Trip Preparation & FAQs

Trip Purpose & Goals

Each mission trip is designed to expose people to needs around the world and intentional evangelism while assisting our Field Partners as they serve and help with caring for the needs of the local communities.

Assisting our Field Partners
Our team leaders coordinate with local field partners who are evangelical Christian individuals and organizations operating in our target area. These partners are involved in highly successful, long-term projects to create sustainable assistance for orphans and impoverished families. These individuals are also familiar with hosting visitors and work closely with our leaders to ensure the safety and comfort of each participant. Supporting, assisting and encouraging our Field Partners, local missionaries and the local church in their ongoing work is the main goal of the trip. Their greatest needs will change constantly.
Why we do Short-term mission trips
Short-term trips provide a hands-on opportunity to help those who are in extreme need through a variety of means. When done properly, these trips have a lasting impact on individuals as well as communities. In addition, volunteer teams often gain a new perspective as well as a strong sense of purpose and accomplishment through the experience. Service projects take on profound meaning as our team leaders highlight a series of biblical life application principles which greatly improve perspective and strengthen the participant’s commitment to their personal goals and life purpose.

Benefits for field partners and the less fortunate
  • For all those who follow Christ, we have a biblical mandate to go to all nations and make disciples. We also have clear instructions to assist the poor, the widowed and the orphaned. Therefore, participation in short-term trips is in alignment with our calling.
  • There are urgent physical and spiritual needs around the world. Through our field partners, volunteers are able to make a real difference in the lives of those who are materially, socially and sometimes physically less fortunate. We do this in obedience to the biblical command to love our neighbors.
  • There are urgent physical and spiritual needs here at home. Short-term service in a different context provides deeper insight and motivation for assisting the less fortunate in our own communities.
  • Participants not only have the opportunity to sharpen and invest in others on the team, but also to support and encourage our field partners. Lasting relationships are often developed, providing ongoing accountability and inspiration.
Benefits for participants
  • Reel Life trips provide an excellent opportunity for spiritual growth and personal development.
  • Volunteers are able to spend time focusing outwardly rather than inwardly. In doing so, meaningful life perspectives are gained.
  • Trips provide an opportunity for participants to “sharpen the saw.” Several days away from the busyness and distractions of everyday life allows for a time of renewal and an opportunity to examine the direction and course of our lives.
  • The lives of volunteers are enriched, enabling us to live more intentionally and effectively upon returning home.

Ultimately, our time away is an investment in the kingdom as well as an investment in ourselves.

Projects
Projects will be directed by our Field Partners and/or the local church. Our teams focus on empowering those in need while sharing the love of Christ. Specific projects will vary depending on the following:

  1. The specific needs of our Field Partners.
  2. Resources and abilities of the local community.
  3. Strengths and abilities of the team.

While your team may or may not have a daily itinerary until you arrive, your presence and willingness to help will be a great encouragement. You will likely spend time helping with ongoing construction projects, providing humanitarian aid, and spending time building relationships with locals. The following are examples of the type of work teams have typically done in the past:

  • Ministry, evangelism and church services
  • Orphan ministry
  • Vacation Bible Schools and other educational programs
  • Literature distribution
  • Medical fairs and food distribution
  • Sports ministry
  • Painting or construction projects

For more examples of past trips and projects, please visit our Blog or our Past Trips pages.

Caring for the poor and needy
There are many service projects that groups may be involved in. Teams will minister to the poor and needy by sharing God’s love with them and empowering the local community through sustainable projects planned by our Field Partners.

Registration

All forms and documents should be submitted in physical form or scanned and submitted via email. Payment deadlines vary based on specific trip requirements, therefore please refer to your specific trip for deadline information on the Upcoming Trips page. Registration begins anytime after a trip is announced on our website, until the trip is marked “closed” and the signup form is no longer available. Some trips can have participants sign up very close to the time of departure, and others must be registered for a few months in advance. Always refer back to the specific Trip Page. 

