Tuesday, November 26, 2013

LDS Sister Missionary Christmas Gift Package

Last week I finished the Christmas gift package for my daughter serving a mission in Chile. Following the tradition of her brothers, each gift had a scripture attached that correlated with the gift. This sister missionary Christmas package had a more feminine touch, but was fun to put together.

A few tips:
  • Keep the boxes under 4 lbs. so there are no problems with customs fees.
  • Use a postal scale at home before you get to the post office so you don't have any surprises. 
  • Choose gift items that are lightweight. Candy weighs a lot, so if I bought a pound of it, I only sent a few ounces of each kind.
  • Start out with a couple of ideas, but then get imaginative when you get to the store. I had the best luck at Walgreens.
  • I asked for ideas from my missionary in each letter I wrote her for the past month. Because her birthday is in January, I am saving some of the ideas for then.
  • It's best to send things that can be eaten or worn. Missionaries don't have much storage space. Especially these days with four of them in a room. I sent a few inexpensive Christmas decorations, but know they will be left behind in the apartment on transfer day.
  • Search for a correlating scripture using this online LDS Search The Scriptures link. That part was fun! You can get pretty creative. 
  • Remove all cardboard and plastic wrap to help reduce weight for shipping.
  • This year I used clear plastic bags with toppers I printed (see below). But I did warn my missionary that she would see her gifts if she opened the box too much. 
  • Remember a gift for her companion. 
  • I packed a few Christmas decorations in the top of one box (I sent two). And also tucked several smaller gifts in a cute purple glitter stocking so she could not see them. 
  • Missionaries like Santa hats, so hers has glitter. Thanks, Walgreens!
  • I found the cute Minion Whhhhaaa t-shirt in the men's department at Walmart.
Gift bag topper labels.pdf

A few of the gifts with the toppers

Dove Chocolate candy
Hair straightener
New toothbrush
Pictures of Christ
Mini Christmas balls in "Liahona"
Christmas lights for the apartment
Cinnamon, butterscotch and gold candies
Life Savers
Stride gum
Peeps Gingerbread men
Starburst jelly beans
Princess candy cane left in its box
Nail polish
Our favorite lotion for dry skin
Lip Balm

Happy gifting! Do you have any ideas of gifts to send a sister missionary? Please share!

Monday, November 11, 2013

LDS Church Prepared Members and Missionaries for Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan)

Before Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) struck the Philippines, mission presidents prepared their missionaries by moving them to safer locations. According to the online Newsroom of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "before Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) struck the Philippines, LDS Church members and missionaries already made necessary preparations."

"Each missionary also had been provided a 72-hour kit ahead of the storm." see Deseret News. This example of preparation should be a lesson to all of us whether in or out of the Church and cause us to reflect on our own disaster preparations. Are we in a position to care for our family or neighbors? What steps are we taking on a regular basis?

"Based on latest reports gathered by the Emergency Monitoring Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Philippines Area, a total of 14,000 individuals from different parts of the Visayas, Eastern Mindanao and Sorsogon have taken shelter at 200 Church meetinghouses."

UPDATE (12 November 2013 - 9:28 am Philippine Time) "The latest advisory from the Philippines Area Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints states that ALL missionaries from the Tacloban Mission were found safe. This means that all missionaries from the 21 missions in the Philippines are accounted for. Parents and family have been contacted of the good news. Provision of relief goods in Tacloban and Northern Cebu continues." See MormonNewsroom for more on this story.

My thoughts and prayers are for those going through difficult times in the Philippines, especially those who have experienced the recent earthquake and Typhoon. So sad to see the pictures of the destroyed homes and lives lost. If you would like to donate to the Humanitarian Aid Fund, go to this link.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Moving Aging Parents to Another State

Helping aging parents move from one state to another takes hard work, patience and lots of prayer. You never know exactly when this transition will happen in your parents' lives or your own, but it usually happens. We get so comfortable with our parents caring for us, that when the tables are turned it can leave your head spinning. When we knew the time had come for my parents to move, I felt so lost and went to the library and came home with a stack of nine books on caring for aging parents because. I also talked to several good friends who had gone through this experience for ideas. 

