8 Tips for your Upcoming Mission Trip
And of course all good lists are alliterated.
1. Prayer. Set up a prayer network with friends and family. Send out prayer cards with your picture and bullets of how people can pray. Be committed to prayer yourself. Commit the work you do and conversations you will have to the Lord! Check out Psalm 127:1: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” This work is not yours to do, it’s His!
2. Packing. Consider rolling your clothes to better use your space (and eliminate wrinkles). Wear your bulkiest items (jeans, sweatshirt, etc) on the plane and travel day. Pack in layers; where you go, mornings and evenings could be much cooler than the heat of the day. Be prepared for weather changes!
3. Pro-tips for travel:
- Make a copy of your passport and keep it in a separate piece of luggage (just in case!).
- Create a special luggage identifier for your entire group’s bags (this can be a simple luggage tag or, if you like arts & crafts, can be a fun project!).
- Look into your airline’s luggage fees! Some will waive your fee if you tell them you are on a mission trip whereas some may have free bags to specific countries.
- Be prepared for airport customs. Know the address of where you will be staying locally and be ready to tell the customs agent your reason for entering their country.
- Check your cell phone plan for international advantages and disadvantages. Some even offer free international texting!
4. Prevent unreasonable expectations. You are not a Christian superhero and you might not see hundreds of people surrender to the Lord. This trip probably will not go as you have always dreamed. Expectations that are not filled simply lead to discouragement and disappointment. You may not even see much fruit or results from your time there. THIS IS OK. 1 Corinthians 3:6 tells us that some are given the job of planting seeds; our ultimate responsibility is not to see results, but to be faithful to the Lord. Be grateful for whatever your role may be and support those who may be in a different role than you.
5. Prepare for a new culture. Learn some phrases in the local language. Show interest in the culture of those you are interacting with. Try to communicate and understand, even if it’s only the simplest phrases. Don’t be a tourist. Research the food you will be eating and be ready to try new things! Also prepare to be exposed to different living conditions and the culture shock it may bring.
6. Plan to drop your plans. Be flexible! Remember things will not always go as you expect them to go (see again tip #4), and it’s your job to roll with what comes your way. A flexible team member with a positive attitude can be crucial at keeping the rest of the team on track.
7. Preserve your thoughts. Bring a journal. Document your thoughts, prayers, what you did each day, how the Lord moved, people you met, their stories and how they impacted you. These are special moments you will want to look back on for the rest of your life– and you won’t be able to recall them forever!
8. Praise and proclaim Christ (before, during, and after your trip). This one is most important.
Remember the purpose of your trip: for Christ to be made known to all peoples (including those in your hometown). Be prepared to share your story with those who have been praying for you and waiting to hear about the trip. Have a 30 second version ready to share about what God did and a 5 minute, longer version. You will not always have plenty of time to share, but be ready to give the key points in a short time. Think about a moment or person you met who impacted you there; tell those stories of what God did in those moments. Be careful to not exclusively share about the activities you did or things you built; always remember the purpose of those activities and the people you were able to love. Give God all the glory in all things!