Registration checklist
Initial Registration:

  • Submit Trip Signup Form online. You can fill it out on a printed hardcopy if you prefer: download it here
  • Release Form and Team Covenant Form must be printed and signed by hand.
  • Field Partner Forms depend on your specific trip. Refer to your trip page, or ask your Team Leader if you do not have these yet. Please note that these forms may include information that is similar to the RLI forms as our Field Partners may need similar releases and agreements signed.
  • Passport –  A color copy of your passport that is legible must be submitted. If you do not have a passport, please give your Team Leader your social security number, and let them know where you are on your application process. Be sure to check the expiration dates of passports for each traveler to make sure passports will be valid during the entire trip and for up to 6 months after the trip. For more information, see Passport.
  • Base trip cost deposit is due to secure your spot. This deposit is non-refundable. For more information, see Deposit or Changes & Cancellations. If you are raising funds, this deposit is a considered a loan and can be reimbursed to you at your request.

Make a Payment Now:

60 Days Before Travel:
  • 50% of Trip Cost is due.
  • Vaccinations should be taken care of. Check with your doctor to see if any vaccinations are required or recommended for you and for the country you are traveling to.
30+ Days Before Travel:
  • Trip Balance is due.

RLI staff will review to confirm that all paperwork is accurately and fully completed and ensure that digital copies are kept as precautionary back up. Copies of all forms are provided to the Team Leader to be kept with the team during travel.

  • Please submit all paperwork, document copies and payments directly to Reel Life International.
  • Please either scan and email, or mail photocopies directly to info@reel-life.org or P.O. Box 661105, Birmingham, AL 35266
  • Please do not mail originals.
  • You may also submit forms and paperwork to an RLI Staff person or your Team Leader in person.
  • You can register for a trip until all available spots have been filled, or until the final deadline to add a team member has passed. The Host for each trip determines final deadlines.
  • If anything has not arrived, or is missing for any reason, please personally notify your Team Leader to let them know why your documents are missing.
Changes & Cancellations
Changes or cancellations to your registration should be communicated to your Team Leader and to RLI staff. Expenses that have not been paid out are eligible for refund, while expenses RLI has already paid are not. For more information on the financial policies, please view the Financial Matters section.
Varying Trip Details

The following registration information will be sent to you by an RLI staff member and/or your Team Leader, and will change from trip to trip depending on requirements imposed by the airline, travel agent or Field Partner. A lot of this information can be found on the Trip Page for your specific trip which can be found through our Upcoming Trips page.

  • Dates of Trip
  • Registration and payment due dates
  • Late fee penalties if applicable
  • Total cost of the trip (usually $1,000 plus airfare)
  • Paperwork and additional information that the Field Partners need from you
  • Packing Checklist & Dress Standards
  • Country & contact info for your specific trip

Travel Arrangements

RLI will coordinate travel, accommodations, and all activities, providing each traveler with a detailed itinerary and information packet prior to travel. This information will include estimated cost, packing list, and contact information. Trips are typically scheduled at least 3-6 months in advance, so there is plenty of time to plan and prepare for an incredible adventure!

Airfare
Trip costs usually include a base cost plus the cost of airfare. The cost of airfare is left open so that we are able to provide you with the best and most accurate travel price possible. This way we do not have to overcharge to be able to cover the highest possible airfare, but rather if a flight is booked for a lower amount, you will be able to save more by not being overcharged. However, sometimes cost of airfare does increase when there are not enough participants to hold a group discount, in which case you would be responsible for whatever that price is. Airfare ranges anywhere from $400 to $1000 for most of our short-term trips, depending on where and when. The specific trip pages will include more detailed information, and you can always contact us with any questions about airfare.
Flight Itinerary
RLI will handle the airline reservation for the team. A minimum of 10 people is needed for a group booking, which usually gives us the best pricing. If for any reason the Field Partner handles flights, the payments must still be turned in directly to RLI for us to pay on behalf of the group. You may give RLI a frequent flyer mile rewards program number if you wish to get frequent flyer miles for your trip. For certain exceptions, we may allow people to use flyer miles. If you would like to book your own trip, you must first get permission from RLI to do so, as there are many factors that have to be taken into account when making these arrangements, and we have to show consideration for our Host. Once the reservation has been made, the itinerary will be emailed to each participant. The Field Partner will meet the team at the airport upon arrival at the destination.
Passport

Every person traveling internationally is required to have a passport regardless of age. Team members should apply for a passport immediately upon registering for a trip if they do not already have one. Please allow at least 4-6 weeks after applying (although it may be received in as little as 2 weeks if extra money is paid for a rush order). If you are not a US citizen, you may also need to apply for a VISA. Passports are good for 10 years (good for 5 years for those age 15 and under). Most countries require that a passport will be valid for 6 months after entering the country. If your passport is expiring, renew it before the trip.

