The good folks over at Missionaryblogs.com have asked that we put out a post giving advice on sending care packages to M's around the world. This is problematic for many because such a post would look like we were begging for stuff but since this blog is fairly anonymous I feel safe to tell it like it is.
First, a little advice on packaging. Here in Middle Earth the postal service is not very dependable. The post passes through several countries who are all notorious for pilfering the packages and it is very often that our packages have been opened and much of the contents end up as presents for the children of the postal workers. Insuring a package is completely useless for us- and I suspect in many countries so don't bother. What you can do is go crazy with the tape. A thoroughly wrapped package is a nuisance to get into and they will move on to a softer target. Also, if you individually wrap each of the contents then that also adds a good measure of security. Finally, if you write a packing list on the inside flap with a big ol' magic marker they are less likely to pilfer.
Now, that is how to ship it- but what should you ship? I like Oreos. You know you can get a lot of cookies in this world but Oreos are unique to the USA. But other than that if you send package food stuff then often local postal workers don't know what to do with it and leave it alone. My personal favorite is Taco Bell Taco Dinners. I can't get anything like that here and it is so foreign that it always makes it through in the post. Mac and cheese stuff for folks with kids is always good. Condiment things like salad dressings are not usually available and much appreciated.
Now some things you might think would be a good idea but really it isn't is a cake mix. If you think about it a cake mix is heavy and cost you a lot to ship but it is 90% flour and hey, we can get flour. Some specialty mixes like a gooey brownie mix or something like that can be very nice however. Chocolate is not a very good idea as it never travels well. The only exception to this is Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. They don't travel well but you can't get them anywhere but the US so we eat them melted when we can get them. Oh, and personally I don't like mayonnaise. I am just saying.
Something else you should consider when sending a package is valuables. Don't do it. We had a family leave behind a young boy's favorite stuffed bear and they mailed it out to him. We never saw it again. Sad. If you don't want to loose it don't send it in the mail. Also, kids love toys and it is great to get them but again, the postal workers have kids too and the toys do not often make it. My mom sent us a package our first Christmas overseas full of Barbie Dolls for the girls and it never made it. It cost her a fortune and she decided never to mail us anything again. Please try again Mom?
Something that always seems to make it but you wouldn't think it might is CD's and computer games. We love Christian music and the latest movies. They are light so they are cheap to ship and you can buy us the discount stuff cause we haven't seen anything in the last two years anyway.
Well, I hope that this was helpful for those of you out there thinking of sending a package to someone. It means a lot to us to get a package. Even something small communicates much love and grace to us at the end of a long day. Thank you to all those who support M's this way. If you have any questions about what I have said leave a comment, I will be glad to follow up with you.