Preparing to minister to a community outside of your own can seem like a daunting task. If you’ve never been on a mission trip before this can be an exciting time, though scary, as you think about the people and places you will meet and see. But preparing for a mission experience is not as hard as it may seem. Here are some ways to prepare for your mission trip.
1. Start to journal your experiences before you leave.
Many participants look back on these weeks or months as some of the most rewarding times of their lives. A mission trip is a fantastic opportunity to spread the word of God to those who may benefit from it the most. On your trip you may be building schools, homes, or, as a specialist, you might be administering crucial medical treatments to those in severe need. Starting a journal as you prepare for the trip will help you stick with the practice throughout your time away. Looking back on a journal, pictures, and other mementos from your time in service is a great way to keep those memories alive into the future, and your family and community will benefit from the everlasting preservation of these intimate and powerful experiences.
2. Pack smart for the unexpected twists ahead.
Your trip may be taking you to a remote area of the world that none of your friends or colleagues in faith have ever been to. Packing a mosquito net, a natural mosquito treatment that foregoes the harsh effects of DEET, or candles that give off naturally mosquito repellant scents such as citronella, lemongrass, rosemary, marigold, or peppermint are important when traveling to tropical climates. A thermal sleeping bag and hand warmers is crucial for a trip to the frigid north. Mosquitos are very dangers and can carry dangerous diseases, so mosquito control is very important, and using a natural product is the best option, considering the frequency with which you’ll need the mosquito repellant.
You also need to include appropriate dress for the culture you will be interacting with. If the community you will be serving typically doesn’t include the wearing of shorts then you should be wary of showing too much of your legs — pack jeans or a few pairs of light hiking pants. Additionally, you will need all the trappings of mass in order to perform your own intimate communal services for those on the trip as well as larger gatherings for those you intend to minister to. Packing a portable communion set will help you lead the sacred rite of communion in a backyard or anywhere else.
3. Meet your team before the trip.
Meeting and getting to know your team before you depart for the spiritually rewarding journey you will go on together is a great way to understand the dynamics that will be at play during the mission. Learning from your teammates and understanding the strengths and weaknesses at play is crucial to the success of your voyage to spread the word of God and improve the lives of those you meet along the way. This is important in all aspects of life, and especially while in a remote location with only your team to rely on.
4. Learn from the people you meet.
It’s important to remember that you are a visitor in this new space. The people here may need assistance with construction or education, but they have much to give as well. Don’t forget to learn a thing or two from the people you are interacting with as well. You are there to assist them but also to grow spiritually yourself. The only way to do this is to be open and welcoming to new experiences and lessons.
5. Don’t forget to pray.
You will be busy every day during the mission, but don’t forget to make time to pray on your own. Remember, this opportunity is a chance to get closer to God for you as well. Take the opportunity to pray regularly while also giving to the community you are visiting.
A mission trip is an exciting time in the life of a pastor or young person. Make the most of this opportunity and leave with enriching experiences that will last a lifetime.
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