How To: Find The Best Missions Trip For You
Taking a trip overseas is always insane, but why not make it rewarding while you're there? I knew when I started planning my trip to Africa that I wanted time for myself to explore but also time with others to give back. So I started a LONG journey of researching and figuring out what kind of missions trip I wanted to be a part of and who I wanted to experience it with. Here are a few things that I learned along with my research to save you some time on yours or get you interested if you haven't started considering it!
You DO NOT have to be religious to participate in a service trip.
I just wasn't interested in teaching others about the Bible or telling anyone what they should believe in. It's a little frustrating because so many of the big companies that you'll see on the first page of your "missions trip" Google search are affiliated with churches or make the trip all about God. This is obviously not a bad thing but not what I wanted. If you are not religious or you're just like myself, I promise there are still dozens of trips you can find! Just dig deep but do not lose hope! Simply add something about it in your Google search and it should eliminate the religious-oriented groups.
Find one that allows you to touch and interact with the locals!
This is a big one for me because you need to read all of the fine print when reading the groups' website. So many of them say somewhere that you will not be able to touch any of the locals. This means you can't pick up any children, hold their hands, or tickle them 'til they can't breath! This was so important to me because I wanted to interact as much as possible with the kids and adults that I would be hanging out with and helping. I had to find a group that I knew would allow me to play!
Make sure it is not a huge group of you going!
I almost signed up with one group that was taking almost 50 people on the one trip that I would be attending. Looking back, I am so thankful that I passed on that opportunity. I ended up being 1 of 4 total people (including our leader) to go to Swaziland. This allowed me to have as big of a role as I wanted in helping everyday. I wanted to be as active as possible with helping load the car with giant bags of beans or help cook with the women in Elangeni. I can't possibly put into words how much those kids loved playing with us even more than we loved playing with them. So I honestly think it's in everyone's best interest to be as hands on as possible which is hard when theres 40 of you!
Be educated but NOT overly worried about your safety.
Let me start off by saying that this is obviously according to where exactly you plan on going, and the fact that your safety is priority one. What I mean by saying "not overly worried" is that my parents were so scared the entire time I was gone. This is not always necessary and make sure your loved ones know that. So before telling anyone about your trip, find out all the safety info because that is the first thing people will ask. You need to know how your group gets from Point A to Point B and who is leading it. Are they trustworthy? Do you they need to be armed or not? Things like this. If the group does not have the answers to all your questions prior to you asking them, find another group. However, I can say that I was 100% safe every moment I was in Swaziland. Most of the places in the world you hear bad things about are not quite as bad as everyone thinks. Swazis came to us with open arms all day, every day. They know you are there to help and will love you for it.
Find one that works best for YOU!!
There are hundreds of missions trips all over the world so find one that best fits what YOU are looking for. If you are religious and want to teach about God, find one that does that! If you want one in a certain country for a personal reason, don't stop until you find one you love going to that exact location. Missions trips are all about helping others but you want to leave feeling a sense of reward and want to come back. So find one that will give you that! I eventually found the group that worked perfectly for me and I don't regret a moment because of it.
*I just want to throw a quick shoutout to the organization I went with called Give Hope Fight Poverty. This was a dream trip for me and it's all because of the amazing work done by only two women behind the whole thing. If you want to donate or volunteer with them, check out their website ifightpoverty.org. If you want to know more about GHFP and my trip to Swaziland, go to my contact page here, and ask away! Happy to answer anything.
Cheers and until next time,
March 30, 2017