Creative ways to encourage a missionary
besides finances, prayer and written communication:
Talk with them directly by phone or by Skype.
Donate frequent flyer points to them, if this is appropriate for their situation. This might be something you can do for them while they are on home assignment or help them to get away to somewhere other than their place of work on some annual leave while they are on location.
Purchase an iTunes gift card for them. You can either mail it to them or just email the activation code to them. Make sure this will actually be of use before you do it.
Make a movie of friends, family, their church family, familiar locations and so on for them and send it or put it on Vimeo or Youtube. There are secure ways of uploading movies onto the Internet but be very careful if you have a missionary in a secure location.
If your missionary isn’t serving in the middle of the jungle, use the Internet to find a local florist or food outlet and get them something fantastic delivered to the door...goodies from a bakery, pizza delivered to the door, a box of groceries...
Find out what they are really missing or what items are really hard to find in their new country and send something to them. Be prepared for a big bill at the post office so go ready to be sacrificial at that point. (Just think of their faces when they open their gift. That will help with the post office pain.) That said, you don’t need to send an abundance of something...even just a small offering of some favourite thing will be appreciated. (No used tea bags! Did somebody really do that??)
Before sending anything, check with your missionary. Sometimes there are restrictions on sizes of parcels that can be received and it can be an expensive exercise for the missionary to retrieve it from the local authorities if they can retrieve it at all, which rather takes the edge off a gift. Communicate and work with your missionary on the best way to get things through to them. In some situations it may be better to send nothing. Clear communication and clear guidelines make for a better experience all round.
Organise them an Amazon gift voucher. All electronic and it gives them the joy of choosing. Check first to see if that is going to be useful and accessible.
Organise a magazine or journal subscription for them. Again, check with your missionary before you do this for security, content, postal and/or email/Internet access issues. (Some missionaries are only able to receive very short emails without attachments so check, check, check.) But if it will work, go for it.
Get in touch with their family back at home and find out how they are doing. If they are Christians pray with them and if not, pray for them. And then report back encouraging news. If there is something you can do to help a missionary’s family members back at home – mow the lawn for their elderly parents for example – do this. What a gift to a missionary.
If there are children, remember them. Stickers, colouring pages, coloured craft paper...these sorts of things are easily popped into letters. If their location and your budget will allow you to send more, do so. Send a care package especially for the children.