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Whether you're considering becoming a missionary, about to head off to do a DTS, or you've been a full-time missionary for years, here's a a list of practical things that you can learn to make life easier out on the mission field. Enjoy!
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 will face the annoying, the bizarre, and the unexpected, but in between those moments, you will have incredible times of ministry.
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 absolutely 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!
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 secretly 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!
Check out this blog we put together to learn how to pack for DTS. It's important to only pack the essentials because you never know when you're going to have to carry everything on your back.
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.
This is absolutely necessary for everyone -- 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.
Along with writing support letters, there are many resources available to missionaries to help make fundraising easier. YouCaring and GoFundMe are websites that allow people to donate to you online. PayPal is an easy way to transfer money from one bank account to another. Click here for a tutorial on how to embed a 'Donate' button onto your blog or website.
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!
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!
Your friends and family back home will be scrolling through your Instagram and Facebook looking for any updates or pictures from you. Make sure you take some good pictures (even if it's on your phone) for your parents to see and share with people asking about your life on the missions field.
In a river, in the bathtub, in a pot over the fire...you get the idea. Washing machines are a luxury very few people in the world have. Who knows, you might even enjoy washing clothes by hand!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
There isn't always running water...you gotta clean yourself somehow!
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.
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.
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.