Information about how to apply for a new passport or renew an existing passport can be found online at www.travel.state.gov/passport

Please do not wait until the last minute!

Make two copies of your passport. Keep one copy in your luggage in a separate location for backup proof in case your passport is lost or stolen. Turn in the second copy to Reel Life. You may either mail a photocopy to the Reel Life post office address, or it may be scanned and emailed to trips@reel-life.org.

Luggage

Please check with your airline for specific guidelines at the time of travel. For carry-on restrictions, please refer to this page on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website. Typically, each person will be allowed one or two checked bags of 50 lbs. each, one carry-on suitcase and one small personal item. Extra baggage fees can be expensive and are your responsibility. Please look up your specific airline’s luggage regulations online once you have received your itinerary, and you may want to re-check this closer to the time of departure. We often ask that you pack personal items in only one checked bag, and allow the other checked bag to be used for team supplies when necessary. This will be coordinated on a per team basis. If receipts are kept, additional baggage fees can be reimbursed by RLI if an RLI staff member or Team Leader is not present to pay for the additional team bag. Keep in mind that you will be required to handle your own luggage, so don’t take more than you can manage. RLI is not responsible for your personal baggage fees, however if you raise excess funds, you may submit receipts for reimbursement for your travel expenses (please view Financial Matters for more details).

Please note that razor blades, files, nail clippers, tweezers and aerosol cans will not be allowed in your carry on because of security reasons.

Food & Lodging
The food served should always be freshly prepared and safe for consumption. Plenty of purified drinking water will also be available, as you should avoid drinking any tap water or ice or even bottled water that is not approved by our Field Partners, since it may not be made from purified sources. Safety of drinking water varies greatly between countries. You will be given more specific instructions for your specific location.
Arrangements for lodging will be made through RLI and our Field Partners and is included in your trip cost. Our teams typically experience modest but comfortable housing. While teams probably could stay at a local resort, the experience is much more meaningful when we are able to sacrifice these kinds of luxuries during our stay. Lodging may vary depending on worksite locations, availability and what the safest option for the team will be. It may be a dorm style room or an inexpensive hotel, depending on the Field Partners’ preferred method of hosting teams.
Transportation
In most countries, vans or cars will be rented for the group. In some cases, our Field Partners may have their own vehicles that will be used for ground transport. The cost of ground transportations is included in the trip price.

Financial Matters

Prices quoted for trips are estimates only and may change slightly up or down due to circumstances beyond our control.

