Are you preparing for a short term mission trip? You have some great times ahead of you! While you look forward to the adventure, there are some things that you need to be sure to pack. Your group leader or the missionary you are visiting will probably provide you with a list of things you should take for your trip. Along with the standard list of things to pack, here are some ideas that you ought to consider.
All travel outside the US now requires a passport. Gone are the days of traveling to Canada and Mexico without one. You need to apply for your passport in enough time to have it back before traveling. As soon as you know you will be going on a trip, make application for your passport. At high volume times it can take up to 3 months to receive your passport.
If the country you are visiting requires a visa before you travel, insure you have all the paperwork submitted in a timely manner. Many countries that you would visit on a short term trip will allow you to apply for your visa when you arrive at the airport.
Even if you are flying with electronic tickets you should print out the information for your flight to carry with you to the airport.
If you are traveling in a group you might consider pairing up with someone to carry a backup copy of each other’s documents as well as an extra copy of your own.
Check with the missionary or group leader to find out what is appropriate clothing for the climate you will be visiting. While it may be hot where you live, the country you visit may be in the middle of winter.
Don’t take more clothes than you need. Unless you will be in a new location every day of your trip, you can hand wash clothes as necessary and set them out to dry during the day. If the mission trip includes manual labor, you should consider leaving your work clothes behind as a gift to the people you work with.
It is important to take clothes that are culturally appropriate too. Even though your personal dress standards may be different than what the missionary asked you to wear, you need to be sensitive to the culture you are visiting. By dressing differently than the missionary asks you to dress, you could be negatively impacting his ministry in the culture.
If you need to take money with you on the trip you should ask your bank for clean unmarked bills. Some banks in other countries may not accept money with any markings on them for exchange. It is better to reject bills from your bank with any markings on them than to get to another country and find that the money won’t be accepted.
Traveler’s checks are becoming less common and some banks will give you a significantly lower exchange rate for them.
If you have a camera (photo or video) then you certainly want to take it on your trip. This may be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Take the best camera you can, but beware that anything can be stolen or broken on an extended trip.
Take batteries and extra memory cards. If your batteries are rechargeable or are a special kind, then you need to take your battery charger.
One of the greatest ways to remember your mission trip is to take a journal. It can be as simple as a spiral bound notebook or as complicated as a blog that you write your experiences on. You should plan to journal the events either daily or every couple of days. Waiting until the trip is over is a sure way to forget those memories that you considered precious at the time.
A few weeks after your trip is over you should read your journal and add information to the beginning of your writings that may have changed during the trip. You can also add your observations and what the Lord has taught you in the time since the trip.
Supplies for the Missionary
Find out what the missionary needs you to bring on your trip. Often missionaries are not able to get certain cooking supplies or special treats. Chocolate and peanut butter are often appreciated as special gifts. If you know the missionary has a certain hobby you might pick up some current magazines or books on the subject to take with you. Missionary wives frequently enjoy decorating and homemaking magazines.
If you are taking a battery charger for your camera, phone or computer, make sure the power supply will work in the country you are visiting. Sometimes the missionary will have a power transformer (to convert 220V electricity to 110V), but you should take your own if possible. Power adapters are not the same as transformers. Transformers actually change the electricity from one current to another. Adapters merely adapt your plug to fit in the wall outlet.
Most power supplies for small electronics work fine with 220V or 110V electricity. Look on the supply itself and it will tell you.
It is fun to try and learn as much vocabulary as you can in the language you are visiting. If nothing else, you will entertain the people you are visiting by trying to pronounce their language. Taking a small dictionary with you will help you when interacting with new friends. In an emergency it could save your life.
You should pack any medicines you take in your carry-on luggage. If your checked bags get lost for a few days (or permanently) you will want to have any important medicines with you at all times. You should also carry a change of underwear in your carry on and consider taking a full change of clothes. If you have a long flight you (and those around you) will appreciate having a toothbrush and toothpaste with you on the plane.
A Sense of Adventure and Flexibility
Plans change often on the mission field. Things don’t go as smoothly as everyone hopes. You can’t depend on roads to be drivable and stores to be open when you need them. Take a deep breath and relax. Maybe God had you experience something unplanned so that you would have a chance to meet someone with a smile and hand them a tract. If you are complaining and selfish it will be very hard to see the unplanned opportunities that God has for you.
Enjoy your trip!
Have you taken a mission trip and found something you would like to add to this list? Maybe you want to share a story that happened to you and how something on this list was a help in your situation. Feel free to leave a comment. I would love to read them.
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