A mission trip is a great way to do your part to change the world for the better, and it can lead to wonderful memories that will last a lifetime. But if you aren’t prepared for what you’ll face, it could leave you feeling frazzled, frustrated and forlorn. Before you go, make sure you prepare yourself physically, intellectually, financially and spiritually for the trials ahead.
No one likes to get injections, but if your mission trip is taking you to a foreign land, and especially to a developing nation, you might need to get a few inoculations before you go.
In the week before you leave, do your best to stay as healthy as you can. Get enough sleep, eat healthy food and stay active. This not only keeps your body in good shape, it prepares you mentally for the trials ahead. You may encounter some frustration on your mission trip, so it’s important that you start off in good health and in a good state of mind.
Research the culture of your mission destination before you leave. Understanding cultural norms and social expectations can help smooth the transition to your new, short-term home. If they don’t speak English where you’re going, do what you can to learn some of the language, focusing on some basic, useful phrases, such as saying please and thank you, asking for help and inquiring about the location of the restrooms.
You should also understand what is expected of you on the mission trip. What will you be doing? If you need to brush up on some skills — from swinging a hammer to interpersonal interaction — read some books, do some exercises and take advantage of whatever opportunities you can to make your trip easier.
If your mission trip will last longer than a month, you need to figure out how you’re going to pay your bills while you’re away:
- Many monthly bills can be paid from your bank account automatically — you just need to set up the automatic withdrawal.
- If you have the funds, you can pay some monthly bills — like a car payment, rent or mortgage payment — ahead of time.
- For other bills, you will need to find a trusted friend to check your mail and pay the bills on your behalf while you’re gone.
You should also protect yourself financially while you’re on your mission. Unexpected things can happen on a mission trip, and they can lead to unexpected medical bills. If your mission group doesn’t offer short-term mission insurance, you should purchase your own policy.
It’s wonderful that you are giving your time and effort to help others in the world, but don’t let it inflate your ego. As it says in 1 Peter 5:5 (NIV), “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’”
You are there to do what you can to help people in need. Approach your mission with humility. Don’t expect — and don’t try — to single-handedly save the people you meet and bring them into the fold. You’re there to help, not preach; let your actions speak for you.
Preparing physically, intellectually and financially are relatively simple matters. Your spiritual preparation, however, takes more introspection. Keep yourself centered with your eye on the goal, and you can have a wonderful mission trip.