A mission trip is the experience of a lifetime. You don’t just get to travel–you get to spend your travels helping others and doing God’s work.
It’s easy to lose track of that when you’re thinking about power adaptors and local currency and language barriers. But it’s the most important part of your trip.
Here’s how you can prepare for a mission trip and make the most of your time, before, during, and after the trip.
Before Your Trip
Before your trip, it’s time to prepare: physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Start with practical concerns.
Make sure you know about CVM policies around trips like yours and find out everything you can about how the trip will work. Be timely in turning in your application, references, trip costs and trip paperwork to the Short-Term office.
Will you be fundraising to pay for your trip expenses? If so, contact the Short-Term office to set up a CVM fundraising account.
Enroll in a CVM Short-Term Mission e-Learning course. These short, online trainings are taught by experts in veterinary missions, and each course is self-paced, interactive and engaging.
What will you be doing during the trip? Who will you be serving? What are your responsibilities and expectations? Your trip leader is a great resource for this.
You should also do some research on your destination. Check on required vaccinations, weather, and culture of the country you’re visiting.
Take some real time to investigate your motives. There’s a bigger purpose to your trip, and it takes a bit of soul-searching to make sure your heart is aligned with it rather than something else, like the desire to travel or looking like a better Christian when you get home.
If you left for the trip today, what would your primary focus be? How might God feel about your motives? What do you need to do to fully align with the true purpose of your trip?
During Your Trip
This spiritual preparation will help you prepare mentally for the time you spend overseas as well.
On one hand, for many of us, this is the most time we’ll spend in a single week dedicating our time to others. On the other hand, this may be your first encounter with extreme poverty, famine, and illness.
It’s important to remember that the people you serve come first. Treat them with respect. Don’t talk down to them and don’t try to impose your ideals on them–you don’t know what their lives are like and you’re a guest in their home.
Evaluate your use of social media during your trip – talk to the Short -Term Missions office and take the e-learning course on social media to determine what’s appropriate. While it helps connect us to a global community, we should avoid using them in ways that will harm the people we go to serve.
Focus on cultivating positive relationships without judgment. Respect local customs, even if they don’t match yours.
A good way to check yourself is to maintain a journal. It’s a record of your daily experiences and memories, but it’s also a way to chart your growth. If you’re doing it right, it will keep you honest.
Regardless of where you go, though, tread with caution. You’re a foreigner here and there’s no reason to draw more attention than necessary. Dress to blend in, avoid displaying large amounts of cash, always travel with a buddy, and make sure someone from your mission group knows where you are at all times.
After Your Trip
You’re home and unpacked, but the work of your trip isn’t done yet!
If you want to really drive home the message of your mission trip and make lasting connections, make sure to exchange phone numbers and emails with other members of your trip.
Stay in touch. Plan to reunite with everyone to reflect on your experiences and how you can incorporate those lessons into your everyday life.
Need to Prepare for a Mission Trip?
You need to properly prepare for a mission trip to learn the most important lessons waiting for you there. But once you’re ready–physically, emotionally, and spiritually–you’ll have an unforgettable experience.