Congratulations! You decided to take a short-term mission trip. You are probably asking the same question many people ask after signing up. What now? How can I be best prepared for what I am about to experience?
Here is a list of go-to actions to help you prepare for your trip.
Don’t skip this step. Actually pray. Take time to sit down and create a note with your anxieties, your hopes, and your expectations. After you have written all of your thoughts down, write down things about the people you plan to serve, their needs, and their hearts. Then set aside time to pray through the list regularly. As you prepare for the trip the list will change. Add your teammates’ names, their hopes, and their anxieties. Make time to pray. Without God, nothing on this mission matters.
Check your documents
Physically touch your passport. Don’t just say, “It’s in some closet,” or, “I know I have it somewhere.” Go and touch it and make sure it is where you believe it is. Check the expiration date, the spelling of your name, and that the passport isn’t damaged in a way that might keep you from entering the country. From there, do the same with any required documentation you will need for immigration, vaccines, prescriptions, visas, etc. Your team leaders should be able to provide a list or check the embassy website. Make sure to do all of this early on as some documentation can take longer than expected to process.
Get to know your teammates
Take advantage of every opportunity to build relationships with your team—the whole team. Even those you don’t know and those who seem socially different than you. The better you know and trust the people you are going with, the better you will perform on the field. You could invite a few over for a meal, host a game night, or just take advantage of the social time before and after team trainings.
Be on mission locally
Don’t expect to suddenly be bold about Jesus when you land on the mission field. Practice those skills now. Volunteer, go door to door sharing Jesus, share with coworkers and friends. Do whatever you plan to do on mission now! This is also an opportunity to invite your fellow team members along, too.
Try something new
Mission trips will consistently push you outside of your comfort zone. Practice that now. Eat a type of food you are not too fond of, try a new sport, walk in a new neighborhood. Become comfortable being uncomfortable. Put yourself outside the box.
Go without your phone
Put it down. Many people have a connection to their phone notifications and they don’t even realize it. Are you prepared for several hours or several days without your phone? Can you put it in airplane mode while at work, out shopping, or in a social situation? Practice this so you’re not still reaching for it on the field.
Packing early allows you to take inventory of what you might need for the trip. Go through the packing list and put each item out on your bed or the floor and make sure it will work for the trip. After everything is packed, repack with less. Really think about how much stuff you will need and ensure you are physically able to carry your own bag. Remember that the goal is to serve Jesus, so only bring the essentials.
This isn’t the time to take up a massive physical undertaking. That could cause injury and actually keep you from the trip. But for most people, it would be helpful to increase their fitness level somewhat. Check with a doctor before, but consider adding a couple of miles of walking to your day or other light exercises. Mission trips generally involve more physical activity than most of us are used to, so add a little before you go.
Take time to devote daily. Pick up a Bible reading plan, devotional, or just open to your favorite spiritual book. Spending time diving into the Word of God is the best way to ensure your heart is ready for this trip.
Going on a short-term mission trip will grow you in many ways as you grow the Kingdom. This list will help you walk onto the mission field better prepared for the task ahead. Thank you for choosing to serve, and have a great trip!
Explore more mission trip opportunities by joining an East-West short-term mission team.
This article originally appeared on the East-West blog and is republished with permission.