You want to send something nice to a missionary, but what? Well, it's time for some missionary care package ideas! The best thing about these is that they're ideas from the missionaries themselves - missionaries from everywhere, living everywhere. In 2007 I asked missionary bloggers to share their missionary care package ideas, and boy did I get some GREAT feedback!
Quite a few missionaries wrote ideas in their blogs, and I was in for some surprises. For example, what's it with Americans and their craving for taco seasoning? Did you know missionaries like things that smell? Do you know how to increase your chances of having a package actually arrive? Read on for some great missionary care package ideas!
Before posting their missionary care package ideas, many missionaries wanted to make it clear that they're content - they don't need you to send them stuff. One missionary writes: ...[this]
is not a plea to send me things. I am very content already. God is
always good, whether or not there are DVDs in the drive or Marmite on
the baguette (Habakkuk 3:17-18). (from Voice in the Desert on Care Packages (cached))
Also, missionaries really want to fit in to their new culture, not always wear clothes from their native land, perfume from their native land, and eat food from their native land.
So why send a care package? The greatest thing about care packages though is the little glimpses of home they offer. They scream "we miss you," "we are thinking about you," and "we care." I guess that is why they are called "care packages" and not "things-you-need-to-survive packages." (from following an unknown path on care packages)
Ask the missionary before sending your care package. This
is important for a few different reasons. First, there are some things
for which the missionary may end up having to pay a duty or other tax.
Second, if the missionary is in a sensitive location, they may prefer
certain things to be delivered to a different address (to be
hand-carried in). And finally, you may be sending the missionary
something which they can already get in country. We were once sent
toothpaste and a large box of tissues - both of which are in abundance
where we were. Try to find out from the missionary what items they
really can't get where they are. Trust me, most will not be shy about
telling someone what they really want if they are asked! (missionary care package ideas from Jungle Pop)
More great advice from following an unknown path on narrowing it down - Don't be afraid to ask the missionary specifically for help. For example, "I'd like to send you some reading material is there a book or magazine you've been wanting to read?" OR "We are wanting to send you some personal items, do you need razors or deodorant? If so, which brands and scents could we get for you?" By asking specifically, it helps us not be so shy in telling you what we need. It is really hard to answer the question "what do you need us to send you?"
Often packages have to travel through several countries before they reach their destination. They may be thrown around, crushed, opened, and tax might be charged. They may even have specific things stolen, or they may not arrive at all! So how should you ship things? Here are a few ideas that I gleaned from everyone:
A few things not to send - unless you must.
The best missionary care package ideas are things that are personal or local. That is, local from the sender. Remember that as we continue....
Some missionaries have wish lists, either on their website or one another site. Amazon.com has a wish list function.
Depending on where the missionary is, it might be a great missionary
care package idea to simply order something from Amazon and have it
shipped right to them. Ask them if they have a wish list online (if
not, maybe you can inspire them to get one!).
Incidentally, books are one of the best missionary care package ideas, because they're often in small packages, they're less likely to be taxed, don't get destroyed easily, they're less likely to be stolen, and they don't melt or get broken en route.
No matter what you do, remember that your care package may not arrive. Insurance, special shipping options - in the end these will have little influence in most countries. Try not to get upset if your package never makes it. And don't be afraid to try again!
For many more missionary care package ideas, let's hear some missionaries say it in their own voices. I'll start with some of the posts that I think have the best general tips, then I'll list the rest that were a part of this project. Finally, I'll include a few that didn't write for this article but still have some good ideas!
Thanks to everyone else that posted about missionary care package ideas - these were great posts!
I'd like to point out just a few more posts that weren't part of this project, but that still might give you some great ideas. Here goes...