Cost
The base cost of our trips come from past experience. Most of our one-week trips are priced around $1,000 plus the cost of the flight. This price covers project supplies, food, lodging, ground transportation, trip insurance, administrative costs, and any daily needs that you would have during your trip. Prices quoted are estimates only and may change slightly up or down due to circumstances beyond our control. If there are separate costs, those will be discussed with your trip leader, and are usually optional. You should plan to bring extra money for souvenirs, spending, and optional recreation. Sometimes additional optional donations are given to do additional projects that the team wants to do.
Deposit
The initial deposit is due with the application. This is typically the base cost of the trip, with the flight cost due at the second due date. Once the deposit is received, you are officially a trip participant and your spot is reserved. In the event that you choose not to go on the trip for any reason, the deposit is non-refundable unless there is an emergency or unavoidable situation. In such circumstances, RLI will attempt to refund anything that has not already been paid on your behalf. When you sign up with your deposit, you are also agreeing to pay any expenses that we may have to pay on your behalf as a participant, such as airline tickets. Airline tickets will not be purchased until your deposit has been turned in. If you sign up after the second due date has passed, you will need to submit the full amount due at that time. You must be up to date on payments for RLI to purchase your airline ticket. If your ticket is booked later because you sign up later, or are late on a due date, this could cause your ticket to be more expensive than it would otherwise be.
Account
Once your deposit is received, an account will be set up in your name. Every donation received designated for you will be posted to your account. You are responsible to pay or raise all funds for your trip. You may request to receive a periodic statement in the form of an email or other specified form from RLI to inform you of your balance. You may also contact Benita Bussell at benita@reel-life.org or 205.396.6959 with inquiries or for updates on your balance at any time.
Due Dates
ALL ACCOUNT BALANCES ARE DUE 30 DAYS PRIOR TO THE TRIP. Once travel dates arrive, if your balance is still not paid in full, you will not be allowed to travel. For more general information, please see Registration
How to Make Payments for Trips
Simply send payments to Reel Life, and we will make all the necessary payments to vendors and Field Partners on your behalf. You or your supporters may make payments to your trip in the following ways:
Checks – Made payable to Reel Life International, designated for your trip, by placing your name, trip location and dates on a separate, accompanying piece of paper and mailed to:
Reel Life International
PO Box 661105
Birmingham, AL 35266
Cash Donations – Please contact us if someone gives you cash as a donation towards your trip. Please do not send cash through the mail. Convert it to a personal check or money order or arrange to deliver it in person. Make sure the name and address of the donor is included on a separate piece of paper if they wish to receive a receipt from us. If you hold cash or checks to turn in at one time, make sure to turn the amount in before the payment due date as seen on your trip page.
Credit Card – PayPal, VISA or MasterCard donations or payments are accepted. The donor may call an RLI staff member or Trip Coordinator or make payments online on our donations page. Simply note which trip you are joining under “Purpose” on the donation page. If your supporters use this page, have them do the same and add your name so that we know the support is intended for your trip.
Tax Deduction
All donations received by RLI are tax-deductible, and RLI will ensure that receipts are sent to you and any supporters. In accordance with IRS guidelines, donations and/or contributions are non-refundable and non-transferable. Contributions are made with the understanding that Reel Life International has complete control and administration over the use of the donated funds. In the event a team member cancels or raises contributions in excess of cost of trip, the funds will be used to further the work of RLI in one of our many projects. These include support of foreign missionaries, grants towards projects for impoverished communities, educational and leadership training programs, overhead costs, trip scholarships for leaders or participants, as well as other aspects of our ministry. If you are raising support, your supporters can make tax-deductible donations towards your trip. By following the guidelines in the Raising Support section you will have all the information that your supporters will need to make sure their donations are properly received and posted to your account. RLI will take care of getting them the documentation needed for them to get a tax deduction for their donation. Funds donated towards a cancelled trip may be carried over to another trip within the next 12 months ONLY if the cancellation was for unexpected personal, family, or health related emergencies.
Loans
If you are raising support for your trip, you may at times need to make a payment that we will label as a loan from you to RLI. This may happen at times when you sign up late or otherwise do not raise all your funds by the time it is due. You must go ahead and pay your balance when it is due, loaning the money to RLI until the funds have been raised. Balances must be paid in full prior to travel. If you are expecting to receive additional support, you must let an RLI staff member know so that your account can be marked as a “Loan”. (You are loaning the money to RLI until the support money comes in, therefore no tax-deductible receipt will be issued to you at that time until the balance is final).
You can continue to raise funds until after the trip, and once you inform us that your full support has come in, we will reimburse you if necessary and issue a tax-deductible receipt for the total amount paid and applied to the trip. If you raise an excess of what you paid with the loan, you will be reimbursed up to the amount that you paid. (Example: If you paid $500 for your balance and receive an additional $600 from supporters, you will be reimbursed $500. The additional $100 donation is applied to your trip balance, or becomes the property of Reel Life International.) If you raise less funds than what you paid, you will only be reimbursed up to the amount of the additional funds received. (Example: If you paid $500 to pay your balance and receive an additional $400 from donors, you will be reimbursed the $400 assuming that no additional funds are owed).
Donations Exceeding Trip Cost
Since donations are tax-deductible, the IRS will not permit us to give you the “surplus” for your personal use. However, if you raise more than needed to cover the cost of your trip, additional funds may be used to cover the following expenses at your specific request:

  • Expenses you may have in connection with things such as baggage fees and transportation to and from the departure point.
  • You must send receipts to RLI staff and you will receive reimbursement after returning from the trip.
  • Reimbursement receipts can be submitted up to one month after the date of return from the trip.
  • You may also request to have your support applied towards another person’s trip cost.
Recreation
Due to IRS guidelines, RLI is not permitted to accept donations intended for recreational activity. If the team so desires, the Team Leader may coordinate an optional day of recreation activities. Funds for these activities do not go through RLI and are the sole responsibility of Team Leader and participants. Recreation expenses should be discussed prior to departure so that everyone may plan accordingly. We recommend bringing personal spending money for this. We also recommend smaller denominations.
Personal Spending Money
We recommend that you bring smaller denominations, one or five-dollar bills and nothing larger than $20’s. We also recommend that you notify your bank and credit card companies that you will be out of the country so that you can use your cards if desired or necessary. Simply call the number on your debit/credit card to notify them of your plans. You may also want to find out about any international transaction fees that you may incur. Many parts of South and Central America accept U.S. currency, but this is not the case everywhere. Due to IRS guidelines, RLI is not permitted to issue additional funds raised for your account for personal spending money. You should plan to bring extra spending money for miscellaneous optional expenditures, such as souvenirs, snacks, shopping, recreation, etc.

