Advice on Including Your Child on Short-Term Mission Trips (Part 2)
This blog is part of a 3-part series on how to serve alongside your child on short-term mission trips. Part 1 can be seen here.
Mission trips that include your child will look different than one that has adults-only. Even youth leaders know they have to slow the pace and include down-time and reflection time for teenagers. It’s the same with kids even younger. A parent should look for a mission journey that builds in a slower pace and includes lots of interaction about the mission itself because there will be a lot of self-discovery in your child.
From the get-go, work with the team leader to make sure the kids will truly be involved in the mission trip agenda.
Children do best on mission trips where other children are also part of the team. When we were in Uruguay, I had a 5-10 minute “pow wow” with the kids each day to cover the day’s schedule, expectations from them, a challenge, and prayer. As the day went on and the kids developed a team mentality, I began to ask them to share things that were bothering them, and they responded well. I was also able to understand their favorite parts of the mission. This helped them feel heard and let the adults know how to pray for them. One of the girls said it was her favorite time of the entire mission. We ended each Pow Wow like this:
It was a powerful time for all of the kids, both those living on the field and those involved on the short-term side.
Then with you and your child, make sure you are spending some good one-on-one time together.
Sophia developed some homesickness in Uruguay, which really surprised me because she’s such a people person. From the onset of the homesickness, I would pull her into my bedroom each morning and night to spend quality time with her.
We prayed about letting God be her strength and comfort while she was missing home. In all, it helped her out tremendously. I also made a point to do some of our regular routines from home, which lifted her spirits.
Be ready to learn a lot about each other and to roll with whatever surfaces. We had to do that when we went to Peru a few years ago, Adam quickly learned that they didn’t understand his witty jokes and the lack of verbal exchange sent him into culture shock. He really struggled not being able to use his native language.
He also got very good at saying “No Beso” because he was not into the “kiss on the cheek” greeting! While the culture mandated it, I as the parent had to give him the option to set that personal boundary; everyone was understanding and it ended up being humorous.
I highly recommend respecting your child’s personal boundaries, especially if it involves a cultural norm on your mission trip. Your job is to show them how to do it in an honorable way.
Having appropriate expectations of yourself and your child can help both of you have a positive mission experience together.
In closing, are you more likely to take your child on a trip inside your nation or one internationally?
Want More? Help your child develop their prayer life with this podcast from Paige Kolb, “Cultivating Your Child’s Prayer Closet.”
Paige Kolb is the president of SureFire Prayer International, a ministry that equips and trains families and leaders to practically bring biblical truth and prayer back into everyday life. Paige’s philosophy is: Healthy families make for healthy churches. I believe worldwide revival will be released when we help leaders and parents rediscover practical ways to bring prayer back into today’s busy homes. Paige was once a writer for CNN and on-air correspondent for CNNRadio. She is a wife to her supportive husband, Luke, and mom to two amazing kids. The Kolbs attend Lilburn Alliance Church in the Atlanta area. You may contact her at here to find out about her speaking, training, and travel schedule.