Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thinking Outside the Basket

Reading mail at the post office

A couple of months ago, I received a message that brought up an interesting topic: gift baskets for missionaries on deputation and furlough. The writer wanted to know what I suggested to put in the basket. Great question!

Instead of just answering the question myself, I put the question to an amazing group of missionary women. Boy, oh boy! Did they ever come up with some fabulous ideas from practical experience!
Let me share...


First of all, one thing they all agreed on was

"Ditch the basket..."

Literally... the basket itself (not the contents) is a problem.

Picture this: A missionary family gets all packed in their minivan. The kids are surrounded by luggage, homeschool books, toys, musical instruments, a stroller, display items for their table, etc. There is often barely enough room to wiggle a big toe, but they all successfully pile in and head out on the road. They arrive at their destination to a wonderful gift basket. They are very thankful for the basket, but in the back of their minds they are thinking, "The gifts are great, but where are we going to put that basket? There is no room!"

Ditching the Basket

These ladies had great ideas that were more practical than a basket.
  • travel collapsable laundry basket
  • plastic stackable container
  • gift bags
  • collapsable car organizers
  • reusable shopping bags
  • 31 bag
  • upside-down umbrella (This was a huge hit! Very useful and took up very little space)
  • small, soft cooler

So now you have chosen a container. But what do you fill it with? The answers varied on this, but one thing every single missionary said...

"Gift cards."
     "Gift cards."
          "Gift cards."

(Did we mention gift cards?)

I know they seem impersonal, but they are so practical for life on the road. Why gift cards?

  • They take up no space.
  • They can be used as needed.
  • They can be used for very specific needs.

So gift cards are a favorite. Here are some ideas of different gift cards:

  • Gas (I don't even have to explain how important this one is!)
  • Restaurant (Cracker Barrel was mentioned several times)
  • Amazon
  • Re-loadable MasterCard/Visa
  • iTunes
  • Starbucks
  • And the ever-beloved Walmart

Filling It Up

What else can go in your non-basket gift basket?
Please do not feel like you have to get everything on this list. Sometimes less really is more. You don't have to help them get all the way to the end of deputation. You just want to help the missionary get a little farther down the road. Just remember, space in the vehicle is usually a huge issue.
  • Gum
  • Mints
  • Homemade items
  • Cookies
  • Microwave hot pack for muscle aches
  • Quarters for laundromats
  • Starbucks Via packets
  • Laundry detergents (the pods are a huge hit, unscented for allergies)
  • USB essential oil diffuser
  • Travel sewing kit
  • Postage stamps
  • Greeting cards and thank-you cards
  • Healthy snacks (this was strongly encouraged by many who struggle keeping their family healthy while travelling)
  • Emergen-C
  • Airborne
  • Essential oil shower bombs
  • Antibacterial wipes
  • Cleaning wipes
  • Fruit or perishables in moderation (get too much and they go bad before they get a chance to eat them... especially if your church is feeding them for every meal.)
  • Books
  • Travel size toiletries
  • Flavored drink mix singles
  • Music CDs (Some discouraged this because of differing music standards)
  • Pain meds
  • Cold meds
  • Activated charcoal
  • Lamplighter audio books
  • Nail polish
  • Yankee Candle car scents
  • Small candles/matches for hotels
  • Tie
  • Cuff links
  • Water bottles
  • Bottled water
  • Travel games
  • Bath and Body works
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Hand creams and Sugar scrubs
  • Lip balm
  • Scarf
  • Pen and notepad
  • Cough drops
  • Money (Seriously... the most practical item!)
  • Travel tissues
  • Popcorn
  • Pens
  • Hair supplies
  • Disposable razors
  • Stain remover products
  • Wrinkle release spray

Remember the Whole Family

Several mentioned how much it meant to them when the church put something special in the basket for the kids and teens:
  • Activity pads
  • Build-A-Bear gift cards
  • Coloring books
  • Crayons
  • Stickers
  • Baby snacks
  • Small, age appropriate toys
Favorite nail polish I received in the most amazing
Pumpkin/Fall themed basket

Ask, Ask, Ask

Many of the ladies mentioned that some of the best gift baskets/bags they received were the product of the church sending them a questionnaire beforehand. The baskets/bags were tailored to the family's likes and needs. The questionnaire helped the church to take into consideration allergies as well as specific eating needs like a desire to eat healthy and not give the kids so much candy.

