Missions Launch

Helping those who help the world

Planning for a Long-Term Missions Trip: Taking Care of the Homefront

by Denise Oliveri |

Long-Term Missions, Missions Emotional Issues, Planning to Go

chessA lot of work and preparation goes into planning a long-term missionary trip. You will certainly need more than a few days of clothes and your visa as you prepare to leave for months, or even years. When you sign up to go on a long-term mission your agency or church will help you prepare. It is important that you follow these instructions so that you are not left out in an unknown country unprepared for what may come. The following are some other considerations to make as you place to leave for a long-term missionary trip.

Taking care of things at home:

One of the hardest things you will have to do is to decide how you will care for things at home. The best way to leave on a mission long-term is to have few things left to worry about at home. You will want a clean break so that you can focus on your purpose. If you own a home, you will need to decide whether you will sell your home, or rent or lease it while you are away. If you decide to rent, you will have to put someone you trust in charge of the property.

lookingBills are something else you will have to consider. If you have debt, it is a good idea to work to pay off that debt before you leave. However, you can also ask a trusted friend or family member to take care of your bills while you are away. The best way to handle this is to have a checking account that has enough money in it to cover your bills for several months.

If you are taking the whole family, then you will need to carefully research homeschooling for your children and prepare your children for this life as well. Kids can be adaptable, but you will need to help them along the way. If you are leaving your family behind, you need to make sure they are emotionally prepared for your long-term absence.

Preparing to leave:

There are other essential parts of packing up and leaving the country that you will need to consider. First of all, make sure that you have all of your necessary documents and paperwork for traveling. That means having your visa updated and ready to go. It is also a good idea to have copies of important documents such as your social security card, birth certificate, and other papers in a lock box. Make sure that someone in your family can take care of this in case it is needed.

goodbyeImmunizations are also very important as you embark on a long-term mission trip. Talk to your doctor about what you need to stay healthy, and make sure that everyone in your family gets the proper medical care before leaving. Most physicians know what types of immunizations you will need for different parts of the world. You will also want to think about medical care while you are away. Will you have access to a clinic or hospital? Will you be able to secure your prescriptions? Consider this and make plans accordingly.

Packing and planning for your trip:

It will be important that you take the right things when you leave. Learn all you can about where you are traveling and pack for the climate. You want to avoid taking unnecessary items, but you also want to make sure you have the items you need. If you are stationed in a remote area, going to the local department store to pick up a winter coat won’t be an option.

You will also want to become familiar with the language and customs. This is very important to the success of your mission. Take some time before you go and familiarize yourself with these factors. Learn the basics of the language and be prepared to learn even more when you arrive.

Chess photo by Mariano Kamp
Goodbye photo by  The Udall Legacy Bus…
Thinking photo by Pink Sherbet Photography

The Great Commission Music Video

by Melissa Chang |

Facts and Stats, Missions Emotional Issues, Planning to Go

This is a GREAT short video montage of quotes about missions set to music. Feel free to use this anywhere… enjoy!

After the trip…

by admin |

After the Trip, Missions Emotional Issues

Blue FlameShort-term mission trips can be likened to a retreat in some respects. We leave our everyday problems back home (hopefully you didn’t pack them, too) and our focus is on God and His purposes. Our responsibilities are light and we are on a spiritual high, so to speak. Hopefully, the experience has left us forever changed; we have a different worldview.

Upon returning home, people may react differently. For some, it may have the effect of a fun vacation that is forgotten in a couple of weeks as they reenter normalcy. They have to work to keep the flame alive after the mission trip is over. But for others, it is never forgotten and they struggle with the emotional impact of it all. It’s like they are walking around so full of the Holy Spirit they could just burst if they don’t let some of it out, but no one understands or cares to listen to them gush over their experience. It is very deflating to realize that the world didn’t stop while we were on our mission trip. It may be difficult for a while to concentrate on our daily duties. We may even feel depressed. So, how do we prepare for it?

Bend an ear
Before you leave for your trip, ask your prayer partners to agree to let you gush your stories to them. Show them your pictures and souvenirs. Assign it as part of their commitment. It may be advisable to set a span of time. You may have a lot to say!

