Short-Term Mission Trips – Frequently Asked Questions
Why take a trip to begin with? If you have an important project, would it not be a better stewardship of funds to just send the money that a trip like this would end up costing the entire group to actually go in person?
We get this question quite often. The quick answer is that “ministry is certainly more than money”. The main purpose of our ministry is to build relationships by bringing different members of the Body of Christ together as co-laborers in the Gospel. While financial support of foreign missions is important, the mere transfer of funds tends to minimize an actual “heart-to-heart exchange”. A more personal and direct means by which we can enter into a “Fellowship in the Gospel” is to actually travel to the foreign field to personally meet and to serve side-by-side with those ministering abroad. Janice and I feel it is very important to facilitate these encounters by hosting groups led of the Lord to engage in this aspect of missions.
God can use and work through such cross-cultural exchangess in many ways. Not only are those brothers and sisters that we come to help greatly encouraged, but the team members themselves are often enriched and come home with a new perspective, appreciation, or burden that they would have never gained without the personal experience of their visit. It is difficult to gain a burden for people that you do not know, or pray for ministries with which you are unfamiliar. In fact, many of those who end up as long-term missionaries started out by first going on such a trip, and witnessing foreign missions first hand.
When is your next mission trip?
Although we are always open to new opportunities that the Lord may bring, we typically schedule two trips per year. Recently, we began to offer Leadership Training Seminars in the beginning of the year, and host work teams for the sake of performing specific projects in the Fall.
In 2016, the two Pastor Training Seminars took place January 24-29.
2016 Fall Team Trip Schedule – Our Fall 2016 Trip is scheduled for the following dates: Saturday to Saturday November 12-19
Where do you go on your trips?
Currently, our trips focus exclusively on the country of Haiti. However, Fellowship in the Gospel Ministries is designed to work in any country around the globe where the Lord has opened a door of service with a select group of national co-workers in the Gospel. We are praying for Him to make it clear to us when He would have us serve elsewhere and with whom, specifically. There are several possibilities that we are considering at the moment. Please see the following link for any questions that you may have regarding the country of Haiti: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ha.html
What is the purpose of your short-term mission trips?
Though the details of each trip may vary, the emphasis and focus of each trip with us is Christ-centered and not merely humanitarian in nature. We travel to the field to help those already at work to better minister the Gospel to the people God has called them to serve. One of our main objectives is to come alongside these servants and “lift up their hands” as they seek to serve the Lord and their congregations, as well as to reach out to the lost souls around them. Typically, we are not on the field to help the general population of the country outside of the local churches and ministries that these workers have already established. Regardless of the emphasis or theme of the given trip, the basic goals of our endeavors are always the same: To encourage The Body of Christ and labor with others for eternal fruit that will bring Glory to God.
These trips allow the team member to experience and become familiar with the foreign mission field in a way that is not possible from the church pew in America. We strive to make each trip a rich cross-cultural survey exposure. Through personal interaction with those living and serving on the foreign field, each team member becomes more familiar with their families, churches, ministries, ways of life, and the day-to-day burdens that these Gospel workers have to deal with as servants of the Lord in some of the poorest countries in the world.
What, exactly, will we do on this trip?
Our trips are defined as: “A working retreat and outreach within the country of service”. They are designed to be both a blessing to those we have come to serve, as well as a time of reflection and learning for the team member. Each trip is made up of both work and worship elements.The Work
As Janice and I have hosted short-term teams over the years, we have learned a lot. We better understand which efforts are best accomplished by visiting teams coming in, and which things are best left to those already at work in the country. Due to the heat, we have found which months of the year are more “American Team Friendly” and which months are best left for support from the outside. We have learned what works and what does not work – what is of real use to the nationals we serve, and some endeavors one would have to categorize as “not so much”. Therefore, we need to schedule projects that: 1.) Can be accomplished within a 3-5 day period, 2.) Match the skill set of the group that the Lord sends with us, and 3.) Will be of real benefit to the nationals we have come to serve.
In the past work teams have done the following: built church benches, built and installed shelving for church schools, painted church, school and orphanage interiors, and sometimes helped paint a pastor’s home. We have erected a small church building, and distributed scripture, food, clothing and medication. We expect future trips to include an increasing variety of projects and endeavors, based on the numbers and skill sets of those the Lord brings together.
