For Missions Trip's Done Right there are a few key factors that I believe are needed but central to all of them is healthy communication.
During Trip be sure that COMMUNICATION is at an all time high. Communication with your leaders, with your students, with the organization you are going with, with your means of transportation and with back home. I want to make sure that What we are communicating is as important as How we are communicating it.
One way to communicate well is you can create a Daily Story. Anymore with smartphones & the variety of apps available you can create a really unique collage of pictures, quotes & mini-videos that those following your team can get available updates. It also gives you a way to give sound bites that can remind you later of stories that need to be shared with more detail via testimonies or recap opportunities your team will have once they are back home.
The great part is students LOVE doing this on their own so rotate your students through and ask them to create a DAILY STORY. They are already doing this so use their energy & maximize your time efficiently.
I like host 24 Hour Meetings. What I mean is that each Night I like to do a daily recap & a "here is what the next 24 hours will look like". This give answers to students & leaders questions plus it gives you the ability to assign healthy changes & roles to your team as you encounter certain variables. At these meetings I try to do 3 R's. Recap, Remind & Refresh everyone. Recap the day with the high's or the lows. Remind everyone about the essentials they need whether it be guidelines, instructions or changes. Refresh everyone with a key scripture, time of prayer or a cold Coke. I can't tell you how many times a cold bottle of Coke makes a team enjoy the "24 Hour Meeting" with more presence.
There are always times where you will need to me with just your leaders. These times are when I try to care for their needs, concerns, questions as well as affirm them. This is where leadership helps one another gets through whatever difficulty or obstacle that could be in their way. Often it's a quick 5 minute debrief or it is a late night time of sharing stories from their day.
Take advantage of making sure they are cared for & prayed for as much as your students are....remember when you get back to the church you still want them to link arms with you on a weekly basis!
You've got to create an atmosphere of FUN. Mission trips create stress on everyone and that stress is not always unhealthy. Regardless setting the tone from yourself as the key leader will translate down through the rest of your time. Ideas like an early cup of coffee, late night ice cream, stopping at a local bakery for sweets to share or a middle of the day game of soccer can all help your team enjoy their time!
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