Top 10 Things to Expect on a Mission Trip

Agreeing to go on a mission trip can incite a range of emotions. Maybe excitement, fear, uncertainty, and anticipation, to name a few. But outside of these common emotions, there are some other aspects that you may have never considered.

While we can’t attach a Go-Pro to our forehead and experience the trip for you, we want to help make the unexpected become the expected.

So below are the top Ten Things to Expect on a Mission Trip.

1. Expect to be uncomfortable – and welcome it.

  • YES, we mean that! You’re traveling to a developing country and life is different than what you are used to. When you fully embrace the place you’re going, the food they eat, and the life they live, your experience on the ground will be exponentially better. Open up, talk to new people and find out about their lives – you never know how much you may have in common or what you could learn from an unlikely source. Try new food – even if it’s not a part of your usual diet. Take delays in traffic, downtime without power, or other inconveniences as opportunities to pray, read, or spend time with your team.

2. Expect for plans to change and to adapt to them.

  • We love our schedules; every day is planned on our calendars, meetings have time limits, and even friendly encounters must be agreed upon in advance. That’s not the case in many cultures; they have figured out how to take life as it comes. While we do provide detailed itineraries to all our teams prior to travel, you must understand that anything can happen and adapting to that change is imperative. Weather conditions can make roads unsafe to travel or an outdoor activity impossible. Mudslides can block roads creating a 6-hour drive from what should have been 3. An activity can last longer than anticipated and push lunch back by an hour and a half. We have no way of knowing what could happen or the reason for it. But what we do know is that God is in control and what He wants accomplished on the ground is what will happen. Trust Him and know that all things work together those called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

3. Expect to see His creation in a new light.

  • I’m not just referring to the beautiful mountainous landscape in Guatemala or the animals you may see on a safari in Kenya. However, both of those are not your average view and photo-worthy for sure! Even more beautiful are the people you’ll meet. He has given each person unique talents, gifts, abilities, knowledge, and experience that not only make them valuable, but purposeful. Even though someone may be living in poverty, they may be able to maintain a farm that supports the entire village and provides jobs to their neighbors. They may be able to make beautiful jewelry in a method that’s been passed down for generations. Be willing to learn from others as they share their gifts and talents, and hopefully they’ll want to do the same with you!

4. Expect to have fun!

  • It may seem obvious to some, but maybe hypocritical to others. What we mean is this: God commands us to be a cheerful giver – and that doesn’t just mean with your money! Serving Him and doing Kingdom work should bring us joy. While yes, the conditions you may see people living in on the ground may break you or challenge you at the least, that doesn’t mean you should operate with a spirit of defeat. God is moving in these communities and that alone is worth celebrating! In this world, people need encouragement whenever possible, and that is part of the reason you’re on this trip! Smile, intentionally participate in your activities with people, laugh, pray with them, and be a light in the darkness.

5. Expect that you will appreciate the smaller things that you usually take for granted.

  • If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you too are in the top 1% of income-earners in the entire world. We take luxuries like air conditioning, tap water, or paved roads for granted, and that’s emphasized during a week where you may not have either. You may visit a home with dirt floors and a pit latrine, but I can assure you that the owner of it will be proud of every inch of that home. Bring that same gratitude along with you after you leave and see how your perspective shifts because of it.

6. Expect to learn just as much about yourself as you do the people you meet.

  • Walls that are put up are knocked down, chains are broken, and lives are healed through the process of ministry and that’s what this is! You may feel vulnerable or scared and that’s OK. Journal about it and try to process what God is showing you! With each conversation you have with others, be it on your team or in the community, be intentional. God created us to be in community – so let’s learn from our time in it!

7. Expect that you will grow in your faith and spiritual maturity.

  • This isn’t a vacation to a 5 Star resort; this is a time that can and will invite spiritual warfare. The enemy doesn’t like what we do. He doesn’t want Christians talking about Jesus, praying over the sick, caring for the elderly or distributing Bibles to children, among many other things. Leading up to your trip may incite fear so great you’ll wonder why you ever signed up – but know that fear is not of the Lord, it’s of the enemy. However, it can be easy to let those thoughts consume you if you let them. So be equipped. Do this by spending time in Scripture and in prayer with the Father daily. There is no such thing as too much time with God, and the more you spend with Him, the more you’ll want. He is molding you and shaping you into who He created you to be and serving the “least of these” can open your eyes to what that may look like. We have provided devotionals for during and after your trip, but take the time to read through the New Testament before you go as well or ask your church for some resources regarding missions.

8. Expect it to be challenging but so worth it.

  • Whether this is your first mission trip or your fiftieth, there will always be difficulties no matter how hard we try to avoid them. But just remember that God has called you to this trip at this time, and there is a reason for it. And what He has called us to, He will prepare us for and carry us through. Daniel wasn’t saved FROM the lion’s den; he was saved IN it. Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego weren’t saved FROM the fire, the Holy Spirit joined them IN it. We must go through the hard things in life to be able to see how God carried us through them. And when the hard part is regarding the desire to do SOMETHING to help people in need – remember that God sees them too. He has not forgotten or forsaken them, and while we don’t know what His plan is for them or their community, we can trust that it is perfect and good.

9. Expect to see how God is working.

  • In our everyday lives, it’s easy for us to overlook the small miracles or answered prayers that may be in front of our faces. On a mission trip when the distractions are removed, our routines disrupted, and our focus is on serving Him through His people, our eyes can be opened to what He is doing in us and across the world. Tip: Journal while you’re on the ground about prayers of your team, the people you meet, and then “God Moments/Answered Prayers” from before your trip and while you are on the ground. We see more of those moments when we’re aware of them and expecting them to happen!

10. Expect to come back changed and ready for more.

  • Most likely, your trip will light a fire within you to make a change for the world and contribute to efforts already in place, or maybe branch off to something new. You may feel frustrated or have reverse culture shock from what you have seen and experienced. Don’t get stuck in those negative feelings; we encourage you to pray about how God wants to use you! Something as small as sharing about your trip on social media could inspire someone else to go on a trip too or donate to a project on the ground. Maybe you want to sponsor a child and help efforts in bettering their education. Maybe you want to start a discipleship group to raise up more Christian leaders in your community. There is no shortage of opportunity in this world for those wanting to make a difference for the Kingdom. And if you need specifics of more ways to get involved with the 410 Bridge, contact us or check out our website!

Now that you know what to expect, join us on a mission trip!

Whether to Kenya or Guatemala, let’s make a difference together.

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