The other day I was messaging back and forth with our missionary and I asked him a few questions about some of the items we purchased for him. I wanted to know how they were working out and if he found them useful. Since I live in Texas, the resources for missionaries were somewhat limited, therefore, I did what mamas do best; I asked my fellow missionary mamas, friends and turned to the ever-so-helpful internet. This is what I discovered:
Shoes: You can never put a price on your missionary’s feet.
Our son is on a walking mission in Santiago, Chile. He walks approximately 15 miles. Every. Single. Day. I can’t even begin to imagine how tiring that must be on his feet. Because we knew he was in a walking mission, we chose comfort over the latest trends.
The shoes that he decided on were far from what one would call fashionable. One might consider them straight up ugly. He tried on numerous styles, brands and came to the conclusion that the Ecco ‘Fusion’ Bike Toe Oxford was the most comfortable choice. We purchased him a black pair, as well. We also bought a waterproof spray and treated them twice with it. I also sent the waterproof spray with him to use while in Chile. We also sent him with a dressier pair of shoes to wear on Sunday and special meetings/conferences with his Mission President.
A few things to keep in mind when purchasing shoes for your missionary.
First. If you have the ability to choose a shoe that has a sole that is sewn to the shoe vs. a sole that is glued, always choose the sewn in one. This will allow your missionary to have their shoes re-soled when they find themselves with massive holes in the bottom of them.
Second. Waterproof your shoes, even if they claim to be water-resistant. We used Jason Markk ‘Repel’ Shoe Protectant Spray.
Third. I found our shoes on sale at Nordstrom at the time that I bought them. You can also find great deals on Amazon. Ecco’s tend to run a bit big, so ensure that you give yourself enough time to exchange them if you buy them online.
Lastly. As a dear friend who stands all day at work, “you can’t put a price on comfort.” Purchasing quality shoes will eliminate many of the issues that missionaries write home about regarding their feet.
Socks: Support is a must.
Since walking is a daily activity for our missionary, socks are just as important as the shoes. John Wooden, who’s one of the greatest college basketball coaches of all time, taught his players, on the first day of practice, how to put their socks and shoes on correctly. Socks that are put on correctly and offer proper arch support and compression are essential for every missionary. Our son has written home on a few occasions expressing how much he loves his CTR Drymax Crew Socks. They have sweat repelling fibers on the inside and sweat absorbing fibers on the outside. If your son serves in even the slightest warm climate, or on a walking mission, I highly recommend these socks.
I was not aware of how awesome packing cubes were until I watched this packing video and actually bought some for our missionary. We laid out all of Elder Hendrix’s belongings onto our ping-pong table and got to work.
The video instructs you to roll all of your clothing items and to place them into the cubes. I was genuinely surprised that all of his t-shirts, shorts, socks,ties, under-garments, and non hanger items fit into them. What I loved best was how nicely they fit into his luggage, leaving more than enough room for his shoes, toiletries and other mission items.
One of the added benefits of using packing cubes, if you can convince your missionary to do so, is that if they will store their clothes in their original cubes, after they do laundry, when it comes time to transfer to a new area, all they have to do is zip up their cubes,place their shirts and pants in their luggage with the cubes on top. Voila, they are ready to move! I introduced these cubes to my fellow missionary mama Christie Halverson and she now travels with them herself. They really are the best!
Mission Belt: Guaranteed to grow or shrink with your Elder.
The best feature of the Mission Belt is its adjustable belt buckle. Because it doesn’t have holes, you merely slide it in or out, depending on what your waistline is telling you. For our elder, he has lost a few pounds, so he’s had to slide his in a bit more than he had prior to his mission. They wear remarkably well, not showing as much use as a traditional belt with holes does. They have many colors and styles of belts and buckles to choose from. Go check them out.
Notecards: The best thing we sent with our son.
He was set apart, his bags were packed and I was an emotional wreck. We experienced many “lasts” that night. Last family dinner. Last family prayer. Last bedtime hug followed by a kiss on his head for 24 months, and the last time that precious boy would sleep under our roof for two years. As he headed to bed, I felt a need to do one final act of service for him. We grabbed a stack of index cards and started writing thoughts, quotes and words of encouragement for our soon-to-be missionary. I unpacked his bags and placed the notecards in every shirt pocket, pant pocket, shoe, winter coat and anywhere else I could find a place to hide them. I hoped that they would be a source of happiness for him on days that might seem discouraging.
A few weeks passed and Elder Hendrix wrote home and mentioned the cards in his letter. This is what he shared:
“I want to talk about the notecards that my parents wrote me. So in all of my shirts and pants, my parents wrote notes on index cards of inspirational quotes, etc… Anyway, I carry a different one with me every day in my pocket, on my shirt. I love reading their words of encouragement…….”
Little did I know that he would take them with him out into the mission field, inspiring him along the way. It is a simple, yet extremely meaningful token of love that each of us can do for our missionaries.
Enjoy the time it takes to prepare to send off your missionary. I cherished every moment of this process, even labeling his socks! It’s a time period that you’ll never get back, therefore, find joy in the journey.