~ “Serving each other in tricky situations can be valuable in itself, and it sets the tone for the rest of the trip.” ~
Careful planning and good intentions can unravel in a second while on a mission trip. That’s just the nature of international travel. Great volunteers have the ability to adapt and be flexible no matter what comes their way. They are joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and constant in prayer (Romans 12:12). Ask God to calm your anxieties and then jump in headfirst. How can you make the most of a situation that is less than ideal? Here are some real-world examples to get you thinking about what you would do if the unforeseen occurs.
Your bus breaks down.
Transportation is often less reliable abroad than what you’re accustomed to at home. Whether it’s a flat tire from an unpaved road or an overheating engine, your group might find itself without a way to get anywhere. Remain calm. Trust your trip leader to take care of the situation and don’t panic. Stay joyful and focus on the positive: you now have hours of downtime that can be used for group building. Your group needs to work together to deal with the busted bus, and in the process, you will have the opportunity to get to know one another better, including your respective strengths and weaknesses, which can be put to use later on in the trip. Remember that serving each other in tricky situations is valuable in itself, and it sets the tone for serving others on the rest of your trip.
50 kids show up for an after-school program instead of 20.
While missionaries can give you a good estimate of how many people to expect for activities, there’s always the possibility that significantly fewer or significantly more people will show up. Try to plan in advance adaptations for activities with a fluid number of participants. “Duck Duck Goose” would be great for 20 kids but a nightmare for 50. Perhaps substituting “Red Rover” would be a better option. Think beyond numbers as well. Participants may have varying degrees of skill levels, ages, and language comprehension. Make sure to account for these factors in your planning. And if no one shows up at all? Be constant in prayer. Pray for those you were expecting and for whatever circumstances that might be keeping them away.