When I made the decision to go on my first mission trip with my church, I decided to go big. I chose the trip to Zimbabwe, Africa: a 15-hour flight to spend about 2 weeks in a country that I’d never been to, with 5 women that I did not know.
I am so glad I went big, because my first mission trip changed my life. Sounds cliché? Well…
It allowed me to get away from the normal busyness of my life. Life gets busy, so vacations are necessary. I love traveling and I love helping people – getting to do both at the same time is a win-win.
It awakened my passion to serve others. Whether it was serving tea and cake at a nursing home, or playing with kids at an orphanage or helping the church prepare for a women’s conference, we did some sort of outreach every day. Because of the experience, I serve my local community now more than I did before the trip. Side note: Mission trips are great, but don’t forget to spread the love of Jesus in your local community!
It opened my eyes to a different culture. When Zimbabweans praise God, they PRAISE GOD. They don’t just sing and clap their hands; they DANCE. When one person prays, everyone prays and fills the room with praises to God. It was amazing to see the way they express their love for God.
It forced me to step out of my comfort zone. I’m an extroverted introvert, and in outreach situations I have to make myself suppress the introvert and let the extrovert out. At the nursing home, for example, I wouldn’t let myself just serve tea and walk away. I sat down with the residents and had real conversations with them.
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” Romans 10:14 NIV
It gave me a family on another continent. I love my Zim family. They always put others before themselves, they greet you with a hug and they ask if you’re rested; if you want tea or coffee. They love God. Thankfully, we have technology that allows us to stay in touch!
It reminded me how important it is to stop and appreciate the little things. Things that used to matter to me just don’t matter anymore. One of my favorite quotes is: “Someone else is happy with less than what you have.” This is so true! Before you want to complain about something, stop and think, “Should I really be complaining about this?” If this question challenges you, then you need to go on a mission trip. I promise that your viewpoint on what matters most in life will change.
It strengthened my relationship with God. Being in a church environment every day for almost 2 weeks and serving with a group of God-fearing women strengthened my relationship with God. My hunger for Him has continued to grow since then.
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I loved my first mission trip experience so much; I went back to Zimbabwe the next year. And I will be going on two mission trips to other places this year. I’m so excited about the work He has planned for my future!
If you feel called to go on a mission trip, do it! Don’t wait. Put a plan into action now. It’ll change your life.