Before a medical mission’s trip, you are typically prepared for the work you will be doing, but it’s also important to know what to expect about the overall cultural experience as well.

Here are six things you should know about medical missions:

1. Use your American “privilege” for good.

You will have many opportunities to help those around you in more ways than one. Locals will be able to spot an American from a mile away — we stand out. You are no better than those around you, but being an American has certain assumed wealth. Since people will be taking notice of you, make sure to use your “privilege” for good. Tip generously, leave belongings behind that you don’t need in the States, and support as many local markets as you can.

There’s always someone you can think of who needs a souvenir!


2. Be mindful when you take pictures.

Some places frown on people taking photos. Always ask permission before you assume it’s okay to photograph your surroundings, or especially the people! Also, don’t take advantage of the community by taking pictures and exploiting them.

You are there to serve, not to make yourself look good and “charitable.”


3. Share with the community about the organization you represent.

It’s easy to show up, build a relationship, and then leave. This can make it difficult for future groups to be trusted. Communities appreciate the help, but they watch people come and go and relationships are difficult to build with people they never see again. Plan to show up and go in explaining the organization you are representing.

It’s easier for the people there to build a relationship with the organization as a whole more than it is individual people. Build trust.


4. Try the foods you are offered!

The food will be very different, but it’s important to try at least what you are offered out of respect for those generously providing. So much time and sacrifice is put into the food in third-world countries.

Be gracious and accepting.


5. Listen.

The people will tell you their stories, and through genuinely listening, you’ll be able to better meet their needs. Sometimes there is a language barrier, so make sure there is a reliable translator always available.

Your goal is to listen and respectfully respond to the stories you hear.


6. You can only do what you can do.

Don’t try to be a savior. You are only there to meet a need and plant seeds. Don’t put the pressure on yourself to save everyone. God only calls us to be willing and say “yes” to His call. He has a plan for what happens next. You are reaching out and touching lives.

Give your all but don’t walk away blaming yourself for not fixing all of the world’s problems.

We hope these tips will help you feel better prepared to go into the mission field! Click here for more information about our upcoming trips!

 See you in the mission field!

Sheri Postma, RN
Founder & CEO
Mission Partners for Christ