Step 5: Layout the Logistics
The key to a well-organized missions trip is communication. Many aspects of the trip logistics need to be coordinated with the missionaries in the country you are visiting. Below is a list of items that you should coordinate with the missionaries you will be visiting:
The daily schedule of your trip should be something that both you and the host missionary work together to coordinate. In many cases, the missionary or missionaries that you will work with are people that will actually organize activities and make necessary arrangements for your group. This is the simplest method because missionaries can plan your activities to coincide with their ministry schedules, workers’ availability, etc.
Transportation and Lodging Arrangements
This is something that the missionaries will probably want to arrange for you. They know the area and will reserve lodging and transportation that will be safe and as clean and comfortable as possible.
In the flurry of emails and phone calls, be sure that you double check with the missionaries on how much it will cost for things such as food, lodging, and transportation. The figures you have in your initial budget may only be estimated costs. After the actual arrangements have been made, it might cost less or more than you first projected. This will allow you to adjust accordingly. In addition, don’t forget to assure the missionary that you will pay for your expenses or send a check in advance to cover costs if possible. Remember, you are going there to be a blessing, not a burden.
Make sure that you have correct contact information for the missionaries with whom you are working, including their local cell phone numbers in their country. Likewise, make sure they have yours. This is especially helpful when you are in transit to the field and have a canceled flight or other unforeseen problems.
There are also some items that you will need to coordinate with the members of your team and make sure they get done. Here is a list of things that you as the leader of the mission trip should organize:
Make sure you know the entry requirements for your chosen country. All group members should have passports in order to travel.
Some countries require shots and immunizations in order to enter the country. Everyone in your group should have their Tetanus and Hepatitis shots up-to-date regardless of where you go.
Permission Slip/Medical Waiver Form
All group members under the age of eighteen should have their parents or legal guardians sign a permission slip. In addition, a medical waiver form should also be signed by every person in the group to authorize you to make decisions concerning their medical treatment in the event of an emergency. The documents should also be notarized.
Checklist of What to Bring and What Not to Bring
Keep the focus of the trip on spiritual things. You are there to serve the Lord. The trip leader and chaperons should have means of communicating with folks back home, particularly with your pastor. However, laptops and other gadgets can become a distraction at best or a major problem at worst. Set strict guidelines for what your group packs whether it is clothing or electronics.
Limit the luggage to one checked bag and one carry-on bag per person.
Adult Leaders Meetings
Make sure you have meetings with your adult leaders to let them know what you expect of them on the trip.
If possible, have one of your male chaperons also be in charge of security for your group. If you have someone in your church that has military or law enforcement training that is ideal.
If your group will be staying in a hotel, designate each team member to a chaperon and give room assignments. Do not let your young people pick with whom they will room.
Organize ensembles and special numbers to be presented during services.
Before the team departs for the airport, meet at the church for a time of prayer.
Transportation to and from the Airport
Organize a carpool going to the airport. Since everyone will meet at the church before leaving, it may not be necessary to have all the parents drive to the airport.
Step 6: Finalize the Finances
The financial aspect of the mission trip will be the greatest challenge for you as the leader as well as your group. Your team can dwindle down in number quickly because of this single factor. On the other hand, this can also be a tremendous time of faith building for those who will pray and trust God for His provision. Here are a few ideas that may help you:
Make a Payment Timetable
Try to get the best price for things like airfare, but don’t wait too long to purchase your tickets. On the other hand, if you try to get them too early you may have some people in your group that cannot come up with the money in time. A good goal is to buy your tickets around six weeks prior to the trip if possible. One way to reach this goal is to make a payment schedule for your group. Set predetermined dates where a partial payment is due. This will assist with covering costs during the planning stage as well as reveal those in your group that may not be able to pay for the trip. You do not want to be in the position where one week from the date of the trip you have people who have not yet paid anything and don’t know how to get the money. They will most likely drop out at the last minute and leave you “holding the bag.”
Think of Ways to Raise Funds
Write letters. A simple way for young people in your group to raise funds is to write letters. These letters are to be written to relatives and close friends of the family presenting the opportunity as well as requesting prayer and a possible financial contribution to the endeavor. Discourage your group from writing letters to other church members as this may create problems. It may be helpful for you to write a sample letter as a model for them to follow as they write their own letters. Remember, the more letters they write the better their chances of raising funds.
Hold a fund-raising event. Plan a fund-raising event at the church and divide the proceeds among the team members that participated.
Encourage individuals to sponsor a young person. There may be some members of your church that would like to sponsor someone to go on the mission trip. In this case, let them know that you will be the one to decide who will receive the sponsorship. Make sure the person chosen is faithful, exhibits godly character in their life and has been diligent, but has a genuine need. Do not reward someone that is not faithful, has a bad attitude, or has not tried their best to raise money on their own.
Prepare for the Exchange of Foreign Currency
It is likely that you will need to bring money with you to cover certain expenses during your trip. No one wants to carry large sums of cash on them, and in some cases it is illegal to bring foreign currency that exceeds a specified amount into a country. However, if you are traveling to a developing country, you will probably need to deal mostly in cash. In addition, travelers’ checks are not widely accepted in many countries (even if the bank or anyone else tells you that they are). With this in mind, you may want to bring U.S. dollars and exchange them after you arrive. You can also send a check to the missionary in advance and coordinate with him to have cash when you arrive.
This is part three of this article. Please click here to read part four.