Plan a team party
Have the team meet for a time of sharing pictures and stories. Recall impactful things. Each person can share how God changed them on this trip. Discuss future plans. Recall the names of the people they met. Pray for them by name.

Present to your church body
Prepare a PowerPoint presentation and have team members share some of their experiences. Have team members give testimony of their experience. This helps those that helped finance the trip “see” that God used them to make a difference, too. Set up tables displaying pictures and memorabilia. Be creative.

God wants you to tell what He has shown you. Keep that fire burning inside you and give it to others. You may just start an unstoppable wildfire.

Flame photo by athenius22

Forming Relationships

by admin |

Cultural Sensitivity, Missions Emotional Issues

LaughterGod is all about relationship. He wants us to have relationship with Him and for us to have relationship with each other. This can take us way out of our comfort zone.

I have seen it more than once; the mission team stays huddled as a group, practically ignoring the people they are there to help. Why?  They don’t know how to relate to the people, and this makes them afraid. Sadly, their fear may be misinterpreted as snobbery.

Look, look!Most of the trips I have taken have been for the purpose of building and evangelizing. The work happens in the morning, and the afternoon is reserved for Vacation Bible School with the children and adults of the town we are working in. While in Mexico a few years ago, I heard one man say, “I came here to build a house, not to do VBS. But had I not been made to do the VBS, I would have missed the most important part of the trip.” He would have missed relationship with the children and one homeless man who took a liking to him. The next day that man worked shoulder to shoulder with us, and we had the opportunity to really show him what Christ is about. Every year we return to that community in Mexico and work in partnership with the pastors and people there. We have a relationship of cooperation and love for the purpose of advancing God’s kingdom by serving and evangelizing.

Man with new Malawi Language barriers can be a hindrance to forming relationships, but are possible to overcome. I try to make a point to learn at least a few words of the language and always have my dictionary handy. I have found that people are pretty forgiving of my fumbling and are actually very appreciative that I am at least making an effort to communicate with them.

I actually once had an enlightening “conversation” with my Romanian hostess (Maria) as she demonstrated the art of the sponge bath. She spoke absolutely no English, and I knew only a handful of Romanian words, but we got along really well. Sometimes we both got a little frustrated and tired with trying to make a point, and we would both throw up our hands as if to say “Never mind, it’s not that important.” Even though we had trouble communicating verbally, we still had a wonderful relationship. Everyone understands a hug.

Playing with childrenWhat about here at home? People in nursing homes and other housebound situations welcome conversation. People in homeless shelters may feel despised and unaccepted. They may even be suspicious of our motives until they see that we are acting because we truly care for them. Can reaching out to form relationships be costly? Yes, it can. It costs time and energy, and it can expose us to situations we would not choose for ourselves. But we can be living, breathing examples of Christ and show people how valuable they are to Him because we called them friend.

Laughter photo by Jesse Michael Nix
Cameroon balancing photo by  Elin B
Man with Malawi friends photo by khym54
Lady playing with kids photo by khym54

Handling Rejection in the Mission Field: When Your Message is Not Received

by admin |

Missions Emotional Issues

RejectionHeading out to the mission field, whether you are going to an area where people are familiar with the gospel or have never heard, does not guarantee that your message of salvation will be received and accepted by the people. You don’t send out surveys and wait for feedback before visiting uncharted areas, whether it be in your own neighborhood or across the sea. You go because Jesus told us to preach to all nations, and that is exactly what you are going to do.

Being rejected on a mission trip is disheartening. You might have had such great expectations for success. So, how do you handle this rejection? What is your next step?

First you have to decipher the rejection you receive. You have to decide if you made any headway, and if anyone showed interest in your message. If you helped even one person start the wheels turning, then you have had a successful trip. You may never see the fruit that you cultivated, but it doesn’t mean it is not there. Abraham never saw the multitude of descendants that God promised him, but he knew it would be as promised.

Reflection in the waterYou must also realize that sometimes it takes more than just one group of missionaries to reach people. When people who have never heard the name of Jesus first hear, it is hard to expect them to believe instantly. People are skeptical by human nature, and it may take a few mission trips and different folks to help them believe. So in essence, you did have a successful trip, even if you were the first person to introduce them to Christ and did not experience their acceptance. What great joy it is to go back to a place after a few years and see that people are reading their Bibles and welcoming you as a fellow believer

Missionaries have the task of spreading the gospel around the world. Do your part to be prepared for your mission field, as far as language and culture differences go, so you can do your best to communicate with people there. Take comfort in knowing that Jesus commanded us to tell the Good News, but does not hold us responsible for whether or not someone else receives the news. Take heart in the fact that you did what you were commanded, and let God do the rest.

