Friday, March 5, 2010

" Before you pack your bags, prepare your heart"

Chronicles from Chrissy:

Someone once asked me, "What exactly goes into preparing for a trip this size and how do you go about doing it?" I would have to say that in preparing for any kind of trip, most people spend an extraordinary amount of time planning, laying out, researching and committing to going on a trip. Whether it is a vacation with your family, a business trip, a personal get-away or a missions trip, we all will go through the process of preparing to go. Some of us may even have our bags packed way in advanced (guilty :)) and anticipation and excitement about the journey we are about to embark on.

Planning and preparing for a missions trip is no different. The biggest difference is that most often the strategies begins a year or more in advance with a more concentrated push that jumps to the next level 5-6 months prior to the actual date of departure. What many people don't see is the behind the scenes of many, many emails, phone calls, hours spent on the computer researching, and searching out everything that will enable us to plan accordingly, utilize the funds wisely and to make sure that all aspects of the trip is covered and thought about and taken into account for. One of the biggest component of a missions trip is in the details that lie in it before and during the trip. From getting passports, immunizations, visas, medical insurance, travel accommodations to and during trip, to arranging lodging, food and water and all ministry related activities.

When it comes to spending money....I am a bargain shopper at heart and I get very excited when I save money. For instance, when it came time to search out for airline tickets, I spent a lot of time working with several airline travel agents in searching for the best deal, and was insistent and persistent in looking for the best rate that would benefit and save our team money. One of the agents recently, complimented me on my "due diligence" and "perseverance". I bring that mentality into planning a missions trip with a heightened sense of responsibility that this is not just about saving money but is more importantly, being a wise steward of the funds and resources that God has entrusted us to use. (A big thanks to Mary Deckert for her assistance in our airfare travel this year...she connected us with the right people and spent hours mediating for us in getting to meet our airfare budget).

Often times, in the course of the preparation journey, I find myself getting quickly sidetracked and focused in on the organization end of it and while we can develop the game plan, carry out the ministry and travel logistics and what it is we will do; we, myself included, fail to prepare our hearts for what God wants to do in and through us. The challenge is to prepare our hearts so that we can:

1. serve in the most God-honoring way
2. to go as a humble servant
3. to go with basic cross cultural sensitivity
4. to go ready to be a team player
5. to go expecting God to change you.

I asked several of our team members to comment on what God is "preparing" them or showing them about this trip and what He is and wanting to do with them through the process. I will add a few comments each time I blog so that we all can get a sense of what God is doing through each and every one of us.

Here is an excerpt from Becky Mandich, who is currently serving in Kenya on a 10 month internship with Agape Church:

"... God is doing such a mighty work. I feel honored to be a part of it. I am learning and changing through my experiences so much. I just got back from Northern Kenya with the Bethany Church team. It was awesome, exhausting and wonderful trip. I was a part of the adult literacy team. I spent several hours each morning learning Somali and then the afternoons went out into the marketplace with alphabet charts teaching strangers the Somali alphabet. We got very mixed reactions. Almost all were suspicious, some did not want to have anything to do with us. One particular day, we rode to an outlying village and to do literacy. We had gotten permission the day before to come and teach....but once we arrived, we were told to leave and that we were not wanted there. We rode home broken hearted and hurt. As I looked out my window, I kept thinking about how dry spiritually this place was. I prayed to God and said...if you are here among this place moving give me a sign. Before I went to bed that night, I was praying that God would pour out His Holy Spirit like rain among those people. The next morning I woke up and it started to pour out rain in the middle of our hot season in the desert!!!! There was my sign, it was also a sign that God is softening the ground and preparing the soil for the seed that we are spreading!" The next day, we were invited back to that same village and allowed to begin to teach literacy. God is so awesome!!!!".

Mike Waldrop and Tim both challenged the whole team when we met last, to prepare our hearts. To prepare ourselves to go and ready to give God our very best. We will face obstacles, we will face spiritual warfare. We will battle against our flesh. The call has gone, we know that before we pack our bags, We must prepare our hearts to go!!!"

God Bless!
Chrissy K.

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