Tuesday, September 06, 2011


Not if it is planning on ways to bless the overseas missionaries in your life.

I lived in Swaziland for two years as a single missionary. During that time, I had the blessing of celebrating two Christmases in Africa. Sure, I missed my Grandma McElhaney's fried quail, seeing all the family, and going Christmas shopping with my mama, but I was able to spend both Christmas Days with special friends and folks back in the States poured out seasonal love through packages and cards.

I recently received a newsletter from one of my favorite missionaries, Inge Donaldson. She and her husband Dudley serve in Swaziland with Zion Evangelical Ministries of Africa. Jim and I had the honor of staying in their home for a few days on our trip to Africa last year. She makes great chocolate chip cookies and Dudley picks up fabulous Kentucky Fried Chicken. Yes, they do have KFC in Swaziland and it helps getting that taste of home when you're so far away, especially during the holidays. But more than a bucket of KFC, acts of kindness from folks back home minister immensely to missionaries who can often find themselves feeling very homesick, especially when they think of all the family back home enjoying all the seasonal traditions together.

Here's what Inge had to say on the subject:
Is it too early to think about Christmas? Not if it takes two months to send a Christmas package! Since it costs so much to send parcels overseas, I've been thinking of ways you could encourage your missionaries this Christmas without spending a lot of money on postage. I'm not just speaking of us, but missionaries in general. Here are some ideas:

* Enclose a book of Forever U.S. postage stamps in a Christmas card. You may wonder why, since we certainly can't use them outside of the U.S. Well, often times a fellow missionary is going on home assignment or an American visitor is returning to the States. They are more than willing to carry some letters with them to mail for us, and it is extra easy if the letters already have stamps on them.

*Send your missionaries a Christmas letter or e-mail with pictures of you and your family. Missionaries love this thoughtful way of staying connected with those who support them. One of the reasons I enjoy Facebook is that our family posts pictures of our grandchildren. It helps us to stay connected. Before we left for Africa in 2008, our church presented us with a calendar filled with pictures of the people in our congregation. What a wonderful gift to remind us of the people who are praying for us!

*Send a gift card that is redeemable on-line for Amazon.com or iTunes. This is particularly appreciated by those who own a Kindle or iPod. It is a quick way to enable your missionary to load up on books or songs or the latest app!

*Donate to special projects in honor of your loved ones, or your missionary. Many mission organizations have Christmas catalogues which offer various projects that you can give to. You can contact TEAM (below) for a copy of theirs.

*Send a monetary Christmas gift to your missionary through their mission agency. These are put into the missionary's personal account. They are not tax-deductible, but these extra funds are always helpful and much appreciated!

These are just some of the simple ideas you can use to encourage your missionaries at Christmas, yet save on postage costs. But if you prefer to splurge and send a box of your missionary's favorite things, I'm certain that will also be much appreciated!!!

While I've got you thinking about missionaries and the Donaldsons, to be exact, would you take the time to pray for them today? Pray for encouragement, strength, provision, protection, passion, wisdom, and love.

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