In the last post I mentioned ways to relationally bless your missionaries while they are on furlough. Today, I want to share some ways to physically bless missionaries on furlough.
Keep in mind that many foreign missionaries regularly live and operate under-supported or on income that is constantly fluctuating, either due to the giving habits of those who support them, or the currency exchange rates in their country, or both. Anything you can do to provide for missionaries' physical/financial out-of-the-ordinary budget needs during furlough is a great blessing!
Here are 5 Ways to Bless Missionaries on Furlough
1. Loan them a vehicle and car seats. Most foreign missionaries will return to the US for furlough by plane. They will need transportation and (if they have small children) car seats that meet the current safety regulations. If you can provide a borrowed vehicle, GPS and/or other needed paraphernalia, you will bless your missionary tremendously.
2. Offer them lodging. While missionaries enjoy and occasional hotel stay, hospitality with old and new friends is usually preferable, and generally fits the budget better. Remember, your missionaries are keeping their field expenses current, as well as paying for their furlough travel expenses, often out of just their regular monthly support. Offering housing, meals, gift cards (for gas, restaurants, etc.) while they travel can meet some of those furlough needs while helping their budget stretch.
3. Check on clothing needs. Depending on where your missionary family serves they may or may not have clothing appropriate to the US season/or area in which they are visiting. Ask about specific needs for shoes, coats, Sunday clothes, suites, etc. I know for our family, in tropical Mexico, we don't even own many sweaters and no coats. A stateside visit in the winter could require a whole new wardrobe. The quality of clothing available in some countries is also quite low and an adult can wear out their wardrobe in 2-3 years just with normal washing.
4. Check on their educational and medical needs. Do you have homeschooling or Sunday school/VBS materials you have outgrown, but they may need? Are you in the optical, dental, or medical profession, and could offer your missionaries free appointments as a tax deduction to you and a huge blessing to them?
5. Provide for special needs and shipping things back to the field. Find out what projects your missionaries have going currently. What are their current needs? What are some larger ticket items that they haven't been able to get with regular support? Can you give for their travel fund, shipping materials to the field fund, their building fund, computer upgrades, ministry equipment, tools, etc?
Some of these things could even be asked in advance of your missionaries' arrival, to give you, your family and your church time to work towards meeting their needs and being a blessing.
Missionaries, what else would you suggest to those who want to know how best to bless you while stateside? What was one of the greatest physical blessings you have received from someone while on furlough?