I have always loved getting mail. Don’t we all? I am so thankful for email and facebook and all the other fast and easy ways to stay in touch with loved ones both far and near, but there is something special about opening up an envelope and pulling out a letter that someone wrote just for me. I used to be an excellent letter writer. No really, I was. I would take time each week to sit down and write a few letters. I had some special “grandmas” in my life who were not online, and I loved sending them little notes and loved getting little notes in return. In college my friend Tami and I would take turns sending super long letters to each other. I saved a lot of these letters and before we moved here to South Africa, I spent some time reading through them before I packed them away in storage. Even all these years later, those letters made me smile.
Since we’ve moved, we have received a few letters. Let me tell you, there is nothing better than finding out something came in the mail for us! Tyson and Jori got a letter from their friend Jenna the other day with a silly band inside for each of them. It took over a month to get here, but that did not lessen the sweetness of receiving a gift for them. Some of my more organized friends even managed to get letters in the mail early enough in July that they arrived before my birthday. Did I almost cry when I opened them? You bet I did!
We have been blessed enough to have received 2 packages as well. I should say doubly blessed because just the fact that they both made it to South Africa in one piece was a blessing : ) We have been told to not have anyone send us things of value in the mail. This is probably good advice as the South African postal system is not the most reliable or trustworthy. However, many of the things we consider valuable like easy mac, Double Stuf Oreos, silly bands and socks probably aren’t going to be of too much value to anyone else, so they should arrive here without too many issues. The first time I picked up a package at the post office I sat outside and literally hugged the box while I waited for Darin and the kids to come pick me up. I knew it had been packed and sent with love and even though I didn’t know what was inside, just holding the box made me feel cared for and special. Weird, maybe, but it’s true. I hugged the second package in the same way. I am an equal opportunity package hugger : )
Some of the mail we’ve opened here arrived with us in our bags. Most of you already know about the crazy amount of birthday cards our kids received from friends and family back in the states. It just makes my heart sing when I remember Tyson and Jori sitting with their pile of cards seeing their faces light up with each one they opened. I have my own private “mail bag” that sits right by my bed. Some of my beautiful friends from Michigan took the time to write letters for me and also collected letters from other women who have touched my life and put them all in the cutest little owl backpack. These letters are from women I met through small group, Bible study or making meals for big church events. Some women wrote one card, others wrote more. I think there are around 140 cards total in my little owl bag. When we first arrived here, I was opening 2 or 3 cards every day or so. Now there are often times where I will go 4 or 5 days without opening a card, but then I’ll have a day where I just really feel alone and so lonely for my friends, so I’ll open 4 or 5 at the same time. Sometimes I cry when I read them and other times I’ll open a card that makes me laugh. Either way, they remind me that I am loved and the encouraging words keep me going for another day.
I am trying to be better about writing and sending letters to loved ones back at home and have been encouraging my kids to do the same. Even if it is just a little picture they colored, I know that it will be special to the one who receives it. I’m not sending this out in hopes that we receive more mail (although it is always welcome!) but as more of a reminder for all of us to reach out to friends both near and far with a personal note from time to time. I don’t think anyone would ever NOT want to get a letter in the mail, and if I did ever meet such a person I’d say they are even crazier than my package hugging self!