Texting, emailing and Skype are great ways to communicate with someone far away. But, I propose another, possibly more meaningful way. Maybe I’m a little old-fashioned, but there is something extra special about receiving a handwritten note in the mail.
I need to provide a disclaimer that I grew up writing letters and sending them through the mail. I even had a couple of pen pals over the years. When my family went to Mexico, phone calls were very expensive and the internet and email did not exist. Written letters were what we waited 6 weeks to receive from the time they were sent. (Yes, you read that right! It took at least 6 weeks to get a letter!) This is how we communicated with friends, grandparents, and supporters.
Even though communication is easier and faster, I still cherish some of those handwritten notes that I saved from past years – especially those of my grandma that died years ago.
Being a missionary can be, and often is, a very lonely job. A note of encouragement may be exactly what the missionary is needing to continue to learn the language, counsel someone, or continue to trudge through the forest to reach a remote people. A tangible piece of paper that they can tack up on a wall or pull out to read again and again may be one of their most valuable possessions. Did you know that some missionaries only receive one or two notes of encouragement a year? Your thoughts and prayers for them can make a huge difference!
So, get out those pens and pieces of paper. Let them know that you remember them, you are praying for them, and you know that God will encourage them. (Just be careful with what you say in some countries that are not friendly to Christians or missionaries…you don’t want to get them kicked out or thrown in jail because of something you wrote!)
(Also, don’t forget that you will need to check with your local post office to find out how much postage to put on your letter. One US stamp will not likely be enough to send to most other countries. 😉 )
Have you been feeling like your house is a mess? Are you on board with the recent trend for downsizing and decluttering? Do you need a great way to get rid of extra stuff?
Use all those extra items to hold a garage sale to benefit your favorite missionary!
A garage sale is a great way to make a little bit of extra money by getting rid of all those unneeded items that are lying around. You can organize this on your own or join with a friend or several families. Sell your items for specific prices or just ask for donations…you choose what works for you!
Use the proceeds from your garage sale to:
- Send a one-time donation to your missionary. You can probably do this online very easily.
- Donate the money to the missions fund at your church.
- Purchase a certain item that your missionary needs or wants. When I was a Senior in high school, a donation was given to our family by a Sunday School class for us to be able to purchase a clothes dryer. We had wished for one for years, but hanging clothes out to dry was our only option since we didn’t have funds to buy one. This donation was a huge blessing to me and my mom.
- Give your missionary a special Christmas or birthday donation. They might wish they had enough money for gifts at Christmas, and your donation may be the only way that they are able to purchase these. Just imagine the joy the parents will feel when their children are able to open some packages!
- Support someone going on a short-term missions trip.
Another way you can make some money if you don’t want to hold a garage sale is to put some items into a consignment sale. There are some relatively new consignment sales for kids’ items, and these are a great alternative for people who don’t want to sit for several days watching a garage sale. Search online for a consignment sale in your area.
Most consignment sales have options where you can tag your own items or have them tag them for you, and then you take home a certain percentage of the sale amount. (I recently consigned my kids’ outgrown clothes in one where I earned 70% of what things sold for.) I tagged the items myself and dropped them off. Then, I picked up what was left over 4 days later. ? (Items typically sell for higher prices at these sales. Something you might only sell for $1 at a garage sale might sell for $3-4 at a consignment sale!)
Either of these options is great for people who don’t have any wiggle room in their budget. If you have been wishing that you could do more to support a missionary but every last penny goes to feed your family and keep a roof over your head, this is a great way to be able to do something amazing and help!
Have you ever had a garage sale to benefit a missionary? I’d love to hear how you did it and how much you were able to donate!
Recently, one of our church’s missionaries was back in the United States for a visit. A lunch meeting was planned, and the church was in need of volunteers to buy and prepare food for a meal after the morning services. Our missionaries were going to share their story, ministry, and vision with anyone attending the lunch meeting.
A simple way that we were able to help was to purchase supplies for the lunch. We decided on a “make-your-own-deli-sandwich” buffet. This only required a little bit of time to go to the store, set the supplies up on trays, and make sure that the food was ready. About 40 people were able to eat sandwiches, fruit, chips, and cookies…and they were able to get to know the missionaries better.
Now, we know things to pray for. We know specific needs. We know what their kids look like. We will think of them when we see certain things. Our kids were able to listen to them and will remember meeting them and hearing about where they work.
I would encourage you to look for opportunities like this! Your kids will talk about it for days. ?
