You’ve prayed about this mission trip.
You’ve planned… fundraised… prayed some more.
For weeks, you’ve been preparing for your short term mission trip. Now, all you need to do is pack and step on that plane. Don’t forget the essentials! We asked seasoned short term missionaries:
what are the most important tools for maximizing your mission trip?
Here’s what they told us…
1. A RELIABLE BACKPACK
“While traveling, it was difficult to keep up with the multiple items that I needed during my travels. Having a durable pack with me at all times to hold my random daily essentials really helped to keep me organized during spontaneous trips to other camps and cities.”
– Amanda, served in refugee camps around Greece (1 month)
2. AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE LOCAL CULTURE
“Because you will be working alongside the local church, it’s important to understand the local culture. You also need to understand that spiritual growth is a process and you won’t change everything about the place or the people in two weeks. But you can give them tools and work along side them to help them understand God’s word. Finally, the key is walking in love; not judging people but loving them.”
– Lizeth, served in Vanuatu, Papúa New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, and Mexico (2 weeks-3 months per trip)
3. OVER-COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR HOST
“Expectations and needs are so different overseas and they seem to always change. It’s helpful and necessary to be on the same page daily to make the most out of a short term mission trip. You want to help and not to hurt.”
– Hannah, served with World Race (11 months)
4. A UNIVERSAL TRAVEL ADAPTER
“I always bring a universal travel adapter with me. My mission trips have involved documenting photos and videos, which means plenty of devices need to be charged. The adapter allows me to do just as the name implies — adapt to various wall outlet situations.”
– Erika, served in Mozambique (3 months) and Nepal (8 weeks)
5. A GUITAR
“So maybe not everyone needs to take a guitar BUT you should take something to help you connect with the community. A missionary should always have some way to connect with people all over the world and music speaks in every language. A guitar has always proven to be my most important tool because music is my way to the heart of every person.”
– Ethan, annually serves in rural Alaska (1 week per trip)
6. A JOURNAL
“Bringing a journal was the most helpful tool in maximizing my time in South America. Spending almost a year on foreign grounds with constant traveling while trying to build and maintain relationships with locals is intense. Each day you witness and experience new things and without taking the time to process it it all, it can make you feel like you’re just going through the motions and not actually taking your mission all in.
“Because I am an internal processor, a journal was essential in my travels because it allowed me to take time every day to process all that I had seen – the good and the bad. I heard it said once, ‘We don’t grow from our experiences. We grow from the experiences we reflect on.’ Bringing a journal was the most helpful tool for me to maximize my time on the World Race because it allowed for me to reflect on all the work God was doing all around me.”
– Esther, served with World Race (11 months)
7. A WATERPROOF BIBLE
“Whether it’s salt water, sweat, humidity, or bug spray, having a sturdy Bible with pages that won’t easily rip or get damaged is very helpful!”
– Bethany, served in Vanuatu, Australia, and New Zealand (2-3 weeks per trip)
8. MEGAVOICE AUDIO BIBLES
“Besides your passport, the MegaVoice audio Bible is the most important thing to take on your mission trip! Because of the external speaker, even just one device loaded with content (like the Bible and the audio theater version of The Story of Jesus) in the language of your destination can impact whole communities. You can also add worship music and sermons to the device using the microSD card slot. If you are a short term missionary, leaving this device with the communities you visit is certainly one of the best ways to maximize your impact long after you have returned home.”
– Darrel, served in India, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Uganda, Malta, Germany, Thailand, Holland, Lebanon, and Namibia (1-4 weeks per trip).
Many thanks to the missionaries who weighed in and helped us put together this list of mission trip essentials. What are the tools you’ve found to be most helpful on a short term mission trip? Let us know in the comments below!