To assist himself and others in getting ready for ministry in Uganda,
Barry McWilliams has assembled the following
A Guide to
Getting Ready to go
on a Mission to Uganda.
Both Bob Hayes and Jim Sutherland
have excellent material on preparing for a Short Term Mission Trip to Uganda with a ACTI team, and this page is not intended to replace either of those. Rather this page endeavors to assist you through the process of getting ready in a "step by step fashion", based on my own experiences. In doing so, I have many links to Bob's Africa Christian Training Institute and its Short Term Ministry Guide (Index) and Jim's Reconciliation Ministries Network: Uganda pages (best viewed with IE) as well as some of my own Eldrbarry's Uganda pages as well.
The steps in the process:
- Making the decision to go and becoming part of a team.
- Africa Christian Training Inc/ Ministries
is a Word and Deed ministry that has worked effectively in Uganda since 1983 with the clear purpose of helping build the Kingdom of God with any group who invites us to minister without restriction in the following areas: evangelism, renewal, discipleship, marriage and family, church planting, and leadership training; and to provide assistance and training in the areas of health, agriculture, business, education, and orphans. ACTI facilitates Christians going to Uganda for enabling ministries that assist the church in areas of need, but at the same time leaves the Christians of Uganda in control of their own ministry and outreach. Africa Christian Training Ministries staff in Uganda assist in making arrangements for ministry, lodging, board and travel; as well as for the needs of the ministry.(For more on ACTI)
- ACTI's Mission is "to partner with Ugandan churches to identify needs in Africa, and to network among American Christians in attempting, as servants, to meet those needs.
- To focus upon enabling evangelists, disciplers, and teachers to serve Ugandan churches
- To make all arrangements needed for Christians to exercise their gifts, while serving Christ in Uganda
- To encourage career mission involvement as a result of a short-term experience and
- To encourage and challenge American pastors and other Christians as they see God at work." . . . Statement of Faith
- The ACTI Governing Board meets annually in December. Current Officers: Rev. Bob Hayes (ACTI President), Dr. Henry Krabbendam (ACTI Board Chairman), Mr. Rashid Luswa (Uganda Coordinator, ACTM). Tom Graham (Treasurer)
- FAQ's: What is ministry like? How do I join a Team? Is it dangerous? Etc.
- The Up Coming Teams. When and where will they be ministering? E-mail Jim Sutherland to have a Team Leader contact you
- Bob's Are Short Term Missions work the Cost? and Jim's Missions and You!
- Read through the Uganda Travel Manual - it covers in greater detail what goes into a trip.
- Making the commitment: forming your Ministry Plan and a personal Trip Preparation Time Line
- Confirm your decision with your spouse and family; and with your local church session.
- Obtaining your Travel Documentation and making Health preparations
Passports, Visas, VaccinationsIt takes time to get these done, so get started early obtaining Passports and vaccinations. You will also want to start getting yourself physically in shape with a regular exercise program.
- Learning as much as you can about Uganda. Make an effort to learn as much as you can about Uganda, and take time to study the maps. Online newspapers will inform you as to current events and issues. This information will both be valuable for you, but will also be quite useful as you endeavor to build your support teams.
- Gathering your Financial Support and building your Prayer Support Team
In assembling your Support Team - probably the most crucial part of preparation - you need to have clear perception of your Support Team's role in your ministry. Your ministry is also their ministry. So they need to have clear direction as to your needs, specific prayer requests, and also should have an opportunity to rejoice in the ministry and what it accomplished afterwards. I endeavor to give my support team plenty of information about the work as it progresses, and a detailed accounting afterwards. I also make available regular prayer letters in a variety of ways: written, e-mail, on line. We tend to focus on the financial needs, but it is their commitment to pray that is most crucial. Money will get you there, but their prayers sustain your ministry, overcome the obstacles and opposition while there, and brings in the harvest.
(Read Eldrbarry's Sowers and Reapers sermon and Jim Sutherland's lengthy article on Missionary Support)
All funds raised by ACTI and ACTI team members are solicited in a straight forward manner without the use of gimmicks and are used as designated by the donor. In faith we trust God to meet the needs of those ministering with ACTI, the appeal for donated funds must first be made to God in prayer, and appeals to potential donors must reflect the nature of the proposed ministry, the nature of the need, and a request for prayerful consideration about investing in this work. Ask those who give to your support to include a note stating the funds are for your trip to Uganda and that we do not deduct any overhead. 100% of what you receive will go for your trip and any excess funds received will go to help anyone on the team who has fallen short of their goal and when all team members are fully funded, excess funds are used to purchase Bibles and other Christian books, and medical supplies, or used to help orphans in Uganda.
- Develop a plan and get busy! Have a clear idea of your goals and keep track of your progress toward it.
