By Annie Bingham
If you’re considering going on a short-term Missions trip, this post goes out to you! If you’re not considering, START CONSIDERING!! A 2 week, 3 month, or even 9 month trip can be a great opportunity to broaden your perspective, make lasting relationships, and fall totally in love with the Lord.
To get you started, here’s a few tips, tricks, and lessons I’ve picked up on the field this year. Enjoy!
- Go Local!
Especially for short term mission trips, domestic is a fantastic choice. Not only do they generally require less fundraising and preparation, sharing the name of Jesus within your own culture can help to establish deeper relationships within the time constraints of the trip. Spreading the gospel in your hometown is just as important as shouting it to the furthest corners of the globe.
- If you’re not organized, GET. ORGANIZED.
There’s a lot of reasons why this tip holds the second slot. First of all, you will never have your own room. Your roommate count will likely be somewhere between 3 and 50, and if you don’t know A) what stuff is yours, and B) where all of it is, you’re going to run into major problems. Also, it’s just generally good roommate etiquette to keep your stuff picked up when you all have roughly 4 square feet to call your own.
- Pack Light!
Trust me, even if you’re going to be on the field for 9-12 months, any more than 5 shirts will end up being too many. It’s likely you’ll end up with an absolute favorite shirt, and you’re only gonna take it off to wash it once every week or so. Personal example? My “Deutschland” shirt is my home. I only brought 5 shirts with me, and if I’m being honest I only wear 3 of them with any regularity.
Another reason to pack light is that when you gain 20+ roommates, you gain access to this beautiful concept we call “the community closet”. Are you tired of your pants? Wear somebody else’s! Don’t have a shirt in a specific color? Somebody in that room definitely has one.
Besides, more room in your bag means more room for important things. Like peanut butter! Or rolls of toilet paper, depending on your priorities.
- Do your laundry in the morning
More importantly just do your laundry in general. I don’t care how hard it is to hand wash jeans, no one enjoys a smelly neighbor. In environments where you will be hand washing, it’s super helpful to wash your clothing early in the morning (before breakfast if you can!) because they will have all day to dry out, and won’t recollect moisture overnight.
Another tip for hand washing, consider packing a scrub brush and some vinegar! Mold is a major possibility when you live in environments that are semi-outdoors, but that’s nothing a little vinegar and a lot of elbow grease can’t knock out.
- Pursue unity through Scriptural truth
This one is less of a tip, and more of a warning. On any mission trip, you’re going to encounter a lot of new things, but especially if you’re going on your first Mission trip, be prepared to change your mind. Know that you will be wrong, but also maintain what you know is right. You’ll meet people whose doctrine isn’t quite the same as yours, and that is perfectly okay! What matters isn’t what we eat or don’t eat, or how we dress, or the way we speak. What matters is that we do things out of faith to serve and glorify God. (See Romans 14 & 15:1-7) Everything else is small change in comparison to the beauty of serving as Christ did.
That being said, hold tightly to the absolute truth of God’s Word. Seek understanding through scripture, not through petty argument. A high value on seeking truth in the pursuit of unity is a difficult value to maintain, but it’s an incredibly important one to have.
- Anything can be ministry
You’re going to meet people who will change your life. You’re going to see the Lord at work in new and wonderful ways. You will do things to serve the kingdom that you never could have imagined doing.
Did I think I would get to use my 5 years of German to serve God in Costa Rica? Not in a million years. Did I ever conceive that I might be asked to climb 7 feet up a ladder supported only by my squad mate Alex to hack at a piece of bamboo that fell on a power line with a machete? No way! Would it have ever occurred to me, that standing up to my knees in the ocean trying to catch a fish in my water bottle for a 5 year old I met 20 minutes ago might end up being my ministry for the afternoon? Absolutely not! And yet the Lord has used these and all my other new experiences on the field for good.
Our lives become our ministry every time that we live them to the glory of God.
- Open your heart so wide it will never have a chance to close again.
In nine months, six months, two weeks, one week, even, you will become so close with the people around you. And what a blessing it will be to walk in greater knowledge of what it means to be Brothers and Sisters in Christ. Don’t close yourself off from those relationships out of the fear that you will have to leave them. That being said…
Growing up, my mom always taught me to “love the one you’re with”. (Side note: I know the original of that song is performed by Crosby Stills and Nash, but check out the Isley Brothers version. It’s fantastic.) The longer I’m on the field, the more I realize how valuable that lesson was. You’re not going to like everyone you live with or work with. It’s a fact of life, and when you live with AND work with the same people 24/7, that fact becomes 10 times as true. You’re not going to like everyone, it is your choice (and dare I say it, your responsibility) to love the ones you are with. It’s what Christ did. The person whose morning breath you cannot stand is the very same person that Jesus died on a cross for, and if the God of the universe can suffer, die, and be resurrected for us, we can all choose to love each other as his image bearers, and as brothers and sisters in his holy name.
- Above all, do it for the Lord
Don’t go on a mission trip for pictures. Don’t go to travel. Don’t go to do the things you want to do. Do not go on a mission trip to “help the poor people of xyz”.
Go because you love the Lord. Go with the knowledge that we, as children of God, are all his image bearers; equal in his sight and equally loved by him. Go to unify the body of Christ. Go to glorify His holy name. Go because we as Christians are called to make disciples AS WE GO.
Go because you love the Lord.
I genuinely hope that everyone who reads this post takes some time to pray about going on a mission trip in the future. Whether it’s your first or your fiftieth, regardless of age or location, take some time to consider if the Lord is asking you to step out of your comfort zone, and into life on the field.
Consider a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. Contact us today to schedule your trip!
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