We are less than three weeks away from our 2019 summer of missions and things are finally coming together. Our staff for the summer has been selected and are arriving in town over the coming weeks; we have outlined our work projects for each week at the worksite; our VBS plans have been finalized. We have picked our Bible study topics and are working hard to make sure everything is concise, clear, biblical, and applicable.
For me, I am so excited that it is summer and that I am able to devote more time to EY2S. As we are finishing up preparations for the summer, I started to think back to some previous mission trips. I remember having a lot of concerns before every trip, whether it was a week-long mission trip with my youth group or 4-month internship at a missionary college. From my experiences, I picked out 4 tips to help anyone who is in the same boat as I was. Whether this is your first or you have done this many times before, there is something in here for you.
1. Be prepared to forget something
When I left home after high school to intern at Bethany Global University, my family and I packed the rental car with everything I would need for those 4 months. Everything that is, except for my Bible. You would think the one thing that I would need the most at a missionary college I would remember to pack, but that’s not what happened. I left it out of my bags because I planned on doing my devotional before I left. Not only did that not get done, but the bible did not make the journey with us. My mom ended up mailing it to me, so it all ended well. (Thanks Mom, you’re the best!)
It’s okay if you forget something. Whenever I have forgotten something, whether it was sunscreen, a pajama shirt, or my Bible, I was always able to borrow what I needed from a friend. For our EY2S mission trips, we have a packing list for you to help keep you organized. Also, pro tip, plan on packing your bag as much as you can in the days before rather than waiting until the last minute. If you forgot something really important, talk to your trip leader or EY2S leaders and staff and we will help you
2. Be prepared for unexpected challenges
I remember one mission trip I took in high school that had some unnecessary drama. During the week, I ended up getting into an argument with a close friend. We went to a staff leader and were able to discuss it with them and realized that this was not the time or place to be arguing. But it still ended up creating distance between us, at a time when we should have been growing in unity. In the end, it all worked out and we are still friends.
Look, just because you are on a mission trip does not mean that everything is going to be sunshine and roses. You are human. You are going to make mistakes. But that does not mean that there is no hope. Before you go on the trip, pray for unity. Look at your weaknesses and things that cause you to become frustrated. Pray for strength and sanctification (God to work in you and make you holy) through those moments. If something happens, go to a leader, whether they are from your youth group or from EY2S. We want you to grow in your relationship with God and each other through this trip and are happy to sit down and help you work through any disagreements.
3. It’s okay to be nervous
I understand what it is like to deal with anxiety while also having a passion to serve the Lord. Even now, I am feeling nervous about my first trip to Jamaica with EY2S. Every single trip I have been on, I remember feeling nervous. I would get that feeling in the pit of my stomach and my mouth couldn’t open. I spent a lot of time hanging out in the background and would prefer jobs where I would be doing something, rather than talking to people. Throughout every trip, I relied a lot on Jeff, who was my trip leader. He was always full of encouragement when I needed it the most, and he helped me through a lot of spots of anxiety.
If you are feeling nervous before your trip, that’s okay. If you feel nervous during your trip that’s okay too. You are going to be asked to try things you have not done before, as a way to push you to grow. We have specifically selected our EY2S staff to come alongside and help you as you encounter different challenges. Your youth leaders are also there to assist you and will able to continue to look out for you when you go home. Remember: you are never alone throughout your trip.
4. Even if you feel distant from God right now, and don’t think you should go, try anyway.
If anyone knows what it is like to feel distant from God, it’s me. Trust me, I have been there. I would argue though, that this is the time you need most to be on a mission trip. After dealing with the same problems in the same environment day after day, to be a new environment surrounded by people who are also seeking and serving God is a breath of fresh air. Also when you get the chance to serve people on a mission trip, you see how God can use you, even when you are not at your best.
God can and wants to use you, even if you are not "feeling it". He is constantly seeking and drawing hearts to Him. He has sought out your heart. I know it is hard. But if the Lord is leading you to go, even if you feel distant from Him, you should go and see what the Lord will do.
So those are 4 tips to help calm any pre-mission trip jitters. If you have a main take away for this, there is a community of people willing to come alongside you and encourage your growth in love and service to the Lord. Don't be afraid to seek them out.