3 Thoughts for Your First Time Overseas

I believe some of my best days have been spent on the mission field. Intentionally working toward furthering God’s kingdom is one of my favorite things (and I wish I was better at doing this when I’m at home and not just on mission trips).

I am by no means a seasoned missionary, but I would love to share a few thoughts I had on my first overseas mission trip:

1. God does not call the equipped, He equips the called.

I was called to East Asia for a full month in the summer of 2011. I went on the trip through my college’s BCM and never in a million years believed I would actually get chosen to go. My Bible knowledge was severely lacking. I had only been on three week-long mission trips. I lacked confidence when I prayed out loud.

Isn’t it funny how God likes to use us when we don’t feel like we could ever measure up?

This is how He gets the glory. He uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things, and I was excited and beyond terrified to be one of His ordinary people.

My team of five and I headed off on more than twenty hours of travel to get to our destination (the out-of-body experience I had after sixteen hours on a plane is another story for another time). When we arrived, we found out we would be working with a small English learning center for the next month.

2. There is no formula for what a mission trip should or will look like.

The first two weeks of the trip were spent out in the heat, handing out flyers advertising the English learning center to passersby. The town we were in was tiny, and it was definitely not a tourist town. Everyone was confused and excited about the “funny Americans.” I signed autographs, I took pictures with huge groups of strangers, and I even had one little girl sing me a song she’d made up (it was Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, but she was convinced she’d come up with it first).

It was surreal. I wondered how this was a mission trip. Shouldn’t we be helping build houses or serving in a food pantry or something more… missional? I was confused.

There were ten teachers at the English learning center, and none of them knew Christ. The director of the school did, so we were able to sing worship songs and tell our testimonies in the evenings. I was very nervous to share my testimony because I always thought it was boring and uninspiring.

Well, God showed out like usual when we doubt Him. I shared my testimony, and it was just what was needed on that night. Others on my team shared throughout our time there, and we watched three of the teachers ask questions, request Bibles, and then finally get saved.

It was a powerful month of growth and change. From the outside, it didn’t feel like a “real” mission trip as we spent the first days handing out flyers and then teaching children English the second half of the trip. It didn’t feel like a “real” mission trip as we went on hikes and to the swimming pool and tried every type of noodle imaginable.

But it was. God was at work in and through each of us that month as we created relationships with the teachers and students and passersby.

3. You never know when you’ll get the chance to use your skills.

I am not athletic. I have flat feet and short legs and no upper body strength. This is not exactly a recipe for any sort of sports star.

What I do have, though, is artistic ability. While in Asia, I got pretty sick (there’s nothing like dealing with a weird cold when every single day is at least one hundred degrees outside). For a few days, I had to stay inside while everyone else went out to hand out flyers. While inside, I got to help decorate the school, which amounted to me drawing over thirty little cartoon cars to hang up in the classrooms.

It was a very random task, but it helped liven up the school, which made the students really excited (this also resulted in them asking me to draw on every single "We’ll Miss You, Miss Maegan" card they made, but I didn’t mind).

God did some amazing things in my life through this trip. He showed me that random is normal, relationships are important, and even the best food eaten too many days in a row gets old. But most importantly, He showed me that if lean on Him, I will have the firmest of foundations.

Written by Maegan Dockery, Missions Resource Center Marketing Strategist for national WMU.