B. Culture & Customs

  1. Attitudes while in another country
    • Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 1 Corinthians 9:19
    • We respect and follow the lead of the local church leaders in the country where we serve. If we have questions or suggestions we share them with the local church leaders privately.
      • On this trip our mission is-
        • 1. To represent Jesus in our words, thoughts and attitudes.
        • 2. Share the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ
        • 3. Share Bible truths that will prepare people for a joyful walk with Christ here and the blessed hope of the second coming of Jesus
        • 4. Share knowledge about healthy bodies and families that will bless the ones we came to help
        • 5. Minister to the needs of the people through health, family, medical, dental, construction and/or other activities
      • After we return home the church members, new believers and members of the community where we served will remember how we lived as much as what we said. We need to be seen as servants, helpers, kind, loving, pure, gentle, transparent and confident in Jesus.
    • On any mission trip it is common for things to NOT go as planned. There are travel delays, equipment or electricity failures, theft, uncomfortable situations and other unexpected events. God allows these things to happen to expand our faith in Him and to develop our characters.
      • “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
      • What should you do when facing the unexpected stress? “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5
      • So when everything comes crashing down remember-
        • 1. “It’s all part of the training.”
        • 2. “This means more stories to tell back home.”
        • 3. “Here’s another chance to see God at work!”
  2. Building Rapport with the Local People– Here are some simple methods to use in your meetings and one-on-one
    • Learn a few phrases in the local language.
    • Tell a little about your family and community back home and show a few pictures.
    • Let the people know you believe God brought you and them together for a special purpose.
    • When meeting people, look them in the eye, smile, shake their hand and say a simple phrase in their language if possible.
    • When offered food, if you can’t eat it, thank the people for their hospitality and touch it to your lips as a gesture of acceptance.
    • If appropriate, wear some article of clothing that is part of the local cultural dress.
    • Don’t speak unfavorably about the local country, culture, economy, politics or customs. Lift up Jesus and speak up about positive things you see locally.
    • Use stories and illustrations from the local culture in your sermon messages.
    • Let your joy show!
  3. Climate
  4. Credit Cards
    • Major Credit Cards are accepted in most major hotels & restaurants around the world. If your hotel has a website they also will accept a major credit card.
    • It is always wise to have some cash available for other smaller expenses. You can exchange money at banks and often through church organizations.
  5. Dress Code
    • Our dress code is based on the requests of the church leaders of the countries where we serve.
    • During programs & outreach
      • Men- nice slacks, dress shirt (short or long sleeve), tie, shoes
      • Women- Dress or skirt & blouse (short or long sleeves), shoes
    • Personal time
      • Men- casual slacks and shirt with a collar, shoes
      • Women- casual dress or skirt & blouse or nice slacks & blouse, shoes or sandals
    • Please do not bring or wear
      • Jewelry (in many countries a wedding ring is not considered jewelry)
      • Shirts/blouses without sleeves at least midway to the elbow
      • Skirts/dresses above the knee
      • Anything that might detract from your witness for Jesus
    • Local church leaders may provide additional counsel on dress code during the orientation.
  6. Electricity- What to expect
    • Electricity and wall outlets vary in different parts of the world.
    • For a detailed explanation about this and what it means check out this website– http://users.pandora.be/worldstandards/electricity.htm
    • For a simple explanation read the following-
      • Evangelistic equipment- Most newer equipment has been designed so it can be used in various parts of the world. Be sure your equipment says it will operate on “110-240 volts” before you go. (If it doesn’t, you will need to let the local church leaders know when you arrive so they can secure a transformer to be used at your meeting site.) Also it is wise to have electrical outlet adapters so the plug on your extension cord will plug into the local wall outlet or power source.
      • Personal Electrical Items- You can often purchase a set of electrical outlet adapters that include a converter that works for your small personal items (electric razors, hair dryer, travel iron, etc. but nothing bigger!)
  7. Food- Where & what do we eat & costs
    • At most hotels breakfast is included with our lodging. Our morning meeting for all participants will follow breakfast.
    • Some hotels have rooms with a kitchen area, allowing us to purchase food and prepare it in our rooms inexpensively. In some areas the local churches provide a meal or two each day for mission team members. Another option is to eat in restaurants at or near the hotel where we are staying. The registration site has an estimated cost for meals per day depending on the local arrangements.
    • Many mission trips go to semi-tropical regions allowing us to enjoy a variety of fruit and vegetables, as well as breads.
  8. Health Tips
    • We all want to stay as healthy as possible. Several things will help us accomplish this-
      • 1. Try to stay balanced with the eight true remedies- Nutrition, Exercise, Water, Sunshine, Temperance, Air, Rest & Trust in God’s power (acronym NEW START)
      • 2. Water- assume the water is not drinkable (potable) unless there is a good reason to assume otherwise. Drink only purified or bottled water, but drink lots of it (8-12 cups per day). Bottled water is easily purchased in most countries. Some people like to bring a simple water purifier purchased from a camping store.
      • 3. Food- in general, don’t eat meat and don’t eat from a vendor on the street. Usually you can trust food that has been peeled or cooked. Breads are almost always okay (unless it is a pastry with a filling). Be careful of salads or ice in your drink. Try to get several servings each day of fruits, grains & vegetables.
      • 4. Sunshine- In tropical climates the sun can be especially damaging to light-skinned foreigners. Use sun screen to avoid skin damage.
      • 5. Rest- Regular rest each evening will help prevent exhaustion that can set in from all the excitement and non-stop activity of a mission trip.