In the case of a small team, focused on teaching and ministering the Word, we have also put together pastor training seminars coupled with special evening services designed to help the local churches with evangelism, edification and outreach.The Worship
Our days are structured to provide both morning group devotions, led by various team members, as well as an evening “Blessing Time”. Apart from our team worship, we also worship with those we have come to serve. Along with the regular weekly services, there may be special services scheduled while a team is in the country, that can serve as an outreach opportunity for the national church. As would be true in American churches, the local people love to hear from “their foreign visitors”. Therefore, as part of any service, team members are encouraged to give a short personal testimony, while a man from the group typically brings a message from God’s Word. In non-English speaking countries, this is of course done through translation by the national leader of the church. Special music by groups or individuals is another way we seek to minister to the national church, whenever possible.
How large of a group can you accommodate on one of these trips, or what if I am the only one from my church?
Basically, we claim that no group is too large or too small. However, our typical group size is from 5 – 10 individuals. This limit is put on us because of two things: 1. Our place of lodging and 2. Our means of transportation. Since we try and keep our costs down, we do not stay in hotels with many rooms, or rent large buses to transport our groups. We usually stay in one of several smaller economical guesthouses and get around in a single vehicle, such as a van or larger SUV. We are flexible, however, and could take care of larger groups should the need arise. Depending on the needs of your group, however, that may require a cost adjustment for the trip.
As for the individual, couple, or small group wanting to come by themselves, that is always a possibility! Please just contact us and see if there is room for you to join a short-term team that is already scheduled. Also, there are times when a person, couple or small group needs to make a trip for a specific purpose. Do not hesitate to contact us in that event, as we can usually work something out. We have often served as “Guides” for just such excursions. In the case of a “custom trip”, we will work out a price with you that will be mutually agreeable.
How much does it cost to go on a short-term mission trip with you?
The current base-cost of our 7 day trips into Haiti is $850 plus airfare. The $850 includes your food, lodging, in-country transportation, a project contribution of $150, and the required emergency medical evacuation insurance. While age and medical condition do not necessarily limit your suitability to join one of our teams, it can sometimes significantly add to the cost of your individually rated emergency medical insurance. In those cases, your base-cost may necessarily be increased to cover that added cost to us. The airfare is another variable expense, and will depend on a variety of factors, as always, but can cost anywhere from $450-$800. Your point of departure probably affects that cost the most. Although the overall cost has varied considerably over the years, our experience has been that the typical total cost for the trip will be somewhere between $1,300-$1,600 per person.
Please be advised that while we strive to keep these costs as low as possible, and estimate actual expenses for you as accurately as possible, if any trip should ever leave FITGM with a positive balance after team trip expenses are paid, the excess funds would be applied to field ministry, as needed. Such funds would not be appropriated for the Hamptons’ personal use or support.
Are there any other costs involved in a trip?
Passport Fees – If you do not yet have a passport, there will be several costs involved with the acquisition of one. You will need to locate or order a certified birth certificate from the Department of Vital Records from the state in which you were born. There will be passport photos to purchase, and the application fee itself. In all, that can run you approximately $160. Go to your local county courthouse or the following U.S. Government web site for more information regarding passports: http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html
Recommended Vaccinations – Any pertinent information regarding specific vaccines you can find on the Center for Disease Control web site: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/haiti.htm In addition to routine vaccinations, it is recommended that the following vaccines and preventative medications accompany any trip to Haiti: 1.) Up to date tetanus or Tdap (within 5 yrs) 2.) Hepatitis A and B. Since the Hepatitis vaccines are given in a series over 6 months, the sooner you can start these before traveling the better. 3.) Typhoid. We highly recommend that you consult your primary care physician well in advance and inform them of your travel plans, including your scheduled date of departure.
Spending Money – Obviously, this is a matter of both personal choice and ability. The typical mission traveler does not need much for souvenir purchases. You can easily get by with anywhere from $20-$50, depending on your bargaining skills and how much you buy! As for church offerings, again, that is between you and the Lord. You will typically attend two or three worship services during your stay. Other than these costs, your trip fee will cover the rest.
How soon before a trip do I need to send in my money?
