Yesterday the Deseret News published a piece entitled "MissionHome.com a new resource for preparing and succeeding in Mormon missionary service" plugging a new missionary resource for parents, prospective missionaries, missionaries, and returned missionaries.
Deseret Book has once again entered the missionary information market with the launch yesterday of Mission Home Since 18/19. They used to do something similar but took down their original site a couple of years ago. Now they have jazzed up a new website. Not only can you read articles from a few noted LDS religion names but you can buy merchandise from Deseret Book. It is a good useful place to find some mission content including 406 missions with information about each. It is attractive and a resource that members can trust.
The site is laid out with the following seven areas: Prepare, Serve, Return, Care Packages, The Call, Mission Directory, and Senior Missionaries.
Mission Directory includes information about each of the 406 missions. The layout reminds me of BYU's culture grams. I find it to be attractive and a good starting point to get a general overview.
The missions are grouped into ten regions: Africa, Asia, Central America and the Caribbean, Europe and Russia, Mexico, Oceana, South America, and the United States. Information on the side bar includes: Mission Flag, Mission President, Mission Address, Languages, Population, Dominant Religions, Climate, and Major Cities. I guess it is difficult to find the mission song for all the missions but that is a glaring omission.
Information included for each mission in the main body includes: a Google Map of the mission headquarters, Description, The Church, Food, Transportation, Safety, Customs, Local Lingo, Essential Equipment, Additional Information tells how to send mail to a missionary serving there with the mission address and pouch instructions which can be complex since you have to follow instructions to the letter or your missionary will not see whatever it is you send them. The mission address is a helpful feature and a secondary place to find out a mission address. Up until now the primary place is the MTC's Mission Address. My criticism of both sites is that neither give information prior to entering the mission for a missionary in the various MTCs. You are forced to call them and ask. I guess you can consult the preliminary mission call information but the problems is that out of my six children so far has have taken the booklet with them.
Care Packages is a nice feature because of the no fuss and bother angle of sending packages. But I don't understand why they have single serving food items which can be quite costly. I think they would have more value if you had larger bags of their offerings with a few servings. I think the jar of peanut butter is a bit overpriced at $5.95. I don't know if all their merchandise gets there and what the guarantee is. I do know that in the Brazil East Mission where my daughter serves not one package out of eight actually made it there. Brazil has a limit to weight and the size of the package also packages in some countries are prone to theft.
There are three prepackaged Gifts: Non-Food Package Large, Food Package Large, and Missionary Package Small that range from $19.99 up to $32.75. I have no clue what is in the Non-Food Package Large since there is no description. Looking at the icon it appears to have a blue journal, 3x4 Savior Prints, pencils and one other thing that I dunno. You can send anything that Deseret Book sells in a care package so it does have some value but the shipping might cost almost as much as the items i.e. 10 blue $3.25 Book of Mormons cost over $26 to ship. Under their possible suggested offerings for books I was a bit confused since they have included some titles not on the approved missionary list and not the missionary library missing a source of revenue. I would send my son them since I know he didn't take them with him when he left our home.
Deseret Book ships international priority with this caveat: "All domestic orders will have the same shipping methods, Standard,
Priority and Express. All international orders will be shipped via
priority. This will ensure that someone signs for the package upon
delivery." Items are listed as arriving in 5-7 days.
I think there is some valuable advice by a few big name missionary associated people like Mary Ellen Edmunds and Brad Wilcox. I feel it is a valuable missionary resource since there are so few out there.