Are you ready for your missions trip to a Spanish speaking country?
You’ve booked your flight, made a packing list, raised support, and studied pictures of a country you’ve never been to. Or maybe you’re reminiscing about your trip last year as you plan to see familiar faces this year. Either way, if you’re planning on taking a missions trip with your church, school, or non-profit organization, here are some basics you’ll want to keep in mind.
Most missions trips that Americans take are to Spanish speaking countries.
After all, we share a border with Mexico, and we’re in the same hemisphere as the majority of Spanish speaking countries. It only makes sense that we would travel to, and volunteer in, countries that we can reach via a quick plane ride and relatively little jet lag.
Yet many missions trip participants don’t try to learn Spanish.
Perhaps they are scarred from high school Spanish experiences, just intimidated by language learning in general, or maybe they don’t understand the importance of language learning. In any case, many people who plan to take a short term missions trip fail to plan in this area.
Speaking Spanish makes the difference in experience and relationships on your missions trip.
For churches planning to take missions trips, it’s helpful to remember the words of the Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 14, “but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me.” That’s it. Without studying and practicing the language, we’re simply “foreigners.” Not friends, not brothers or sisters, just “foreigners.”
That doesn’t sound very positive, but think about it. How many people have you developed a meaningful relationship with here in the U.S. that have made no effort to learn English? Chances are, that number is low. So take control of your trip experience, and dive into language learning.
You can learn Spanish more than you think – in just a few weeks
At Confidence Learning Services, our Spanish for Missions Course offers a 6-week training specifically designed for people who are planning to take a trip to a Spanish speaking country. Alongside other resources and materials customized for your particular trip, our curriculum is based on, “Spanish with a Mission” by Mirna Deborah Balyeat. This book is designed with a focus on the unique phrases and vocabulary necessary for missions work.
You don’t have to be an expert.
You may not be able to learn everything there is to know in Spanish before you go, but you can learn something. It just takes a little practice each day to develop the skills necessary to start a casual conversation in Spanish, share a favorite song (like this one) or Bible verse, or tell a story about yourself. You don’t need to be able to give a sermon or political campaign speech, and there aren’t any grammar quizzes or essay questions on your trip. In the 6-weeks leading up to your trip, you’ll learn enough to be more comfortable and confident. But if you don’t study before you go, you may find yourself regretting the opportunity you missed to be more prepared for your trip.