Keeping the Bridge Strong

image courtesy of gettyimages

In my last post we were speaking about keeping in touch with family and using the resources that we have handy to make them part of our daily life.

Today I want to concentrate on some other services that can help you maintain contact with not only your family but also friends and supporters.

Let’s Talk “Newsletters” 

During the first few months of our Missionary journey, my husband and I wrote a simple email once in a while, telling friends and family the “exciting” and interesting news. I can calculate that during the first year we only sent 3 or 4 Newsletters.

One day while reading an email from a fellow-missionary friend I felt embarrassed… he not only had a beautiful Newsletter format in a PDF document but he really walked us through the experiences and trials that he was facing. Since that day on I decided to make an extra effort –  giving people all the information that they need along with some interesting facts didn’t hurt, it actually benefited us all and they got to understand a little better how  life was on this side of the world and we had the privilege of keeping relationships so close that we could barely feel a difference when saw them face to face again.

Our way of updating people has been in constant evolution, we went from a simple email to more interesting ones all adorned with funny moments, words in the language where we were serving and stories of people that we were making relationships with.

Then, we began sending PDF’S, I used programs like Publisher and Microsoft Paint and then uploaded them to SCRIBD (I’m sure most of you are familiar with those).

Soon, Facebook and a whole wave of Social Networking sites were knocking at our door and I decided I was going to make the best of them… It worked out pretty nicely, except as I expected, all these things where taking a big chunk out of my days.

While all these things happened I also had a personal blog that was updated regularly and our Newsletter was sent in private emails because it contained  Bank Account information, photos and some very personal stories.

Just a few months ago I decided to separate my personal blog that I use for various different purposes from our  “Missions Blog” which is now private – This was the best and wisest decision, I realized because for all the things I was already sending, people needed to have Internet Service and all those emails and attachments and having to uploaded and downloaded and saved to the computer was a real fuss… People (even family) usually took over 15 days to reply to emails, and to be honest I can understand why.

We soon went from this

To this

A blog condenses all the work and the time that you put into these beautiful Newsletters and the best part is that just as the Newsletters you can decide to keep them public or private.

Why does having a blog makes such a different?

1.  You have one steady design, you don’t have to make shapes, change colors or struggle with choosing material that can fit into one single page.

2.  You don’t have to upload it to any other services with enough capacity to hold a file that size.

3. You can have direct links on your sidebar such as Account information, Newsrolls, Web Photo Albums and more.

4.  The receivers don’t need to worry about downloading, opening attachments and the best thing is that you won’t have emails bouncing because someone’s inbox is full.

5.  A blog is easy to manipulate, you can update it regularly and that way keep people informed of all your stories, prayers needed and they can submerge into this wonderful missionary experience along with you with just one click.

So I guess, I am encouraging you to take a peek at the Blogging World, if you haven’t already, and  give it a chance – you as well as all  the other moms that are already hooked to it, might find it fun and interesting.

Psssst! If you are convinced that Blogging will make a big difference in the way you  send your news, I recommend you use Blogger, it is user-friendly and easy to customize.

Before I let you go, could you please answers the following survey?… I’d like to know in what ways I could help you the best.

Do you have Newsletter stories that you’d like to share? Is it easy for you to keep in touch with family, friends and supporters? Do you have any suggestions?

(Post by: Ana)


14 Responses to “Keeping the Bridge Strong”

  1. 1 Ashley L November 4, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    We do both a newsletter and a blog, though I much prefer a blog. The only problem with that is that people of older generations don’t usually read it. We are finding the opposite too though, in that the younger generations prefer to read things online over things that come in the mail on paper. Seems like we’re in a weird in-between era. Also, with a blog, I love how people can pray immediately for needs as they come up. We have been so thankful for that as urgent needs arise from time to time.

    Also, do you have any ideas for how to get blogs read by the people they are written for? Like for this one, it would be great to somehow keep inviting more missionary moms to be a part of our community here, but I honestly am not exceptionally skilled in knowing how to get the word out. Ideas? Thanks so much for the help on these things, Ana! You know that I need all of the tech help that I can get! =)

  2. 2 Ellie November 4, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    Blogs work great for countries that can be open about what they do and where they are. The downside of blogs are
    1. Older people don’t often read them.
    2. They do not get printed out and put “on the wall” at churches.
    3. For a large part of the mission community, they are not even an option for security reasons.
    4. They do not satisfy the requirements of many missions committees at different churches.

    I know that there are ways to put security on blogs, but for some of us, even the so-called security systems they have out there are not enough. We struggle with even prayer letters on e-mail being forwarded on by interested, but ignorant people being a problem for us.

    That saying, I’d love to figure out how to design my blog better (yes, I have one – personal, anonymous).

    I’ve found out that, especially for people like us, we need a small group (2-3) in each church who we can speak with by e-mail or skype who know more detail about what is going on in our lives. We write both monthly (or two or three months..) news letters and weekly short blurbs for prayer, but we depend on our “in-group” in each church to be able to understand what is going on in our lives and to verbally share with the churches so there is no written record of what we do and what we are asking prayer for.