Something Different

So what if you want to do something other than a basket?
  • Gift cards in a creative display or bouquet. One missionary said she received a gift card tree! It was during the fall season and the tree had a fall feel to it. It was small and beautifully done. And practical!
  • Fill the gas tank
  • Encourage members to offer their services or skills. At the very last church we visited while on furlough, one member offered her amazing talents of giving facials, manicures, and pedicures. It meant so much to my daughter and me! In a third-world country, our feet often take serious abuse. It was nice to arrive on the field a couple of weeks later with pretty, pampered toes! Have a mechanic in the church? A beautician? A seamstress? Someone who enjoys washing vehicles? Encourage them to offer to minister to missionaries using the talents God has given them. Also remind them that if the missionary turns down their services, it isn't personal. It may be that the missionary just had a haircut and doesn't need another one.

In the Closet

Many churches have opted to host a missions closet so that the missionary can simply go in and choose things that they need. If your church chooses to host a missions closet instead of gift baskets or bags, here are a few tips:
  1. Keep it well stocked and well organized with a variety of items.
  2. Have grocery bags or gift bags ready for the missionary to fill.
  3. Keep items small and travel friendly.
  4. Don't be offended if the missionary doesn't need anything at the time. Praise the Lord that their need has been supplied, and that you can help the next missionary family. If the missionary turns you down for the offer, it means they are being a good steward with the things God has provided in your missions closet.
  5. Don't keep prodding the missionary to get more. Ask, "Did you get everything you needed?" and leave it at that.
  6. Be sure to keep up with expiration dates on snacks and medicines.
  7. Give the missionary privacy as they choose items. It makes many of them uncomfortable to have someone staring over their shoulder just like it would make you uncomfortable if someone watched over your shoulder while you shopped.
  8. Your closet can be stocked with personal items, household items, and school items you typically wouldn't put in a gift basket.
Whether your church chooses gift bags, giving services, or a missions closet, please know that we are thankful beyond measure for your compassion and obedience to the Lord to help us along the journey. The journey is difficult, and we need you.

Pray and seek the Lord's guidance on which form of ministry He would have your church to provide. If you follow His lead, you will be able to touch the lives of missionaries going all over the world, and then through them reach the multitudes.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Smoothies on the road


I don't know about you, but I love smoothies! I could drink them everyday! It has also become my go to purge on Monday mornings. These days as we find ourselves traveling to churches and living on the road, Sundays are generally my "bad eating day". On purpose or not it seems to happen this way. Long days with lots of restaurants and hungry tummies usually end with quite a few non-waistline friendly choices. I always enjoy waking up Monday morning to cleanse my gullet with a fresh smoothie.
As we began traveling I missed my smoothies. So, my husband encouraged me to get one of these individual size blenders. Oster is a great brand! It may not be a ninja but it does a great job at blending. I hate blenders that leave you so dissapointed with un-blended chunks. So I was excited to pick up this lil guy. Blend and drink from the same cup. Great for travel!

My go to mixture is frozen berries, bananas, yogurt, ice and milk or juice and oats if I have them on hand. Tip-it's good to put your oats on the bottom by the blade. As you can see above, I used almond milk. My husband always keeps some on hand and it doesn't have to be refrigerated.



Blend and yum!


Monday, March 13, 2017

And the Winners Are...

Congratulations to our MK Spirit Week winners!
Thank you to all who participated and made this year's MK Spirit Week such a success. You are loved and treasured!

We would also like to express our sincerest thanks for those who sponsored the prizes. Thank you for loving these special kids.

A HUGE shout out of thanks to Eden Johnson and Keren Burdick for volunteering to draw the winners' names. You were a great help!


