Pack your bags!
October 17, 2022
When Expedia, an online travel site, released its 2022 travel trends report earlier this year, it discovered that not only was there a pent-up demand to pack one’s bags and take off on adventures unknown, but also the trips being planned were “GOATS” — “the greatest of all trips.”
Expedia polled 12,000 travelers across 12 countries and found that 41% of U.S. travelers are embracing the GOAT mindset by seeking out excitement and exhilaration and 40% are embracing the feeling that they have made the most out of their trip. The study also found that 40% of travelers are more willing than ever before to splurge on their future travels.
While excitement and exhilaration might be leading to fuller planes and longer check-in lines, the easing of travel restrictions have many churches excited as well, as congregations can start thinking about long- and short-term mission trips.
Recently, a group of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission leaders, Presbyterian Mission Agency World Mission staff and mission co-workers joined together on Zoom to talk about how to be thoughtful travelers when visiting global partners in the aftermath of the pandemic.
No. 1 — Do your homework before leaving
Christi Boyd, a mission co-worker living in the Democratic Republic of Congo, along with her spouse, Jeff, said it is important to approach visits with a “high level of intentionality by discerning the meaning, purpose and desired outcomes of our journey.”
“This process starts well ahead of making travel plans and evolves in consultation with our receiving counterparts. It also includes identifying any necessary preparatory work to be done to be mindful of our intentions. During the visit itself, we would, as thoughtful travelers, develop a greater awareness through our sensory perception of the context, our mental and spiritual reflection on the experience, and our prayerful and conscious effort to adequately respond to situations that can seduce us to unintended but still harmful acts,” she said.
No. 2 — Take all health precautions and medications
The Rev. Elmarie Parker, regional liaison for Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, encourages travelers to be vaccinated for the Covid virus as well as for other illnesses that are prevalent in areas of travel. Also, travelers should have all necessary medications with them.
“Our hospitals will make way for Westerners. This is one of the ways in which we are privileged in the world. And the challenge with that is that it means that local people who have no other options for medical care are pushed aside,” Parker said. “So, this is a way that we can be considerate, also, to simply not travel if there’s any risk that we may be taking medical care away from local people.”
No. 3 — Be mindful of others’ emotional well-being
“Peru has one of the highest Covid fatality rates in the world,” said the Rev. Jed Koball. He said the way to be a good traveler is to provide a space where people can share what’s on their heart because there’s a lot weighing on people’s hearts and minds right now.
No. 4 — Be thoughtful of what you call the trip
Hyeyoung Lee, a mission co-worker in South Korea, recommended to those embarking on a mission trip to think about how what you call the trip can have an impact on those participating. She said naming the journey something that implies learning can shape the mindset of the participants, helping them understand they are going to the country to learn from and hear from locals.
No. 5 — Nothing replaces the human touch
While there were discussions around in-person visits versus virtual visits, with Tracey King-Ortega, regional liaison for Central America, saying global partners have become better at navigating the virtual world, the consensus was that nothing replaces the benefit of being in person with others.
Kathy Melvin, Retired Director of Mission Communications for the Presbyterian Mission Agency
Today’s Focus: Planning a mission trip
Let us join in prayer for:
Let us pray
For those you have called to lead your church, O God, we give you thanks. Be with those who teach, preach and care for the least of these. And to all of your children, give the peace of Christ and the community of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
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