Thanks to a charitable act of a group of missionary moms, every full-time missionary serving in the Philippines will receive a Christmas package full of love this year. From white shirts and blouses, to neckties, deodorant, scriptures, and scripture cases. These items that you and I might take for granted, these missionaries might never otherwise have received if it weren’t for this faithful group of Latter-day Saints.
This is all part of an ambitious project headed up by the mother of a former Philippines missionary, Sister Julie Hess. Julie first started the project in 2014 after her daughter that was serving in the Philippines told her that her companions rarely received gifts for Christmas. She imagined all the American missionaries receiving letters, emails, and gifts, and the Filipino missionaries receiving nothing. Julie started emailing her daughter’s companions so they would at least have letters on preparation day. As other missionary moms caught word, they started doing the same. Over time, letters turned into gifts, and gifts turned into complete care packages. Eventually, this group took it upon themselves to make sure that no missionary would go empty-handed on Christmas day.
When they first started the project in 2014, out of the 21 missions in the Philippines, they had contact with 14 of the mission presidents. The mission presidents were excited and enthusiastic about working with these wonderful women that wanted to help. Their first year they provided Christmas to over 1400 missionaries. This year over 2500 missionaries will receive Christmas care packages.
Despite their best intentions, the road to complete this project wasn’t easy. Julie wanted to go through the proper channels, which meant getting permission from the church missionary department and the area authorities. Once she got the final go ahead from church authorities, she started emailing mission presidents to find out what the missionaries in their missions needed. As the list began to grow, she realized this would be a daunting task to gather items for over 2500 missionaries. As she started posting the list of items the mission president asked for on social media, financial donations, as well as shoes, ties, shirts, personal hygiene items, scriptures and other items started rolling in.
The miracles that allowed these faithful Latter-day Saint women to serve the missionaries were nothing short of miraculous.
A freight company based out of Portland that ships exclusively to the Philippines allowed them to affordably send large containers full of care packages to each mission home.
One mission president asked for mission shirts. Through the network of missionary moms, they were able to find a member in Texas that volunteered to provide not only the shirts but also the silk screening for only $5 per shirt. A sister missionary in the Philippines had come home for two weeks during her mission to recover from an illness, and during that time she was able to fundraise to pay for the shirts. Right after the funds has been raised to pay for and ship the shirts, this faithful sister missionary was able to return to her mission. The timing was perfect. It was clear the Lord’s hand was involved in this project.
Some of the missionaries needed new scriptures. Through the network that Julie created, quads were purchased and donated by this group of charitable missionary moms and their friends. As all scriptures need a scripture case, they sought to provide scripture cases for the missionaries. Brian Maughan who started a company that sold scriptures cases called “Let’s Motate” had passed away from cancer in 2014. His wife Michelle was left with a garage full of scriptures totes. Michelle generously donated over 120 quality leather scripture cases for the scriptures.
Through thick and thin, Julie and this wonderful group of missionary moms were able to provide Christmas gifts for every missionary in the Philippines. It’s a tradition that Julie hopes to continue for years to come – bringing joy and the spirit of Christmas to missionaries serving the Lord.