Monday: Guess Who?
1) $30- Grace Wilhite, Japan
2) $20- Victoria Minks, Japan
3) $10- Kortney Clark, Germany
4) $10- SarahAnne Bower, Haiti
5)  $10- Emma Williams, Mexico
6)  $10- Levi McCoy, Alaska

Tuesday: Cranium... Nerd Day
1) $30- Kathrynn LeClercq, Guam
2) $20- Josiah Minks, Japan
3) $10- Savannah White, Chile
4) $10- Sadie Pence, Grand Cayman
5)  $10- Titus Wilhite. Japan
6)  $10- Emilia Shull, Greenland

Wednesday: Operation Career Day
1) $30- Joel Porcher, Ghana
2) $20- Felicia Matacchiera, Zambia
3) $10- Rebekah Rice, Italy
4) $10- Joel Grinstead, Argentina
5)  $10- Malachi Wilhite, Japan
6)  $10- Zoie Collins, Zambia

Thursday: The Game of Life
1) $30- LeClercq Family, Guam
2) $20- Powley Family, Mexico
3) $10- Shull Family, Greenland
4) $10- Bower Family, Haiti
5)  $10- Willliams Family, Mexico
6)  $10- Horner Family, Mexico

Friday: Battleship Continents
1) $30- Joey Matacchiera, Zambia
2) $20- Joshua Markle, Puerto Rico
3) $10- Michael Bower, Haiti
4) $10- Ashley Johnson, Dominican Republic
5)  $10- Isaiah Wilhite, Japan


Ask the MK
1) $10- Katie Tharp, Ireland
2) $10- Seth Schepers, Dominican Republic
3) $10- Christina Rice, Italy
4) $10- Ben W, Southern Asia

1) $10- Kameron Clark, Germany
2) $10- Kaleb Boylston, Phonpei FSM
3) $10- Tre Horner, Mexico
4) $10- Breanna Gansemer, Argentina

1) $10- Abigail Minks, Japan
2) $10- Abigail Williams, Mexico
3) $10- Sam Wheelock, Ecuador
4) $10- Jesse Schepers, Dominican Republic

1) $10- Silas Dunbar, Brazil
2) $10- Caleb Grinstead, Argentina
3) $10- Zimeri Collins, Zambia
4) $10- Charity Rice, Italy
5) $10- Carson Griffin, Dominican Republic
6) $10- Natalie Matacchiera, Zambia

1) $10- Elijah Guay, Thailand
2) $10- Micah Wilhite, Japan
3) $10- Calina Matacchiera, Zambia
4) $10- Nathanael Porcher, Ghana
5) $10- Daniel Spillman, Crimea
6) $10- William Rooney, England


Picture This!

1) $10- Michaela W, Southern Asia
2) $10- Gabriel Williams, Mexico
3) $10- Katia Bjerk, Croatia
4) $10- Kayleigh Guenther, New Zealand


1) $10- Zadie Collins, Zambia
2) $10- Jason Knickerbocker, Southern Asia
3) $10- Kierra Boylston, Pohnpei FSM
4) $10- Kody Boylston, Pohnpei FSM


1) $10- Julianna Schepers, Dominican Republic
2) $10- Christopher Shull, Greenland
3) $10- Landon Guenther, New Zealand
4) $10- Daniel Petersen, Uganda


1) $10- Jonathan Shull, Greenland
2) $10- Autumn Hodnet, Scotland
3) $10- Kyndall Clark, Germany
4) $10- Liam Bjerk, Croatia


1) $10- Daniel Johnson, Brazil
2) $10- Malachi Minks, Japan
3) $10- Alexae LeClercq, Guam
4) $10- Seth Dunbar, Brazil
5) $10- Kylar Horner, Mexico
6) $10- Shiloh Stensaas, Uganda


Ask the College MK
1) $30- Zoie Bardwell, Ukraine
2) $20- Kaitlyn Clark, Germany
3) $10- JJ Spillman, Ukraine
4) $10- James Kotvas, Peru

1) $30- Elisabeth Guay, Thailand
2) $20- Paul Zemke, Japan
3) $10- Stanley Stensaas, Uganda
4) $10- Kathleen Spillman, Ukraine

1) $30- Lloyd Bower, Haiti
2) $20- Paul Zemke, Japan
3) $10- Kyle Boylston, Pohnpei FSM
4) $10- Shane Stensaas, Uganda

1) $30- Kathleen Spillman, Ukraine
2) $20- Delayna Schepers, Dominican Republic
3) $10- Katie Smith, Japan
4) $10- Stanley Stensaas, Uganda

1) $30- Elisabeth Guay, Thailand
2) $20- Katie Smith, Japan
3) $10- Kyle Boylston, Pohnpei, FSM
4) $10- Delayna Schepers, Dominican Republic

Prizes will be awarded after MK status has been verified.