  3. 3 Ellie November 4, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    Again, and Facebook is a nightmare. Imagine a network that publicly links you to people you know and them to you….

    if one goes, all go.

    We chose, in working in some countries, to lose some freedoms of modern communication.

    Any ideas or topics for security countries?

  4. 4 Shilo November 5, 2009 at 12:07 am

    Hey Ana,
    I just started using Windows Live Writer to update my blog as opposed to using blogger…it is SO much easier to use! what do you think of it? I hadn’t heard of it until recently.

  5. 5 Leigh November 5, 2009 at 12:47 am

    I would be interested in finding out a little bit more about what a “prayer blurb” is. I imagine I’d prefer a prayer blog rather than a prayer blurb 🙂

  6. 6 Ana November 6, 2009 at 3:34 am


    I understand what you mean, it is difficult to find just one way of communicating that satisfies everybody’s needs.

    Now as to having the blogs read by the people that are written for, I’d say that Blog Directories like, Blog Flux, Stumble Upon and networks like 5 minutes for Mom are very helpful since you can add your blog in certain groups… but there is also the “linking tool”…

    By Blogging-etiquette people usually add links to their blogs in exchange of having their link put on other people’s blog and I think this will work nicely since you already have a blogroll, you could ask people to link to your page or create a blog button with an image that illustrates your blog and content and that is linked to your address ( I could help you with that).

    Word of mouth is the best way to have people visit your blog and that will come with time, you have great content and you are very careful in making things meaningful and fun.

    I love it and I’m sure as moms visit it will love it too…

  7. 7 Ana November 6, 2009 at 3:35 am


    There are many ways to make blogs safe, I’ll work on the information and will email you next week, thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

  8. 8 Ana November 6, 2009 at 3:42 am


    I have heard of Windows Live Writer last year I downloaded a trial version that was not very good, it gave link problems on blogger but I just downloaded the new version and it looks great, they have new features for arranging pictures, I think it going to become my primary blogging tool now 🙂

    Thanks so much for sharing♥

  9. 9 Ashley L November 6, 2009 at 8:09 am

    Ana, thanks for the help! I’ve never heard of Blog Flux and have heard of but am unfamiliar with Stumble Upon. I’ll have to check them out! I am on 5 Min. for Mom, but I haven’t checked out many other similar sites. Oh, and the button idea… Yes, I’d love your help with that! I tried to make one earlier, but it didn’t work. I’ll email you about this soon! =)Thank you for sharing your expertise!

  10. 10 Melinda November 7, 2009 at 11:43 am

    We’ve sent a PDF/email newsletters roughly every 6-8 weeks for the last 6 years. We also send that PDF file to a newsletter company who mails off letters to those people who don’t have computers (we have many of those). Recently however we posted a 5 minute video on Vimeo (something like you-tube) of our family and ministry. We discovered that so many more people were willing to sit and watch a video of us than read a one-sided newsletter. Of course this does require that you have some basic editing abilities, but if you have the resources it goes a long way.

  11. 11 Ana November 8, 2009 at 5:52 am


    That is a great idea! You get the information through faster and I imagine it is a really fun process, I love it!

    My family and I need to work on sending more videos

    Thanks for sharing!

  12. 12 Susan November 11, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    We do regular monthly prayer letters (using Microsoft Publisher) most are printed and sent snail mail, but now more people are requesting them via e-mail so we send them as a PDF file attatched.

    We are also trying to send out a short paragraph monthly via e-mail for prayer updates. This also has a link for our blog which was started to try to share general missionary life with Joe Blow Christian in America. Even though not too many comment, we know we have lots of readers (even older people) who say they enjoy reading it. It is personally about us and our ministry (semi- vague, no address, city, school names, etc. or last name even though they could figure it out) but it is also just to “educate” people about missions!!

  13. 13 Julie November 12, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Great post, I love getting the word out about missions! We do a monthly(ish) newsletter that we email out as a pdf. We only do snail mail once/year at Christmas.

    We have a ministry blog and I have a personal blog, both are public right now. I was thinking about nixing our newsletter altogether, but on our furlough this summer I realized that only 1/3 of our supporters actually read the blog (although it’s growing). Like previously mentioned, the older crowd generally isn’t so blog savvy.

    We use facebook occasionally, but find it’s information overload for most folks. I’ve read studies that say that very few actual donations are made through facebook to nonprofits with pages.

    What I’d like to learn about is how to make our blog and newsletter look more professional, and find out in anyone uses a company to send out their emails using html and it it’s worth the investment.

  14. 14 Ana November 16, 2009 at 5:37 am

    –SUSAN– and –JULIE–

    I love the hear how other missionaries keep in touch with family and supporters overseas, it’s some times difficult to find a way of communication that fits everyone but I believe that every little effort counts.

    I am working on some layouts for Missionary blogs and newsletter templates that I think will be nice for all of you.

    I really appreciate your feedback and I’ll keep all your beautiful ideas a suggestions for my next post.


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