What happened to good old fashioned snail mail? Yes, I know email and blogs just like this one took over and everything from updating to tweeting took the place of putting pen to paper!
I am still a big believer in the handwritten variety of news, although admittedly I know I have let it slip more than I would have liked with two little munchkins in the house. However with one now in school ... hopefully I will have more of a chance to get into my 'snail mail' flow again. There is just something that little bit more special about a piece of personalised post!
The MAF mail box only gets checked once or twice a week and so far we have had NO snail mail since living here in Dodoma ... but then with all of the settling in, we haven't had a chance to send any either! For those of you who want to return to the 'dark ages' of communication and send us something, our address is 'Mission Aviation Fellowship, PO Box 491, Dodoma, Tanzania.
Yesterday I took my first trip to the post office. One step closer to sending some snail mail of my own! It's a little different to how it was 12 years ago but essentially the same.
The thing that surprised me the most however, was the fact that a stamp to the UK costs 800tsh (Tanzanian Shillings). Sound like a lot? In fact, it's only about 33p, making it cheaper to send a letter all the way from Tanzania to England than sending a second class letter within the British Isles. Crazy but true! (To the US it only costs a little more, 900tsh, about 56 cents!)
Security and safety of post or mail in both directions is questionable, although the majority of letters get through, packages are another matter (unless they're Amazon apparently, which generally arrive OK!). When I lived here before any packages that had 'educational material' written on them multiple times, were more likely to arrive in one piece than ones that didn't. Time wise though, nothing has changed ... things can take anything from just 4 days to 6 months or longer!
Chatting to some friends who have been out here for a while, they advised, smaller packages are less interesting than the bigger ones, so have a higher success rate at reaching their recipient. Customs labels have to be completed but you can confuse the officials with your creative language and never put a high value on the contents ... making them less inclined to bother with your packages.
Here are a couple of examples ... When sending Christmas presents, you can put 'Festive Cheer' as the description. Or for chocolates and other yumminess, write 'Dietary supplements'! It really just depends on how much you can think out of the box but still describe what is inside!
Maybe I should ask those of you reading this to think of some more creative alternatives and post comments with them so that we can all share the wisdom when mailing missionary friends overseas! More than that ... you could even put them into practice and send us something as a surprise via snail mail!