Are you bringing a short-term missions group to Butler this summer to work with us? (You should! Three reasons why!) Let’s make the most of your experience!
First, make sure you call or fill out the group form to get on our calendar. Our volunteer schedule fills up pretty fast over the summer months, so get dates settled today.
Okay, now we’re ready to make plans. Here are some tried and true tips for making sure your short-term summer missions trip is a huge success.
1. Get your missionaries connected to Love Packages.
Prepare your team before you even get here, by helping them catch the vision for what God is doing through the literature ministry. The work they are going to do will mean so much more to them if they know what they’re walking into.
Most importantly: Pray for us! However often you meet with your team, please keep our staff and our distributors—and the work in general—in your prayers.
2. Give everyone a packing list.
We have some extras that have been donated (or left behind and abandoned) over the years, but everyone prefers their own stuff. Butler is a very small town. If someone forgets something that we don’t have, you will have to drive to the next town to get to WalMart.
You can download a sample packing list here. There are some blank spaces for you to write in items that you want your team to bring as well. If you prefer to make your own list, some items we recommend putting that list include:
Bedding — a sleeping bag, flat/top sheet (for when it’s too hot to be in the sleeping bag), and pillow.
Bible, notebook, and pens
Good gym shoes (for long days on cement warehouse floors)
Flip flops/shower shoes
Reusable water bottle
We also recommend asking every missionary to bring a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, and a jar of jelly. PB&J is great missionary food: carbs, protein, and sugar. 🙂 Having everyone bring these few simple items, and planning on PB&J (plus fruit, chips, etc.) for lunch every day makes your budget lighter and your food prep job a lot easier.
3. Prepare parents and loved ones for limited contact.
If you’re bringing a youth group, you may need to prepare the students as well.
There is no reception in the warehouses where your missionaries will be working all day. None. It’s even kind of tough to get much reception in the bunk room … or the yard.
There is also no WiFi in the buildings (except in the warehouse office, but no, we do not share the password with the whole group).
Shocking, we know.
But also a really good excuse to limit cell phones, social media, etc. for the time you’re with us. You may as well require your teenagers to turn it off entirely for the week. Let them experience quiet and stillness and waiting on God. Let them see how they actually can hear from God when they’re not listening to a thousand other things all day.
Give our office number to parents and loved ones who will be staying home, in case of emergency. Make sure they know that their kids aren’t ignoring their calls/texts—they’re really not getting them.
4. Plan a menu and bring a grocery list.
If you have a little bit of a drive, you may be better off not trying to bring all of your food stuffs with you. Litchfield is one town over and they have a super WalMart with all your grocery needs.
We have one group that comes from Chicagoland, for a week every summer. They show up on a Sunday afternoon, drop off their teenagers to get settled and unpacked, and one chaperone takes a grocery list (and a couple teenagers) over to Litchfield to stock up. (And if you’re coming from some place like Chicagoland, groceries are probably cheaper here anyway.)
Instant oatmeal packets and/or bagged cereal for breakfast
Small fruits — Plums, Cuties/mandarin oranges, and bananas on the table get eaten (even by teenagers) more than you might think. Smaller pieces seem more “single serving,” and get picked up.
Chips/crackers/cookies to go with PB&J for lunch.
Try to feed them well—even if they’re teenagers—because we’re going to work them hard in the warehouse. 😉
5. Make some schedules.
There are two things to schedule ahead of time: food prep/cleanup and showers.
Food prep/cleanup — Maybe you have volunteer leaders who will do this, but it works well for a lot of groups to plan who is making and cleaning up meals ahead of time. We’ve seen some pretty detailed chore charts posted in the kitchen for some groups!
Showers — Please note that there are eight shower stalls in one small room off the upstairs dorm room (i.e. you have to walk through the upstairs dorm room to get to it). If you have male and female missionaries, you’ll want to come up with a shower schedule ahead of time.
6. Plan ministry.
We will ask your missionaries to join us in the office every morning for prayer and maybe a song of worship before we start the day, but we encourage you to make plans for ministry with your group while you’re here.
Schedule quiet time before or after work.
Plan on small group bible study and/or worship in the evenings.
Order or prepare a special devotional for everyone to use while you’re here.
You may also want to think/pray about a bible study or ministry theme for the time you’re here. It’s a good time to teach your group about the persecuted church, since they’re working to supply so many of their brothers and sisters in those places.
“In the evening we always take time for students spend time alone with the Lord. I prepare a guided personal time with the Lord for them to study God’s word, to pray and worship. We then come together for some sweet conversation of how the Lord is challenging their hearts.”
– Paul Gearhart, Director of Senior High Ministry
There is a large classroom on the main floor of the residential building—equipped with a chalk board and desks—that is at your disposal if you would like to use it.
If you would like to plan an evening for Steve to minister to your group while you’re here, please let us know ahead of time and we will try to plan for that as well.
7. Plan evenings.
We close up at 5:00 and there is not much to do in Butler, so make some plans ahead of time.
If you come during the right time, there may be a fish fry in Butler, or a parade in Hillsboro (the other “next town,” opposite direction as Litchfield), but that’s about it for events. Hillsboro has a small, family-run movie theater that groups sometimes take advantage of in the evenings.
Butler has a small basketball court and a kids’ playground a few blocks from the warehouse, and we have a few board games in the residential building. But that’s about all.
Some groups bring their own games or sports equipment. Some bring laptops and video projectors.
Some are just exhausted after a full day of physical labor, so they take showers after work and pass out on their bunks.
8. Plan ahead for how you will share the experience at home.
How do you wrap up a missions trip and share the experience with your families and home church? Videos? Pictures? Testimonies? Plan to take the experience home!
How will you help your missionaries remember the trip in a month? In six months?
Thinking about it ahead of time will help you remember to take those pictures/videos while you’re here.
It’s also much easier to collect testimonies from your students/team members on the last day, before you leave. Get them on video or ask them to write it down. One group takes time on the last day of their week to have their teenagers write letters to themselves about their trip. The youth pastor then mails those letters to the students six months later to remind them of what God did and said during their missions trip.
Share Your Love Packages Mission Trip Tips!
Vets, what did we miss?! If you’ve brought a short-term missions group to Love Packages before, share your tips and tricks in the comments!
We can’t wait to see you all this summer (… or spring … or fall … or, shoot, any time)!