Missionaries love to get mail, packages, and other communications from their family and friends. Though missionaries are allowed to use email and other forms of electronic communications these days, sometime it is still nice for them to get a physical letter or perhaps a drawing from a primary aged sibling. Sending letters can be expensive and unreliable to get the mail to the recipients who can be serving in some of the farthest reaching parts of the globe. For many missionaries, the “pouch” mail system of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provides and affordable and reliable alternative when sending a simple letter to a missionary.
What is the Pouch Mail System?
In about 38 countries, effecting approximately one-third of full-time missionaries worldwide, local postal systems are often unreliable. To help get letters to the missionaries, the Church provides a mail service known as the “pouch,” wherein family and friends send their letters to Salt Lake City where they are then forwarded to mission headquarters around the world. The Church mail room staff sorts the letters into packets for each of the missions on the pouch the service and then ships the bundle of letters using a reliable global carrier directly to the mission homes. The pouch system isn’t fast, it can often take several weeks for a letter to arrive, but it has proven to be a reliable way for missionaries to get their mail.
Your mission call packet will tell you if your mission is on the pouch system or not, and if so, it will provide detailed instructions on how to use it. In order for the pouch system to work, the letters sent through it must comply with several guidelines. Laws in each country are different, but most have regulations and taxes that apply to these types of postal items. The Church must comply with these regulations or they will not be able to continue the pouch service, therefore they have developed the following guidelines.
- You can send two kinds of letter through the pouch: either a postcard or a letter on one side of a single sheet of paper. These are the only types of correspondence the pouch mail service will accept. The service does not accept envelopes or packages.
- If you are using a piece of paper, the sheet should be folded into three parts, as is commonly done to insert a letter into a business envelope. The top edge of the sheet should be fastened with tape on the top edge only, no closer than one inch to either side. They recommend a single 8 1/2-inch x 11-inch sheet of 20-pound paper (the equivalent of paper used in most copiers).
- Write your return address in the top left corner. Apply a US postage stamp to the top right corner of the tri-folded paper or post card, and mail it to Church headquarters at this address, printed in the middle:
Name of the missionary
P.O. Box 30150
Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0150
For more information, read this Church News article on Pouch Service Regulations, or, if you have received your mission call, check the instructions in your mission call packet.
See the related article on care packages for missionaries.