There are plenty of emotional ups and downs, but I am grateful for family support which has made all the difference. My sister Vickie helped pack up Dad's house over the past few months. Her organizational skills and steady attention to my parents needs over the years was extremely helpful to all of us. I will dub her Pro Parent-Packer, but she has declared her packing days are over. Now that Dad is here, it's my turn to get him settled into his new life, so I'm the Pro Parent-Settler.

Knowing I wasn't alone in this upheaval has really helped, and we've had several family meetings, emails, phone calls and texts between all of us to work through various challenges helping Mom and Dad.

Since my father was moving from a house to an apartment, it was necessary to divide his earthly possessions so he could downsize. Because of my mother's dementia, he looked to his three daughters for guidance. Earlier this year my two sisters and I began working on the "clean out." But it was more than a downsize, because he also gave away the family heirlooms. Dad would comment that it was strange to be alive watching that part happen, but because he was alive he had the choice as to who belongings were given to. Nothing went into a storage unit which saved his kids from that fun job after he or Mom passes.

He loved knowing things went to his kids, grand-kids or friends. Dad had a story about each item and what city or country it came from which meant several late nights. My sister Vivian is also a story teller and gets to organize family pictures, so I dub her Family Historian-In-Waiting because Dad is the Pro Family-Historian.

My sister Vickie came up with an idea of how to divide the "pretties" or treasures he no longer needed. She took pictures of each item, and then set up a family Facebook auction where siblings and grand-kids could "like" items they wanted. Then she boxed them up because she is the Pro Parent-Packer. It was fun to watch what others were interested in on Facebook and read their humorous comments.

Last week, the Pod was loaded up, and Vickie and her husband drove Dad to Utah. During the week he stayed with me, we went shopping for items he needed for his new apartment. We made several trips to the bank to handle financial transactions, purchased a cell phone, groceries and other necessities. He's a smart man, and I'm an organized daughter, but I've learned much from my father as he is always the teacher.

The weight of owning a home has been lifted from his shoulders, and I can already see a difference as he comments on the money he is saving not paying for a gardener, house cleaner, home repairers and the horrendous Oregon property tax. Renting in your later years has its advantages.

It's hard to envision your parents living in a small apartment after a big home, but the more I visit Dad's apartment complex and talk with the residents in the community dining room, the more I can see him fitting in. He is a friendly person and can talk to just about anyone after serving several international LDS missions. His ability to strike up a conversation with anyone amazes me, and he is a good example to me of reaching out to others. Of course he can do it in English or Spanish.

After the Pod arrived, with the help of family in the area who came early on a Saturday, we moved him into his apartment. Dad gave directions on unloading the Pod in the parking lot, and I gave directions where to place items in the apartment. Thank goodness for that list!

My niece Missy helped arrange items in the kitchen and hung his clothes in the closet, so I dub her Pro Apartment-Stager. My grandson and youngest daughter rode on the empty dollies and carts as they went down the elevator for a new load, so I dub them the Pro Dolly-Riders. The other family helpers, or the Pro Furniture-Movers, loaded carts and dollies with boxes and furniture, and brought them up to the apartment. The miracle of the day occurred when they got the 8 foot couch sideways in the elevator, and it now sits in Dad's apartment ready for him to sit and tell stories about family history and his world-wide travels.

This journey has had its emotional ups and downs, but all is well - our family motto. Before we left Dad alone in the apartment for the first time, we had a family prayer and I thought what a blessing it is to have family. How difficult this transition would be if you were alone.

Dad and Mom now live at the Crossroads of the West where family can visit them as they travel through Utah. There are weeks and years ahead of us, but we are there for each other in the good times and tough times. Family - it's all about love.