- The most effective ways to raise support are in decreasing degrees of effectiveness:
A face to face personal appeal, a short personal letter followed up by a face-to-face appeal or a phone call, a personal letter with response envelope; a general appeal to a group (preferably along with a presentation on the up coming ministry), displays with prayer letters and response forms/ addressed envelopes; form letters, or e-mail.
- Start with your church session and body, then your extended family, then personal friends and close acquaintances, then co-workers. Then sister churches, etc. Even strangers may be interested in supporting your work. If several from your church are going, it will be important to cultivate as wide a field of support as you can.
- Set up a mission fund through your church, so people can deduct their donations as Charitable Giving.
- Be sure and thank those who support you with personal Thank You notes.
- Persistance and Creativity - If this is your first Short Term Trip, you might find task of raising support intimidating. You can expect discouraging moments and will likely experience unexpected provision. If God intends you to go - then He will provide the means in His way and at His time. Concentrate on building the prayer support team, and encourage them to join you in asking the Lord for the means. Leave room for God to work his "miracles." God will be teaching you faith during the process.
- More on Raising Support Funds and on ACTI Financial Policies
- Recruiting Prayer Supporters!
- Write letters and e-mail.
- Look for opportunities to speak at other local churches, or meet with their Missions committees.
- You may want to do small placard displays (see below) to place in church narthexs with your prayer letters, response forms and pre-addressed envelopes. You can also do bulletin inserts, or add regular snips about Uganda and its needs in bulletins.
- Prayer Letters: Some Guidelines and Samples
- Suggestions for keeping people praying
- Pass on to them regular and specific up-to date requests - Give them an itinerary and prayer list just before you leave.
- Some General Prayer Requests (Eldrbarry's March 2003 page)
- Kingdom Focused Prayer
- A Seven Day Prayer guide
- How to Pray for Missionaries By Paul Zimmerman (pdf brochure)
- On the use of the internet: Online Prayer Letters and E-mail
- Be sure to include your URL and e-mail contact info on every thing you send or give out.
- If you or your church has a web-site - put on line a mission trip page and a prayer page - See Eldrbarry's March 2003 example and his daughter Sarah's site - she is a missionary in Hungary.
- Create an e-mail prayer list: Group the addresses in your e-mail program.
- Create a Web-based e-mail account for the trip using Hotmail or Yahoo! etc. Create groups within it for your family and supporters.
- Equipping yourself for the trip:
Your first time, you will probably spend a lot of time and some cash to get ready for this trip. Thrift stores are good places for clothing; and my List of Essentials will help you with much of the other stuff you will need.
- Preparing for your role on the Team:
- Gathering Benevolent Gifts
- ACTI page Ministry needs
- RMN Travel Manual Scroll down to Ministry Needs and Gifts
- Avoiding Dependency
- The Tentmaker Project Small loans to help Ugandans get started in businesses of their own.
- Larger Works: Often teams are involved in larger works as representatives of congregations in the United States. These larger works include planting churches, building buildings, establishing schools or clinics, or a variety of projects related to any of these. Some examples: Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church helped plant New Life Presbyterian Church in Kajjansi and has contributed to its building and school. University Presbyterian Church sent a container of equipment to Kinkiisi High School including kitchen equipment, computers, and a generator. Trinity Presbyterian Church has been involved in orphan work, and building churches and a school in eastern Uganda. Churches are funding the Tentmaker Project, one example of micro-enterprise development. These are just a few examples of larger "partnership" ministries which do much to facilitate the strengthening of the Church in Uganda and open many doors to those who go.
- Packing your bags and making the journey
You will have two different packing needs on the trip and you will spend a lot of time unpacking and repacking and securing your luggage day by day. First you have to pack for the flight - meeting the restrictions imposed by the airlines - checked bags and minimal carryons. Then in Uganda, you will be traveling from place to place, living out of your luggage, carrying a daypack along as you minister often all day at a distance from your lodging; distributing benevolent gifts (hopefully about half of what you bring) along the way, collecting a few souvenirs and leaving behind things as well as you again pack for the flight home.
Checklist of items to carry on your person or in your carryon bag or fanny pack: Valid passport; Roundtrip airline tickets (or your e-ticket printout); Laptop, if taking it, U.S. $30.00 for Uganda visa upon arrival & money, a small flashlight, Medications, including Lariam, a small personal essential toiletry kit. You should carry all the essential information in "home travel folder." Other carry-on items: Cash and traveler's checks, Camera/film, Travel insurance information, writing materials, reading items, small rain gear pouch, small first aid kit in ziplock bag, one change of clothes (you will be travelling about 2 1/2 days), essential teaching/preaching materials.
Probably the trickiest items to pack are our books and teaching notes which we tend to carry on - but Study Bibles easily push things past the weight limits. In country, your luggage may be transported on top of the Matatu (taxi van), so water-proofing of the contents may be a concern. I've used Zip-Lock bags for organizing items in my luggage. And I am impressed by the Eagle Creek pack-it system. Try to travel as light as possible.
