Several people have asked me to share more about sending packages again. So I'm going to take this space to do that. We are in no way asking anyone to send us parcels, just giving info to those who have asked. Here's a little background: We live in a city of almost a million people and there is no home delivery of mail and there is only one post office. I'm not sure if this is the cause or the effect of only a few people getting mail. Think of it. We don't get any junk mail. Now before you get too jealous let me tell you about our last trip to the post office. We needed to mail a letter to the SIM office in the States. We walked to the post office and realized that we needed an envelope to mail the papers in. So of course the post office doesn't have envelopes. What were we thinking? We walked out of the post office to a little tienda on the street that sold envelopes. Then we trekked back to the PO. Inside there are about 15 teller windows but akin to the North American DMV only two were open. At one of the windows someone was actually writing their letter while we waited. This is not uncommon. When they were finished it was our turn. We purchased a first class stamp to the States and the teller put it on our envelope then she cancelled it and gave it back to us. We then walked it across the post office and found the wooden box that says "North America" and put it in. That's a bit of the way the postal system works here. I guess government agencies all over the world have the same kind of efficiency training. :>) For those who receive packages the postal employees put them in these cubbies that are labeled something like this: A-C, D-F, G-I, etc. So, in order to get pick up a package at the post office, you must know that you have a package coming. When we were at the post office the other day I looked behind the counter where these cubbies are. There were only 20-30 parcels there at the most. Remember, this is a city of about 900,000 people. Thankfully, our mission agency has a post office box where we can get mail. I'll give that address at the bottom of this post.
Okay now to the nitty gritty of getting packages. There is a page on the USPS website about sending packages to Bolivia that you can check out. Here's the link: http://pe.usps.com/text/Imm/ab_025.htm#ep1761901. I do know that it is expensive to mail packages to here. I believe that there is a discounted flat rate if you can fit your stuff into the supplied size of box or envelope. The info for this is one that same web page but I'll copy and paste some of it here:
Priority Mail International — Flat RateFlat-Rate Envelope (9.5" x 12.5"): $11.00 The maximum weight is 4 lbs.
Flat-Rate Box: $37.00 Merchandise is permitted, but written communications having the nature of current and personal correspondence are not permitted. The maximum weight is 20 lbs. or the limit set by the individual country.
Here's one more thing to consider before you mail. It is a possibility that we will not receive the parcels you mail. (The following is pasted from a previous blog entry). Remember that sending mail to us is not like sending it to military personnel or to government employees. They are much more likely to actually receive their packages and in much shorter time. So, keeping that in mind, it probably wouldn't be wise to send anything too expensive. Again, our fellow missionaries have said that anything less than 2 kilos (about 4.4 pounds) we don't have to pay customs duty on which is about 50% of the value of the item. Also they have told us that the easiest packages to get are ones in padded envelopes that weigh less than 2 kilos. However, having said that, please feel free to send anything you desire. When you are mailing, you must list the contents, but please don't place a value on it. Also, it's best if are able to write the descriptions in words that people that don't have English as their first language can understand. For example: instead of saying "books" you might say "reading materials". Instead of "towels" you might say "drying apparatus". This could give you vocabulary and creative writing practice as well as blessing us with mail. :) If you choose to mail a larger box that we must pay duty on, please open any new items and take tags off of them. This way they are considered 'used'. Please write 'used' on the description. So, then we only have to pay duty on 'garage sale' prices. For example: a new CD would cost maybe $15, but a used (opened) one would only be $1 or so. Therefore we would only pay 50 cents duty instead of $7.50. If you must place a value on your items please remember this and write extremely low values.
I had a list on my blog before of some things we had wanted, but since I posted it we've found some of the food items here (but not the elusive but much desired Star Bucks coffee). Granted the imported items from the States are much more expensive to buy here, but it's also expensive to mail things.
So far the only packages we've received have been a couple of padded envelopes of books from our friends the Donelly's mailed by our home group in Virginia and a couple of padded envelopes of candy (and toothbrushes) mailed from our friends the Lindsey's in Kansas City (that's the one we're opening on the video). My parents have mailed a box (almost 2 months ago now) as have a few others. We haven't received these yet although we are praying that they will arrive. So, I guess that actually means that so far the only packages we've received are the 9 x 12 padded envelope kind. I'm sure we can and will get other ones, we just haven't yet.
If you'd like to guarantee that the package will arrive here you can mail via Fed-Ex or DHL but these are very expensive. They didn't build Fed-Ex Field without getting money from somewhere. :>)
I know this is a long entry and I hope I’ve answered some of your questions. If you have more, please let me know and I’ll try to answer those.
Here's where to mail the packages:
Mision Andina Evangelica
Joe and Denise Holman