Trip Prep
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    Helping you sow much!
  1. Trip Preparation
    1. If you are an individual looking for a team to sign up with, I found these links for you:
      1. Missionfinder.org
      2. ShortTermMissions.com This website features detailed descriptions and requirements of missions trips from many organizations, as well as in-depth mission agency information, articles, and discussions.
    2. Decide the time frame in which you are working (Mission trip planning timeline/guide)
    3. Know why you are going.
      1. Just get the key concepts down. Here's a simple sample.
      2. Refine as you go. It's more important that you get started, than that you have all the theory worked out.
      3. As part of your trip follow up, polish this into a philosophy of short term missions.
      4. Several sending agencies have developed standards for short term missions As I glanced at the outline, Missiontriptools.com's approach addresses all the major areas of the standards.
      5. There are links to helpful books in the Team Return Phase.
    4. Find a missionary to work with.
      1. We almost always work with a missionary our church already supports. Start with your own missionaries.
      2. If you are part of a denomination, talk to the missions or outreach department at the denominational headquarters. Oddly, many churches don't think of this, I am told.
      3. Oscar: mission opportunities in the UK
      4. ChristianMissions.net has a list of Missions on the Web
      5. Gospelcom's list of mission and service organizations
      6. A Calling Card will make it cheaper and easier to communicate with your missionary. You also will want a calling card to use in country when you arrive (if they have phones where you are going- they will at least have phones at the airports).
        1. These folks say they have the lowest pre-paid calling cards on the web: CallingCards.com. I bought a card from this company to use in planning our next trip to Spain (1.9 cents per minute). Since I was a first time customer, they called me on the phone to make sure that the order I placed on the web was legitimate! I really appreciate the care they take with my money. The card worked flawlessly immediately after the authorization and the connection was good.
        2. The Phone Card Superstore offers instant online delivery of phone codes. Buy more time than you think you will need (you probably won't be sorry). Put the phone code on the emergency card so they can call the emergency contact if they become separated from the group.
        3. Before you call your missionary or foreign contact, think about the time difference! Visit the World Clock
      7. Speaking of communication, I have an Earthlink email account because they have access numbers in 71 countries including Canada and the U.S. so I don't have to be dependent on the local cybercafe (if there is one) to check my mail and communicate with the church at home. EarthLink
      8. One of the most helpful communication tools I have ever found for mission professionals is the free weekly Brigada newsletter. Don't wait- sign up now!
    5. Secure Elder/board approval (in principle) for the whole trip and for funding of the planning trip.
      1. How to help your board approve a planning trip
    6. Initial research
      1. Start language learning.
        1. We're working on targeted language learning tools for short term trips. Get notified when they are available:
        2. Yahoo's foreign languages
        3. Travlang is a great beginning language site.
        4. This link will show you what's available along the line of PDA language Software.
        5. You might want to take a moment to see what dictionaries or other books are available for learning your target language by using Amazon.com books search.
        6. Efficiency buffs, or folks who like to take the philosophical approach to everything might want to read up on how to learn a language efficiently.
        7. We've heard so many good recommendations from friends about Power-Glide that it has become the language learning program my wife wants to try next.
        8. Transparent Language is a standard in language learning software.
        9. Rosetta Stone guarantees their system to be the fastest way to learn a language. I learned most of the Kiswahili I know from Rosetta Stone. Software is a great way to learn a language because it is interactive and you can train your ear to hear the language as it is spoken. This is more important on short term trips than being able to read the language proficiently.
        10. Google's Translation Tools
        11. SIL's Language Learning Advice
      2. Background about your target country. While researching, you want to learn something of the culture and make a note of trouble spots so you can prevent dangerous situations.
        1. Here's the minimum I would recommend:
          1. U.S. State Department Travel Warnings, Public Announcements, Consular Information Sheets
          2. U.S. State Department Background Notes "information on all the countries of the world with which the United States has relations."
          3. or the same info from your own country.
          4. A travel book for your target country for a quick-start source of cultural and historic information, tourism and relaxation ideas for your target country.
          5. Just go ahead and try the free trial subscription to EIN News. The number of sources is astounding. Subscribing gives you access on the web and by email to seemingly every news article published, right down to how the soccer team is doing and who got married last week. I used to comb the web for every source of news (that's part of the reason I know where to send you!). I still do some of that, but I depend on EIN to do most of the work. It saves me hours AND they always come up with stories I would have missed if I were searching on my own. When I am researching a trip I want to know where the trouble spots are, what the cultures's favorite sins are, what their felt needs and values are. EIN is an indispensable resource for researching all these topics. Try it by signing up for the free trial.
          6. Overseas Security Advisory Council Newsletters an excellent FREE email news source which I use. OSAC is a partnership between the US government and the private sector. Subscribe to this too, but it does not replace the EIN news.
          7. Get maps to display at church and to take with you (to find your way around and mark routes and places of ministry). You can find up-to-date country maps at maps.com.
          8. CDC Travelers' Health Information
          9. You need a comprehensive pre-trip workbook to help you ask all the important questions.
        2. Other helpful sources
          1. Gestures: The Do's and Taboos of Body Language Around the World by Roger Axtell will provide you with some entertainment on the flight over for your planning trip and some guidance about what body language not to use in your target culture.