Raising Support

We strongly encourage everyone to raise support from friends, family, colleagues, and churches. This gives them an opportunity to participate in the work you are doing. Many people will consider it a privilege to be asked to participate in your trip in this way. For more information on the Tax Deduction they will receive, please refer back to the section about Tax Deduction for Donations. 

Guide to Raising Support
In order to provide opportunities for other people to be included in this ministry, we encourage everyone to raise support for their trip. Your letters (see Direct Mail section) serve as an invitation for your friends, family, church, classmates and professors to join in the work the Lord has orchestrated. Raising support presents one opportunity after another to tell people about Jesus and the loving power of our Almighty Father.
Watch the Lord work as you reach out in faith, and let your mission experience begin before you ever depart. We expect that you will have no problem raising most, if not all, of your trip cost. As a matter of fact, we often have participants raise more than what is needed, which is very helpful, as the excess goes back to our scholarship fund to ensure this program is available to future participants in years to come!
Direct Mail
You may want to consider raising support from friends, family or your local church. The most common approach is to write a short letter summarizing the trip and asking recipients to consider making a tax-deductible contribution. Below are the steps for using this method of fundraising. Here are some helpful suggestions of people to include:

  • Relatives, family friends, (including those out of town)
  • Christmas card and graduation lists
  • Your personal address book (include friends and acquaintances)
  • Your church; pastors, church members, small groups, Sunday school classes, and choir members
  • School; coaches, professors, and parents of your school friends, or parents who you know through your children’s school
  • Employers and coworker (past and present)
  • Organizations you have had involvement with
  • Doctors and local business owners, etc.
  • People who have generally impacted your life in the past

2. Write a support Letter – See our “Sample Letter” to get ideas for how to write this type of letter. Add your own personal touch. People will appreciate this kind of a request (Be sure to include information found in the support letter checklist).

3. Send Letters – It is a good idea to include a response envelope when mailing (addressed to RLI) with a stamp. Place this inside of the envelope to make it easier for supporters to send their check. If sending an email, be sure to include a link to the our Donate page. 

4. Follow-up phone call – Call the person a week or two after you send them a letter. Ask them if they received your letter and information:

  • If they say no, they haven’t received it, verify their address and send them another one to that address. Wait an additional week, and then follow up again with a call.
  • If they say yes, then ask them if they have any questions about Reel Life or your trip. Tell them where you are financially (how much you have raised, give an approximation if not sure), and that you would appreciate their help.
  • If they agree to support you, thank them and ask them to also pray for your during your trip. Depending on the relation, you may like to invite them to consider joining the trip as well.
  • If they can’t help you financially, ask them to support you by praying for you daily while you are gone.
Support Letter Checklist

Sample Support Letter

Click to view and download a PDF of our Sample Support Letter.

Be sure to include the following in your personalized support letter.
  • Information about the country or culture.
  • Information about RLI and the Field Partner.
  • Description of activities the team is planning to be involved in.
  • The total cost of the trip (either for you, or your whole team).
  • The date the money is needed by (list the due dates given for your trip, or the week before the trip if you are starting late).
  • Explanation of why you feel led to participate in this project.
  • How the reader can be involved (praying, giving, going etc.)
  • How the reader can make a donation towards your trip cost.

