Traveling as a Missionary
Mission TravelClick thumbnail to view full-size
Allow me to start with a story about one of my experiences in mission travels. My wife and I were returning to Orlando from Hong Kong. We arrived at the Hong Kong airport and were told that our flight might be canceled. Because of that we couldn't check out luggage we had to roll it around everywhere with us. That was bad enough but wait it gets more interesting. We had to come back to the ticket counter at a certain time just to confirm that our flight was canceled. Once that was confirmed we were put on standby for an adjoining flight to New York. We had to wait until five till boarding time to be confirmed that we were going to get on that flight. Once we were confirmed of that flight we had to flat out rush to check our bags and through security as fast as possible and then book it to the terminal. 15 hours later we arrived in New York. Once through customs it was to late to catch a flight home and all the ticket counters were closed. We waited in the airport until 3:00 a.m. at which time we discovered that the airline we booked our flights with canceled our final flight to Orlando because we were not on the previous flight. The Hong Kong airport never sent updated information that they put us on another flight! How frustrating! We spent two hours in a phone tag conversation with the original airline that booked our flights. They were in the Middle East and so their accents were hard to hear and comprehend what they were communicating. Finally they sorted everything out and got us a flight to Orlando. That flight was still 3 hours away from boarding time. We almost kissed the ground in Orlando when we finally arrived.
Mission Travel Resources
I really like Orbitz for traveling information. They search the internet over for the right flight for you. They can help you secure the flight, hotel, car and any combination of the three. They have a wonderful flight search menu and a flight search option which is great. I will remember to use the flight search option next time I travel. Another fantastic option for missions travel that I found is Missiontravel.org. They are like a travel broker for missionaries. They specialize in getting missionaries the best deals for traveling. You can use their search box for flight deals or call their Christian team for exclusive deals.
Be Careful of Local FoodClick thumbnail to view full-size
Tips for Missionary Travel
- When eating be careful. If you're on a short term trip you can plan your meals more carefully. Plan to pack one meal, something like peanut butter and jelly and chips. Have your cooked meal be located at some place "upscale" someplace that would be ok for tourist. For people that plan to be long term missionaries. Start out carefully and progressively work your way into the cultural foods. If it's a long flight bring snacks for the plane as well as in country. Nuts, snack mixes, dried fruits, some chocolate, granola bars, protein bars, preteen shakes etc.
- Water. Make sure to drink plenty of bottled water. You can get dehydrated very quickly in a humid climate. Even if the water is warm, drink it. On a short term trip the same rules apply. Avoid drinking water out of a faucet at all cost otherwise it can make you sick. The other possibility is to boil your own water. This would be a good idea for long term missionaries.
- Be sure to remember to bring bug spray, sun screen, sunglasses and a hat. Dress for the environment and the culture. Is is appropriate to wear shorts? The environment might say yes but the culture might say no. On the same note, if your working in the jungle it may be hot enough for shorts but that might not be advisable since you'll be tramping through tall vegetation and it leaves your legs open for bug bites.
- Remember cultural differences. In Cambodia for example it is inappropriate to cross your legs so that your foot is pointed at someone. Keep your feet on the ground. It is also offensive to touch someones head. No "Duck Duck Goose" games for kids there. When we went we didn't know that until later after we played the game all week. Oops.
For all the hassle, expense, and weariness of missions travel the experience is worth it. The chance to go to a far away country, to meet new people, see new things and to bless, preach, and pray for people that may not ever have heard the Gospel is amazing. The first time a child rushes up to you to give you a hug melts your heart. The shine and innocence in their eyes must be what God sees when he looks at a blood washed saint. I encourage you to go on a mission trip. Change someones life and in turn your life will be changed.
For more on this topic please see: http://imprintmissions.com/mission-travel/