Care Packages

Many of you are such faithful encouragers and ask what sorts of things could be sent over here to Vanuatu.  Here are some ideas of things to send if you wish to do so:
1.  Letters, family pictures, and kids' art - these items are GOLD when you live a world away!
2.  Chocolate chocolate chocolate :)  Especially Hershey bars, Recees cups, and Lindt Lindor balls, but really you can't go wrong here.  Also, chocolate chips are great and usually can't be found here.
3.  Seasoning packs and spices.  It is starting to be that you can get some of this in Vanuatu but these items are VERY expensive so it's nice to get a stock from friends!  (Ex. Ranch dressing pkg, taco seasoning, fajita mix, soup mixes, Italian seasoning, etc.)
4. Office supplies, especially any sort of tape - Scotch, masking, packing, duct...  Again, some office supplies are available here but tend to either be expensive or poor quality (non-sticky tape, imagine!).  It's also almost impossible to find working pens in any color.
5.  First-aid/medical supplies.  We go through ibuprofen like candy in the village (giving it out to villagers in need, that is!).  Flexible fabric bandaids and Triple Antibiotic Ointment are also hot items.  Any basic first-aid item is helpful to us and villagers.  DEET mosquito spray and sunblock are also in high demand for us.  One favorite mosquito spray of ours that helps with the problem we have with putting spray on sweaty bodies, is to use 3M Ultrathon mosquito repellant.  Other helpful items in this area are vitamins, Airborn (we like very berry in the tablets tube), and Emergen "C".
6. Non-battery flashlights (the windy-up ones are great!).  Sometimes battery-operated are useful too.  We can also use little MAGLITEs and extra batteries.
7.  ANYTHING from Bath and Body Works, but especially hand and body soap, and body spray.
8. Entertainment is great whether that be movies, music, games, or books. Sending downloaded sermons (especially Ravi Zacharias, MacArthur, and Piper) on a flash drive is also great!  Our downloads have limits here.
9.  Bible study workbooks.
10.  Activities/crafts to do with my nieces and nephews or with local children here.
11.  You can pad the box with heavy-duty ziplock bags of all sizes.  They're so useful here and very expensive to get.
12.  A favorite of work teams are medium grade work gloves and also energy or crystal lite-type drink mixes. We go through lots and lots and lots of work gloves and drink mix when work teams are here!
13.  Flea and de-worming treatment for dogs.  We can now find this here, but it's exorbitantly expensive.
14.  From AUSTRALIA:  Epson printer ink #133 (mainly black needed).

Some hot items for Houghton and Gretchen and family other than what is listed above:
1.  Equate (just Walmart brand) contact solution
2.  Candy - especially sour patch kids, skittles, starbursts, chewy sprees, mamba, etc.
3. Kids flip-flops

How to send stuff:
1.  Easiest and perhaps cheapest from the US tends to be to send things in a flat-rate box USPS.  Count on this COSTING AN ARM AND A LEG no matter how you send it.  Send to:
Laura Thulesen
c/o SIL PO Box 174
Port Vila
VANUATU, South Pacific

When we are in the village, packages that arrive to Vila are picked up by our organization's Business Manager and he alerts us to their arrival.  From there we can either wait and open them when we are back in town, or have him send them out to us in Ambrym on a cargo ship.  Depending on ships and schedules, we can often get it on Ambrym island a week or 2 after it's arrival to Vila.  (There is no postal service directly to our island.)

2.  You'll have to fill out a customs form since it's an overseas shipment.  This requires an inventory.  The more general, the better.  For example, listing "toiletries" is better than itemizing each product, and "entertainment" is way better than listing DVD's.  Animal and plant products tend to be quarantined and are often not allowed to be imported.  Also, please list values at garage sale prices and keep the overall total below $70 or we have to pay duty fees in order to "import" the box.  The post office has more recently been requesting an invoice inside the box.  To fulfill this, please also type up or write out your inventory with values (that you'll be putting on the customs form) on a sheet of paper and put it at the top of the inside of the box.

3.  If you're unsure of anything, just e-mail and ask.

Thank you SO MUCH!  When I can't see you face-to-face, getting something in the mail is the 2nd-best thing and is a huge blessing and encouragement.

With Rupi, my friend Magreth's mom.