by Joshua Jones
Are you shopping for a gift for a missionary? If so, you've undoubtedly found it to be a challenge finding something that won't weigh down their suitcases or that won't cost you a fortune in postage. Today we'll be looking at a few gift ideas that will be sure to please without costing a fortune. As a preliminary disclaimer, you may want to find out what type of internet service your missionary has, as some of these may be inappropriate for people serving in remote areas with limited download speeds.
It's a common problem for missionaries to spend their budgets and time on ministry and outreach. Everyone needs a break sometimes, and one way you can provide one is with an iTunes gift card. The great things about these is that Apple will even let you send them by e-mail. They are valid for downloading music, movies, TV shows, games and even audio books.
Give the gift of Amazon
If the missionary on your list is an avid reader, consider giving them a gift certificate for Amazon.com. Amazon also offers e-gift certificates, making it a postage-less process. One benefit of Amazon is that they have warehouses all over the world, and sometimes your missionary may be able to redeem the certificate and still receive free postage on English books. As an alternative to actual print books, many of their products are available as e-books or audio books. Of course, in addition to books, Amazon offers a variety of household items, electronics, etc... many of these are also available overseas.
Many tech-savvy missionaries around the world are now using Skype to make internet-based phone calls. While Skype is free to call other Skype users, there is a small fee to call traditional land-line phones. By giving your missionary a Skype gift certificate, they can call their loved ones or even use the credit to purchase a local US-based telephone number to receive calls on.
Send a Video
Grab a home video camera and go crazy! Film your missionary's friends, family, home town, church, etc... Interview people and allow them to include their greeting in your video. Once you're done, either mail the tape or upload it to the internet for them to download. Again, you may want to discuss this first to be sure you're working in a format they'll be able to access.
Online Magazine Subscriptions
Many major magazines such as Christianity Today and World offer international subscriptions, and many offer online versions as well. If your missionary works with an agency, their mail forwarding service may be able to include this in their regular forwards. Please do check with your missionary before pursuing this one. Make sure they are not in a sensitive area and if it will be going through a mail forwarding service, it could end up costing them a fortune to have forwarded! With that said, many magazines will let you pay for international postage up front, and regular news and articles from home could be a huge boost to your missionary's morale.
Foreign Buyers Clubs
Scan the internet for "foreign buyers club" or "expatriate resources" and the country your missionary is working in. You may be able to send them the gift of goods from home without having to mail them yourself. Sometimes these goods can be a bit pricey, so be sure to weigh the value of just sending a care package yourself. If you're in a hurry, or you don't want to worry with customs forms at the post office, this can be a great alternative. Please do keep in mind that sometimes these services may take a month or two to deliver your gift.
Hopefully this article will just be a springboard for your gift giving adventure, and you'll also have some creative ideas as well. We'd love to hear from you, so please consider posting any additional ideas on the discussion board or as a comment to this article.