          2. U.S. State Department Travel Warnings, Public Announcements, Consular Information Sheets
          3. U.S. State Department Background Notes "information on all the countries of the world with which the United States has relations."
          4. Country Watch some unique content.
          5. BBC "...an instant guide to history, politics and economic background of countries and ...audio and video clips from the BBC archives."
          6. CIA World Factbook Your tax dollars at work: "The World Factbook 2004 printed version provides a current 'snapshot' of the world" since it is "updated regularly - generally weekly - throughout the year."
          7. ELDIS a prodigious amount of information on development issues by country.
          8. CountryReports.org "over 6,600 pages of data and over 6,400 related links."
          9. The Spire Project a whole other approach to internet searching.
          10. UNICEF
          11. The World Bank everything listed in a quick-read chart.
          12. Library of Congress Country Studies/Area Handbook
          13. The Unreached Peoples Prayer Profiles
          14. Travel books are an excellent source of cultural information, tourism and relaxation ideas, and history of your target country.
          15. Tourism Offices Worldwide Directory
      3. News about your target country
        1. Yahoo's foreign newspapers
        2. EIN News is a paid subscription email news source which I use. The number of sources is astounding. They say that "more than 1 million English speaking people turn to EINnews.com for breaking news each year." They offer a free trial.
        3. Overseas Security Advisory Council Newsletters an excellent FREE email news source which I use. OSAC is a partnership between the US government and the private sector.
    7. Maps
      1. Missions Atlas Project - Home
      2. Get maps to display at church and to take with you (to find your way around and mark routes and places of ministry). You can find up-to-date country maps at maps.com.
    8. You can track the weather in your target country with Yahoo.
    9. Health and Safety Issues- what are the health risk factors?
      1. Get Health Insurance for Travelers (your health insurance may not cover you out of country).
        1. I just bought overseas medical insurance for my daughter and myself for our upcoming Spain planning trip at Squaremouth.com. Don't let the name put you off. They gave me something like a dozen quotes in 30 seconds and I was easily able to compare apples to apples. I was really impressed with how quick, simple, and inexpensive it all was.
        2. They also do trip cancellation insurance, etc. if you are the nervous type.
        3. Remember to get health insurance for yourself for the planning trip as well as for the group.
      2. CDC Travelers' Health Information
      3. How safe is that airline?
  2. Planning Trip
    1. On the planning trip, visit every place you will take the team and meet every person you intend to work with. There are a million questions to be asked.
    2. You need a comprehensive pre-trip workbook to help you ask all the important questions.
    3. You need a trip journal to help you keep track of your experiences. Our trip journal is designed to jog your memory to capture the day's events and keep track of insights, answered prayers, to do items at home, and much more.
    4. Digital cameras are a great help on planning trips. They make it easy to create presentations when you get home so you can share the vision with the board and congregation or inexpensively distribute pictures of your ministry there. You could even do a DVD prayer letter!
    5. Travel Agencies- book travel as early as you can. It will save you money as well as wear and tear on your nerves.
      1. Economy Travel was able to match the lowest international airfares I could find. If you don't need the help of a travel agent, check them out.
      2. Raptim
      3. MTS
    6. Freebie: Starter "Things To Bring List" including what to pack in your carry-on.
    7. Mission2go has a good list, too.
    8. U.S. Passports
    9. Other US Government Info
      1. U.S. Customs and Border Protection
      2. U.S.C.B.P. also, but specifically travel related for U.S. citizens
      3. U.S. Embassies, etc., in foreign countries. U.S. Embassies and Diplomatic Missions
    10. Visas (issued by the countries you will visit)
      1. Entry requirement info for foreign countries gathered by the US government
      2. Travel abroad by US government
      3. Foreign Consular Offices in U.S.
      4. Foreign Embassies in Washington (a more extensive list)
      5. Yahoo's Foreign Embassy List
    11. Links to similar information from the governments of other English-speaking countries.
    12. Begin Estimating Finances
      1. Currency converters
        1. FXConverter
        2. The Full Universal Currency Converter(tm)
        3. The Travel Expenses Calculator(tm)
      2. You can use my sample cost estimating spreadsheet to estimate and track your trip costs and income.
    13. Decide on the...
      1. Goals for trip
        1. Goals for your target country
          • missionaries
          • national church
          • unbelievers
        2. Goals for your Team
      2. Group size
        • Group size is often decided by the capacity of transportation or housing.
      3. Activities (What kind of ministries/service will you perform while there? What about tourist activities?)
      4. Trip cost per person (how much money will have to be raised for each person going on the trip) (sample spreadsheet)
    14. Reserve group airline tickets. You don't have to pay for them yet! You'll have to pay for them about a month prior to your scheduled departure. (See travel agents above.)
    15. Begin the Frequently Asked Question list Sample FAQ
    16. When you return, begin promotion in the church while the impressions from the planning trip are still strong within you.
      1. Visit AmericanFlags.com and click on the link for world flags. If you don't have a flag for your own country, get one while you are there! Fly both flags during services to keep the trip in front of people. Be sure to observe flag etiquette or you will hear about it from somebody!

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