Hello Dear Friends!
It's amazing to realize John has already been gone a week - only 103 weeks to go! And as his birthday is the end of this month (he will be the big 2 - 0!!), it raises an interesting question: what the heck to you give the missionary who needs nothing and has no space to haul around anything new? Well, we are certainly not the first to have this dilemma. Most missionaries, in preparation for their mission, go on a bit of a shopping spree. Johnny called in Christmas in September. He began his mission with all new suitcases, suits, shirts, pants, belts, shoes, socks, ties, toiletries, scriptures, basically everything he would need to start out. He will certainly need some replacements along the way, but for now he is good to go. So. How can we help him celebrate his birthday? And other holidays along the way?
In asking other Missionaries and Missionary Moms their advice, they had a couple of really good ideas. No matter where he is, he will continue to need things like shampoo, deodorant, etc. He is given a small stipend each month for food and personal items, but most missionaries agree the amount allotted can be below what many of our boys are used to. An extra gift card to Walmart can help ease those birthday blues, providing for some small, nice, "extras". We are helping them to learn budgeting skills, but other Missionaries assure me a little extra at Walmart can go along way.
Another idea was to give restaurant gift cards from the area. We don't yet know where Johnny will be on his birthday. What we do know is that early cards/gifts/letters can be sent directly to the Mission Home and they will see items are delivered wherever he is. This is the address to the right on the blog. After he arrives in Alabama (we think this will be around November 10th) he will be placed somewhere and then he can give us a specific address, which I will post for everyone. Remember, his mission area includes the upper two thirds of the State, with small amounts of Tennessee and Mississippi thrown in - we have no idea which town he might be serving in. Missionaries have said they love restaurant gift cards for those times they don;t have time to get back to the apartment before heading to their next appointment.
The last idea is to contribute to Johnny's mission fund. As a family, we continue to pay for his mission each month, and any help towards this would be greatly appreciated. Mission funds are sacred and we have recently learned no tithe is required on this "income" or "increase". Contributions can be made directly to the church if you have an LDS account - indicate the Missionary information on the form, and please let me know so I can keep track of what is owed. Also, Johnny still has his bank account and can process funds, or I can process them on his behalf.
My thanks to you all for helping Elder Gilbert on his Mission. Your letters and emails to him mean more than you can possibly know. It really does take a village and we love you all! Thank you!!