If you need a good pick-me-up after a mission trip where you felt like you made no headway, try reading stories from other missionaries. You will soon find that many have felt the same as you, and some have made their way to other parts of the world only to find immediate success. You are never alone.

Rejection photo by Rodolfo Nunez
Reflection photo by Alejandra Mavroski

Backing Out of a Missions Trip: What You Should Do

by admin |

Missions Emotional Issues

Church missionaries are prepared in advanced to deal with a whole host of problems and emergencies that may arise while on the mission. Missions are well thought out and are purpose driven. However, some situations do arise when a family or a missionary must back out of the original plan to return home or must deal with the unexpected.  These things do happen and leaving your mission post early is always an option. 

Reasons for Leaving a Mission Early

Plane in SunsetThere are several reasons why you may ultimately decide that you need to leave your mission early. More often than not, those who are faced with this very difficult decision are those that have left on a long-term mission. If a whole family is on the mission, the children may have a difficult time adjusting to the new life or demands of missionary work. It may put a strain on family life and relationships, and you may have no choice but to return home early.

Another very common reason why people abandon their mission is because there is civil unrest where they are living. Wars, disputes and political uprisings all make it very difficult and unsafe for many missionaries to remain in place. In fact, the United States government may make this call for you and you will have to evacuate immediately.

Yet another common reason for leaving mission work behind early is because of discontent among other missionaries and church members on the trip. Missions are high stress work and tempers and tensions can flare. If there are problems getting along with others, then your focus strays from your reason from being there in the first place. 

What to Do if This Happens to You 

Saying GoodbyeThere are a few points to remember if you are faced with this very difficult decision. First of all, you do have a choice. You can leave. A call to your mission agent or church will help you make immediate arrangements to come home. Missionaries are never “locked” into serving for a particular amount of time, although you will have to understand your terms of agreement.

The next thing that you should remember is that you always have support. Seek those who understand your situation and can offer advice when needed or who can simply listen to your feelings. At this hard time in your life, you need someone you can depend on and someone who will not judge you. Look to church members, family or other missionaries who have been in your shoes.

As you make your decision about whether you are going to leave or stay, you will be faced with many feelings. You will probably feel uplifted, as if a burden has been lifted off of you, at the prospect of going home. You will feel happy to see your friends and family. However, you will also feel sad about those that you are leaving behind and you will wonder if the mission was completed.  For those who do decide to leave early, or have to back out, the pressure and guilt may be immense. Just remember that you have to do what is right for you and your family.

Plane photo by  Cubbie_n_Vegas
Contemplation photo by JasonRogers

Stages of Culture Shock

by admin |

Missions Emotional Issues

kids in costa ricaWhen I first arrived in Costa Rica, I loved everything about the country. The beans and rice accompanied with fresh squeezed mango juice was a joy to wake up to every morning. I found public transportation and pedestrian life a freeing alternative to car maintenance. I even thought the unanticipated monsoon (I arrived during the rainy season) to be refreshing and even humorous. After awhile though, I discovered a frequent ration of beans and rice to be unimaginative and I also grew tired of being caught without an umbrella on my way to Spanish class during a downpour.

Missionaries may have experiences similar to these during the stages of culture shock. At first, we love everything about the culture; but after awhile we start finding the methods of our new culture inferior to our own back home. When we start rejecting the culture, we have a few options. We can avoid the culture and become ineffective, we can go home, or we can adapt. In order to adapt to the new surroundings, missionaries need to see the good and the bad in the culture.

School KidsEvery culture, our home and our host, has godly and ungodly characteristics. For example, I found that Costa Ricans are very warm and hospitable, while in America we tend to be very informal with our guests. Try to look for the good parts of the new culture and appreciate them for what they are. After we have decided to adapt to the new culture, we will learn to accept it with both its strengths and flaws.

