—By Father DavidDO87211 February 1980
—How To Get Your Mail Though on the Road!
1. HOW TO GET YOUR MAIL is one of the big problems of travelling in a Mobile Ministry. One of the big problems of caravaning & camping out is how to get your mail. You have to know long enough in advance approximately where you're going to be, preferably some big city where it comes fast & you can pick it up at General Delivery or Poste Restante—whatever they call it in your country. When we were on the road in a big convoy we usually knew toward what big city we were aiming on our route or itinerary.
2. WE DID HAVE, OF COURSE‚ A HOME BOX NUMBER from which mail was forwarded to us by the Post Office. We would sent a forwarding notice to our home Post Office to forward our mail General Delivery to a certain city we planned to be in within a week or two. In the States they'll hold your mail if it's not marked: "If not delivered within five or ten days return to sender"—& usually only some business mail is marked like that.
3. THE POST OFFICE WILL HOLD YOUR MAIL FOR UP TO 30 DAYS before they start returning it to the senders. So we would make sure we aimed at some place that we knew we could be, at most within a month, & usually within a couple of weeks, so that by the time we got there we could pick up our mail. We'd spot these places along the way & plan ahead to get mail there. Of course you don't get your mail very fast, but you get it every couple of weeks at least. Then when we arrived at that city we would have a whole stack of mail waiting for us.
4. WE WOULD OF COURSE HAVE TO NOTIFY OUR HOME POST OFFICE IN ADVANCE—USUALLY SEND THEM AN AIRMAIL ADDRESS–CHANGE CARD a couple weeks before we planned to be at the new address. They've got little cards in the U.S. that you can get at the Post Office free, & all you have to do is put your new address on it, along with your "old address", of course. Our "old address" was our Box Number at home, & new address was the city we had planned to be in within the next couple of weeks.
5. IF WE'D SEND THE CHANGE-OF-ADDRESS CARD AIRMAIL from a good Post Office, it would be in that city where our Box was within at least two or three days, & if they'd forward our mail immediately—as they usually do—the Post Offices in the States & most of Europe are pretty faithful with that, & that's where we have a lot of kids travelling now with campers & everything—then we could be pretty sure of getting our collected mail as it gathered at our destination Post Office within a week or so. Usually it would come in a bundle or P.O. envelope wrapped up or tied with a string around it—that way they only had to readdress it all once.
6. WE COULD BE PRETTY SURE OF GETTING ALL OUR MAIL WITHIN A WEEK OR TWO from our home-base or our home P.O. Box, our "permanent" address. We always kept a home-base P.O. Box Number. You've got to have some kind of "permanent" address—a P.O. Box, your parents' or a friend's home who'll faithfully forward your mail. We kept some boxes as long as six months to years while on the road in evangelistic work, but...
7. (MARIA: BUT CAN YOU JUST GO IN TO ANY CITY & GET A P.O. BOX?) No.—Usually you have to give some kind of a "permanent" local home or office address before they will give you a P.O. Box. For example, we kept a P.O. Box in Miami‚ Florida, for years, but then we left Miami & we hit the road & we were on the road for about a year or so with a big truck & trailer.
8. SO I KEPT HAVING OUR MAIL FORWARDED FROM OUR P.O. BOX IN MIAMI. I'd aim at the next general area that we were going to work in or out of, usually some big city that we would camp outside of somewhere & where I would headquarter while working there. I'd leave the truck & trailer there & headquarter there—like the capital of some State for example—& then I would work out from there & hit all of the towns in the whole State but keep coming back to the headquarters there, to our trailer.
9. THAT WAY WE HAD A NEW MAILING ADDRESS FOR AT LEAST A MONTH, a month or two, sometimes three, where we could be pretty sure to get our mail. We did that many times. The only trouble I ever had was with Miami after being gone a year. We still had the Box & we still faithfully sent in the Box rent each three months. But after one year I got a notice from the Miami Post Office saying that: "Your Box has been closed due to the fact that we note that you keep the Box solely for the purpose of forwarding mail."
