Missionary needs & practical ideas

I'm looking for practical, helpful projects that the ladies in our church can do together to help missionaries on the field or on deputation/furlough.

We pray and write to our missionaries as individuals. But we need something more, a project we can work on as a group of ladies, maybe involving the children.

For example, if a missionary needed school supplies for a back-to-school outreach, we might collect items for a couple months and then put them together into baskets for the missionary to give out. Of course, shipping is often more expensive than the items so it may be cheaper to just raise money for the missionary to buy items on the field.

We could also use ideas for how churches keep members informed about their missionaries.

I plan to contact our missionaries to find their needs but I just wanted to see what other projects churches have done. I look forward to your posts.

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Diane Heeney's picture

You are right, that sometimes it is just not cost-effective to send "things"....esp. if the missionaries have to pay duty etc. As far as the school supplies are concerned, inexpensive tote bags can be purchased at the dollar store. My daughter just got a cute one that looks like pink satin, but is lined with a waterproof material. One of our lady missionaries is in Africa, and, interestingly she makes good use of travel toiletries (and the little ones you get at motels). In the past, I've just written and said, "What do you need?"

I was a member of a church in Greenville that was big on sending a box to each missionary for Christmas, in which were various craft projects the ladies had made all during the year. I remember receiving some very nice stenciled and embossed note cards that were useful. Also some little inexpensive things for Christmas stockings. They made blank books (journals) and note pads, even some Christmas decorations. Once, a cookbook was compiled by all the church ladies (inexpensively bound) so the missionaries had a little "taste of home" (and they had asked for the missionaries to send their favorite "native" recipe to add as well). On a larger scale, one year they cut out an entire set of Betty Luken's flannel figures for a particular missionary who had that need.

As far as informing members, I made a notebook once, in which the letters could be stored...but no one really looked at it. Our current church has a bulletin board for the express purpose of posting letters and pictures. Of course, the letters are read at church too...usually on Wednesday nights.

"I pray to God this day to make me an extraordinary Christian." --Whitefield http://strengthfortoday.wordpress.com

Michelle's picture

Cutting out the flannelgraph would be a great activity for our ladies. We could socialize while doing something very helpful for someone else. Thanks for all the ideas.

Barbara H.'s picture

To answer the last question first, our church has a display board with pictures of each missionary family and copies of their latest prayer letter, plus excerpts are read at Wed. night prayer meetings. Current prayer requests are listed on the Wed. night prayer request sheets and in the monthly ladies' ministry newsletter. So many send prayer requests and prayer letters via e-mail now, and our pastor will forward those to church members who want to be on his list for such things.

I've seen some churches post a little summary of their missionaries, taking one at a time, in church bulletins, newsletters, or even online (but you would have to be especially careful about online mentions, especially for those in countries where their is persecution. Most missionaries request that churches not put prayer letters up on web sites -- it's awkward when their contacts find themselves mentioned as prayer requests on a newsletter online. I wouldn't put addresses online unless you can password-protect the site so only members could see it).

We used to send Christmas packages, but the Post Office discontinued the old "surface rate," and everything goes by various levels of air mail now, and, as was said, sometimes it costs way more to send the package than what the items are worth. Small packages aren't terribly expensive, though. It's best to contact the missionary to see whether they have to pay duty and whether they can gets the items there: It might be more cost-effective to send them money, but if there are things they need that they can't get there or are exorbitantly expensive there, the cost of shipping would be worth it.

Some projects our ladies' group has worked on for our missionaries are note cards (years ago at one church, the note cards the ladies made out of recycled cards looked like recycled cards, and I was embarrassed to send them, But with the advent of scrapbooking and the beautiful papers and card stock for that, hand-made cards can be really nice now), various items with wordless book colors (booklets made out of felt so as to last longer than construction paper ones, bookmarks with hearts in the the wordless book colors, etc.), and bookmarks with a verse in the language of the country the missionary is in (best to ask the missionary for the verse so you have the right spelling and dialect). The bookmarks and wordless book things can be used in classes, VBS, etc.

20-some years ago we had ladies who could trace and color flannel graph backgrounds, but those can't compare with the Betty Lukens flannel graphs. I agree that cutting out the pieces of a flannelgraph set can be a great blessing to a missionary -- it will arrive ready-to-use.

I hope that some of the missionaries here will chime in with things they've received that were useful.

Anne Sokol's picture

Here's some stuff that has and hasn't worked for me:

Great:
1. Craft items--they are really expensive here, so when people send me craft items to make crafts here, that is really helpful. I had a ladies' group send me a bead-angel craft that they packaged themselves so i could just immediately give it out to the ladies attending our conference. they also send some elastic string stuff and beads for making bracelets, the little plier things we needed to make the angel thingy- and just really handy, well-thought-out crafts that we planned together. They were very thorough and didn't miss a thing to send.

2. beautiful scarves also were donated. the ladies here dress very well, so having nice wrapy-type scarves that are popular here was really nice to give out at ladies' conferences

3. donated baby clothes. aside from the cost of shipping these things myself, i really appreciate when people send baby/child clothing (and adult clothing too) because it is very expensive to buy new here. and I give out baby clothes a lot when our ladies and friends have babies here. Also, Ukraine is poor, but people here dress way-classy, which I do not dress that way, but i prayed that God would have classy dressing Americans give me their second-hand--and He did! that helped a lot.

4. one thing that hasn't worked too well is mass-made, handmade baby blankets. the nice ones are great, but when it's like peices of flannel or something, i can't really distribute that here. it's just not culturally acceptable--maybe in a really poverty-stricken place? but here it's so european and people have high standards of what things should look like.

5. we once had a bunch of team soccer shirts given to us, which was nice, but paying to ship them all wasn't considered by the giver for some reason. it's not too expenisve if you can use places like Good Samaritan or something like that. Like 0.50 cents/lb last i heard.

6. last christmas someone handed me two Good Samaritan christmas shoe boxes of children's presents. it was God-sent. i didn't have money for christmas presents, but come christmas, i really wanted to give the kids stuff even though they are very young. and those shoe boxes provided me with neat little gifts i wrapped individually so they each had fun unwrapping stuff.

7. some simple medical supplies are not really helpful here. like bandaids are so cheap and easy to buy here, but toothbrushes i have really appreciated as they can be pricey here. Also, people here can be offended if they are given meds already after the expiration date. And I get queasy about cheap prenatal vitamins--maybe that's just me, but i study childbirth and work with pg couples, and often the cheap stuff can do more harm than good. Sorry if this is too much info, but i could really use some more bottles of astroglide, i have given out all my stock. and I could use some of the little Lanisoh packets for breastfeeding moms, i think the company just donates them or gives them out for free, if anyone has some of those or wants to get them Biggrin

ya'll are awesome

TJohnson's picture

Hello,

We not only seek prayers from our supporters, but we also try to pray for all of our supporters too. So we LOVE to receive personal letters from our supporters along with family pictures...these letters become like a revere missionary prayer card for us to pray for our supporters.

We also love our parents and relatives and friends to take pictures of themselves and also of local well-known landmarks, stores, cafe'$, establishments, etc, especially showing the change in weather.

Old magazine subscriptions are also cool. World, Christianity Today, homeschooling mags...doesn't matter if they are old.

Missionary in an asian country.