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One of the special responsibilities we as women enjoy is making a simple shelter into a home. God has enabled all of us (even those of us, if you are like me, with very little design savvy) with a sense of what can put our families at ease in our homes.

Missionary wives have a special responsibility to make our homes accesible to the people we are ministering to, but at the same time making our home a refuge for our American families. There are some indulgences we can bring over to accomplish this while still being wise about space and weight constraints when moving.

Every missionary’s idea of what to bring and what to leave will be different, but this is my top five list.

Home Décor

Refrigerator Magnets

“What?!” Trust me. There is something so homey about coming into your kitchen and seeing your refrigerator magnets on your refrigerator. Even if everything else in your kitchen is unfamiliar, those magnets are decidedly American. It doesn’t take many to do the job and they pack so easily. If you are in a village without refrigeration, hang a cookie sheet up to hold your magnets.

Wall Art

This packs so easily! They are so easy to apply and tear down. You can often find these on sale at Hobby Lobby or on Groupon!

Shower Curtain

This saves you from trying to find one in your new country and gives your bathroom a homey look.


If you are going to a nation where towels are expensive and thread-bare, it is best to just keep your incredibly plush towels you are already have. Before moving to the field, I did not appreciate how absolutely soft American towels are!

You can also use your towels to wrap your breakable items for your move. This is an economical move as well as an indulgence. Well-made towels last longer, and there is just something so comforting about using nice towels.

American Candles or Scented Wax

Scientists tell us that scent is the sense most closely tied to memory. Just catching a certain whiff can transport you to another time and place in an instant. Whenever I got homesick in Ethiopia, I would just burn a candle I had brought over with me, and I would instantly feel better.

I personally like fall scents. There is something about smelling a spicy Apple Pie candle that makes me want to do my fall cleaning. Which may be why my husband always seems to keep me well stocked in fall-scented candles…

Chocolate Chips (Or other “Not Sold Here” Foods)

When we first moved to Ethiopia, I looked forward to learning how to cook Ethiopian foods and working with what I found locally. But I also brought over a giant bag of chocolate chips and large bottle of Ranch dressing for special occasions. The best time to pull these items out was when we had other Americans in our home to enjoy them with. I know other missionaries that have brought thermals of cheese over to their field of service.

Can you think of a special treat you could bring over for your family to enjoy on special occasions?

Your Hobby

Home is the place you work, play, and sleep. Don’t forget to bring the “play.” Mac and I love to get a cup of hot tea and play a game together at night, so we put our games into individual baggies, threw the boxes away and brought them with us. This saved valuable weight and space.

Another dear missionary friend of mine brought over her scrapbooking supplies.  Yet another wonderful friend loves to bake, so she brought over her baking items.

What is it that you enjoy doing in your home? Bring an item to make that easier!

These items are just small tangible ways we can help our families as they deal with culture shock and difficult days that may come. By making our home a sanctuary for our families, we can extend their ability to serve the Lord with gladness in the place He has called you to!

What is an “indulgence” you would suggest a missionary wife bring to the field with her? Leave it in the comments below!