10. THAT CAUSED THE P.O. A LOT OF TROUBLE, OF COURSE, HAVING TO FORWARD OUR MAIL ALL THE TIME. So some snotty postal clerk just didn't want to forward the mail anymore. According to the regulations they can do that if they want to. They said‚ "However we will continue to forward your mail for a period of 30 days," so that we wouldn't lose any.
11. SO WE NOTIFIED ALL OUR CORRESPONDENTS IMMEDIATELY—we got a new P.O. Box in Louisville, Kentucky, using Mom's Dad's address, & notified all of our correspondents & supporters of our new P.O. Box right away as quick as we could, because we had to have somewhere else "permanent" immediately so as to not lose our mail. So not much mail continued to go to the old Box in Miami, & what little did trickle through there for months afterwards they actually went ahead & forwarded it to our New Box anyhow. So the Post Offices are pretty good about it.
12. BUT BEING ON THE ROAD & ON THE MOVE A LOT, IT'S VERY IMPORTANT TO GET YOUR MAIL. Later we changed that one to Texas, then to California etc., as we moved around. (Maria: I guess you could be living at some friend's address to get a Postal Box maybe?) Oh yes of course! If there's a Home or a friend there or someone who'll vouch for you that that's your "permanent" address. (Maria: In any city, so you could have that for a base?) Yes. But you have to apply for it personally, & you have to be able to give a Home address.
13. IN THE UNITED STATES IT HAS TO BE VERIFIED by the home delivery postman, that there is such an address & that you live there, so either you will have to be there or your friend will have to be well informed so that they tell the postman when he comes around to ask: Yes, you live there. (Maria: So they really check it out, huh?) Well, as I recall,
14. LONDON WAS ABOUT THE SAME. I remember when we were living in London we got a Box‚ & they came to the house to check to make sure that we actually did have a local address & live there before they'd give us a P.O. Box. Kind of silly in a way, but otherwise a lot of people would have phoney addresses, you know‚ just Box Numbers, & the Government or bill collectors or whoever would never be able to catch up with them!
15. IN THE BAHAMAS FOR EXAMPLE, a lot of addresses are called "brassplate" companies that have nothing there but somebody there that gets mail for hundreds of companies at their so-called company headquarters—nothing but a mail–service address with a brass plate name on the door!
16. THEY DO THE SAME THING IN MANY OTHER COUNTRIES ALSO: You can get a mail service office to take care of your mail & forward it to you wherever you are—for a price! These letter-service places give you their office address as your address for a certain fee—you pay something for the service of receiving & forwarding your mail, taking care of it for you.
17. THE ADVANTAGE OF THAT IS MANIFOLD! For instance, if you want your mail in a hurry, during business hours you can phone them long distance & tell them exactly where to forward it immediately & they can get it off on the same day, like if you have a sudden change of address or someplace else you are going.—They'll even receive phone messages for you!—Or transact business for you, like paying bills, banking, etc.—Or you can get a local Home or friend's address who will faithfully forward your mail for you, then have your mail sent there in your name in care of So-&-so & their address.
18. IT IS QUITE A TRICK TO KEEP UP WITH YOUR MAIL & FOR YOUR MAIL TO KEEP UP WITH YOU! All those years we were on the road in evangelistic work we had to have our mail forwarded all the time! Even when Mother & I were in evangelistic work we always had a P.O. Box Number as our base address, so that we didn't have to change addresses on our friends & correspondents too often, because friends & supporters easily forget your new address‚ so you can't be changing addresses all the time on your friends & supporters, correspondents & business mail etc.
19. YOU'VE GOT TO KEEP SOME STEADY "PERMANENT" ADDRESS, so we always kept a base Box, a Postal Box Number in our Home City whatever it was, even if we had no home at all! And we would notify the Post Office by airmail change-of-address card upon each move, where we wanted our mail sent next.
20. FOR EXAMPLE, WE USUALLY HAD OUR MEETINGS FOR ABOUT TWO WEEKS IN A CITY in an evangelistic series—a two-weeks' meeting in a city.—And by the end of the two weeks we usually knew where we were going to hold our next two-weeks' meeting. This would be the same as you folks now travelling around from city to city to litness or witness or whatever. You have to decide some time ahead of time, get your signals from the Lord where you expect to go next‚ where you expect to headquarter next or center next for at least awhile.