Vacation season is approaching fast, and many families are making plans for trips during the coming months. Missionaries usually have to travel quite a bit, but it is not usually for pleasure or a vacation. While in the United States, they are tasked with traveling to different churches and visiting different supporting individuals. Their schedule can be exhausting, and staying with strangers can be very stressful. Sometimes, they long to “go home” to the country where they serve to be able to rest a little bit.
You can help provide a much-needed rest in the midst of this chaos. Do you have a vacation home, timeshare, or RV? You can offer this to a visiting missionary and give them an option of a way to get away for a few days. Due to financial constraints, this may be the only way they could ever experience something like this.
Now, you may be thinking, “My timeshare isn’t anywhere exotic”. While this may be true, and it may be in the middle of the United States in a “boring” location, the missionary can still get away to rest and recharge.
Make sure you know the exact dates that the home or RV is available. Also, make sure you know any rules about who can stay there or use it, and pass these on to the missionary.
If you don’t have a timeshare or RV, you can still offer to help the missionary rest. Offer to pay for a night or two in a hotel or bed and breakfast somewhere along their travels. You could even buy tickets for them at an attraction close-by. (I would recommend coordinating this with your missionary friends, as they may not have extra days available for other activities or they might rather just choose to actually rest!)
Did you know that you can donate money to a missionary without giving it through your local church? One of the most obvious ways to be a blessing to a missionary is to donate money to their ministry. This can be a great way to feel more involved and connected to them. (This should not take the place of your normal tithing to the local church, but should be in addition to it.) ? You can choose to do this:
- One time – give a one-time gift when you have the money available or choose a special occasion like a birthday or Christmas. (This can bless the missionary by supplying some extra funds for something they have been needing or wanting.)
- On a regular schedule – monthly is the most common, but you could choose quarterly or yearly. (Giving on a regular basis is a huge blessing! This helps the missionary to plan ahead and know how much income to expect on a monthly basis.)
How do you do this?
- You can give money directly to a missionary that is visiting. (Doing this means you won’t get a receipt for a tax-deduction, but you’ll get to give it to them personally!)
- Send a check to their stateside mission address or P.O. Box.
- Sign up for automatic donations online from your bank account or credit card. (This is the easiest! You won’t forget to send in the money that they are counting on if it happens automatically.)
How do you find someone to send it to?
- Ask your missions pastor.
- Ask a friend if they have a missionary that they donate to.
- Read about missionaries online and pick one. Make sure that their mission agency is a reputable one (read about their mission statement and core values, find out how they manage their money, etc.) Find a ministry that sounds interesting to you and your family.
Need some help? Try these links:
Jacob and Gina Anderson (Wycliffe Missionary Pilot in Brazil)
Daren and Elissa Tompkins (SIM Physician in Zambia, Africa)
I can tell you, from personal experience, just how much of a difference a donation by a family can make. My parents support (a.k.a. money) came from several churches and a large list of supporting couples and families that made it a priority to send money every month. Some sent only 10 or 25 dollars per month. This may seem like a very small amount of money in the big scheme of things, but it all added up. If it were not for these families, we could have never gone to the mission field.
You might be thinking, “Didn’t we already have a post on praying for a missionary?”. And yes, we did. If you’d like to read it, you can go here.
But praying for a missionary’s kids can need a little bit of a different focus. So, today we are going to talk about specific prayer needs for missionary kids.
- Adjustment to new situations – Missionary kids are exposed to many new situations, both in their host country abroad and when they come back to their passport country. Some adjust very easily, but some struggle with each change. Prayer for easy transitions is important.
- Language acquisition – Some languages are easy to pick up and learn, while others are very difficult. Some children learn languages quickly, while others seem to struggle. Younger children tend to pick up languages more easily and also seem to have a better “local” accent. Pray that they learn the language quickly.
- Salvation – This should be the most important thing that we pray for…and the most important for the missionary parents.
- Health – We need to pray for general medical health. They need protection from illnesses and injuries. Many children also have learning or physical disabilities, and we should pray that God would provide the appropriate medical care, therapies, and help for their them and their parents.
- Safety – This kind of ties into the health request, but missionary kids can be exposed to many different safety hazards. They may travel more often than other kids. There may be people around them that are against Americans or jealous of their family and would like to harm them. There may be wild animals like hippos, spiders, etc. that could cause them harm. They may live in a village with difficult terrain that makes them more prone to broken bones and falls.
