After your mission trip, you will be eager to share what you learned and experienced. You will particularly want to share your experience with the people who helped fund your trip. Through this sharing, you can raise money to help the mission you visited, interest others in taking a mission trip, and educate people on the realities of life in developing countries or poor areas of the U.S.
Using tips and suggestions detailed in the post "Gathering Information on Your Mission Trip" you have the tools necessary to gather a wealth of content and information you will be able to share with your audience. Organizing and presenting the material will take some more planning.
An easy way to start is with a Twitter storm. Use the hashtag your group selected for the trip and start sharing photos and comments as soon as possible. It will be fun to see what your group members highlight, and as traffic on your hashtag increases, so does interest in the cause. Also, notify your local paper before your trip and a day or two after you return. The editor may be interested in printing a story, particularly if you have compelling photos.
In a week or two, the group should meet to share photos, notes, and findings. Decide how to present the material to various audiences and discover what talents different individuals within the group have. Common needs are writers, photo editors, public speakers, and event planners. Here are some ways mission groups have shared their experiences:
- Bulletin board displays about your trip in school, church, libraries, and community centers.
- Informal talks to schools and churches. Try to include visuals such as photos and short video clips;
- Articles in church, school, and community newsletters.
- A scrapbook about the trip for your school, church, or local library.
- A (country you visited) dinner and potluck. Keep the potluck dishes in the kitchen, and serve your guests what the people you visited eat.
- Google to find the average daily calorie consumption in the country, and give each guest a bowl or dish of typical food, which is often easy to procure such as rice and beans. Explain that this is what the people eat in a day, every day. The small portions and lack of meat and vegetables will be an eye-opener. After you have made your point, bring out the potluck spread.
Pick a Pack
Creating special packs for particular needs is a good way to send practical help to the mission you visited. Children, adults, and teens enjoy participating in creating packs of donated items. Some will donate a complete pack; others will contribute specific items. Think about the needs you discovered on your trip and which packs will be the most helpful. Make a poster with photos that show the need, and have a donation box nearby:
- Backpacks for school children with pencils, notebooks, crayons, drawing paper, scissors, rulers, pencil sharpeners, solar-powered calculators, small toys and games, toothbrush and toothpaste, cloth handkerchiefs, silly socks, and healthy snacks such as dried fruit, energy bars and granola bars.
- New mom packs. The pack can be a diaper bag filled with cloth diapers, safety pins, a small blanket, baby sleepwear, baby socks, wash clothes, mild soap, a toy, and something special for the new mom such as a hair ribbon, lipstick, or small piece of inexpensive jewelry.
- Teacher packs. Fill tote bags with the needs you noticed in a school you visited. Books, chalk, an eraser, notebooks, paper, pencils, pens, a calendar, and snack food.
- Pastor packs. What does the mission's pastoral team need? Hymnals, prayer books, crosses, pastoral collars, and, of course, snack food. These items can be packed in small duffle bags.
Items for packs are easy to collect, and they are an easy way for people to donate. They may wonder how such small things can make such a big difference and learn more about how many people live in poor countries.
Share the Humanity
In your sharing, do not be afraid to be frank about the needs, but remember to show the humanity of the people you met. You do not want people to think that your new friends are "those poor people -- over there," but people who laugh, have plans and dreams, and have fun. Be sure to show the joy. Be ready to share how strangers quickly became friends, people you shared time with and continue to think about and care about.
Your passion will be contagious as friends and even strangers engage with pieces of your experience that you share. One may respond to a photograph, another may be inspired by a story you relate. Your news is exciting, so people will talk about it. The nuggets of good news that you toss into the community will spread like ripples in a pond. As interest grows so will the outreach to the people and communities you want to help.
Author Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. He describes "that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire." Societies and communities have tipping points, but so do individuals. Your sharing could impact a person close to the tipping point of charitable outreach and move that person right into the realm of cheerful giving. Perhaps a church or community group is grappling with their next project. Hearing your story could be their tipping point, and their group will decide to join your cause.
"World poverty" is too great a problem for one person or one group to tackle. Mother Theresa did not think that was an excuse for not helping. She said, "I can help one, and you can help one."
A missionary said, "All my work is just a teardrop in an ocean of need, but it is MY teardrop."
What you do and what you inspire others to do can change one life at a time.