Sharing a meal is not about food, but about culture and relationships.
That is one of the tips, both practical and theological, for volunteers who participate in mission trips from A Mission Journey: A Handbook for Volunteers.
On the theological side:
Attaining an attitude of humility and mutuality allows more attention to the lives, words and actions of others.
Expanding cultural awareness involves answering God's call, searching our own hearts and being "known as Christians by our love."
Leaving ordinary lives behind as volunteers go to a new place can lead to spiritual transformation.
Accompanying those oppressed by unjust economic, political and social systems is another way to do mission.
On the practical side:
Taking time for meditation and reflection can smooth over culture shock and uncomfortable situations.
Identifying justice issues can lead to deeper understanding and foster ongoing relationships.
Participating in team activities, worship and journaling can expand the mission experience and help prepare for the transition home.
A Mission Journey: A Handbook for Volunteers was developed by a task force of United Methodist Volunteers in Mission and international Volunteers in Mission. Included are team activities, a "best practices list" for hosting and sending teams and an appendix of related information. Published by the General Board of Global Ministries, the book is a "vital tool" to help prepare for mission partnerships, writes Una Jones, the staff executive for mission volunteers, in the foreword.
Order print copies of A Mission Journey through The Upper Room Bookstore. An e-book version is available for download through Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Linda Bloom, United Methodist News Service