The following is the debriefing from my trip which I just finished for Missions to Unreached People, the organization I did my short term mission with.
Name: Will Dykstra
Dates of Mission Trips: Apr. 9 - June 30, 2004
Location/Missionary Hosts: Osaka, Japan. Dan and Karen Ellrick, Aukje vandenBerg.
1. What was your missionary assignment while overseas?
Fairly loose. Personally, my objectives were to determine if long term missions was something I could do. Did I have the tools and skills? Did I have 'what it takes'? Is it something God wants me to do or not to do? As I was flying over to Japan I also felt a real call to treat the entire experience as 'learning'. So that was my attitude as I first set foot in Japan.
2. What were your general impressions about your short-term missions experience?
It was positive, wonderful excellent. A 'would like to still be there' sort of experience. Exciting. Enjoyable. Adventurous.
3. Have you had a chance to read Back to the Future and Extending Your Trip and answer the questions that go with them?
Yes. Yes, quite helpful. There are some excellent suggestions and insight from experienced short termers.
One of the things suggested was keeping a journal. It is helpful to be able to recall the many different experiences and reflect on them from more 'normal' environs. But it is something that should be communicated beforehand.
I did work at keeping a 'blog', which serves the purpose of journaling, and it is also an excellent way of keeping in touch with friends and family back home (well those with internet access anyway).
If you are interested the address is http://www.sekime-photolog.blogspot.com/. Scroll through the archives for the blogs I wrote while I was in Japan.
4. What was the best/most memorable part of your short-term mission trip? How did God use this experience to teach you, direct you etc?
The best things for me were simply (or perhaps not so simply) learning about Japanese culture. Trying to understand how Japanese people think, how they understand the world, their worldview. I enjoyed the culture.
I feel that God has been growing in me a passion for Japanese culture.
5. What was the worst/most discouraging or difficult part of your short term mission trip? How did God use this experience to teach you, direct you etc.
There were times when I was when I felt utterly and absolutely inadequate. It was very discouraging when that happened.
I think God was trying to teach me that my skills and talents don't matter. He is the one to lean on. I should not be leaning on my own understanding. I know it intellectually, but I haven't yet learned to do it.
6. How did you see God at work in the lives of individuals?
As a leader of an Alpha group it was wonderful to see how often God was at work in our group. It wasn't so much a matter of what I was doing but how God was meeting people were they needed to be met, using the group as a vehicle to achieve what He had in mind.
In Team Dynamics?
Meeting and supporting Aaron. It was very fulfilling to be able to feel that I was used by God to help Aaron in his efforts to start a Bible fellowship. Particularly the first time we met, we had a long conversation, a time of getting to know each other, but of more importance a time of encouragement.
Also at the weekly prayer meetings, these meetings always struck me as meetings of great importance, even though at times they seemed to be a great expense, from an energy and time available point of view.
He was very near to me as I went about the things of daily life in Japan. For an example, I was riding the subway and I accidentally dropped my subway card. As I was about to exit at the gate a lady ran up behind me to give me back my dropped card.
That was a little thing but a typical example of how God was looking after me while I was in Japan.
7. In what ways will you integrate what you have learned on your short-term trip into your life at home? How will you make this a long-term change or how will it influence your decisions for your future?
I am going to continue with my weblog, using it as a platform to explore Japanese culture and further reflect on my experiences. I shall endeavors to pray and encourage those whom I met in Japan, and who continue to work at missions in Japan, and I shall explore what God has in store for me and my future.
8. Did you receive enough information and support from out home office prior to your short-term trip?
I got a lot out of the information you sent me. The articles I was supposed to read in the five weeks prior to my departure were interesting and quite helpful. Even as a seasoned veteran of short term missions experiences, there was some great food for thought there.
9. What could we have done better to help you plan and prepare, logistically, spiritually or mentally?
I think a little more integration with the missionaries in the field would be helpful. I'm not sure how to accomplish that but it seemed to me to be somewhat disjointed from office to field.
10. Would you be interested in going on another short-term mission with Mission to Unreached Peoples? Why or why not?
Yes. No reason to stop now. Though I think maybe more of a long-term commitment may be in order.