How to Prepare For an International Short-Term Mission Trip. Plus 5 Tips to Make You Look Like a Pro
So you’re going on an international mission trip. Is this your first one? Are you excited? The most important question to ask is are you ready for it? Whether you’ve gone on many mission trips or your first one is coming up, this is your mini guide to help you prepare.
Know this first: you can’t prepare for everything but you can do your best. You can hope things go according to plan. You may not be able to help what goes on around you but some things you can be one step ahead on. I’m going to help you with that. I'm not an expert but I've picked up a thing or two.
Ways to prepare consists of prayer, taking care of your body, and getting in the right mindset. Focusing on these things will help get you ready to do the good work for the LORD. Plus keep reading to the end to read a few travel tips to make you look like a professional traveler.
Praying is the spiritual backbone, of course. It is the most crucial thing you must make sure you do. It is one of the most important parts of the Christian faith. Praying for a mission trip is no different. Like everything you do you want to seek the Kingdom of God first. Seek the Kingdom through prayer, fasting, reading Scripture, and worship. Whatever way you feel the Spirit leading you. Then you can move on to other things.
Here are some of the things you should not forget to pray about:
Ask God to clarify if He is calling you to go on this trip
Financial coverage (international trips tend to be expensive)
Team’s safety and safe traveling
For God to prepare you and the team in a physical, mental, and spiritual way
To remove any spiritual baggage (repentance for anyone carrying sin with them)
Pray for the people you will visit
You want things to go as smoothly as possible, right? You don’t want anything hindering the work God has set you out to do. If you feel hesitation, uncertainty, or concerns pray about it. You can always reach out to your teammates for this too. It'd be a good idea to gather with the team to have a prayer meeting.
Prepare Your Body
This may sound like an odd thing at first but hear me out. If you are going to another country some things are not the same as in your homeland. For example, food processing and water management are different and even elevation.
You can get sick from eating food you’re not used to and water your body is not immune to. Also, a change in elevation can cause sickness including nose bleeds. I had this happen to me before. It can take days for your body to adjust to a different elevation. There are ways to prevent these things or at least alleviate them. I’ll let you do your own research on this.
I went to a place once where the water was not safe for the non-natives. I couldn’t even brush my teeth with it. I had to use bottled water. Not a big deal. I was careful, or so I thought until I got sick. Things could have been better for me if I had built up immunity. I could have prepared my body prior.
If you have a sensitive stomach, try not to eat so much foreign food. Eat in moderation and eat more of what you know you can handle. It wouldn’t hurt to take some Pepto with you. It's also a good idea to take protein bars in case you need them.
Other ways to prepare yourself are by taking vitamins and staying hydrated. Eating healthy in general is the way to go as this helps shape your immune system. This is necessary to fight off potential infections.
Prepare Your Mind
If you’re going to a new place you’ve never been to before it can be exciting. I know it. However, since it is a mission trip so you have to keep in mind it’s not a vacation. You’re on a mission. You’re not going there to relax or be in vacation mode.
It’s important to remember you are going on this mission trip to work. Expect to get your hands dirty. After all, you are the hands and feet of Christ. Prepare to love and serve others. Look forward to this. It is an honor to serve the least of these.
You are more than likely going to an area where there is poverty. So don’t expect any luxurious commodities or a resort type of stay. Whether you stay in a hotel or a church campus await a humble abode. The point is to have reasonable and healthy expectations.
Another way to prepare yourself is to research the culture and learn a little bit of the language. A great place to start is with the basics such as hi/bye, thank you, my name is…etc. Know little enough to connect with the people you meet. Trust me they'll love it.
Five Travel Tips to Make You Look Like a Pro
If you’re checking in a suitcase be sure to carry an extra set of clothes and shoes in your bag, carry-on, or backpack. (If you’re not one to use a backpack you should. It will be your best friend) You want extra clothes in case the luggage goes missing (even if temporary). At least you’d have extra clothes with you.
This may seem obvious but have a charged portable charger with you. There is more than likely a place to charge your devices in the plane or airport. However, it may not be safe to use public USB ports due to possible hacking (the same goes for free public wifi). Charging your phone in public is less of an issue if you use a box or block.
Call your bank. It is a good idea to call your bank ahead of time to tell them you may be using your card outside of the country. This way they are aware your card is with you. Your card won’t get flagged because they think someone else got a hold of it and is trying to use it in another country.
Don't have all your cash in one place. Spread it out between how many cases you're carrying. Just in case you misplace one you have cash in another.
Don't take anything with you you wouldn't want to come back without. Anything that is not replaceable should be left at home.
Bonus: Observe the pros. You are more than likely traveling with frequent missionaries. They are the true pros. Learn from them. Do what they do.
As mentioned at the beginning you are going to do good work for the LORD. And because of this, the enemy may try to distract you with inconveniences. This is why you must prepare physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Prayer prepares you for the spiritual. Taking care of your body prepares you for the physical. And having a healthy mindset prepares you mentally. All these things are going to equip you for your next short-term international mission trip. Don’t forget about those five tips.
If this is useful information to you or if you have tips of your own let me know in the comments below. And safe travels!