knew he was not alone - EVER!! Check the article out -

I hope you have found something helpful in this entry!! I will let you know how I go sending things into the Dominican Republic - starting next week. I plan to send a peanut butter care package through - which according to them is one of the top request from missionaries serving internationally - peanut butter? Who would have thought that...

Until the next time,


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