When the Holidays Hit

by Amber Steffen

We are heading into the holiday season and before the rush sets in, let’s talk about missionary care during Thanksgiving and Christmas. I don’t know about you, but when schedules get hectic and there’s a million things to plan for, this advocate role can easily take a back seat… but I’m also convinced there’s probably not greater time when these expats need the personal connections and support. (Read When Eid Makes Me Homesick to get a better idea of what special holidays might feel like away from home.) 

Two hands creating a heart

Here are just a few ways you can let your missionary know they aren’t forgotten this season:

  • Make sure they’re on your Christmas Card mailing list. Consider collecting cards for them from friends and family or their prayer team and send them in a bulk package.
  • Send a Holiday Care Package full of things for the whole family to enjoy. Whether it’s a new book, Christmas CD or movie, non-perishable dry-goods that remind you of Christmas, or a cinnamon candle, they all can help bring a bit of “home” to your missionary. This is something to plan ahead for NOW depending on where you’re sending the package to. Sometimes international shipping can take months! (Note: I tried an “assemble yourself” Gingerbread House Kit one year for the family to do together… somewhere in between countries, the icing exploded over the entire contents of the box before it arrived (three months late). Choose carefully and send it ahead of time. A dry box mix of gingerbread cookies sent in October may have been a better option. 🙂 )
  • Tell them specifically why you are thankful for them and what they are doing. I’ve sent a series of quick emails to missionaries and friends around the world on Thanksgiving and just shared a simple note of why I thank God for them. It doesn’t take a lot of time, but I guarantee that it will touch them to know they are remembered.
  • Help your missionary write a year-in-review newsletter for the church and ask to include it as an attachment in the church announcements or have handouts printed at the bulletin board. That can be a great encouragement for everyone as you see what God has been up to! You can also encourage people to send in their family’s Christmas card, package them together and send to your missionary. How encouraged would you be to receive 500 Christmas cards from your home church knowing they were praying specifically for what was going on in your life?

These are just a few starter ideas, but I know a lot of you are great at staying in touch with your missionaries. What ideas have you found helpful in supporting your missionaries? Please share them with us in the comments!