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April Photo Challenge, day 3: Mail

Communication is essential for missionaries.  We are here because of the prayers, gifts, and generosity of others.  If we don't keep them informed and let them know how much we appreciate them, we run the risk of losing the interest of those who stand behind us.  Without them, we can't continue here.  It's a true partnership.

I've been a missionary since 1982 and the way we define "mail" has certainly changed!  We used to write letters by hand or with a typewriter, often using two or three sheets of carbon paper so we could write to several people at the same time since we were writing the same thing.  Eventually we got an electronic typewriter with a memory in it and we'd use the same body of the letter and type a different opening paragraph for each person.  Now we still write an occasional hand-written or printed letter, but most of our correspondence is done by email.

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One of our main forms of communicating has always been prayer letters.  John and I were both missionaries when we met, so we were both in the habit of writing a formal printed, and then mailed, letter every three months.  We continue that practice to this day, only now most people receive our letter as an email attachment.  We have about 100 people who still get it through the mail, most of them older people.

When John and I got engaged, we were in Nigeria, and of course we wanted to let everybody know our happy news.  So we decided to write a prayer letter that would go to both of our mailing lists.  We sat down to work on the letter together.  It didn't take long before we realized we both had wildly different ideas of how the letter should be.  We eventually came up with a nice letter introducing each other to our friends.  But from that experience we decided that NOT writing a prayer letter together would be a good way to avoid arguments.  So, ever since we got married, we alternate writing prayer letters.  I wonder how many people can tell when I write and when John writes?

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Through the years we've kept a paper copy of every one of our prayer letters.  That folder is now in storage in the US, but this is the folder we've started since returning this time.  It has three letters in it so far...we've been back a little over eight months, so we're right on target for our every three month goal!


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