The Importance of Knowing Team Members’ Individual Strengths

The Importance of Knowing Team Members’ Individual Strengths

As children of God, we have all been given unique gifts. Strengths are such an important part of understanding a person and the way God created him/her, yet we often don’t take the time to explore our given gifts/strengths. We volunteer for specific jobs or tasks, but they don’t always align with our gifts and talents. If we want to make the most impact in the world, we have to start living in a way that honors our given strengths.

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:  whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen”  -1 Peter 4:10-11

If you are attending or leading a medical mission trip, I challenge you to spend time beforehand really delving into individual strengths discovery. There is a free Character Strengths Assessment participants can take here. Leaders should have participants send the results to them, and then the entire team can meet together for a debrief to follow. Be sure that everyone involved in the trip takes this assessment (leaders included).

Here are questions leaders can ask during a strengths discovery debrief with the mission’s team:

What surprised you about your results?

What pleased you about your results?

How do you think your results will positively impact the team?

What responsibilities during the mission’s trip experience do you believe would fit well with your unique strengths?

After these questions are answered, leaders should work hard to allocate roles based on the strengths of the team members. Responsibilities should be given to the ideal person for the job based on his/her strengths. And remember, the best kind of team is one that is well-rounded.

“A genius in the wrong position could look like a fool.”
Idowu Koyenikan

Your vision for your trip will be better accomplished when you include strengths discovery in your preparations. Think about it. Some participants have never explored their strengths, so not only will they be able to discover the ways the Lord created them but they will, for the first time, get to live into their strengths while on the trip! This will increase the impact they will make and transform the way they live from then on!

3 Things To Do Before You Go On A Medical Mission Trip

3 Things To Do Before You Go On A Medical Mission Trip

Are you preparing for a medical mission trip? Maybe you haven’t signed up yet, but you are thinking about it! If so, it’s important to start preparing as soon as your heart feels a tug towards the mission field. But how do you prepare? We have you covered with three simple things to do before you go on a missions trip:

1. Answer your why.

Define the reasons you want to go on a missions trip. If you can’t answer your why with a genuine, God-honoring reason, then spend some more time reflecting on your answer. To help you answer your why, ask yourself the following questions:

Where is my heart?

What is my purpose?

What is my vision for the trip?

What is my desired outcome?

When you get clear on your why, you can be intentional about how you spend your time on your trip. If your why is to gain more experience in the medical field, that will be your focus. If your vision is to have opportunities to share Jesus with those who aren’t able to hear until their physical needs are met, then that will be your purpose and every action you take will be centered around it. Define your why so that your trip can have a clear, focused intention and you can walk away knowing that you gave it your all.

2. Gather prayer support.

Whenever you agree to follow God into a new and uncomfortable situation, you are opening the doors to spiritual warfare. Now, it’s important not to let this scare you because you are already victorious. You have God on your side and there has not and will not be a time He is defeated. However, without being aware of the potential spiritual battles and without calling on God, you alone are left vulnerable. One way to be sure you are preparing for battle is to gather people around you who will agree to pray for you before, during, and after your trip! Prayer is like an armor of protection around you, and it’s important to wear this armor on the mission field.

Here are 7 ways your prayer group can pray for you. 

3. Prepare spiritually.

You may be the first and only one to plant the Gospel seed into the people’s lives you meet on the mission field. If this is the case, you must be prepared spiritually. You must know the story of salvation and be able to share it clearly and accurately. One of the best ways to prepare for this spiritual calling is to get into God’s Word. We must know God if we are going to share Him. And this doesn’t mean knowing him through a third party like a pastor or a devotional book (though that’s important). This means diving directly into His Word. When going through the Bible, don’t just mindlessly read to check off a “must-do” task on your list. Instead, allow God to use His Word in your life because it is living and active!

In The Gospel Coalition, Professor Matthew Harmon walks us through two simple sets of questions to ask every time we open our Bibles:

Understanding the Bible:
1. What do we learn about God?
2. What do we learn about people?
3. What do we learn about relating to God?
4. What do we learn about relating to others?

Applying the Bible:
1. What does God want me to understand?
2. What does God want me to believe?
3. What does God want me to desire?
4. What does God want me to do?

We hope you will use these tips to prepare for your trip. Let us know how we can be praying for you as you make your decision to join us on the mission field!

5 Items You May Not Think To Pack For A Missions Trip

5 Items You May Not Think To Pack For A Missions Trip

We have written a post in the past about the essential packing list for missions trips, but there are some other things you may not think to bring. Trust me, you will thank us after you read this post!