21. WHEN WE WENT FROM MEETING TO MEETING‚ we'd usually have a week or two between meetings. So we would take a week's rest either near where we had the last meeting or near where we were going to have the next meeting—a cabin or hotel, or, when we had trailers, campgrounds. If we were going to take our week off somewhere near the last city we were holding meetings & getting our mail at, we just kept getting our mail there till time to leave. We would just run back into the last city every few days & get it.
22. THEN WHEN WE KNEW WHERE WE WERE GOING TO BE NEXT, we usually tried about a week before we left the old address to send the forwarding card of our new address to our Base Box to start forwarding our mail to the next address. So we would catch the mail at the Base Box so there would be no more mail sent to our last address, & our Base Box would start sending our mail about one week in advance to the next address, so that by the time we got there we had mail stacked up for a week or so at the new address!
23. THIS WAS EVEN IN OUR OLD EVANGELISTIC WORK, & IT WORKED WELL THAT WAY. It was a good thing we were prepared that way, as when we went on the road with the Family too, I had had that good experience of how to get our mail on the road, because we didn't even have a base for a long time! We didn't even have a base telephone or anything! We just forsook all & left nothin' behind! If we got lost from each other, we didn't have any way in the world to even communicate except the Lord! We couldn't call home & say, "Well, we're lost, so tell'm, we're at so–&-so!" Most of that big trip we made across the United States we had no base phone until we finally got a base phone in Laurentide, Canada, near Montreal!
24. ON THE LAST MAIL PICKUP AT EACH OLD POST OFFICE WHERE WE HAD BEEN GETTING OUR MAIL GENERAL DELIVERY I WOULD DO TWO THINGS: I would get two change-of-address cards. I would put an airmail stamp on one & mail it immediately to our Base Box in California where we got our mail continually, to forward our mail to our next address. The other change–of-address card I would leave right there with the local Post Office General Delivery Clerk in case any more mail came to forward it to our next address too.
25. SO YOU FILL OUT TWO CHANGE-OF-ADDRESS CARDS: Leave one with the local Post Office where you have been getting your mail General Delivery, telling them to send any mail that still comes in to General Delivery in the next town that you are going to. Then you send the other one off airmail to the Post Office of your Base Box to send your mail to that next town also.
26. WE USUALLY SENT THE CARD TO OUR BASE BOX ABOUT A WEEK BEFORE WE LEFT the last address, so that we could continue to pick up the last mail that was still coming in from the Base Box & be pretty sure to get it all before we left town. But if anything still trickled in late after we were gone, it would still be forwarded to us. We were a little late getting our mail sometimes, but it always finally caught up with us, TTL!
27. THAT'S THE WAY YOU DO IT!: For example, if you are leaving your home-base or your Base Box, notify them just as you are leaving, on the last mail pickup, what your next address is going to be, General Delivery such-&–such a town.—And so they start forwarding your mail. It has a place on the card that says: "Effective date," when you want them to start forwarding your mail, exactly what date. And then you soon start picking up your mail in the next town when you get there.
28. IT'S BEST TO HAVE A PERIOD OF AT LEAST A MONTH IN WHICH YOU GET YOUR MAIL AT THE SAME ADDRESS so that you don't move it around too fast & it gets lost or you get lost! Even if you're going to make a lot of stops along the way, you can still be aiming at this next big–town Post Office where you can get your mail.
29. LET'S SAY THAT YOU EXPECT TO BE AT THE NEXT ADDRESS IN A WEEK OR TWO or something like that, as you're going to be on the road for maybe a week or two before you get there, & so of course while moving you're not getting any mail. It's either stacking up at your Base Box waiting to be notified, or it's stacking up at your next address. But when you finally get there, you've got a week-or-two's mail already there.
30. WE GOT ALONG VERY WELL WITH THAT SYSTEM FOR YEARS—both in evangelistic work & on the road with the Family—& it worked very well. We continued to keep up our Mail Ministry & got out our prayer Letters & still received our support through the mail. That's how we used to do it!
31. FOR EXAMPLE, IF WE ARE GOING to start out from Los Angeles to San Francisco & expected to be one the road at least a week or two with some one-night stops & meetings here & there or to litness & witness along the way, that's going to make a long leap as much as 450 miles from Los Angeles to San Francisco, so it may take us a week or two weeks or even a month!
