10 International Mission Trip Essentials

Are you expecting to serve on an international mission soon? Are you curious what to bring with you? Below is a list of 10 essentials that I have learned over the course of my mission trips. Your team leader will provide you with a list of essentials as well with more detailed items. Enjoy reading and safe travels! Comment below if you have some more suggestions. :)

1. Passport + Holder. 

This one seems pretty obvious; however, imagine getting all the way to the airport just to realize you left your passport at home in the safe. I have never once utilized an actual passport holder. After realizing it would be so much more beneficial to have a safe zipped place to store boarding passes, pens, travel documents, etc I ordered one from Amazon and cannot wait to use it on the next mission. When searching for a passport holder, I would suggest searching for one that zips with a selection of compartments inside for various items [you will need the extra space!]

2. Camera with video. 

The pictures and videos you take on your mission become your prized possessions upon arriving home. When your family and friends ask you how your trip was and you are struggling to summarize how much of an incredible Spirit-filled experience you had in a few sentences, bring out the photos and videos! Better yet, combine them into a nicely organized vlog set to an uplifting song or two. You will want to fully explain the entirety of the trip to your loved ones; however, the reality is they will not completely capture the essence of your experience unless they have gone on a similar journeys. So, the next best thing is having plenty of photos for them to look at and videos to watch, giving them the most up close experience as possible.

3. Devotional/Bible. 

This is your opportunity to spread your love for Jesus and His love for us. One of the best ways to do that is to have your devotional handy each night/day. Dig deep into the Word, relate your personal life experiences to the promises found in reading scripture, find ways to relate those experiences and devotionals to those around you. You will ultimately be able to serve the people on your mission more wholeheartedly and receive so much more out of your mission experience with your devotional and will be able to connect with your team as well as those whom you are serving.

4. Simple clothing. 

You do not need to overthink your outfits. Simple and comfortable are the key thoughts here. If your mission team is serving through construction work then pack accordingly: a few pair of old worn jeans, a pair of work boots, gloves, safety glasses, etc. If you are serving in an orphanage, comfortable and casual clothing will be your go-to. Usually there will be one night out on a mission trip when you and your team are able to experience a different side of the culture you are serving that may require a more well put together outfit, so prepare for that but do not go overboard with it.

5. Bottled water. 

The countries that I have been to have required us to only drink bottled water (for brushing teeth as well). Packing extra water bottles in your check-in bag will be very beneficial and something you will thank yourself for later. Sometimes, your residence will provide each member with bottled water on our first night there. If you are like me and drink large amounts of water, then you will be glad to have spare ones in your suitcase as you unpack. Share a bottle with a teammate while you’re at it!

6. Children’s toys and clothing. 

Typically missions involve serving in villages and hanging out with children of all ages. From my experiences, we have brought everything from bubbles and matchbox cars to extra clothes and shoes. I can promise you that the children will be overjoyed and beyond appreciative for your gifts, large or small. Side note: soak in these moments with the children and families. Language barrier or not, connect with them, share with them, love them, serve them. I promise you that if you genuinely give them your love, that will have long-lasting positive effects on both them and you. <3 

7. A journal and/or blog. 

I made the decision to blog my travels to Chile after raising funds for the trip. It was a two week journey and I was unable to bring my laptop at the time because it was not in the best condition to make the trip (…five years of college worn it to the end). This meant I had to maintain my blog on my phone. Now 10 months later, I continuously revisit those posts an could not be more thankful to have those memories and photos documented. When you go on a mission, almost every hour of every day is planned out for you. Between team meetings, church services, serving opportunities, each meal of the day, nightly/morning devotions, etc. Blogging or journaling will require intention on your part to find time to sit down, gather your thoughts and feelings about your adventures. You will be so thankful to have spent the time documenting these memories. When you arrive home and feel “homesick” you will read your journal entries with a grateful heart.

8. Your favorite verses or quotes.   

A journal + pen for outings during your mission. Prep work behind the scenes prior to your mission. During your serving adventures you will hear quotes from others that seem to just resonate with you or glimpses of inspiration found in the little things that you will want to remember and keep sharing with others. This is when your journal + pen will come in very handy. Quickly jot down these bits of encouragement. You never know who you will reach out to next! The prep work prior to your mission simply involves gathering your favorite quotes and verses into your journal. Save these for a time when you feel called to share encouraging words. Learn your favorite verse in the language where you are serving and the deeper meaning behind the verse. Then teach them to say it in English.

9. Arts + crafts. 

If your mission team has the opportunity to serve children, you will most likely be bringing some sort of arts and crafts. There are so many ideas online for faith-based crafts. A few examples include glow in the dark beads made into bracelets and/or necklaces to signify God's light shining out from within us and radiating His light everywhere you go, picture frames made out of popsicle sticks, cross stickers and all sorts of decoration placing a photo of the child in the center as a symbol of God’s unfailing continuous love for us, sharing Bible stories, testimonies, worshipping (this can be one of the most fulfilling and heart-warming experiences considering the possible language barrier and being able to experience your favorite worship songs in two different languages.) ***List some of your VBS craft ideas down below!

10. A serving heart: ready for the most captivating adventures. 

This one may just be one of the most important. Going on a mission is the most eye opening and faith strengthening experiences you can have that truly captures your heart and soul. It has a way of changing your way of life, your points of view, and your understanding of the world. You gain friendships that feel like family you have had for years. You will always consider your mission team family, no matter how often you see them when you arrive back home. Needless to say, your heart will be forever changed from serving. Not everyone will have the opportunity to go on a mission so be sure to share your experiences in the best way that you can. :)

Love + Serve

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