Optional additional subjects to include in your letter:

  • A brief update about your personal life
  • A brief testimony
  • Trip or organization brochures, if you have them
After Receiving Funds from Supporters
Before leaving, write a brief thank you note to each supporter. Reiterate the dates of the trip and ask for their prayer for you. Feel free to tell them specific prayer requests. Optional idea: Create DVD or PowerPoint presentations about the trip and show them to friends and family, church groups, or other social groups.On the trip, it may be nice to buy a small souvenir or post card for your supporters, provided you don’t have too many people to buy for.After the trip, it is good to write a report about how the trip went. You may include things you did, things you learned, what God did in your life, or any thing else that you feel is worth sharing. This helps them see the fruit of your experience and is encouraging to your supporters. If you want to share about the recreational activity, be sure to mention that this was not part of what their donation paid for. We recommend leaving this part out of the letter entirely, as it usually has little to do with the reason they supported you. It is a good idea to keep a journal specifically for this report back while you are there, jotting down highlights each day and brief thoughts about what you are learning and seeing. This is also a great way to be able to reflect later about your trip.
Working with your church
Because you are going overseas to help people in need in the name of Christ, your church will likely be happy to partner with you and will be a source of encouragement and support. Talking to your church about your trip is more than a source of funds; you have an opportunity to collect prayer partners who are committed to praying for you during your trip. Please know that if you do not currently have a church home that you are involved in, we would be happy to help you find a church family in your area. Working with a church is an optional method of raising support, but it is usually one of the most effective.

Steps to take when working with your Church:
  • Contact the pastor, youth or missions pastor, an Elder, a Deacon, a friendly layman, etc.
  • Set up an appointment to talk with them face to face. Don’t try to explain the whole thing over the phone or in an email. Tell them you need their help and suggestions. Try to get a 20 minute appointment within that same week.

Prepare for the appointment
:

  • Write down a list of the things you want to cover and ask about during the appointment.

NOTE:  Pastors and church people are in the ministry of helping. Let them help you, but make it easy by letting them know what help you need.

  • Assume that they are unfamiliar with RLI. Take about five minutes and explain the organization to them. If you look through brochures, materials and our website, you will be able to adequately explain the ministry. Any RLI staff member would be happy to help you with this as well!
  • Share your story; how you heard about RLI, how the Lord is working in your life, and why you want to go on this trip.
  • Make a request for financial assistance or for help in finding people to support the trip. You may desire to make announcements in front of the Church or various Sunday school classes.
Other Methods of Fundraising
There are countless other creative ways to raise support, from finding extra work on the weekend, to having a garage sale, even selling something simple like donuts. If you’d like to sell RLI apparel, please let us know and we will provide you with the apparel and necessary tools for scheduled time. People are usually very generous and supportive of truly charitable causes such as this. Here are some fundraising ideas:

  • Odd Jobs – Mow lawns, baby-sit, or find other creative ways to earn extra money.
  • Apparel Sale – RLI has apparel that is used for fundraising, and we’d be happy for you to sell our apparel for any profit to go towards your trip cost.
  • Personal Sacrifice – take a lunch to work, drink water instead of soft drinks. Put any money saved toward the trip.
  • Yard Sale – Host a team-wide yard sale. Ask friends and family to donate items for the sale and split the money between each participating team member.
  • Make Something – Use special talents to make items for sale. Find a creative place to sell the items and put the proceeds toward the trip.
  • Sell T-Shirts: Proceeds go towards your mission trip expenses! You can design your own shirt, and if you’d like to use our logo, send us your design for approval and we’ll send you the correct file to use. Email info@reel-life.org. You also can sell Reel Life Shirts by purchasing them at cost and selling at a markup to support your trip. Here is an example of one of our trip shirts: RLI Trip T-Shirt Please contact us if you would like to sell our shirts to raise funds.
  • Fundraising Events – Coordinate a team event where you cook a meal for your church, or put on a skit to ask for donations. If you have musical talents, you could do a concert. The funds raised there can be split between the participating members (or for the whole team).
  • Friends – You can ask friends who are not able to go on the trip to help you put a fundraising event together.
  • Share your trip plans with your youth group, Sunday school class, bible study, work, school, family, etc.
  • Use social networks to connect with us and to tell other people about what you will be doing.
  • Use social networks to tell people how to donate toward your trip expenses.
  • Create DVD or PowerPoint presentations about the trip and show them to friends and family, church groups, or other social groups.

FAQs

Here are some common questions we’ve encountered in the past. Feel free to contact us with any other questions you may have!