If you are a winner, you will be receiving an email from your gift card sponsor through Amazon with the information on how to accept your prize. Be on the lookout for it. Congratulations!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Ask the College MK... Friday

We are excited to introduce for the first time...

MK Spirit Week,
we here at the In Her Shoes Blog have decided to ask college MKs some questions. And the fun part? They may also be rewarded for taking the time to share their answers!

So here's today's question:


If you could give advice to other MKs about to return to their passport countries for college, what would you say?


Please leave your answer in a comment below, and include your name, age, and country or region of service.


4 randomly selected winners will receive an Amazon gift card: First winner $30, Second winner $20, Third winner $10, and Fourth winner $10

Sponsors for today's gift cards:

Grace Baptist Church,
Bridgeport, West Virginia

Open Door Baptist Church
Clermont, Florida

(Thank you for loving on our MKs!)


To be eligible to win the gift card, we must be able to verify you are in fact a bona fide, true, honest, for real Baptist Missionary Woman's missionary kid currently in college.

The deadline to respond is Saturday, March 11, 2017, 11:59 pm EST.

The winners will be announced March 13, 2017, right here on the blog.

Picture This! 2017... Friday

Picture This

Calling all MKs!

Time to get those cameras going!




Take a picture for the above topic with you in it. Submit the picture to . Be sure to include your name and field of service.  

There will be six winners of Amazon gift cards ($10 each) today! Today's Amazon gift card prizes are sponsored by:

Suzy Call
Lois Van Zee
Mike and Marianne Barnett

Thank you for loving our missionary kids!


Submissions for today:

Daniel and Abigail Petersen, Uganda

Josiah Minks, Japan

Malachi, Abigail, Gideon, and Victoria Minks, Japan 

Kristen Smith, Japan

Katia Bjerk, Croatia

Liam Bjerk, Croatia

Christian Bjerk, Croatia

Micah and Elijah Guay, Thailand

Olivia Rooney, England

WT and Joe Hardecker, Philippines

Rachel Rice, Italy

Michaela W, Southern Asia

Gabriel W, Southern Asia

Ryan S, Siberia, Russia

Moriah and Charity Rice, Italy

Seth and Jesse Schepers, Dominican Republic

Sarani and Agraj D, SE Asia

Gabriel, Emma, and Abigail Williams, Mexico

Christopher, Anna, Emilia, Johnathan, and Mattaliina Shull, Greenland

Kirsi and Tully Horner, Mexico

Shae-Lynn, Shiloh, Skyler, and Savannah Stensaas, Uganda

Karina Horner, Mexico

Kylar Horner, Mexico

Levi McCoy, Alaska

Tre Horner, Mexico

Josiah Wilhite, Japan

Grace Wilhite, Japan

Isaac, Ethan, Landon, and Kayleigh Guenther, New Zealand

Kathrynn LeClercq, Guam

Nathanael LeClercq, Guam

Ethaen LeClercq, Guam

Alexae LeClercq, Guam

Julianna Schepers, Dominican Republic

Lauren Johnson, Dominican Republic

Ashley, Zack, and Tyler Johnson, Dominican Republic

Daniel Johnson, Brazil

Abigail Johnson, Brazil

Silas and Seth Dunbar, Brazil

Qualifying genuine BMW MK pictures will be eligible to win a prize! Four $10 Amazon electronic gift cards are up for grabs. Winners announced Monday, March 13, 2017.

Submissions must be received by Saturday, March 11, 2017, 11:59 PM EST.