Coming home from a youth mission trip can be much like falling off a mountaintop and walking away very disoriented. You have experienced so much in such a short time that coming back to real-life can be a letdown.
One way to prevent disorientation is to spend some time in reflection and sharing your experience with others. Below are a few questions to ask yourself and your trip companions as you try to process your experience and integrate what you learned into daily life.
1. What are the top three things I will miss from my mission experience?
Mission trips often come with new friendships, a new love for the location you were in, and a spiritual high. While we know that the trip can’t last forever, it is okay to think about what you will miss about being there. Recognizing things that will be missed is also a good way to think about what you may do differently at home.
2. What are the top three things I’m most thankful for at home?
Maybe you are really thankful for your family, or your home church, or the school you go to, or that you have a stable place to eat and sleep each day. Spending some time to reflect on these things will help you have a greater appreciation for all that you have been blessed with!
3. What is one thing I want to remember from this experience?
We hope that we will remember it all but we also know that our memories can fade over time. It’s important to think of some of the highlights and make note so that you can hold onto this impactful experience for many years to come.
4. What do I feel like God was communicating to me during this time?
Do you feel like you learned a big lesson or felt a little nudge? Are you leaving with a renewed conviction to spend more time in the Bible or to get connected with a non-profit at home? Sometimes you don’t even realize what God was trying to tell you until you take a little time to process your experience.
5. Who will I share with when I get home so I can be held accountable for continuing this growth?
We are not meant to go through life alone. Talking about your experience and the things God communicated to you throughout the trip with someone you trust can be a great way to follow through on the promises you have made yourself.
Take the time to reflect on your mission trip
As you ask these questions really reflect on your experience. You may notice lessons that you learned without even being aware at the time. Maybe you want to write down some notes about the benefits of your experience and your answers to these questions so that you can look back on it in a few months.
After you have spent the time reflecting on your experience and preventing the disorientation, you will want to think through the conversations you will have with people at home. You’ll want to be ready to share one story about how the week impacted your life. When people at home ask, “What did you do?” they often really mean, “Whom did you serve, and how did the week impact your life?” Be ready!
Above all, don’t let all the transformation that you experienced during your mission experience fall away when the trip is over. Be intentional about bringing it home with you and always remembering the lessons God was teaching you.