32. YOU SHOULDN'T SPACE YOUR MAIL PICKUPS MUCH MORE THAN A COUPLE OF WEEKS APART, because month-old mail gets pretty stale. And besides, the U.S. Post Offices have a rule they'll only keep your mail 30 days before they send it back to the senders! So you've got to get there within a month from the time they first start getting your mail, or they'll have to send it back.
33. BUT SAY YOU WERE NOT GOING TO BE IN SAN FRANCISCO IN TWO OR THREE WEEKS AT LEAST, OR EVEN A MONTH, & expect to stop along the way & hold some meetings & do some witnessing, & won't get to San Francisco for maybe a month. So you'd better pick up some mail in Fresno about half way on the way. So as you leave Los Angeles where you have your P.O. Box, you leave a forwarding notice with them to be effective on such-&-such a date, usually the date you are leaving, after the final mail pickup, so that none of your mail would be held there. So you have them send your mail to General Delivery Fresno for the next couple weeks until you get there to pick it up.
34. SOMETIMES WE LEFT & WEREN'T EVEN SURE YET WHERE TO HAVE OUR MAIL SENT! So we just let it accumulate in the Base Box, which they will do you know. They'll just hold it in the box for 30 days. We'd just let the mail accumulate in the Base Box, until within at least a week or two we would know where we were going to be able to get our mail, even though we went out so uncertain that we didn't really know where we were going or how long it would be! The Lord doesn't leave you in the dark usually much longer than that, knowing you've got to get your mail!
35. SO WE JUST LET IT ACCUMULATE IN THE BASE BOX until as soon as we knew, then we'd airmail a change-of–address card to our old P.O. Box where to send all that mail at once! You give'm your old address, which means your P.O. Box address, & then you give your new address, your General Delivery where you're going to pick up your mail next. Sometimes on there it says "Effective date" & until what date do you expect to be there, in other words how long they are supposed to forward your mail to this new address‚ after which closing date they keep your mail until they hear again.
36. IT'S A VERY GOOD SYSTEM, & THE U.S. & MOST EUROPEAN POSTAL SYSTEMS ARE VERY EFFICIENT. So that's the way to do it!: How to try to keep up with your mail!—Or get your mail to keep up with you! Then for example, if we were leaving Fresno & our next main base was going to be San Francisco, on our last day that we went to pick up our mail at Fresno General Delivery, we would make out the little forwarding card & hand it right to the General Delivery clerk right there & say:
37. "NOW PLEASE START FORWARDING OUR MAIL AFTER THIS TO SAN FRANCISCO. We're leaving town. So please start forwarding it next to General Delivery San Francisco.—Thanks!" See? Also we would send a forwarding card airmail immediately back to our Box Number in Los Angeles to start sending our mail immediately from there to General Delivery, San Francisco. The first card is to catch any late mail that might still come to Fresno, & the other is to send all of your Base P.O. Box mail immediately to the next place.
38. BUT IF WE WERE JUST STARTING OUT ACROSS COUNTRY & WE DIDN'T QUITE KNOW YET JUST EXACTLY WHERE WE WERE GOING TO BE or even which direction until the Lord led, we would just let the mail accumulate in our Base Box until we did. Usually it wasn't more than a few days or a week until we would know where we were going. Let the mail accumulate for a week or so in your Box—even as much as two weeks—until you know where you're going to be.
39. FOR EXAMPLE, IF WE GOT SOME PLACE & WE JUST WORKED & WAITED for the Lord to open doors‚ & if He opened up some door & we got invitations & we got bookings to meetings‚ we knew we were going to be there a few days or weeks then—at least long enough to get our mail—so we would immediately notify the Base Box to start sending our mail there.
40. (MARIA: BUT IF YOU DIDN'T GET BOOKINGS, THEN WHAT DID YOU DO?) We just went on. But usually we knew pretty much which direction we were going & toward what big city of some kind. It's better to get your mail at big cities or big towns, because you get it quicker that way & they are more efficient, & you don't have delays of it being forwarded from one little town to another.
