Stranded when the bridge washed out? Stuck in an airport with nowhere to go? Sleeping in a grain bin? Having a monkey steal the potato you had waited two hours to have brought to your table? Meeting a hippopotamus face to face at 3:00 AM?
Yes, these things really can (and did!) happen to some of our team members while we were on a mission trip, but this is not the typical way it all works. Those things happened on international trips, but that is another story!
If you have ever thought you might like to go on a mission trip, maybe that is God prompting you to learn more. So the first thing you do is ask questions. You will be invited to an information meeting where you will learn a lot about where you are going, how you will travel, what you will be doing, and that sort of thing. A lot of information is given out at this meeting, including what you need to bring and the cost of the trip. There will also be several forms you will need to complete concerning insurance, medical information, and a covenant agreement. Yes, there are a few rules, but they are simple and easy to follow.
Every team member pays their own way, but the cost is minimal due to the funds raised during our monthly mission lunches. You will be asked to help with at least one mission lunch. All travel, food (except some meals while on the road), and lodging is covered by the amount you pay for the trip. We travel together in the church vans, sleep in churches along the way to our destination, and usually prepare our own meals. Sleeping bags and air mattresses make really comfortable beds!
Sometimes we don’t know exactly what our tasks will be when we get to our destination, but we usually have a good idea. For instance, we might be rebuilding a house after a hurricane, flood, or tornado. This may mean building the walls, putting up sheetrock, painting inside or out, or even putting down tile. The thing is, you don’t have to know how to do any of this because there is always something for everyone. If you aren’t comfortable with one job, there will be something else that needs to be done. We work as a team, so there is always someone with the experience needed, and leaders always need helpers.
A mission trip is not a vacation, but we do have a lot of fun! You will get to travel with other members of your church family and get to know them better. You will see new places and make new friends along the way. You will experience God’s love as you offer your gift of service, and you will find renewed strength in your faith. We are sent to be a blessing to others, but we are often the ones who are blessed.
Now the most important part ….. Jesus tells us to take care of each other and that is what we are sent to do. We honor God by giving of ourselves on these mission trips. Whether great or small, the tasks we do result in praise to God. So if you thinking of going on a mission trip, don’t hesitate! God is calling you to be His hands, His feet, His voice. If you listen to that call, I can promise you that your life will be forever changed!
“Do not pass by a man in need, for you may be the hand of God to him.” Author unknown
By Wendy Ramsey, Member of 50 mission teams