I live for our DHL pouch. The agency negotiated a global contract with DHL so every country program is entitled to 1-2 outgoing and incoming pouches per month. The downside is that mail only comes twice a month, and if anything urgent has to be sent by US mail it's usually not the best means. (But what do you need to send by snail mail that's not urgent enough to send by fax or email?) The upside is that I get a nice stack of mail twice a month which accounts for a pleasant hour or so in the office and usually a weekend of reading.
The agency policy is that each international staff member is entitled to regular mail plus a maximum of two magazines. I've definitely exceeded the magazine quota. I get the New Yorker, Filipinas, Time, Real Simple, the Ensign, and Self. I guess the mailroom staff just ignores the quantity. I send them Filipino pastries every Christmas so I'm sure that helps! Normally books are prohibited as well but I got special permission to receive church-related materials (anything that comes from Salt Lake City) and I've also gotten random individual books. Other odd things as long as they're flat - most recently a couple of swim caps. I know that if I work at the State Dept. or Peace Corps (staff, not volunteers) I can have a more extravagent pouch life plus numerous shipments.
But DHL it is. Ever wondered what DHL stood for? It's the intials of the three founders. And there's even more interesting history - apparently the H (Larry Hillbom) fathered a huge number of children in different Pacific countries. After his death DNA testing was used to determine his heirs. The amounts were staggering - in the millions of dollars. Lucky kids.
The Larry Hillblom Inheritance
The Larry Hillblom Story
Huh, I never had problems with books. That was on the list of allowables when I started my fellowship...
Supposedle CDs and DVDs are not OK, but my colleague used to have his mom stick some in with a big mess of mail from home. My mom sent me a couple small prints and something knitted one time.
It's kind of fun, to see what we can get away with! I just sent a book to one of the national staff, I hope it goes through...
I've gotten several DVDs sneaked through the pouch - I guess in theory if work-related CDs are OK than other disk-type media are too. I've also had no problems ordering over the counter drugs. They just gotten taken out of the box and stuck in a regular envelope.