- Schooling – Choosing how to educate their children is one of the biggest decisions that a missionary family will make. They may choose to homeschool, attend a local school, or send their child to a boarding school. Each of these choices will require a different way of praying, but we also should pray that the child is able to learn well in any circumstance.
- Friendships – Missionary kids need prayer to make friends, but not just any friends…the right friends. When they are little, they need good friends to play with. As they get older, they need friends that will not influence them wrongly. We should pray that they do not choose to follow pagan or evil local practices. We should pray that their friends would help their faith grow.
Here is a link with a great article (with scriptures) for you to pray for your own children as well as missionary kids that you know. Click here to read it.
Let your missionary know what you are praying for their kids!
Have you ever traveled somewhere and had to rent a car when you arrived? Or have you had to figure out how to get a car seat once you are there?
Many missionaries travel long distances to return to the United States, and then they travel again and again while in the U.S. Most don’t own cars in the U.S., and some will not have access to a car seat once they arrive.
One way you can help is to loan them something like a car or child’s car seat. These things are bulky or cumbersome and they might need them while in your area. This could save them hundreds of dollars. They might only need to use it for a weekend or a week, or they might need it for the whole summer. Find out their needs are and see how you can help. Even if you can only help part of the time, this can still be a huge help. This also helps the missionary family be good stewards with the money they are receiving from donors. They don’t need to waste donated money on a rental car if someone local can let them use one for a few days.
If you think about it, you might even be able to figure out some other things that a missionary could use. All you probably need to do is ask them. Do they need a saw, a blender, a ladder … I bet you could think of other ideas. Share them with us!
Taking a missionary shopping may sound a little overwhelming, especially if you are an introvert or if you don’t know them well. BUT, believe me, this can be a huge blessing!
There are two ways that I have seen this happen:
- Organize a shopping trip as a church for multiple missionaries visiting at the same time. I know a church that does this every year during their missionary focus week/month and it works well. They assign a designated amount of money for each missionary family, and assign church volunteers to accompany them to the mall. It is an event for all the missionary families and church volunteers to participate in at the same time. They take pictures and then share them on Sunday with the congregation. Many times, the missionaries will buy things like tennis shoes, pants, and bathrobes. You’d be surprised how grateful they are to buy some of these things they have been needing, but unable to afford.
- Take them individually. If you are meeting them for lunch or hosting them in your home, you can figure out a time to take them shopping while you are with them or while they are in town.
Things to consider:
- Decide ahead of time if you’d like to surprise the missionary or let them know ahead of time. It might work best to plan the time, since most missionaries have a schedule to keep when they are back in the United States.
- You don’t have to go to a huge mall. Pick a smaller store if time is short.
- You also need to decide what you want to take them shopping for.
- Are you going to let them buy whatever they want?
- Are you going to ask them to identify something they need?
- Or are you going to offer to spoil them by buying an expensive perfume or makeup?
- What you are shopping for will determine what store you need to go to.
- Do you need to set a budget?
- If you have limited funds, you need to decide ahead of time how much you are willing to spend. If you only have a specific amount to spend, you can let the missionary know how much or just give them the cash and let them spend it.
Have you ever taken a missionary shopping? Consider giving it a try!
Contact your missionary friend and find out what kinds of magazines they might enjoy reading. Learn about what interests they have. What do they like?
- Children’s interests
You’ll also need to find out if they prefer to read it electronically or receive the paper version in the mail. You might check if they can even receive paper versions through the mail…. you’ll also have to check with the magazine to see if they ship overseas (it might cost a little more for overseas shipping). You’ll either need an email or a street/PO address. Look up a magazine that matches their interest and order it for them or their children. Missionary kids usually have less access to many English reading materials.
You can do this on any budget! Many magazines are available at steep discounts at different times through the year. If you participate in the Recyclebank recycling program, you can use reward points to order magazines for other people and it won’t cost you anything!
This is a great idea for a gift that is not a one-time thing…they will keep receiving new issues throughout the whole year. By the way, this is a great gift for anyone!
Here are some links to a few magazines to get you started…just click on the image!
(Some links in this post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.)
Check out the Reader Tip that I wrote for MoneySavingMom.com.
As a parent, we want our kids to be kind and generous with others, but we all know this does not come naturally to most children. So, how do we teach them to give to others when they would rather focus on their own needs and wants?
Here are a few ideas… Go here to read the rest!
Hopefully you can get some great ideas for how to help your kids learn to be more giving.
Do you have other ideas? Please share them!