18 February, 2012

Should I or shouldn't I?

We got a letter from an elderly supporter this week. We don't get letters very often anymore, they're very special! This one's got me thinking, though. Tell me what you think.

The background is that in our November news-prayer letter I wrote a "Christmas Wish List" of eight food items that we'd love people to send us. No obligations, no pleading, nothing. Just a list. 

The letter read:
"I decided to make a parcel for you . . . I followed your suggested list: I got a big parcel — did not weigh anything — went to the post office, 'Oh no,' said the post office lady, 'don't waste your money on that, you can buy all those things in the tourist shops these days in Tokyo!' It was going to cost much much more than the contents. So — I brought the parcel home and am sending the money to the office . . . and asking them to hold if for your leave or send it to you if you need it, no need to waste it on exchange. Please use it as you need to. I just couldn't imagine you going looking round Tokyo for the tourist shops! But perhaps you do."

Well, no, we don't know of tourist shops that sell Weetbix, Promite, or EasyYo Yoghurt Mixes. And yes, she's right, we don't spend our time looking around Tokyo to find shops that sell these.

But it leaves me with a dilemma. Is it the right thing to include such lists in our letters? 

It isn't as if we didn't know that postage was so expensive, and that usually treats such as we suggested cost more to post than to buy them. I just supposed that if people felt they could afford it, and wanted to, that they'd like to know what it is that we'd like. As opposed to the parcels most missionaries have received that include things that are easily and even cheaply available locally. Or that are simply not enjoyed by the family, and believe me, we've received some strange gifts. 

But these really are just treats. They aren't necessities. We have all we need, in fact far more than we need. Is is simply greed to put these suggestions in our letters occasionally?

On the flip side of the coin, we are always very encouraged when people take the time and money to send us these gifts. It is a tangible link back to Australia that we love to give our kids (and don't mind ourselves, either).

Any thoughts?


KarenKTeachCamb said...

Go ahead and include the list occasionally. It's up to the readers what they do with it. I'd hazard a guess that the lady in the Post Office has never been to Japan, and so didn't really know what she was talking about. Yes, some of these things may be available locally, but the time and effort and cost involved in obtaining them make them difficult to obtain. (Maybe people should consider if they would cycle 15 minutes, change trains 3 times, and pay double the "real" price of goods to buy them, and then do that in the reverse to get them home.) Yes, postage is expensive, but it's such a blessing when we recieve parcels. Letters are special, and parcels (especially those containing things we really enjoy) are even more special. If people don't know what you miss, how can God use them to bless and encourage you.

Anonymous said...

Don't know the answer.....but not only has the P.O. lady possibly not been to Japan....perhaps she's never seen Christian love and generosity in action before??

Jamie Jo said...

I don't know that there is any right answer, but feel free to include it if you want to. So sorry you were deprived of the blessing of this package, though. How sad!

Meredith said...

Definitely include lists like that every now and then. Tomorrow I am posting chewing gum to Kiribati and Tic Tacs with a few sheets of baking paper to Tanzania. In the past I have send jelly snakes to Africa and Twistees to Texas! The contents of the parcels cost a quarter of the postage (or more sometimes) but it is so worth the while. You can't put a price on encouragement. And people can best encourage you if they know what will best encourage you.