Janet Jameson: Mission Trip Leader Traveling to Central America
Janet Jameson is the wife of a pastor serving a congregation on the outskirts of Managua, Nicaragua. She works with mission groups from all over the United States who want to come and serve in Central America. She agreed to be interviewed by InternationalInsurance.com about her experience with planning for mission groups traveling to Nicaragua or other Central American nations like Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador or Panama.
Leading a Successful Mission in Central America
Q: What is involved in developing a successful short-term mission trip for a group? What should a mission trip leader consider at the outset of the planning process for groups coming to Central America?
A: All leaders must come to me with a plan before I agree to help them. If they don’t have one in place, I help them to develop it. Here are the key questions that this plan must answer:
- What time of year will the trip take place? Considerations include severe weather and associated illnesses like dengue fever and typhoid.
- How long of a trip are you planning? A trip that is too short may not allow your participants to fully immerse themselves in their purpose while a trip that is too long may be cost prohibitive.
- How much will it cost? I like to see that the mission leader has factored in costs for travel, including flights, accommodation and meals (and they should estimate on the high side so I know they are prepared). They also need to consider gifts to the people they are serving, missionary materials, offerings to the missionaries that are supporting, insurance for their group participants, and spending money.
The Logistics of a Mission Trip
Q: What are some of the most commonly overlooked logistical things for mission trip groups?
A: Here are some items that are either overlooked or often misunderstood by the mission group leaders that I have encountered:
- The leader has developed an over-ambitious schedule for the group without consulting with the missionaries on the ground. If a group is going to work through our Church, it is much easier if they give us an idea of what they would like to do and have us organize the specifics. We understand how things in the country operate, know our ministerial schedules, and are able to plan a realistic and meaningful trip.
- Under-budgeting: I see unrealistic budgets from time to time when a leader has failed to consult with us on costs of lodging and meals in our area or forgotten to consider meals while traveling and at transfer points.
The following are also important and I like to emphasize them to any mission group leader coming to serve with us:
- Make sure you have correct and up-to-date contact information for your host missionaries. Double check you have recorded it properly.
- Check your group members passports and visas (if required) in advance. Many countries will not let you enter if a passport is set to expire within six months.
- Some countries require immunizations for entry. In all cases, they should be recommended to your group based on the recommendations for the area you are visiting.
- Get a medical waiver form from each group member so you can authorize treatment in the event of an emergency.
- Print out the leader instructions from your travel medical insurance provider so you have it at your disposal when required. In my experience, you will make a visit to the clinic with at least one of your participants.