Here are 5 items you may not think to add to your packing list for missions trips:

1. A headlamp

This one was on the packing list, but it’s often overlooked or a flashlight is chosen instead.  There is a big chance that the power is not always consistent at your destination. When I was abroad for three months in DR Congo, I had working power all day and then  would always lose it at 7 p.m. I more than wished I had brought a headlamp for hands-free light!

2. A tumbler

I don’t know about you, but wherever I am in the world, I want to wake up and have my tea. My husband is this way with coffee. A tumbler is great for a medical missions trip because you can make  your tea or coffee and take it to go (wherever that may be). And no matter how much work you have that morning, your morning beverage should stay warm!

3. A bandana

These are multipurpose. Use them as a hand towel, hair tie, or dip in water and tie around your forehead or neck to stay cool. Use to filter water if you are ever in a desperate situation where clean water isn’t available.

4. Duct tape

This one is self-explanatory. I mean, duct tape fixes everything! Just wrap the tape several times around your water bottle and then peel off whenever you need some throughout the trip! Use it to patch up items that break or tear, hold things together, cover up dangerous outlets and more!

5. Baby wipes

As much as you will want to shower, sometimes it’s just not feasible. Baby wipes will give you a fresher feeling until the opportunity to shower presents itself. Use to freshen up throughout the day or at the end of the day before climbing into bed. You’ll find yourself using wipes more than you imagined and probably lending some out to other participants on the trip!

What extra items do YOU recommend for the trip? Let us know in the comments!

How To Support Your Child’s Desire To Go On A Mission Trip

How To Support Your Child’s Desire To Go On A Mission Trip

“Missionary: someone who leaves their family for a short time, so that others may be with their families for eternity.”

I recently came across this quote and really resonated with this meaning of missionary. You see, my husband was a missionary kid, so the idea of missions has always been a topic we discuss regularly. One recent question we had was “What if one of our children is called away to missions and desires to go?”

If you have been talking about the importance of mission work, it’s highly likely your children have been listening. They may have already started talking about going on one. If you find yourself wondering how to support your child’s desire to go on a mission trip, keep reading! We wrote this post just for you!

Here are 3 easy ways you can support your child’s desire to take their very first mission trip: 

1. Encourage

Encouraging children to attend a mission’s trip may be difficult. A mission’s trip can sometimes be dangerous or the idea of your child being apart from you can feel scary. But remember to offer your support before, throughout, and upon their return home. Help your child prepare before, pack a few letters full of Bible verses like the one below for him to read during your trip and feel encouraged during the difficult times.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” —Joshua 1:19

And be there to listen to your child talk about what her experience was like after she returns!

2. Pray

There honestly isn’t much we can do to replace our worry other than to make time for frequent prayer. Remember, God calls us to spread the Gospel. Pray for those who will be impacted by your child. Pray for your child’s personal spiritual growth, and pray for his safety while he is away! Remember, prayer is a powerful weapon to replace fear. 

Support your child’s desire to go on a medical mission trip by praying with, for, and over them regulalry. Helping them tune their ears to God’s voice will always lead them to their calling. Allowing prayer to shape our hearts and soften any resistance we parents may have to our chidren joining a mission team, is essential to helping children grow more independant in their faith.

“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.” — 1 Samuel 1:27

3. Let Go

One of the worst things we can do as parents is to try to hang onto our children while they are following the will of God. Their desire to go on mission trips is no exception. Even young children can serve locally on mission teams. Check with your church to see if they have short term opportunities locally. There are also mission organizations that offer family and paretne+child trips. A quick Google search will help you locate options for your family!

Remember, God doesn’t always call us to the safe and comfortable places. As parents, we want those two things for our kids but we need to be able to let go of our kids and give them room to be obedient to God. Listen with an open mind when they start discussing mission work and let God provide the means for their calling to unfold!

Tell us in the comments about your experience letting your children go on mission’s trips!

10 Things You Need To Know Before Going On A Medical Missions Trip

10 Things You Need To Know Before Going On A Medical Missions Trip

Thinking about joining one of our medical mission teams? GREAT! 

Medical missions trips are transformational experiences for all involved. Serving others changes the hearts of the servants and those being served but being prepared is ESSENTIAL to making a difference. We’ve compiled this list of things you need to know before going on a medical missions trip to help you make a lasting impact. 