Trip Deposit Fee – As soon as you have contacted us and prayerfully determined that you want to join us in Haiti, we ask that you send in a $100 non-refundable Trip Deposit Fee for each member of your group, in order to secure your spot on our schedule. You want to do this, regardless of how far out your trip is, since no spot can be reserved for you without this commitment. This fee is required, however, ninety days before your trip departure date. This Trip Deposit Fee needs to be sent to our home address. We need to be assured of your commitment to join the team – that you REALLY plan on coming – since we turn others away once you are booked. We also need to keep an accurate running total on the numbers making up a given team in order to make advance preparations in-country. Finally, we need to purchase the emergency medical insurance for each team member in advance of the actual departure. This Trip Deposit Fee is applied to your total Short-Term Trip Fee.
Short-Term Trip Fee – The balance of your Short-Term Trip Fee ($750) is due sixty days before your departure date. Likewise, due to the lag in processing time, we ask that you send that balance to our home address as well.
Who purchases my airline ticket?
Once you are committed to joining a team and have forwarded your Trip Deposit Fee, Janice and I will then purchase your air ticket or the tickets for your entire group. Before purchasing the tickets, we will be in touch regarding various options for your city of departure and specific travel plans. While some choose to leave from the airport nearest them, others prefer to drive considerable distances to secure a cheaper fare or a non-stop flight, even if it means an overnight hotel stay before flying. For our part as hosts, what is most important is that team members arrive in-country on the same flight, or as close to the same time as possible. The reason for this is that multiple airport runs in-country are VERY difficult to manage.
Where will we stay?
This can vary from trip to trip. Since one of our goals, however, is to take good care of you while you are with us (After all, Lord willing, we DO want you to come back!), you can rest assured that we will lodge you in adequate and clean accommodations. We typically do not stay in hotels, due to the expense, but there are many guesthouses in Haiti that cater to mission groups and teams. Admittedly, some are nicer than others, but the places we typically keep a group in we have already stayed at and found to be quite livable. Nothing fancy, understand, but we believe that people can do all kinds of demanding things during the day, if they know they have a pleasant place to come back “home” to in the evening. Although we can not guarantee 24 hour electricity or running water in every case, we usually have enough of both to get by very reasonably.
What will we eat?
Again, this may vary depending upon where we stay. If we stay at a guesthouse with local cooks, we eat what is prepared for us, and that may be more “native” in flavor. If we stay at a place where we prepare our own meals, we usually eat more American style meals. In either case, we typically eat only breakfast and supper for sit-down meals, with a midday snack. Three things on the food: 1.) If you have any food allergies, we need to know about this in advance 2.) We ask that you bring an adequate supply of your own snacks for the week – Avoid chocolate items when serving in countries with hot climates, as they will melt. Protein snacks are best. 3.) We will keep you supplied with clean water, but you may prefer to bring your own travel bottle. If not, you can refill a water bottle from the store. As you know, remaining well-hydrated is very important.
How will I be expected to dress on this trip?
This entire topic is covered in greater detail with you as the departure date for a given trip approaches. Here we will just make some general statements regarding dress while on these trips, since there are a number of things to be aware of when serving cross-culturally.
Quite simply, we let this general principle guide us: The purpose of these trips is to minister to our brothers and sisters in Christ. One hosting pastor put it this way, “When you are a guest, you must know the protocol of the people you have come to serve.” We are no longer in America, nor are we visiting their country on a family vacation. As a group, we therefore strive to be culturally sensitive, wherever we serve, especially when it comes to joint worship times and speaking in front of the church people.
Each country tends to have different standards. What is acceptable in one country, would never work in another. Also, the cultural norms for the population of the country at large may differ from the norms of the Christian Community we have come to serve. Further yet, the dress standards for the subculture of the rural villages may differ significantly from what is totally acceptable in a more urban area.
By our standards, these norms may sometimes seem quite conservative. But whatever the situation, each team member’s cooperation is expected. There is just too much to risk for anyone to “do their own thing” in this regard. This is where some of us may have to put aside our own preferences, way of looking at things, and even that which may make perfect sense to us personally, for a week, and let LOVE guide us in all things according to Romans 14:14-15:2 and I Corinthians 10:23-33.
Are there any physical limitations that might be too much for me on one of these trips?
All kinds of people, regardless of age, gender, and physical make-up have come, joined a team, and thoroughly enjoyed the typical week on the field. We try to consider and work around the average physical limitations, due perhaps to age or a frailty of some sort, when planning our activities and delegating responsibilities. We will not ask you to do something that you are not able to do – not to worry.
