Once Jack landed in Russia, we fully embraced the flat-rate box offered at the U.S. Postal Service (and the adjacent hassle of completing a customs form). While the international rate of $32.95 was more than the domestic rate, it was 400x better than DHL, Fed Ex, or Express Mail from the USA to the former Soviet Republic. In January, the international flat rate box fee jumped to $53.95! What?! *heavy sigh*
To ward off the loss or looting of a box, we never sent expensive items. Primarily we concentrated on food items that could increase morale, photos of the family to share with investigators, and lots of his favorite chewing gum. It was often the case, ward members would want to send something to him and I willingly tossed it into the parcel for them. No way did the cash value ever reach close to the fees associated with sending it.
After mailing postcards from Holland (USA .95, Russia .77), I wanted to test the rates at the Deutsche Post/DHL (the mail service in Germany is now run by a private company). We started with a very small box as a test run of the service. The parcel contains food, candy, notes, and a photo of the five of us in France. Total cost: 6€!! No questions asked, no forms to complete. Hallelujah.
We'll see how long it takes to arrive at the mission office. Formerly, it's taken about 8 weeks from the midwest and then the package would sit in the office until someone was headed out to the district in which he was assigned. I'm keeping my fingers crossed it won't take long. More importantly, I'm grateful for access to an inexpensive mail system.
Parcels filled with love is where it's at.