Here are 10 things you need to know before going on a medical mission trip:

  1. Communicating will take more time.

Depending on where you are headed globally, you will most likely be embedded in communities that speak languages that you are not fluent in. This does not mean you have to learn another language before you can join a medical mission trip, but it does mean you need to have is to be aware and to have translators readily available. Patience is also needed because communicating through a translator takes more time than two people fluent in the same language. You will not be able to serve the community well if you cannot communicate effectively with one another. Clear communication is essential to helping people with their health needs

  1. Be flexible and willing to adapt to unfamiliar conditions.

You are traveling outside of the United States to places that are in need of proper healthcare. Sometimes, other amenities that you are used to will not be available either. In other communities they’re available, but look radically different than what you are used to. You won’t be able to spend every night in a 5 star air conditioned room, familiar food, a hot shower, etc. but that’s part of why these trips are so transformational. Access to clean drinking water may be limited. For example, 60% of Tanzania’s households have water from a protected source as of 2012, so you will most likely have access, but when we travel to remote areas access may be limited. 

  1. Expect limited supplies and access to equipment.

The number of physicians is not the only thing lacking in the under served communities we travel to. Supplies and access to medical equipment can also be quite scarce. We bring as many supplies and medications as possible to supplement what is available locally.  As a team member you can find out what equipment and supplies will be available, and count on bringing most of what you need! Specialized dressings, medications, and sutures are often the first supplies gathered. (Remember, if you plan to bring medical equipment, it will require a heavy-duty electrical converter to work outside of the US).

  1. Loosen your grip on the plan and relax the schedule.

In the United States, medical clinics and hospitals often have rigid schedules, and it’s expected for people to abide by a plan. Other countries are much more go-with-the-flow. Out teams have an agenda and loose schedule, but we are also committed to being flexible and serving people whenever they show up. Things can also be highly unpredictable due to the environment not always being stable or reliable, so one must be flexible with any plans that are made. Leave your rigid, timely mindset in the states and choose to be adaptable.

  1. Be ready to try new foods!

The type of food you are used to eating will not be accessible on a medical missions trip. It’s important to be grateful and humble when trying new foods. You will like some foods you try and others you won’t. Before going on a medical mission’s trip, branch out and try different foods that are common in the communities you will be visiting. Be prepared to say “yes” to what is offered to you. If you have special dietary needs be sure to talk with your team leader early in the process so that adaptations can be discussed. Staying hydrated and well nourished is going to be crucial to your ability to show up and care for people well. Your patients deserve good care from someone who is reliable and alert.

 


Are you loving this list of 10 things you need to know before going on a medical missions trip?
If so, please consider sharing with a friend! Sharing helps us reach more people so that we can have a greater impact in the world!

  1. Take time before you leave to preparre your mind, body, and soul.

Medical missions trips take a lot of preparation. You will need to take the time to raise money for the supplies you need and then gather those supplies as well. You will want to do research on the types of health concerns you will likely face as some you may be seeing for the first time. All overseas missions trips also require certain vaccinations before entering the country (go to https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel to find out what vaccinations are required for each country and tips for staying healthy abroad). Traveling overseas also requires getting your passport and other important travel documents which can take several months. Make sure you prepare in advance so you aren’t scrambling at the last minute.

  1. Pack everything.

Packing “light” or “minimally”  is not the best idea because you may not be able to buy the supplies you need in most places. If you are not sure what to pack for every scenario, check with your team leader. They are experienced travelers who can advise you what to pack and what to leave behind. We wrote an entire post about what to bring. You can read it here! 

  1. Fundraising is essential.

Unless you have been saving up for the trip’s cost, you may need to raise funds ASAP. Cash is good but donations of medical supplies can also make a huge impact. Reaching out to pharmaceutical companies, clinics, hospitals, and local medical related businesses to gather the necessary donations for your trip. This is a great way for family and friends to support you if they’re unable to join you for the trip. You can invite them to securely donate online here. This is one of those rare exceptions where more is more. It’s our goal to take enough supplies that we can leave resources behind for local physicians and clinics. It’s much easier for us to bring the supplies with us than it will ever be to ship things into the country after we leave. Check with your team leader to find out what the specific needs are for your trip! 

