Have you noticed that as your children get older, it gets harder and harder to pick the right gift for them on their birthday? I don’t know about you, but I find myself falling into the same old habit of handing over an envelope of money on their big day and saying, “Go buy what you want”.
What a cop-out!
Well, when my daughter had a birthday while on her mission, the problem was even worse. She doesn’t have time to go out and shop for what she wants. She probably doesn’t even want to think about that kind of thing.
It is all so important for missionaries to maintain their focus on the work, so the difficulty of what to give them becomes that much more difficult.
After much thought and consideration, particularly when considering cost of postage, I decided on sending her a party in a box. This party consisted of a tiara (with instructions to her companion that my daughter had to wear it for the whole time they were in their apartment that day), balloons, a banner, and party poppers. I also included a flash drive, a CD of church music, some earrings, lip balm, as well as a packet of Australian chocolate for her companion as a thankyou gift for throwing the party in her honour.
Result? A hit!
But everyone is different and recently, through the LDS missionary mums email group I belong to, several mums discussed this topic. There were some fantastic suggestions.
Would you be surprised to know that candy, treats and other food items were way down on the list of things most missionaries wanted for their birthday?
Other thoughts on the matter raised issues about luggage space, an items usefulness, cost of mailing larger items, quarantine regulations in certain countries, and helping to maintain their missionaries focus on the work.
So here is a list of some of those suggestions:
- Fill a box with balloons (not inflated) and place thoughtful notes, pictures, quotes, and letters from family and friends inside.
- A huge birthday card with messages from the family and a current photo.
- A T-shirt with a family inspired transfer on the front that includes the mission they are serving in and the dates they served.
- 2nd hand gospel books. Send a list of them to your missionary and ask them to pick one or two. Amazon.com also offers second hand books that they will deliver directly.
- An empty quote book that they can add to as they progress in their mission. You can also send them quotes to include.
- Teaching aids and games that they can use to assist in their teaching. Check out lesson manuals on www.lds.org, and other LDS Primary websites (www.sugardoodle.com) for ideas.
- Latest conference edition of the Ensign.
- Small 5×7 images from Deseret Book Store that can be displayed on their walls, and are small enough to transport around.
- Toothbrush, their favourite floss and toothpaste.
- Some fun, small, cheap souvenirs from their home country that they can share with investigators, children etc.
- Appropriate music CDs (if allowed in the mission).
- USB memory stick if they have a camera
- Ties – sometimes elders feel that they have little chance to express themselves through their clothes, so a variety of ties helps to add colour to their day.
- Tie pins – if your missionary is serving in a foreign country then it is fun for them to have pins that represent the country they come from.
- Fresh white shirt.
- Socks, spare p-day shirt
- Lip gloss or lip balm
- Pantyhose, socks, and T-shirts for P-day.
- Their favourite snack item – pop tarts, candy, and beef jerky etc
- Birthday box – cake mix, frosting, candles, party hats, balloons etc. **Beware that some countries have quarantine restrictions on certain foods, such as flour, vegetables, meats, and cheeses. Always check with the countries quarantine laws first.
- Homemade cookies without butter (can go rancid if it contains butter and has to go a long distance).
The list is endless.
What have you sent your missionary in the past?
I am sure that there are many more ideas out there, and I am sure there are many missionary mums who would love to have some more suggestions.