There may be, however, a number of things that make a trip like this something that is beyond your physical capabilities. We will mention only the most obvious challenges that you may need to consider:
- An inability to walk over rough terrain and up or down some rather steep slopes
- An inability to cope with a hot (Typically mid 90’s to low 100’s) and sometimes humid climate
- Any medical condition that requires your use of an electrical medical device, or refrigeration of medications such as insulin, since we cannot guarantee you 24-hour electricity, if any at all!
Please do not fail to inform us beforehand, if you have some sort of physical problem, as your range of tolerance or health risk may be much different on the field than it is here in the U.S. Please feel free to contact Janice with any specific medical concerns that you might have.
Call Janice at: 717-437-4382 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Will I be able to communicate with my family and friends while I am away?
Yes! In this day and age, with all of the social networking and free and instant communication we have become so accustomed to, this question becomes a concern for many. Janice and I have phones for use in the country while we are hosting you. You may use those phones for the purpose of calling home after you arrive to let your family know that “you made it” and to tell them how you are doing. Also, before leaving for the field, we will give you those numbers to pass along to your loved ones, so that they will be able to reach you in the case of an emergency.
While we can not guarantee it, internet use is also typically available from where you will be staying. If that is the case, you will have free time for other online communication.
How can I be sure that a short-term mission trip is for me?
The best answer to that is: Be in prayer about it! Although Janice and I invite many people to come, and see, and serve, etc., we want GOD to be the One Who calls and leads to the field those individuals whom He has chosen. The LAST person that we would want to see join a team gathered on the field to serve the Lord, is a person that He did not send there Himself. Although someone may be right to encourage you to consider making the trip, please do not allow yourself to be “talked into it”, if you do not truly feel the Lord wants you to make the trip. Let God be the one to “talk you into it”.
Some people feel the Lord leading them to come on a trip, but they are held back because they do not know how they could possibly be used. We always tell such people the same thing: “If you believe the Lord is moving you to come, then just obey Him! He will show you what He will have you do once you are on the field.” We can assure you of this, you do not know what an encouragement your mere presence is to your brothers and sisters in Christ in these poorer countries.
Some people simply come to see what a particular mission field is like. That’s OK! However, please make sure that your curiosity is coupled with a sincere desire to do whatever the Lord would have you to do – to serve in whatever way He would have you to serve.
In either case, who knows what purpose the Lord has in calling you to serve Him. Our obedience is the main thing. He will work through that to accomplish His will, and He will bless you for it!
I have heard that Haiti is a dangerous place to visit. Can you guarantee my safety?
No. As with travel to many poor and developing countries, especially those with a history of political and civil unrest, foreign visitors often travel at their own risk. In fact, for the entire history of our ministry to Haiti, beginning back in 1997, there have always been official U.S. State Department warnings against travel to Haiti by U.S. Citizens. You may find the most recent update of such warnings at the following link: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings/haiti-travel-warning.html
In acknowledgement of such risks, we ask each person joining us in Haiti to read and sign a witnessed liability waiver, a copy of which we further ask them to leave with family while they travel.
How can I learn more about the country of Haiti?
I want to come! How do I get started?
The simplest and most direct way for you to get started is for you to simply contact one of us:
Brian Hampton: 717-250-1983; Janice Hampton: 717-437-4382
Or, you may E-mail us at: email@example.com
If we do not know you, it would be good to become acquainted. This will also allow us to begin to work out the various details concerning your trip, including getting our Short-Term Mission Trip Application out to you ASAP.
If you do not have a U.S. Passport Book for international air travel, again, you will need to get one. The best place to do that, we feel, is at your county courthouse or some other local agency that typically handles these. If you do not have a Certified Birth Certificate, but you have internet access, you may go to this website to find the Office of Vital Records for the state in which you were born: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/w2w.htm. You must contact them to get a legal Birth Certificate to accompany your passport application. The cost for that varies from state to state, but should be around $10. For other passport fees, see the section: “How much does it cost to go on a short-term trip with you?”.
In the meantime, we will be praying that if God wants you to join us in on the field, He will make that very clear to you! As we said, we want Him to put these teams together according to His good pleasure.
We look forward to hearing from you soon!