So, you’ve decided to be a missionary. Whether you think this will be a six-month commitment or a lifetime in the nations, it won’t be easy.
Maybe you are worrying about living away from your family or how on earth to pack. Maybe it’s the fact that you’ll have roommates and you don’t think you’ll get along, or you’re worried that your relationship with God is not influential enough for the missionary lifestyle.
I am here to tell you that God can break off the fear in your mind and allow you to overcome it—while stepping into a radical lifestyle.
He did it for me, so why wouldn’t He do it for you, too?
Before my Discipleship Training School (DTS), I had finished an associate degree in psychology and worked a “regular” job, but I had never been on a mission trip. I was full of anxiety and broken in ways I didn’t care to admit. As I prepared to come to Kona, Hawaii my DTS, the fear inside of me kept me from asking the questions I needed help answering.
So, here are some tips I wish I knew before my DTS—that could transform yours.
1. Ask Questions, Don’t Just Google It
There is always hesitation and awkwardness that comes in when you have tons of questions and don’t know how to ask them. Finding people to talk to and using informational resources is key.
Answering your questions before Arrival Day is a high priority with staff because they want you to feel prepared. Your staff will do their best to give you information on what you are walking into. They have been where you are, and you are their priority, so ask them questions!
The people you know who did YWAM courses are great resources. I looked at their social media and talked to a few people I went to school with who had done DTS before me. The pictures and testimonies I found on social media answered many of my questions, and reassured me coming into DTS.
I’m giving this tip as a person who was too afraid to admit that I had loads of questions. Regardless of how kind the staff was and how well I knew them, I was practically shaking when texting people that I had known for years. So, I understand—but asking questions is going to help much more than acting like everything is clear.
2. Take Time To Connect With People Before You Arrive
Real talk: it is hard to leave your family. Stepping away from the familiar and into the unknown can be terrifying.
Take advantage of the time you have with your family now. Go on that coffee date with your mom or hang out with that one fun aunt you never see but really love.
I want to reassure you that contact with your family will not be cut off. You’ll be busy, but there will be plenty of opportunities for facetime calls and texts with your family and friends.
While I was on outreach, I used WhatsApp and Messenger to talk to those long-distance people, but there are lots of other options. Search for some apps that are great for communicating long-distance.
And don’t forget—you are not going to be alone here.
The people you meet in DTS will be some of the most influential people in your life. They’ll be the ones you will have crazy fun memories with, and the ones you grow with in the most insane ways. And you don’t have to wait to start. Get connected now on your school’s group chat and on our social media and YouTube.
While you’re away from home, you will find a new community who will love you in a way you have yet to experience. The transformation that can happen during DTS is indescribable—and the community is a huge part of that.
3. Pack Your Bag For The Unexpected
If you’re anything like me, you love traveling but get stressed at the thought of packing. Prepping for DTS was my nightmare because how in the world do you pack when you don’t know where half of your trip is going to be?
Trust me, I get it. Outreach isn’t announced until you are a few weeks into the training phase, and that can be nerve-racking. I’ll offer a few tips that I think I would’ve appreciated coming into DTS:
Bring clothes that are easily interchangeable. Light layers are helpful. Bring some of those staple pieces – a sweatshirt, sweatpants, a pair of jeans, lots of t-shirts, etc.
But girls (and guys!), you don’t need all those shoes. Bring a few practical pairs of shoes and a really cute pair you don’t think you can live without. You’ll probably go barefoot a lot, anyway. It’s Hawaii.
Lastly, don’t bring everything in your closet. Factor into your budget that might need to buy stuff once you’re in Kona. And don’t worry if you forget anything. “The Boutique” on campus is a free second-hand shop, and you can also buy things in town once you’re here.
4. Let God Transform Your Life Now—Not Later
Coming into DTS, I felt insecure that my relationship with God was shallow, or rocky at best. It was strange for me to walk into a God-focused, missionary-focused campus with no real desire to know God. During the first week of my DTS, I heard one phrase a gazillion times:
“Don’t build up walls with God because He will take you as far as you let Him.”
It seemed silly to me at first—but it ended up changing my entire DTS experience.
If you allow God into your world, He will transform it in powerful ways. During a prayer time in my DTS, I suddenly pictured myself in a room that was blinding white and held the glory of God. I was wearing a simple but beautiful white sundress, and I was dancing before God. Twirling in circles and radiant with joy – that’s when I realized it. This is how God sees me.
This experience transformed the view I had of myself because God showed me that I am worthy in His eyes. I am worthy to be loved and to have a voice. As I grow in friendship with God, my willingness to step out of fear and into His purpose only grows.
The best thing is that you don’t have to wait for DTS to experience this friendship with God.
We have a podcast episode with Asher Byrd that gives practical steps to what a relationship with God can look like on a normal day. Beginning this relationship does not have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to start with DTS. Reading your Bible for 15 minutes a day can change everything, even before you arrive.
Because wherever you are—transformation starts now.