- Eldrbarry's List of Essentials has some suggestions about bags and luggage and packing.
- ACTI Air Travel Tips and TSA Tips on Security matters.
- Jetlag: Jetlag is inevitable and an eight to eleven hour time change really throws us for a loop both in Uganda and returning home. Here are some tips and more on how to beat jetlag.
- British Airways is the primary carrier for ACTI mission trips.
- Visiting London From Heathrow, it is easy to hop on the Tube to London. Carry-on's can be checked for a fee at the Airport. You may get a roundtrip ticket on Gatwick Express or a less expensive train www.nationalrail.co.uk/ from London Gatwick airport for Victoria Station. There you can buy a "London Visitor's Map" at a news stand and conduct your own tour. Many sights are within walking distance of the station: Westminster Cathedral and Abbey, Big Ben, Parliament, Buckingham Palace, the National [art] Gallery, the Horse Guards, St. James Park, etc. You can purchase a one-day bus pass (2£ in 2003) or use the Tube (subway) Bring change, since even the toilets may cost money (free at the National Gallery-which so far is also free). STAY TOGETHER in London, and try not to look too much like a tourist!
It is highly recommended that you keep a journal while on your trip. Whether you are already in the practice of journalling, of reflecting on your experiences, or of simply listening in prayer to God's voice, and writing down what comes; or not - you will find keeping a journal a valuable part of your mission trip. Each day will be packed with new experiences - keeping an immediate written record will help you recall them later. When you return home, your journal will enable you to relive many of them. It is also the best place to put your frustrations and negative feelings, rather than in teammate's ears. Make sure your journal is portable and take it and a good pen with you during the day, those slack moments that are sure to occur, are good times to add to it. Though you will be very busy, make an effort to use every opportunity to keep it up to date.
Here are some Journalling resources: CS Journalling Workshop . . Wakimbo
- Heading Home
- Shopping in Uganda
We usually end up at the
Arts and Crafts Village behind the National Theatre, to barter for souvenirs and things to take home. It has forty stalls with all kinds of merchandise such as: baskets; carved animals (mostly from Kenya) from wood or ebony, African masks, shields and weapons, carved folding chairs, drums and musical instruments, and all sorts of other art and hand crafts such as batik pictures, and clothing and accessories. Though we are usually too busy for shopping most of our time in Uganda - many items can be gotten cheaper outside of Kampala. There are many roadside shops in the villages we may be travelling through.
Our first encounters with bartering seem ackward since we are used to items having a set value (price), rather than being the value vague and negotiable between seller and buyer - generally these things can be purchased at one eighth to one half what you would pay in the West - once the "haggling" is over. It is further complicated by the constant mental activity of adjusting currencies. With bartering, you begin by establishing the upper (about twice what the seller wants) and lower (half of what you want to pay) limits and work towards a reasonable and acceptable amount for both parties somewhere between. Just remember, they are quite experienced at this and won't sell things at a loss. At the Village, they are used to dealing with tourists. My Shopping in Uganda page will give you an idea of the sorts of things you might want to shop for and their "value" in the West, as well as some hints on bartering.
- Arriving Home
- The "five minute" syndrome: Reverse Culture Shock:
You can expect to come home bursting with things to share with your family, friends and church. Unfortunately, they will quickly become bored with it. Major changes have impacted your mind and heart in your cross cultural experience. But they will have difficulty relating to that. They may not be able to see their own culltural self-absorption, lack of world awareness, and insensitivity to the social needs and poverty you have encountered. They will give you a few minutes to talk about your trip and then want to change the topic to things closer to home. You may get only ten minutes to share in a church service; when you can't begin to say "it" in an hour. People may flip through your pictures with seeming disinterest. You can expect both euphoria and feelings of frustration or even depression when you return.
So be realistic and patient with others. Try to get caught up on the changes people have had while you were gone. Give yourself space to reflect on what you have experienced and resist being overbearing in talking about it. Know that many will simply want the five minute account. Show just a select few pictures with short explanations, giving detail only when asked.
One suggestion is to have someone prearranged to "debrief" you concerning your trip - someone willing to take a couple of hours and just listen to you share your experiences. Look for one or two people who will listen longer, ask questions, and enter meaningfully into your cross cultural experiences - this may be a spouse, fellow team mate, or someone else who has travelled. When you do interject your insights into conversations, let people know you see things differently, but not in a way that you appear superior. And focus on the positives, not the negatives. It is even worse for returning long term missionaries and exchange students - the longer someone is away, the greater the effects of reverse culture shock can be. Some re-entry hints and more on reverse culture shock.
- For the Spouses of Short Term Missionaries
An article by Darwin Anderson of International Messengers with suggestions for married couples when one of them goes on and comes home from a Short Term Mission trip.
- Appendixes (In preparation)
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