What will we be doing?
Our time is spent serving alongside our field partners and the local church in ministry and humanitarian projects to benefit orphans and impoverished families. The itinerary and specific projects are determined by the needs and desires of our local field partner, so we will not always know the type of projects we will be asked to do until close to departure. In addition, our host often determines our projects based on the skill set of the team. Typical projects include joining locals in construction projects, facilitating medical clinics, sports ministry, VBS for children, water filtration, etc. The team also spends time each day sharing and studying our “Exploring the Point” devotional series. Team leaders highlight a series of biblical life application principles which greatly improve perspective and strengthen the participant’s commitment to their personal goals and life purpose. The final day of the trip is typically reserved for some form of local recreation, helping the team debrief while deepening relationships.
Can I bring the kids?
Our trips are family-oriented, suitable for men, women and mature children. Accommodations are typically comfortable and participants are able to work at their own pace. Families with children are not only welcomed on most of our trips, but encouraged to join us. It is recommended that children be at least 10 years of age, depending on the location, and have the maturity necessary to contribute to the team’s selected projects.
What happens if I pay and end up not being able to go?
Funds donated towards a cancelled trip may be carried over for a different trip anytime within the following year if the participant is unable to go due to one of the following reasons: Unexpected injury, sickness, or personal or family emergency situation.
Are Scholarships Available?
Yes, we have a scholarship program available to provide assistance in covering travel costs. Please contact us for details.
Do I need certain shots?
We ask that all participants have an up to date tetanus shot. Other shots or vaccinations depend on the destination and time of year. We will let you know if shots are recommended, but it is always best to consult your personal physician. For more information, please visit www.cdc.gov.
What about safety?
There is a certain degree of risk which is inherent with international travel, and this risk is elevated when traveling to third world countries. While we cannot guarantee the safety and security of our participants, we have a great deal of trust in our field partners and their knowledge of the local community. We take the safety of our teams very seriously and work together with our field partners to make sure that reasonable precautions are taken to ensure the safety of our teams.
Does RLI provide any health insurance?
We provide supplemental health/emergency insurance for each person. In addition, each person is required to have their own medical coverage. Please check with your insurance company about overseas coverage if you are unsure. Please make sure we have your insurance information.
Can we add other trips to the RLI Schedule?
Absolutely! If you have a team or would like to recruit a group to travel with us, please let us know. Depending on team leader and host availability, you are able to choose your own dates and location.
How can I stay updated about future trips?
Stay updated by signing up for our newsletter, as we regularly send our trip invitations and updates to our email database. You can also bookmark our Upcoming Trips page.
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What other steps should I take to prepare myself?
Our trip handbook contains valuable and insightful information that we will ask all of our trip participants to read through. Reading through this handbook in advance will help you prepare mentally and spiritually for the experiences you will have during your trip. Being prepared in this way will help you to maximize your experience and impact during your short term mission trip. To download the Trip Handbook now, click the button below for the PDF.
Five Common Short-Term Mission Trip Mistakes
Here are five of the biggest mistakes you can make on a short-term mission trip (and what to do instead) provided by Caleb Crider at imb.org:

1. Matching Group T-shirts
A large group of zealous young people from a large American church came to Wales for a weeklong mission trip. Their assignment was to connect with local youth to share the gospel and invite them to a new church plant. The church planter on the field went to the airport to greet the group and orient them to local customs and culture. He was shocked to see the group—all fifty-two of them—wearing matching bright red t-shirts with the words “Save the Wales” emblazoned across the front. The quick-thinking church planter immediately sent the team to the restrooms to turn their shirts inside-out. We get it; you’re excited about your trip. And your team has worked tirelessly for months to raise support. But going to the trouble—and expense—of printing mission trip t-shirts communicates that the trip is all about you. Sure, wearing fluorescent shirts can make it easier to find team members in a crowded airport, but it also communicates that you are tourists rather than normal people hoping to build relational bridges and represent Jesus. Instead, do your best to minimize the differences between you and the people you’re going to serve. Ask local people what clothing is typically worn, and bring the closest thing you’ve got in your closet. If your team just really wants to match, opt for something less conspicuous, like bracelets or necklaces.

