Missionary Projects for the Local Church
It would be impossible to list all the things we could do to provide items for missions and their workers. I will mention just a few to stimulate your thinking. You will be able to add to the list according to your own circumstances and the needs of the individuals and groups which you support. The following projects will require the combined efforts of all interested folks in the church.
CHRISTMAS IN OCTOBER
Many members of a church send Christmas cards to other members. In place of this custom, why not place a large poster-board Christmas tree in a conspicuous spot in the church, possibly near the main entrance? Members could then place in an envelope the money they would have spent for cards and postage, and leave it under the tree. Then they would write their names on the Christmas tree for all to see. The money would be equally divided among your church missionaries and sent as personal gifts for holiday extras. Those with children in the family will be especially grateful. You see, missionary wives cannot take in ironing, and missionary children cannot shovel driveways to earn just a little extra for a once-a-year special treat. But you can provide that joy for them quite easily.
Although some countries charge excessive customs duty, thus prohibiting the receipt of the boxes you would like to send, there are many areas where boxes can still be sent. It is best to hear from your missionary concerning what he would really like to have or items he needs. Books and magazines can be sent duty free, so this is no problem. Foodstuffs will be appreciated. Mixes of all kinds are light and easy to send (cakes, brownies, pancakes, pie crust, puddings, pizza, macaroni, etc.) . Meat tenderizer is a very practical gift! Plastic wrap, plastic bags, and aluminum cooking foil are appreciated. Stuff them into the box as packing. Don’t send items in bottles or other breakable containers. If soap or mothballs are sent, wrap them heavily and securely in foil so they do not flavor packaged foods.
A small toy for each child will be received with exceptional gratitude.
Paper napkins, clothespins, birthday candles, everyday cards, thread, needles, pins, pencils and pens, stationery, paper clips, and other small and common items are apt to be quite uncommon and difficult to obtain where your missionary is located. Check with your local post office concerning maximum measurements and weight for the countries to which you will send parcels. Consult the previous chapters for other ideas.
Either the members of the group can bring money toward the purchase of several items, or each person could bring an individual gift.
PROVIDING PROFESSIONAL AND BUSINESS SERVICES
Most churches have within their membership one or more doctors, nurses, lawyers, dentists, store owners, car salesmen, gas station operators, secretaries, photographers, printers, bankers, and other businessmen. It would be a fine offer to hand your missionary a list of all services members of the church could provide. Have you asked your missionary if he needs to open a checking account, has teeth in need of attention, requires shots before return to the field, needs pictures taken for the home office, would like his form letters or prayer cards printed, or needs a tank full of gas and a spare tire? Even nonprofessionals can donate the money toward these very needful expenses.
Find out something your missionary or his board needs to carry on a more effective ministry. It may be a typewriter, projector, vehicle, visual aid, tape recorder, musical instrument, adding machine, piece of hospital equipment, or printing press. A church in the east even provided an airplane for a missionary organization.
HELPING MISSIONARY KIDS
Missionary children usually leave their parents and return to the homeland for college or work. Some must return for high school. Your church has the privilege of providing them with some of the things they need. Someone may be able to provide rent-free or low-rent lodging. Everyone can help them to become a part of your church family and make them feel at home at your regular and special events. The church may want to set up a scholarship fund to help them through college. Many churches have a testimony time during Sunday school when an individual praises God for some special blessing and places a special offering in a bank. Why not use the funds in that bank to provide spending money for your local MKs, or send it to a different one each month?
Before a candidate leaves for his field of service (whether as a new recruit or as a returning missionary) why not provide a personal or general shower? There is no limit to the types of things you can provide. Ask your missionary for a list of specific items he still needs. This can be used as a guide for those who will participate. If it is a personal shower, be sure to ask for the necessary sizes.
Do you support an organization with an office in your area? Why not volunteer to help them get out a special mailing, or type form letters, or prepare material for the printer? A call to the director may provide you with much opportunity to be of service and have a more personal part in their ministry. A group could spend all day with a service project, saving the organization much time or money.
USED GREETING CARDS
In many areas, missionaries use the pictures from old greeting cards as attendance awards and for memory work prizes. Check with your missionary concerning the practicality of sending cards. If they cannot be used as awards, there are other possibilities. Carefully cut out the center section (which usually contains the actual greeting and personal salutations), leaving the front picture attached to the blank back section. They can then be used again as notepaper. Some missionaries who cannot obtain greeting cards prefer to receive the whole card with only the signature cut off so they can reuse it with its original sentiment. Pictures from greeting cards can be pasted on thin poster board or construction paper to make attractive bookmarks. Magazine pictures can also be utilized for this purpose. (Rubber cement works better with thin paper than paste or mucilage do.)
CLOTHING FOR YOUR MISSIONARY FAMILY
If you have a monthly women’s missionary meeting, why not make a project of making clothing for the family to be taken to their field of service or to be used when they arrive home for furlough? Most missionaries do some pretty serious gulping when they look at the price tags on clothing in the homeland (don’t we all?)! Purchasing material and making clothing, for those who have this practical and useful gift, is a contribution worth far more than it would appear at first. Be sure to obtain a list of sizes from your missionary. If you make clothing for children, remember that they grow! Make something for them to grow into. Perhaps you would rather donate a day a month apart from your regularly scheduled meeting for this special clothing project. Knitted and crocheted items are useful too.
If your missionary is in medical work, why not collect sample medicines from your family doctor, local pharmacies, or pharmaceutical companies? Usually it is not difficult to gather several samples of pills and potions. Finding out what you have gathered and making some order from them will be a bit more taxing. It is best to have a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist available to discard dangerous drugs and make sure useable ones are properly marked with their generic or trade name, name of company, administration, usages, and side effects. Discard items which must be kept refrigerated. If you have a large quantity of several types, put them in separate double plastic bags or large bottles. (Many samples come wrapped in paper or light cardboard.) Medicine bottles or small containers can always be used on the field. But if there are only four pills of any one kind, don’t bother sending them! A small dose of any type of medication is impractical and useless. Be sure you send sample medicines only with the blessing of your missionary, and direct them only to a knowledgeable, medically trained worker.
TRADING STAMPS AND COUPONS
If you have enough trading stamps, you can exchange them
for just about anything money will buy. When an entire congregation willingly donates its stamps, your missionary will be able to trade them for equipment and personal items. Coupons from cake mixes and other packaged goods can be redeemed (plus a small cost) for stainless steel, dinnerware, children’s toys, and other items which you can, in turn, donate to missions.
CANCELLED POSTAGE STAMPS
Large stamp companies are in the market for used postage stamps. Check first with the company to see what types of stamps they are willing to buy (usually commemoratives and foreign stamps in mint or cancelled condition) . Use the funds received to help in your missionary support. Be sure to instruct those involved in this project how to cut stamps off envelopes properly. In some situations, the missionary is able to sell our stamps overseas for more than we can get here. So, ask first which he would prefer, the money or the stamps.
Attention men and young people! This is for you. At a dollar per car, you can surely provide something for your missionary from a day of hard work. Young people may also plan a day to mow lawns, rake leaves, walk dogs, or tend gardens, in order to raise money for a necessary item.
These projects listed only scratch the surface of what you can provide for your missionary. You will be able to add dozens more which may fit your budget, congregation, and missionaries, far better than any of these.