Going overseas to serve with a missions organization can be very daunting! The reason for this boils down to the fear of the unknown. Here are some tips to combat anxiety and worry.
Preparing for your trip, whatever length of time, is a very important aspect of traveling internationally. Most organizations will send you a list of items to pack, along with clothing suggestions for men and women. Be aware of the social customs of wherever you are traveling and dress accordingly. I highly recommend bringing a notebook, even if you are not a writer. Each day will be packed and the things that you assume you will never forget, well, you will. Jot down each day’s activities or highlights so that you can refer to it when you get back- trust me you will be glad! Having all of the items on the list is essential so that when an unforeseen situation arises, you are prepared. Additionally, do not pack things that are not on the list. Traveling minimally is a skill that pays off.
We often cannot help but have expectations of what our trip will be like. Researching the area is a good thing to do, but do not spend too much time figuring out exactly what it will be like because there is no way to know. Expectation can be especially dangerous when it comes to your living quarters or your team members. Be open to the adventure and trust that God has chosen each and every person on your team to contribute something unique. If you focus too much on disappointments, you will miss out on what God has for you.
Even short trips require emotional preparation. A characteristic of mission trips is unpredictability. International travel comes with all sorts of obstacles and unforeseen setbacks. Prepare to be flexible and adaptable; it is not the end of the world! Control is not something that we have very much of when we are visitors in another country. Have an open heart and never forget that your team is simply the hands and feet of God who is working through you. No matter what happens, He can and will redeem trials and accomplish His purposes.
Prepare to Share
If you are shy like me, it does not occur to you that you might find yourself in a position to speak in front of a crowd. And when you suddenly find yourself in this position, it can be terrifying! In many countries, there is nothing scary about addressing a crowd about personal issues or insights. They expect that if you have traveled across the world to be with them, you must have something to say. Just in case this situation arises, have a little message prepared. It can be very simple and encouraging.
Send out an email or a letter to your closest friends and family to make them aware of your trip. Build a team of prayer warriors that will not cease until your return. Spend your own time in prayer as well! Pray for the people you will be spending time with, and pray for your team members. Oftentimes, the enemy tends to strike prior to opportunities like a mission trip. Many times, I have had a team member show up with crutches or a sling, sick, or not show up at all due to issues with the plane. Lastly, pray that the Holy Spirit would accomplish His purposes and that God would be glorified through your trip.