Short-term mission trips are typically only 1-2 weeks, but they take a lot of preparation, prayer, and intentionality. Sometimes it can be hard to know where to start, and before you know it, it’s only days before you leave, and you still have a lot to do. So, to better prepare you, in this article are 10 helpful tips you should know before you leave for your mission trip.
1. Practice sharing your story/testimony.
Hopefully, you will be sharing your testimony or parts of your story on your upcoming mission trip as you relate to people and show them the love of Jesus. It’s helpful to think through what you want to share ahead of time so you’re ready if someone asks you a question at a time that you are not expecting it. Plus, when you take the time to look back on your life, you are able to remember how the Lord has worked and been there for you.
2. Plan ahead for medical and logistical needs.
Depending on where you are going, you might need vaccines, medication (i.e., Malaria pills) additional paperwork or documentation, preparation for your own medical conditions, and more. The sooner you get started on these things, the better. A lot of doctor’s offices (especially after the effects of COVID-19) take a while to get appointments and vaccines have schedules that you have to get them before you’re fully inoculated. You could always go to an Express Care or Urgent Care, but you will feel more prepared if you make appointments well in advance.
3. Have a trusted mentor you can talk to and someone who will be your accountability partner.
No doubt, you will have questions, concerns, joys, doubts, struggles, highs, and lows while preparing for your trip. It’s so important to have someone you trust that you can talk to and process everything with. Whether that’s a team member, a friend, mentor, someone from your church, or a family member, make sure you have someone speaking encouragement and life over you. Hopefully, this person can be an accountability partner for you as well.
4. Take good care of your body, mind, and spirit.
Chances are you are already aware that you will not be sleeping as much on your trip or that you might eat food you are not used to eating. That’s why it’s so crucial to get good sleep, eat healthy, and take care of your body leading up to your trip. While you will likely be challenged physically on your mission trip, you might see things that will challenge you spiritually and emotionally too. So, you should take extra care with your mind – what you listen to and choose to read – and your spirit – reading your Bible and being in community with other believers.
5. Build relationships with your fellow team members.
You are going to be spending a lot of time during your trip with your team members. The experience will be so much more enjoyable if you really get to know the people you are going with, and they get to know you. Try to be vulnerable, open, and honest during any meetups before you leave for your trip. You are on your team for a reason and building relationships will also help bring unity to the team.
6. Do research about the place you are going.
One of the best ways to relate to the people you will be serving is to research the place you are going. Learn about the culture, language, and people group. Research to find out the traumatic events that might have taken place there and what you will be stepping into.
7. Journal prior to leaving and take a journal with you on your trip.
Journaling is so beneficial for a variety of reasons. First, it lets you document memories and experiences so you can look back on them later and remember how the Lord worked. Second, it helps you process what you are going through and get your thoughts out of your head and onto paper. There’s just something about seeing things written down that brings clarity that simply thinking about it cannot. Additionally,
8. Spend quality time reading the Bible.
Reading the Bible is how we hear from, learn about, and spend time with God. It’s how we make sure that what we are sharing about the Lord is truth and actually coming from the Word itself. Spending time in the Word does not have to be a strict to-do list that you check off every day – it can be enjoyable and fun. Maybe you prefer to read your Bible along with a devotional on your couch with a cup of coffee or you like journaling and sitting on a blanket at the park in the sunshine. However you like to do it, just make sure you are doing it.
9. Pray, pray, pray.
This tip cannot be overstated enough. Prayer changes everything and deepens your relationship with the Lord. He is always working, but when we directly talk with Him, it realigns our hearts and minds. Make a list of things you can pray for and spend at least a few minutes each day leading up to your trip praying for those items. For example, your list could look like this:
- Unity among my team members
- That the Lord would use me to glorify and serve Him
- The people where I’m going will have open hearts and minds to what I share with them
- Protection over mine and my team’s health and safety as we travel
- The Holy Spirit would work through me in what I say and do
10. Be in a consistent relationship with Jesus.
The purpose of a mission trip is to know Jesus and make Him known wherever you are going. It’s difficult to share about someone you do not know, so make sure you are in a consistent relationship with Jesus. This does not mean you should feel guilty or shameful if you feel like you are going through a rough patch but talk to someone about it. Like all relationships, life with Jesus can be up and down, but you should know at your core that Jesus is the most important thing in your life.