(Missy being missionary, not necessarily young female).
Our planet is getting smaller and smaller. Gone are the days (Praise God!) when missionaries packed their belongings in their coffins and sailed off over the horizon never to be seen again. Gone are the days of waiting a month to get a response to the letter you wrote yesterday. Gone are the days (I HOPE!) of annual missionary prayer letters!
In order of importance:
1. Skype If you don't know what skype is, I don't know what rock you live under, but you need to crawl out from under it. It does require broadband, but you can access it from a lan house. Free calls computer-to-computer, cheap calls elsewhere. It is actually cheaper to call Jeff's cell phone using skype than using our home phone, or my cell. Chat is also available if you don't want to commit to an actual voice conversation (or if you need to be quiet when kids nap).
2. Facebook is not much of a tool for those of us with kids still at home, but it becomes invaluable when you send a kid back for college. You can spy on them and their friends, see pictures, write notes. Of course, it goes without saying that if you have a kid on facebook, you need to be on there spying on them. And, of course, anyone in youth or college ministry needs a presence there. I have enjoyed it mostly for keeping up with missy colleagues around the country who are on there spying on their teenage children.
3. Blogging I would think blogging would be an absolute necessity for any missy raising funds and wanting to keep their ministry before their supporters. Even though as IMB missys we don't solicit funds, my husband uses his blog to solicit prayer support for our ministry. We have blogs for each of our boys to give them some writing/computer practice and to give the grandparents some photofodder. As you can see here, my blog is for mostly therapeutic purposes.
4. Strategic Network.org There are a LOT of missy resources on strategic network, but the two we have used the most are the e-groups and the missiology articles. With Jeff working on his doctorate long-distance the articles on this website have been a tremendous help! For a small yearly subscription fee, we have access to the major missiological journals.
The e-groups feature is how we send out our prayer letters. With all the SPAM blockers out there nowadays, it's very hard to convince all the email servers that you are legitimate if you're sending out 500 copies of an email message. We were getting blocked not only by our server for sending too many messages, but by the recipients servers, for looking like SPAM. So, we set up a group on Strategic networks with everyone's email and then we just mail one message to the group. Everyone gets their copy and we don't get blocked by spam blockers. There is a little bit of a learning curve, but it's well worth it to be able to be in touch with the folks who pray for you.