Going on Christian mission trips can be exhilarating in a lot of ways. You’re interacting with a new culture, working with a group of people you may or may not have known before, and using skills you didn’t even know you had. And all along the way, you can feel your relationship with God changing — growing into something deeper, stronger.
But then you come home, and you think: what now? Because coming home from an international mission trip isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Challenge #1: Exhaustion
Air travel. Land travel. Strange food. Jet lag. Foreign languages. You’ve been dealing with all of this and much more for days, weeks, or even months. So it’s no wonder that the moment your feet cross the threshold of your home, you crash.
Relax! This is normal. In fact, as much as you want to hit the ground running as soon as you get home, and as desperate as you are to tell everyone about all your experiences and show them all your pictures, you need to take a day or two to acclimate. Give yourself the space to recover!
Challenge #2: Frustration
No matter how much you talk about your trip, the people who weren’t there with you simply aren’t going to get it. The prospect of re-entering your “normal life” becomes more or less depressing because of what you have witnessed on your trip.
When you become frustrated, remember that just because your life goes back to normal doesn’t mean your heart has to. God changes people on Christian mission trips — and it’s not a temporary glitch. It’s a real, profound heart change, and no matter what happens after you get home, you’re a different person now.
Challenge #3: Moving Forward
Once you finally get over the tiredness and initial frustration of re-entering your normal life and your home culture, you need to prepare yourself for the task of moving forward into your everyday existence as a changed person. While God has changed your heart, you still have a choice: will you embrace the change, or will you settle back into your old patterns and ignore the things that were revealed to you on your trip?
Remembering the things God showed you on your trip and trying to live your normal life at the same time isn’t an easy task. Doing so will require daily time with God and periodic intentional refocusing on the ways your eyes were opened during your time abroad.