I learned a TON about leading a team on a missions trip this summer, and had a great time doing it.

One of the things I felt deeply during this trip is the reminder that the Great Commission is for everyone, not just missionaries.  What countries have you had an interest in before?  You should look into trips that would be open to you joining them to go minister!  Or better yet, why don’t you lead a team of people?  You can do it!  Just check out these posts, and you’ll be well on your way: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 (below).

8) Collect all student passports ahead of time.
What a nightmare it would be to have a student forget their passport at home for your 5:30am flight!  This didn’t happen to us, but I know that it did happen to someone else!  I obtained the passports a few weeks early and made four copies of each passport – one for the team member, I kept one, another leader kept one, and one stayed stateside.  So both myself and another leader had a stack of passport copies just in case.  We kept the passports in the church safe, and distributed them at the airport.

9) Charge each of your adult leaders with the care of a few students.

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When you’re getting on a bus/clearing customs/getting on a plane/going through security it’s too much for you to keep up with 10/15/20 people.  Use your leaders to help you make sure no one gets lost in a Nicaraguan airport, or forgotten on the bus.  During our trip, I’d be the last one on the bus, check with each of our leaders to make sure their students were accounted for, and gave the final go ahead to drive on.  We used this method throughout, and I loved not having to count to 21 five times a day.

10) Debrief your team; it will help them process.

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The team needs to process what they’ve experienced.  Each night, no matter how tired we were, we got together as a team and talked about our experiences that day.  A useful tool that Lauren suggested was “Word of the Day,” where we just asked each team member to share a word that summed up their experiences that day, and explain a little bit about it.  This sweet time resulted in a lot of laughs and tears.  It really helps the team work through everything they saw, did, and felt during that day.

Quick Hits:

Handling Cash – I used this running belt from New Balance, worn under my t-shirt all the time.  $500-1000 was always there in a safe place when I needed it, and I stored the rest of the cash in the safe at the hotel.

– Flag your bags – We used bright green flagging tape on all of our bags – carry-ons included.  That way if the team saw a bag with green tape on it, we knew it was ours.

– Photo and Video – We were blessed to have a professional photographer and an aspiring professional videographer on our team.  You might not have that, but you likely have students or adults on your team interested in one or both.  Find out, and bestow on them the sacred duty of chronicling your adventure.  It’s a great chance for them to grow and hone a hobby, and you need visuals to tell the story when you return.

– Have fun – If you’re taking students, you must have some time for them to have some fun.  We had a few activities along the way, then we went to the beach on our last full day.  Give some recovery time before coming back.

– Give it all you got – Go all-in for the week.  Don’t hold back; put your whole heart and soul into the trip.  You’ll get the most out of it that way.

Good Resource – I used Missions Trips from Start to Finish to help me stay organized, keep on track, and give ideas for ways to improve the trip.  Highly recommend.

If you know anyone that’s thinking about doing a missions trip next summer (or in the winter) please share these posts with them!  It takes a lot to do a missions trip, but equipped with knowledge and a passion for the gospel, you can do it!

Photos courtesy of Nancy Ray