41. IT'S VERY IMPORTANT TO BE ABLE TO GET YOUR MAIL while on the road, & that's the way we did it, & it proved very efficient & effective over the years. I learned how to do that from the time I was a teenager travelling with my mother in evangelistic work. As the one meeting was coming to an end, the last day that we went down to pick up our mail just before we left town, we left two forwarding cards: One with the General Delivery clerk face to face, & the other we dropped in the mail slot with an airmail stamp on it, notifying our Base P.O. Box at "home" where to send our mail next, because we usually knew by that last day where we were going next.
42. BUT IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE YOU'RE GOING NEXT, then you can allow your General Delivery mail to continue to accumulate there at General Delivery—they'll hold it 30 days—or allow it to accumulate at your P.O. Box until you do know, & then notify them where to forward your mail.
43. THE POST OFFICES USED TO BE VERY ACCOMMODATING IN THE UNITED STATES—They don't even charge anything for General Delivery mail—well, at least they didn't used to. Maybe they do now. We notice that in Europe a lot of Post Offices charge you for each piece that you receive! But the nice thing about it in the U.S., Post Offices usually‚ if we had quite a packet of mail accumulated, they had special envelopes, like book envelopes, & they'd just stick it all in this one big envelope—a heavy brown paper envelope—& seal it & address it. And then you'd get your accumulated mail all in one nice big envelope or package! If that were true in Europe, then you'd only have to pay for one package & not several pieces, if you had waited for your mail to accumulate a little bit & have them send a whole batch at once!
44. IT'S IMPORTANT TO BE ABLE TO GET YOUR MAIL‚ especially if you're mobile & on the road. I think that's one subject we didn't deal with in the Camping series, but that's very needed. There are so many aspects to camping, it's hard to remember them all. Any other questions on that? Usually when they forward you mail, they don't send it airmail, they just send it First Class‚ because it would be a mixture of mail‚ some First Class, & some airmail, so it took a few days to get it sometimes.
45. ONCE IN AWHILE I FOUND THAT, WITH THE GENERAL DELIVERY OFFICE WE WERE JUST LEAVING—the place we had been staying & temporarily getting mail—I could talk to the postal clerk & persuade him to send it airmail by leaving him either the money or the stamps to forward airmail whatever more came in to us‚ if we wanted it in a hurry. But that's purely a personal deal & depends on the Lord & whether they want to be helpful or not, because they don't have to.
46. SO THAT'S THE WAY WE DID IT! We just notified our home P.O. Box & the local Post Office each time we got ready to leave, at the last mail pickup, where we planned to be next. Usually I would give them a time space that we would be there about 30 days‚ forward our mail there about 30 days, from such-&-such a date to such-&-such a date, because normally we would be in an area at least about a month before we would move on.
47. IN ANY TYPE OF MOBILE MINISTRY YOU ARE NOT GOING TO GET MUCH ACCOMPLISHED IF YOU JUST STAY CONSTANTLY ON THE ROAD & CONSTANTLY TRAVELLING ALL THE TIME! It's going to be very expensive, considering how much it costs & how little you get done that way! The most effective method to use is to plan to stay in a certain area for at least a month, or maybe several moths, & saturate the area with witnessing, litnessing & everything‚ until it's almost burned out!
48. YOU HAVE DONE EXHAUSTIVE PROVISIONING & ALL THE REST, & THE PEOPLE HAVE HEARD, & they have either accepted or rejected, for by that time somebody's usually getting mad & wants to run you out anyhow!
49. SO IN THE MOBILE MINISTRY YOU REALLY NEED TO STICK AROUND A LITTLE WHILE TO GET ANY REAL RESULTS—GENUINE DISCIPLES whom you can either take with you or teach to carry on after you're gone.—So you certainly shouldn't have any trouble sticking around long enough to get your mail! (—Or your male‚ FFers!—Ha!)—GBAKYAMYAB! HAPPY HUNTING!—Love,—Dad
50. P.S. BE SURE TO GET ALL YOUR MAIL IN ONLY ONE NAME!—To avoid confusion & too many change-of–address cards!—Such as your name or your mate's name.—Anyone else in your party should already be getting their mail in your name at your P.O. Box with inside envelope addressed to them.