Mission trips are as diverse as the individuals they serve. In general, mission work can be very demanding physically. One type of mission work falls under the category of short-term mission trips. These trips generally last for a few weeks at the most. Short-term mission trips are physically demanding in a very abbreviated way. A second category of mission trips, and the one that takes a different kind of physical preparation, are long-term mission trips. This type of mission work often lasts for many months at a time. People often overlook the physical preparations required for all types of mission work. These tips are geared specifically towards the short-term mission trips offered by Mission Discovery, but they’re applicable for all kinds of opportunities to volunteer abroad.
- Prep the Gut– We’ve all heard stories about friends getting sick from the food or water while serving on mission trips. Other countries have their own set of foods, germs, and cooking methods. These things don’t always mix well with what our digestion is accustomed to in the U.S.. One way to prepare your stomach for short-term mission trips is to learn about what kind of foods are going to be available. Learn to love some of the local staples in the country in which you will volunteer abroad. Have a handful of foods that you know you’ll be able to get regularly and digest easily if your stomach is having a hard time adjusting. Visit a local international market to find foods that aren’t common in the U.S., but are staples in the country you’ll be visiting.
- Work the Feet– Sometimes you’ll need to walk everywhere in the country where you serve. If you’re not and outdoors enthusiast, then get on your feet if you know you’ll be walking everywhere during your short-term mission trip. Visit a local nature preserve or find a hiking trail nearby. Find a local shoe store that can fit you for the perfect pair of walking shoes. Get used to your new shoes and buy and extra pair if you know you’ll be gone for a while. Put in the work ahead of time to get your feet ready for the physical requirements of mission work.
- Embrace the Heat– Many short-term mission trips lead people to countries with a much warmer climate. If you’ll be serving in a country close to the equator, then acclimate your body to the heat. Turn up your air conditioner a few degrees warmer or go for a walk in the middle of the day. Don’t forget to drink water too. The best way to embrace the heat is to not let it destroy you. If you’re somebody who doesn’t drink enough water throughout the day, then learn to start doing so. Proper hydration can save you when you’re living in a very warm climate.
- Tune the Ears– It might seem obvious, but it’s worth pointing out that not everybody else in the world speaks English. You might encounter some people who speak English. However, your best bet will be to learn the native language of the country where you’ll be serving. Your trip director may have some language training already scheduled for your group. If not, then consider taking some private classes at a local language school or buying audio courses like the Pimsleur programs.
Short-term mission trips involve a lot of upfront planning logistically. Don’t forget to anticipate and attend to the physical demands for your mission work too. At Mission Discovery, we have all the tools to help you plan your next mission trip of any length.