I’m getting a message to install language packs.
"The following localization packages are missing to properly support your language:
Since I’m new and learning, is it a rule of thumb to generally allow these kinds of updates assuming they are okay?
I did not personally install them, but was just my preference. There should be no harm in installing them. Mainly used for auto correction, spell checking, and hyphenating. Specifically – in your case – for Thunderbird and OpenOffice.
Also, I would seriously consider removing OpenOffice as it is no longer maintained. LibreOffice took the reigns in that space. And, frankly, it is a much better program.
I agree with @SBHX . OpenOffice is not as often updated any more. LibreOffice is the much more updated fork of the OpenOffice suite. Every now and then a distro will not install the language packages, so it’s safe to allow them to install when prompted. This only happens once and after that, they get automatically updated - provided you install LibreOffice from the repository.