Many missionaries also find that having another person that experiences the first few months with them is invaluable. This should be a person that you may ask questions of and confide in.  Of course, not all missionaries have the luxury of having someone from their own culture to experience the new life with, but if you can that can really help. Even if you find someone from your home embassy or another missions organization to spend time with, that can do the job.

Also, try to remember that even though your surroundings may be radically changing, God is still the same.  Sometimes, for me, that has been something that I have held on to to help me not feel so unsettled.

Photos by Life in pictures and suvajack

Check Your Motives

by admin |

Missions Emotional Issues, Planning to Go

reflectionWe all go on missions for different reasons. Sometimes the draw to the mission field is the desire for adventure or the need for a deeper walk with God. Before we step on the field we need to understand our motives and then compare it to the ideal inspirations that should be compelling us to share the Gospel cross-culturally.

A friend of mine, Billy, has been a missionary in Japan for about one and a half years. He sees two motives that people have for going on missions that are actually reasons to stay home. First of all, do not go on missions if you are avoiding your present situation.  “Your problems always go with you…you are the common denominator to your problems,” Billy explained. The other signal that we need to stay home is when we are motivated to the missions field out of a decision to finally commit our lives to God. According to Billy, being a missionary will undoubtedly strengthen our relationship with God, but going to the field should be accompanied by God’s calling. In these situations, we need to confront our problems at home and allow God to strength our character before serving overseas. 

Our motives for ministering cross-culturally should reflect the heart of God. Reading the Scriptures helps us discover His love for the world and His desire to seek and save the lost. Selfish motives can be transformed by spending time in prayer. When we do go to the missions field, we should be spurred on by a love for God and for people.

Photo by ND or not ND

Emotional Health on the Field

by admin |

Missions Emotional Issues

Photo DisplayLife as a missionary tends to come with a heightened level of stress. This is because missionaries are in unfamiliar territory that gives them a feeling of instability. We can also experience emotional stress as a result of loneliness. This is because we are often isolated from others who can identify with our struggles and the experience of culture shock.

The best way to manage our emotional stress is to maintain a consistent relationship with God which includes bringing your struggles to Him daily. Your dedication to Christ will help bring stability to your life.

It may also be helpful to surround yourself with things that remind you of home. I have friends that are missionaries in Czech Republic and they wanted their apartment to feel like home. They speak Czech and they follow the local customs, but the interior of their apartment reminds them of America. The pictures of family and friends from home, as well as the American decorations give them a place of comfort to come home to.

Being self-aware is crucial to adjusting to life as a missionary. We have to know our own limitations, as well as what activities drain us emotionally and what helps us to reenergize. The ability to depend on others can also be a source of comfort. This is often lacking amongst Westerners, but there is nothing wrong with asking for help or prayer. Loneliness is unavoidable at times, but do not willfully put yourself in isolation. Stay involved with the Christian community, and if possible go through the experience with at least one close friend.

Stories from Afar

by admin |

Missions Emotional Issues, Planning to Go

I’ve always enjoyed listening to missions stories. Some of them amuse me like when I learned that the McDonald’s in India serves chicken curry instead of hamburgers. Other antidotes about communities coming to Christ are inspirational. However, some of these tales are intimidating.  Big BugThe wingspan of insects in some foreign countries or the rumors of illness can cause us to panic, not to mention the thoughts of self-doubt that may arise in our minds about our own insufficiency. Our job as missionaries is not to be perfect, but our main tasks are to trust and obey God. This post is dedicated to offering encouragement to any missionaries that may be feeling nervous about his or her impending trip and to offer some advice.

New surroundings call for new levels of trust. Keeping God first in our priorities reminds us that He is in control, instead of us, and eliminates our fear or doubt. Mother Theresa would spend several hours in prayer and Scripture reading in the mornings before she saw anyone who needed her assistance. She spent time refueling in the presence of God and then went to the streets for the rest of the day. She was able to rely on God’s strength to help people and not her own. 

Obedience to God sometimes means that we will experience discomfort, but these are great opportunities to go deeper with God. Most of us feel nervous or afraid before going on missions because we are entering into something unknown. The good news is that God knows everything about the people and the nation that you are going to and he also knows exactly how you will handle every situation before it happens. He is your greatest guide to the adventure you are going on. Take comfort in knowing that God is with you and He is in control.

Photo by world_waif

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