      • 6. Gastro-intestinal Sickness- In spite of being careful, some have a day or two of gastro-intestinal sickness. You might want to have appropriate medications (e.g. Imodium, etc.) handy just in case.
      • 7. For more information check out www.tripprep.com but don’t get paranoid! Remember to trust in God’s power!
  9. Internet Access
    • Internet access is available in almost any city in the world. Check with the hotel personnel for the easiest way to access the internet.
  10. Local Transportation
    • When you send your arrival information this will be given to local church leaders. This will enable them and us to meet you at the airport and provide transportation to our hotel.
    • Transportation around the area is usually easy and inexpensive. At the orientation you will meet the contact person for your meeting site and discuss the best method of transportation.
    • It is best to travel in groups of two or more in any foreign country.
  11. Lodging
    • All mission team members are expected to stay in the hotel listed on the registration website.
    • Each person is responsible for paying for his/her own lodging. Please come prepared to do this. The prices listed on the hotel website are sometimes more expensive than those negotiated by local church leaders. This explains why there is sometimes a difference between the estimated lodging costs on the registration website and the costs listed on the hotel website. Prices are per person double occupancy. Those who want a private room should expect to pay considerably more than the double occupancy rate.
  12. Money- exchanging it, protecting it, using it for the greatest good
    • Exchange rates vary, but to get a general idea check out http://www.xe.com/ucc/full.shtml
    • Exchanging money- Banks are generally the best place to exchange cash or travelers’ checks. Sometimes church leaders can exchange money. Hotels and tourist shops will often accept or exchange money, but not usually at as favorable rate.
    • Protecting money- When traveling or around town carry smaller amounts where you can access it (purse, wallet, front pants pocket) and larger amounts in a money belt. Keep most of your cash in the hotel safe.
    • Using it for the greatest good- Consider the following items-
      • 1. All money belongs to God and is on loan to us. The greatest use for money is to supply our needs, care for the needs of others and to advance God’s work.
      • 2. If bargaining in the market is a common practice in the culture where you are, look for the win-win. Be a little generous with those who don’t have as much. If possible check with church leaders to see what a fair price is and pay it gladly.
      • 3. When leaving the country save enough cash to pay any airport exit fee. Consider leaving any extra money with conference/union/mission leaders for special projects.
  13. Safety
    • Proper safety involves being confident of God’s protection and avoiding unnecessary risks.
      • For the angel of the LORD guards all who fear him, and he rescues them. Psalm 34:7
      • [The devil] said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He orders his angels to protect you. And they will hold you with their hands to keep you from striking your foot on a stone.’ “Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘Do not test the Lord your God.’ ” Matthew 4:6-7
    • NPUC Global Missions and the local church leaders will do everything possible to avoid dangerous places and situations. At the same time we need to recognize that every day, whether we’re at home or away, there is some degree of risk.
    • We simply ask you to follow these common sense guidelines-
      • 1. Two or more people. When traveling away from the hotel please travel in groups of two or more team members and/or local Adventist believers.
      • 2. Side trips cleared first. Do not take side trips out of town without talking with team leaders and local church leaders.
      • 3. No rides or travel with strangers. Do not accept any rides or invitations to go places with people you don’t know.
      • 4. Money & equipment in public. Do not show large amounts of money or equipment in public.
      • 5. No invitations to hotel rooms. Do not invite anyone who is not a team member or local Adventist believer to your hotel room.
      • 6. Respect for room privacy. Please do not visit the bedrooms of members of the opposite sex even if they are mission team members.
    • See also A Safe Trip Abroad on the US State Department website
  14. Sightseeing. While you are in another part of the world you may want to do some sightseeing. Please keep the following in mind-
    • 1. Learning about another culture and country can be very fascinating.
    • 2. A digital camera with plenty of memory or a good way to download your pictures to a computer will help you have memories to treasure.
    • 3. We ask that you take any major side trips before or after the mission trip rather than during the mission.
    • 4. If you take short trips with your Adventist hosts during the mission, please allow plenty of time to get back and get ready for your evening meetings. Because travel takes longer than expected in many countries, some team members have been late for meetings or have no time to prepare the messages. Please don’t short-change our main purpose in going.
  15. Telephone- Calling home. On mission trips there are often several ways to call home-
    • 1. Most countries have long distance calling booths where you can call home for a relatively small fee.
    • 2. You can check with you phone company or calling card company to learn how to make calls home from the country where you are going.
    • 3. You can check with your cell phone company to arrange for cell phone calls in the country where you are going.
    • 4. Many team members have used www.Skype.com to talk to people back home on their computers using the Internet
    • Internet is often available for communication with home as well.
  16. Women Preachers- Are they accepted?
    • In almost every corner of the world women can preach the Adventist message as effectively as men. In some places, people will come to hear a woman before they come to hear a man!
    • We need as many women preachers (and teachers and translators) as possible to join us on this mission.
  17. Youth Preachers- Are they accepted?
    • Many young people preach their very first evangelistic series in another country, and gain confidence in God’s power to use them when they come back home.
    • Young people can preach a series of meetings by themselves or in teams of two or three preachers. Those who may be fearful at first may begin by telling children’s Bible stories or by presenting the health or family life talks. The local church members are supportive of their willingness to let God use them.
    • We have had preachers as young as eleven years of age. We have also had many teenagers and young adults involved in preaching the Adventist message. In fact, that is how the Seventh-day Adventist message spread so rapidly in the mid-1800s.
    • If you are a teenager or in your 20s, please come with us on this mission trip to share the good news of salvation and the important Bible truths with the people.