Mission Trip Planning
Getting Ready to Go

Mission trip planning is an absolutely necessary step, if your mission trip is going to happen. Usually we spend several weeks in planning for each short term mission trip we make. If your trip is to be a longer one, the planning stage will frequently be longer as well.

The story I'd like to share about mission trip planning here, is one that happened during the final stages of planning before the last time I (Sherilyn) returned to Puerto Rico as a full time missionary.

It was the summer of 1989, and I was within a month of leaving to return to Puerto Rico. In actual fact, I may have been within a week, but since I'm writing this page from memory, I'm not sure of the specifics.

Anyway, one of the last steps of preparation was to pack, and ship, my container.

Since I had been living in Indiana for ten years, I had a lot of things. If I recall correctly, I was shipping a forty foot container.

I wouldn't have needed that much space for personal belongings and furniture, but I was also shipping my car. Previously I had shipped my car separately, but for some reason, this time we had decided it would be more cost effective, and faster, to ship the car along with my other personal stuff, in one big container.

Mission Trip Planning
Christian Volunteering Makes it Happen

As a single missionary lady, I could plan until I was blue in the face, but without the help of many volunteers from my home church, nothing, or practically nothing, would have happened.

On this day there were around ten different people from my home church who came to help. We spent most of the day packing and loading the container. I think we had to get it done that day, or it was going to be much more expensive. We left the loading of the car until the end, so that I could unload it, and have it to use quickly, when I reached Puerto Rico.

My Dad was also pastor of my home church. He was an expert in packing trailers, so he was in charge of that.

My mother, and several other church ladies were helping me pack the last of things in the house and carry them out to the packers. By about three-thirty or four in the afternoon we had everything pretty well packed except the car.

I had arranged with a local business to use their loading dock after hours, so we could drive the car onto the truck. It had taken a few phone calls, but I thought it would be a simple process.

I was so grateful for the help of all the wonderful church people who had volunteered their time and energy that day to make things happen. I figured another half hour, and we should be done.

The ladies were fixing supper for us so we could eat together after we got done. I was looking forward to that time of fellowship with everyone after the work was done.

So we took the trailer and the car, and headed for the loading dock...

Mission Trip Planning
Ambushed by Ignorance

Have you ever heard that saying "What you don't know can hurt you"? I was about to get a hard lesson in the reality of that statement...

When we arrived at the loading dock, we discovered that it wasn't wide enough to straighten the car up so that it would fit on the container.

For two hours the men worked, discussed, sweated, and struggled to get the car on the container. For the first half hour to an hour I was the driver, and they were telling me what to do.

That wasn't working, so I surrendered the driver's seat to my Dad. For what seemed like an eternity, he jockeyed it back and forth trying to get the right angle so it would go onto the container.

The scene that is etched in my mind is when my dear friend (now my husband) Dennis, was kneeling in front of the car telling Dad when to go and stop.

Dad stopped the car within an inch of his head!

Finally after two or more hours of sweating, discussing, planning, and scheming the men managed to get the car on the container by literally picking it up and lifting it over, so they could get it straight enough to go in.

By the time the job was done, night had fallen, and most of the men were so tired they went home without eating.

You may be wondering about the subtitle above "ambushed by ignorance"...

When I got to Puerto Rico and told one of the missionaries I worked with about my experience, he said,

"Sherilyn, don't you know there is a type of wrecker that has a lift bed on it? You can just drive your car on the wrecker, he can raise the bed, line his truck up with the container, and you can drive the car directly on to the container."

Needless to say, I didn't know!

But that experience truly taught me how important mission trip planning is, and why it is important to ask questions if you aren't sure you know how to do something, or what is the best way to do it.

To this day I feel badly that I let those men literally risk their lives loading that car for me, when there was a much simpler and easier way to get the job done.

I share it here in hopes that someone else may avoid making the same, or a similar, mistake.

Mission Trip Planning
Depend on God

Although I feel badly I didn't know better, I'm also grateful to this day that the Lord protected the men who were helping me, and that we were able to get the car packed.

No matter how much planning we may do, the unexpected will always happen sooner or later. Therefore the most important part of mission trip planning is to submit to the Lord, and depend on Him to accomplish His will.

He tells us in Isaiah that His ways aren't our ways, and His thoughts aren't our thoughts, but we tend to forget these truths. When we are going through the difficulties of life, we can't see how they could be true, so we must believe them by faith.

But as we look back over our lives, frequently we can see the perfection of His ways. When we canĀ“t, we still accept them to be perfect by faith. As we depend on Him, He will bless our mission trip planning, and enable us to glorify Him with our lives.

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