2. Not Doing Your Homework
When we lived in Barcelona, Spain, we hosted dozens of students on short- and mid-term trips. For the most part, these young people were well-informed. They knew that Spain was in Europe, and they vaguely understood that Barcelona was the capital of Cataluña, a region of Spain populated with the non-Spanish Catalan people group. At least a few times, students asked us to show them the Eiffel Tower, which is, of course, in Paris, France. Some expressed disappointment because they expected to be eating rice and beans, with is typically Latin American food. One young lady was shocked to find that Spanish people weren’t as needy as the people she had encountered on a previous trip to Haiti. A little bit of research can make the difference between a helpful, faithful trip and one full of missed opportunities and cultural faux pas. Be sure to read up about the history, culture, and current events in the place you’ll be visiting so that your expectations will be realistic. Learn a few key phrases in the local language so you can demonstrate your appreciation of local people. Explore some local history for worldview context and to find cultural bridges for sharing the good news. A little bit of research can provide the insight you need for maximum kingdom impact.3. Rushing into a Gospel Presentation
The main reason you’re going on a mission trip is to help make disciples. So, why caution against leading with evangelism? Here’s the reason: if you’re not careful, jumping too quickly into a gospel presentation can lead to no gospel being communicated at all (or worse, a false gospel being shared). When well-intentioned mission-trippers begin every interaction with “Let me tell you about Jesus,” they can accidentally communicate the wrong things: that evangelism is merely a “sales pitch” and that we see people as projects.  The gospel is the good news that Jesus paid the price for our great sin. By repenting from sin and trusting in Jesus alone, he rescues us from spiritual death and gives us eternal life. This is heavy stuff! Reducing the gospel to a canned presentation in a foreign language often means leaving out the “fine print,” which is so vital to truly understanding it. Following Jesus has its benefits, but it also costs everything. We must move carefully into meaningful personal interactions that allow us to communicate the fullness of what it really means to follow Jesus in ways that people can understand. Another side effect of rushing into a gospel presentation is that it makes people into projects. As good sent-ones, we seek to show and tell people what their lives would be like in Christ Jesus. We do this by engaging with people—sharing a meal, asking good questions, being good guests. Jesus set a great example for us when he interacted with people. Sometimes, he started with the pointed truth. Other times, he invited himself over for dinner. But in every instance, it seems that the person Jesus was interacting with felt—in that moment—like they were the most important thing in the world to him.

4. Waiting Too Long to Share the Gospel
Yes, this is the opposite of our previous point. Although you shouldn’t rush into a gospel presentation, waiting too long can be a far greater mistake. In an effort to be gracious and culturally sensitive guests, many mission trip participants fail to ever proclaim the gospel to their hosts. Make the most of every opportunity to proclaim Christ as King and to call men and women to repentance. On your trip, people are likely to ask, “so what brings you to our part of the world?” Your answer will depend on what your missionary hosts instruct you to say, but be sure that you include some information about having been sent by God. This is a great way to introduce a spiritual element into the conversation. You may want to ask your hosts if they have such a sense of purpose about their lives. Their answers can be a perfect way to introduce the gospel. Before your trip, consult with your field hosts for some good ways to present the good news. But keep in mind that there is no “right” way to share the gospel. As weak and imperfect messengers, we will never do the message justice. But every effort we can make to be clearly understood is worth it. Prepare before your trip by practicing evangelism: first, with friends who are believers, then with others who may not be Christians, and finally across cultural barriers with immigrants in your own city or town. Advance preparation like this will help you anticipate common objections and navigate cultural misunderstandings.

5. Going Back to “Normal”
Perhaps the most common mission trip mistake is committed after returning home. After seeing spiritual darkness or extreme poverty, after being an outsider who is willing to give up the comforts of home for the sake of ministry, thousands of American Christians seem to forget their experiences on the mission field and slip back into complacency as through the trip never happened. When you spend a week in unfamiliar places, under stress and fatigue to make disciples alongside a team of committed brothers and sisters in Christ, you experience life and church and mission in very real ways. A mission trip will “mess you up” in the very best of ways. Let the trip challenge you, and spend time reflecting on your experience. Allow God to teach you. Commit to changing your behavior in your daily life in light of all you’ve seen. A good way to ensure good stewardship of all that you’ve seen and heard is to keep a journal during your trip. Another idea may be to write a letter—while you’re still on the field—to yourself back home. Read the letter after you get back into your regular routine. Some people find it helpful to debrief the experience with their church leaders to explore what the church might learn from the experience of the few who went on the trip. These kinds of notes can serve as valuable reference material as you look for ways to share and apply all that you learned once you’re back home.

Maximize the Opportunity
The time, money, and effort that goes into a short-term mission trip can have incredible kingdom impact. Avoid these common mission trip mistakes to maximize your faithfulness and increase your effectiveness as you serve in God’s mission.

Trip Handbook