Sunday, August 16, 2015

Mailing Christmas Packages to Missionaries - Guidelines

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Small packages, cards and letters 
must be received  
in the mission office no later than  
December 1, 2015.

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August 2015

To the Families of the Missionaries in the Italy Rome Mission…

As we anticipate the upcoming holiday season, we want to review with you some of the issues associated with mailing packages to your missionary in the Italy Rome Mission. 

Receiving a holiday package from home is a wonderful event for a missionary.  Unfortunately, the actual process of getting a package to a missionary in Italy is heavily cumbered with some difficult realities, and we want to make you aware of them so you can make an informed decision about what to send to your missionary in the Italy Rome Mission:    

1.    The international shipping rates to Italy are substantial. 
2.    A package coming to Italy requires a relatively long transit time, making it difficult to send most perishables. 
3.    An international shipment can be subject to rough handling, and it changes hands several times before it reaches the Mission Office in Rome.  As a result, a package sent to Rome may be damaged, opened, delayed, or lost along the way…all of which we see with some frequency. 
4.    The Italy customs agency assesses a minimum import tax of 22% (sometimes higher) on many of the missionary packages that arrive at the Mission Office, and their estimates of the value of the items in a package are often (very) generous.  The missionary must pay these customs fees (from personal funds) to prevent the package from being returned to the sender.  These customs fees (together with the shipping cost) usually make the effective cost of the items unreasonably high…sometimes more than double their original cost. 
5.    Due to the size of the Mission, it’s difficult to get packages distributed to the individual missionaries in the field in a prompt and efficient way.  Often there are also additional costs and further unavoidable delays. 

With these issues in mind, we recommend the following options: 

1.    Gift Money.  Add gift funds to your missionary’s personal debit or credit card account.  This is the fastest, safest, least expensive, and most convenient way to get a gift to your missionary in Italy…by far.  It also gives your missionary the opportunity to participate in the process…and typically the missionaries are excited to purchase an Italian item.  We strongly encourage you to consider this option. 

2.    Small Envelopes.  Send a personal letter, greeting card, photos, etc. that can fit comfortably into a small (and perhaps padded) envelope.  The mailing cost depends on the weight and size of the envelope, but it should be relatively modest, and the envelope will generally arrive (from the U.S.) in 7-10 days.   

The missionaries’ unique “life style” – of being transferred around the Mission regularly – creates two related issues.  First, items sent to a missionary’s individual apartment often arrive after the missionary has moved on to another location…and then these items tend to either “chase” the missionary around the Mission, or to get pigeon-holed in a location that is soon forgotten.  In either case, these items become a burden, and sometimes a distraction, to other missionaries in the Mission.  Unfortunately many of these items ultimately become lost and tossed.  For these reasons, we request that you send items for your missionary to the physical mission office address (not the P.O. Box) in Rome: 

            [Your Missionary’s Name]
            c/o Missione Italiana di Roma
            Piazza Carnaro, 20
            00141 Roma, Italia

Second, without really realizing it, most missionaries tend to accumulate a growing store of “stuff” as they progress through their mission.  Such stuff can also become a burden to keep track of and a distraction to their missionary work.  Accordingly, we invite you to send small gifts that are in harmony with the spirit of missionary work. 

We hope these recommendations will help make the gifts you send to your missionary in Italy both meaningful and practical. 

We’re deeply grateful for the opportunity to work with your missionary son or daughter here in the Italy Rome Mission, and we appreciate your faith and confidence in supporting them in this wonderful opportunity. 

Michael G. Waddoups, President 
Italy Rome Mission

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