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20 Useful Things to Know How to Do When You Join Missions

January 13, 2020 at 4:00 PM

Whether you're considering becoming a missionary, about to do your DTS, or you've been a full-time missionary for years, here's a list of practical things that you can learn to make life easier out on the mission field. Enjoy!

1. Be adaptable

A missionary's favorite word is flexibility. As missionaries, we must be adaptable, especially when we're dealing with a different culture and a possible language barrier—things don't always go quite as planned. One moment you think you're about to have the opportunity to preach the Gospel, the next thing you know, your host is trying to take you to karaoke.

Maybe you thought you were going to a church to preach, when in reality, they have you outside painting a fence while the service is going on. Don't be offended! Roll with the punches. You'll face the annoying, the bizarre, and the unexpected, but in between those moments, you'll have incredible times of ministry.

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2. Change a tire

Picture this: you're driving down a bumpy dirt road somewhere in the middle of Central America, when all of a sudden your tire blows off the wheel. No one knows what to do. But wait—you've done this before! Or at least, you've watched the YouTube tutorial before and you can give it your best shot.

Small practical skills like changing a tire or building a campfire can come in handy on the mission field. Maybe your skills won't be needed this time, but if the day ever does come, you'll be able to rise up.

3. Eat any kind of food

There may come a time when you have to swallow your food, smile at your host, and gush about how delicious it was, even when you have no idea what you just ate. Conditions can change quickly on the mission field—one day you could be eating the best, home-cooked meal you've ever had, and the next, you're trying to choke down iguana.

No matter the circumstances, you must be gracious. And who knows? If you go in with an open mind, iguana could end up being your new favorite meal.

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4. Pack efficiently for months at a time

It's important to pack only the essentials—you never know when you might have to carry everything on your back. Research your destination, since weather, culture, and access to laundry services are all contributing factors when deciding what to bring. Oh, and don't forget to check the baggage allowance with your airline: You don't want any surprises at the airport!

The Ultimate YWAM Mazatlan Packing List [Free Download]

5. Choose proper footwear

Be prepared to walk over mountains, on dirt roads, through the jungle,  and down bustling city streets. No matter what country you travel to, make sure you choose appropriate footwear. You need to take good care of your feet and your body, so choose something protective and durable you can walk in comfortably for long periods of time.

Durango Camping Feet

6. Write a support letter

Every missionary should know how to do this, whether you're doing a DTS for the first time or you've been on the mission field for years. Learning how to communicate your financial needs to your friends, family, and peers is absolutely essential if you plan on having enough money to make it through your outreach. Practice writing and editing support letters to help strengthen your writing.

7. Use internet resources to your advantage

Along with writing support letters, there are many resources available for missionaries to help make fundraising easier. GoFundMe is a useful website that allows people to donate to you online. PayPal is an easy way to transfer money from one bank account to another.

8. Travel on anything

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Airplanes, buses, trains, camels, donkeys, boats, cars, taxis, helicopters, anything! If you learn to sleep in or on any of these different modes of travel, that's an extra bonus!

9. Share your testimony in three minutes or less

You don't always get thirty minutes up at the front. Keep your story short and sweet, and don't forget to wait for translation. 

10. Take decent pictures

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Your friends and family back home will be scrolling through your social media accounts looking for updates or pictures from you. Make sure you take some good photos (even if it's on your phone) for your parents to see and share with people asking about your life on the missions field.

11. Wash your clothes anywhere

In a river, in the bathtub, in a pot over the fire...you get the idea. Washing machines are a luxury few people in the world have. Who knows? You might even enjoy washing your clothes by hand.

12. Be a good listener

As much as you'll want to preach, pray, and share your testimony with someone, remember that sometimes the most important thing you can do is listen. Be gentle, considerate, and gracious; if you don't truly care about their story, odds are they won't feel understood and won't care about what you have to say. Listen to their heart, and instead of being quick to offer advice, ask God to give you the words to speak. It doesn't always have to be a long, mind-blowing sermon -- after all, Jesus radically transformed people through a few simple, illuminating phrases.

13. Cook a mean pot of rice

From Taiwan to Japan, Guatemala to Hawaii...rice is a universal food. Knowing how to make the perfect, fluffy rice will automatically give you an in with the locals. You never know where you will end up and rice might be your only option.

14. Dress like a local

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There are few ways to feel more like a local than to wear their traditional clothes. Whether it's an Indian sari or a traditional Mexican huipil (tunic dress), dressing like the locals shows that you're interested in and respectful of their culture, and it might open the door to sharing the gospel with someone who wouldn't otherwise talk to such a strange-looking foreigner!

15. Speak at your home church

If you've been on the mission field for any amount of time, you might get an invitation to speak briefly at your Sunday morning service about what you're doing. Don't shy away from these opportunities! Use this as a way to inform your church family about the exciting things that God's been doing in the nations and in your life. 

16. Write good newsletters and updates

Keeping people back home up-to-date is vital when you're on the mission field. Make sure that you find a good program and template to use so that you can write newsletters quickly and send them out to people even when you're in a hurry.

17. Use the bathroom anywhere

Let's just say that there might not be a toilet or toilet paper everywhere you go. Time to get creative! And don't forget to keep your hand sanitizer on you at all times.

18. Bathe yourself with baby wipes

There isn't always running water...you gotta clean yourself somehow!

19. Use social media to your advantage

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube -- these are useful for more than just keeping up with daily life back home. Use your social media as a way to let people know where you are and what you've been doing.

3 Ways to Use Social Media to Improve Your YWAM DTS Experience

20. Be conscious of current world events

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How can we affect the nations when we don't even know what's going on in them? Use your smartphone and download your favorite news app to be up-to-date with current events, pray for the nations regularly, read books about different countries and cultures. Immerse yourself in world events and you will find that your heart for the nations will only get bigger. 

How To Become a Missionary: Know What's Going on in the World

So there you have it: twenty skills that will help you prosper out on the mission field. Remember that it's always important to take time to prepare, gather the right equipment, and be flexible -- regardless of whether you're on a short-term outreach or the mission field is your full-time home.

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