5 tips for your short term mission trip
I have been taking part in short-term mission trips for over ten years and they have been some of the most exciting, awe-inspiring, God-filled experiences of my life. I’ve travelled to South Africa, Uganda, Malawi, India and Jordan with various organisations for periods ranging from one week to six months. Here are a few tips that I’ve learnt along the way.
Pick a Prayer Partner
It is likely that your church family will be praying for you as you go on your mission trip but you may also want to pick one person who can be your prayer partner. Someone who can pray with you before you leave and who will be praying faithfully each day that you’re away. Choose wisely, not just the guy/girl you fancy from the worship band. Trust me on this one.
Get to know the team you’ll be travelling with before you go. Spend some quality time together; chat and pray with one another and start building those vital friendships which you will rely on when you’re away.
You might not know this but the UK is one of the only countries in the world that has access to fresh cows’ milk. Now it might be tricky to take a four pinter in your luggage so you’ll just have to get used to using UHT or powdered milk in your tea for a couple of weeks but something you can take is delicious creamy chocolate (the chocolate I’ve bought in Africa and the Middle East has a powdery texture because of the no fresh milk thing). I promise you, after the first week of your trip you will be craving a Dairy Milk bar and so will the rest of your team so just keep a few packets stashed in your suitcase and wait for a low moment in the group when you’re all tired and missing home and whip it out. You’ll be everyone’s favourite person for a day or two.
Get Your Journal On
You might not be the floppy haired, guitar playing ‘journal’ dude but keeping a written record of your trip will not only be a valuable record to look back on but is also a great way of processing the events of each day. You get really close to the people you’re with and this brings great friendships but can also bring conflict, tension and anger and you may need a constructive outlet for these frustrations.
You are not going on a mission trip to save the world; travel with a humble heart, a sensitivity to the culture and show a loving, Christ-like kindness to the people you meet. Pride and cultural ignorance can become a barrier to building relationships so make sure you know the things that might offend the locals. I have found that when visiting third world nations I have come away a richer person because of the amazing people I have encountered not because of any ‘good’ work that I have done.
Having worked in marketing for Universal Pictures, Heather is now a stay-at-home mum and wife with a passion for travel, writing and the arts. Always in search of a good cup of coffee.