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I know of a lot of folks are headed out on mission trips this summer, and thought it would come in handy to have a few tips for you all rounded up in one place! Between my husband and I, we've been on eleven mission trips to eight different countries. We're planning to take our entire famiy on one this year to a ninth country now that our youngest child is older.
We have felt so called to go, and know that some people feel called to serve on mission trips, while others are also called to help financially, pray, volunteer time to help prepare, watch kids for those who serve on mission trips, or contribute via other means. No matter how you're called to serve, being obedient to your call is so important.
(Me and my funny husband in Japan)
For those that plan to go on a trip, here are some things we came up with that might be helpful:
Pray to see if you feel God calling you to go, then pray before you go, while you're there, and even when you're back home. (Check out 1 Thessalonians 5:16 ~ such a wonderful reminder!)
2. Pack snacks.
I'm a super picky eater, so packing snacks is huge when preparing for a trip. I pack Flatout bread and peanut butter because it's easy to travel with. One country I traveled to served fish where the eyes were still in it (yikes!) I ate just rice that night, and was thankful to have peanut butter packed so I wasn't hungry.
3. Pack insect repellent and sunblock.
Be sure to know if you need insect repellent that has DEET or not ~ and pack these in a Ziploc bag to make sure they don't leak onto other things. In some countries you may even want to spray your bed down prior to sleeping ~ just not your pillow.
4. Roll your clothes.
Pack by rolling each outfit together (shirts, skirt, underwear, and socks), so you know how many outfits you have, have each outfit laid out together, use less space, and prevent wrinkling.
5. Pack outfits in Ziploc bags if you're traveling to a country where it rains a lot.
When I went to Honduras our bags got soaking wet because it rained on the way to the place where we were staying, and our luggage was in the back of a pickup truck. We had to hang dry them all out ~ if they'd been in Ziploc bags they would have stayed dry and would have been one less thing we had to work on while we were there.
6. Let social media go.
Make sure it's okay to post on social media at all while traveling to a foreign country ~ many countries don't allow it, and it could potentially even get you kicked out of a country.
7. Be respectful.
Before traveling go online and learn about the culture of the area you're visiting. When we went to Japan I was so thankful our team talked a lot about the culture of Japan so we knew how to act appropriately (even though we sometimes failed at it.) You don't want to offend anyone, and many times you may without even knowing it, so doing research ahead of time can help.
8. You may want to pack a small fan.
On one of my first mission trips someone packed a fan and it was a lifesaver!
9. Pack probiotics and Immodium AD (just in case the probiotics do not work)!
There are some issues that may happen with your stomach and this will help avoid them. ‘Nuf said.
10. Ladies, pack Preparation H wipes to help prevent yeast infections.
11. Pack Airborne (if you think it works) or any immune defense meds.
This helps if you start feeling bad. I actually gave our missionary partner this while I was in Asia. He was feeling really sick, but with just one packet, he felt so much better!
12. Pack drink packets like Gatorade or Propel that you can add to your water bottles.
Make sure they have electrolytes.
13. Don't drink the local water in any form or fashion, including ice. Instead, drink bottle or bagged water, depending on the country.
Even when brushing your teeth, it's safest to rinse your toothbrush with bottled water.
14. Pack a flashlight.
The power may be out more than you're used to.
15. Along with your Bible pack a good book.
You will need a way to escape at times or have something to read if you get bored.
16. Pack a poncho.
17. Pack a pair of shoes you can throw or give away.
If you're going to a poor country it's nice to have a pair of shoes you can give to someone. Or if you're doing any walking in muddy areas, you may prefer just to chunk them instead of packing them in your bag. Packing a spare grocery bag or trash bag for dirty clothes/shoes can be helpful too.
18. Pack antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer.
In one country I went to, the people did not wash their hands after going to the bathroom, so it was nice to have Wet Ones on hand to disinfect my hands after shaking their hands. In some countries it's very impolite not to shake hands (and back to the culture tip, there are different ways to greet people appropriately that are important to know before going.)
19. Pack protein bars.
They're quick, and you might need protein if meat is rare in the diet there.
20. Ask the missionaries you are going with if they want you to bring them something from the states.
One missionary family asked if we could bring Oreos for their teenage daughter. She guarded them with her life, and I don't remember her sharing either! 🙂
21. Pick up inexpensive souvenirs.
This is especially nice for people who have helped support you financially. Many countries have marketplaces where haggling is appropriate, not rude. Try to negotiate the price down to something you're comfortable with.
22. Get immunizations that are recommended for traveling to the country you're going to.
23. Learn a few common phrases in their language and find a good app like Google Translate.
This can be useful if you don't have a translator around, but it's also a fun way to interact with the locals. They will smile and laugh at your attempts to talk to them (which makes for great pictures!)
24. Take pictures.
It's often worth making sure you can take pictures of the people in case they feel uncomfortable.
25. Apply for a passport a few months in advance.
If your passport will expire six months after your trip, go ahead and renew it now. Some countries will not accept it otherwise.
26. Pack Baby Wipes
You may go to places that water may get shut off or no opportunity to shower. Thanks Dorothy!
For you veteran mission trippers, what other tips do you have? Leave a comment to let us know.
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