Six Ways to Prepare for Your Venture Trip

02/19/15

So you’ve signed up for a Venture trip this year. Obviously you have a lot of physical preparation to do—fundraising, shopping, collecting resources, and packing. But beneath the physical preparation, you have a much more important job to do mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. 
 

How do you prepare for a trip? Here are six ideas to help you, whether you're going through COTN's Venture Program or another ministry. Add your own in the comments section!
 
1) Read
 
Invest time in understanding the history and culture of the place you are about to visit. Many of the countries COTN serves have experienced devastating wars or natural disasters in the last decade. Understanding the dynamics behind these events and the ongoing political and economic issues will help you understand the people and what they struggle with on a daily basis. 
Here are a few great books you can crack open before you leave. Or, bring them with you on the plane!
 
The aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti: The Big Truck that Went By
The war in Sierra Leone: Soldiers of Light
Testimony of a Sierra Leonean child soldier: A Long Way Gone
The war and child abductions in Uganda: Aboke Girls
The story of one exceptional Malawian boy: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
A picture of development work in Malawi: Water and Witchcraft
Haitian immigration to the Dominican Republic: Peripheral Migrants
 
If you’re not up for a whole book, scour your favorite news sources for recent articles on your country. Or set up Google alerts to get daily or weekly emails with all the news from your country. 
 
Oh, and read your Venture Manual. Really. We’ve put a lot of helpful information in there!
 
2) Redefine Poverty
 
If you think of poverty simply as a lack of material goods, your gut reaction when you see extreme poverty will be to fix it by giving people things. This can be a hard response to overcome when you’re confronted with a child who owns two sets of clothes and lives in a one-room hut. But simply handing out material items can actually make the problem worse. 
 
Also, dig into the book When Helping Hurts. This is required reading for Venture participants and will challenge you to look at poverty as a much more complicated spiritual, emotional, and relational problem, and to re-examine the way you will respond to it when you’re in country.

             The way you understand poverty will shape the way you respond when confronted with it in country.
 
3) Re-center on Jesus
 
You can’t pour yourself out until you’ve been filled up. Of all the things you are going to do, nothing will matter as much as the way you use this time to grow closer to Christ, and the encouragement, wisdom, and prayers you offer to others. The spiritual journey starts now, as you prepare. 
 
Spend time in the Word and in worship and prayer. Our staff developed a great Bible study that you can work through in the back of your Venture Manual.
 
Pick some verses to memorize before you set out on your adventure. You never know when you’ll need them. 
 
4) Pray
 
Nothing prepares your heart like prayer. Spend time in personal prayer, but also begin to pray for the country you will visit. Use news articles to prompt your prayers. Sign up to be one of our prayer partners to get prayer requests from in country emailed to you. 
 
5) Serve Locally
 
A wise missionary once told me, “If you’re not doing it here, you won’t do it there.” Serving is an outpouring of the love God has given you, and your desire to serve internationally should translate to your own backyard. Serving in places that are out of your comfort zone is a great way to prepare for the challenges you’ll experience on your trip. 
 
6) Learn the Language 
 
Even if you are terrible at language learning, invest the time to pick up a few phrases. Just the fact that you tried will mean so much to the people you meet. Your Venture Manual has a few helpful phrases. If you’re more ambitious, check out the Peace Corps manuals for Mende (Sierra Leone), Krio (SIerra Leone), or Chichewa (Malawi). This YouTube channel will help start your Haitian Creole. Your local library is sure to have a Spanish book if you’re headed to the Dominican Republic. And if you find a good learning resource for Lango (Uganda), leave a comment below!
 
                                    Just greeting someone in their local language will mean a lot to them!

What other resources and ideas do you use to prepare? Comment below.