  1. Recognize and honor cultural differences without judging.

When heading into uncharted territory, you may find yourself surprised at the differences that surround you. Remember, we are intentionally traveling to under served areas so you will likely see hospitals and clinics in poor condition. Physicians are usually well trained in conditions they see most often but they can be limited by inadequate access to technology, medication, and cutting edge training. Also, health care, dental care, health education, and nutrition education are highly needed, and medical specialists should know that the lack of knowledge in these areas makes it difficult to approach patients in the same way. Read our list of book recommendations here to help you prepare for diverse cultural experience you’re about to have! 

  1. Education is critical to long term health maintenance.

Because of the limited access to medical care, educating our patients is key to helping them stay healthy long term! There will be limited opportunities for costly, time consuming follow-up appointments, so be prepared to educate patients for preventative care and after-care. Allowing time to ask questions and really listening to their concerns will greatly improve their long term prognosis. Your team leader will help you know what is encouraged and what behaviors to avoid.

I hope this list of 10 things you need to know before going on a medical mission trip has inspired you to say “YES” to this opportunity.

I’ve been doing this for over a decade and it’s not always easy, but it’s always rewarding. 

There are lots of things to learn before, during, and after you serve on a medical mission trip, but don’t let that scare you! It’s still one of the best ways to create major change in the lives of people with little to no access to medical care.

See you in the mission field!

Sheri Postma, RN
Founder & CEO
Mission Partners for Christ
MissionPartnersforChrist.com
Facebook.com/MissionPartnersforChrist
Twitter.com/mission_partner

 

Global Health Update: Medical Mission Teams Are Needed More Than Ever

Global Health Update: Medical Mission Teams Are Needed More Than Ever

Although the world has spent much of the last year focused on COVID-19, we are just now beginning to see the data on how the pandemic has impacted our most vulnerable communities. 

In short, the report is not good. World health experts are reporting that the impact of the pandemic varies widely depending on the income level of the people in that community. Many of the communities we serve, often the most impoverished with grossly under-served medical needs,  have been deeply impacted by the pandemic. 

Which means that now, more than ever, the work we do can make a huge difference for the people we treat at our free medical clinics. 

 

Here are just a few of the reasons Mission Partners is committed to continuing efforts to provide free medical care in underserved communities: 

1. “Healthcare disruptions due to COVID-19 could reverse decades of improvements, the UN says. This could result in hundreds of thousands of additional under-five deaths this year.” (source)  
More boots on the ground are needed to shore up medical providers in overwhelmed communities. Short term medical mission trips like the ones we create provide basic treatment, education, and preventative care. This free care lessens the financial burden on individuals who need it.

 

2. “Over 40% of countries have fewer than 10 medical doctors per 10,000 people.” (source)
There simply are not enough providers to meet the healthcare needs of people in the impoverished areas our teams visit. Short term medical mission teams can provide much needed support whole longer term initiatives work to solve the lack of provider problem. Our medical teams can lighten the load of the local healthcare providers allowing them to stretch their resources further.

 

3. “The latest World Health Organization (WHO) ‘pulse survey’,1 conducted in almost 135 countries, shows that the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic continues to severely disrupt the delivery of health services – with services for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) disrupted in 44% of countries.” (source)
NTDs are a group of parasitic, viral, and bacterial diseases that impact large numbers of people living well below the poverty line. The often painful and easily spread diseases can make it hard to work, farm, or attend school. The WHO and other health experts have targeted efforts to reduce NTDs because of the direct connection between these illnesses and poverty. The COVID-19 travel bans and overwhelmed health system have hampered efforts to stop NTDs.

4. “The pandemic is estimated to have driven between 119 and 124 million more people into extreme poverty last year.” (source)
More people falling into extreme poverty means a greater number of people at risk for chronic illness due to lack of affordable and accessible medical care. While we cannot fix the problem of extreme poverty, we can offer support to those facing it by offering free care at our clinics. Our teams partner with local organizations who can continue to offer additional support to our patients long after our teams return to the US.

 

5. “The World Meteorological Organization reported that 2020 was one of the hottest years on record during the hottest decade on record. Not only do these disasters affect food security and nutrition, but regions with high food insecurity are also facing significant health challenges from preventable diseases.” (source

Food insecurity increases the likelihood of malnutrition and related health conditions. Our teams provide screening, treatment, nutritional education, and supplements to those who need them. The local organizations we partner with also continue to bolsters the community with nutritional education and support as food insecurity increases.

 

The needs are significant but with faithful medical mission team volunteers and generous donors like you we will continue to  partner with local organizations to provide medical care, education, and preventative treatment in under-served communities.

 

Can we count on your support? Click here to give or click here to find out more about our next trip.