The Field Assignment phase of the Discipleship Training School is oftentimes trainees’ favorite part! It can also be the most challenging. Here are some pro-tips from someone who’s been on outreach a time or two.
Learn as much of the language as you can
You may not be fluent, but even those basic phrases like “where is the bathroom” go a long way. Another great one to learn is, “What is your name?” and “How do you say…?”
By learning how to ask for words in another language, you can engage with the person you’re with, laugh a lot, and learn a little more along the way!
Take the time to learn at least one skill from a local
Even if you already know how to do that thing, ask a local how to do it anyway. I knew how to hand wash my laundry during an outreach to Asia, yet I still asked a local woman to teach me how. We didn’t speak the same language, but we still had a great time laughing and spending time with one another.
I’ll never forget the time I asked a woman in Guatemala to teach me how to make corn tortillas. Again, I didn’t speak her language, but we laughed so hard at my terrible tortillas, that it was worth every second. Her smile and teasing will live in my memories forever.
Don’t leave your outreach location without having learned one thing from a local, even if you never use that skill again!
Bring one small comfort item
With all the travel, moving around, and unfamiliar places, a small item from home can help ground you in all these new experiences. WiFi isn’t always available, so you may not have the option of calling home if you feel homesick.
I personally bring a small bottle of lavender oil to spread on my pillow at night. The smell reminds me of home and the people I love most. It’s also calming and helps me get to sleep faster at night.
Some people choose to bring markers and paper to decompress. I have a friend who always brings a bottle of nail polish to help her feel grounded.. You may choose to bring pictures of family, a homemade bracelet from a sibling, or a favorite T-shirt to wear to bed at night. Whatever this item is, let it be something that makes you feel calm and a little at home.
Bring Items that have a dual purpose
Packing light is essential during field assignment, but sometimes you have a need for more items that you can fit. Pack items that can be used in more than one way.
A pashmina or sarong is wonderful to cover you up at the beach, but also nicely rolled up as a pillow during travel and at nighttime. It can become a blanket, privacy curtain, dust mask, head cover, and can be wrapped around delicate souvenirs during travel. Depending on the location, flip flops or waterproof sandals make great everyday shoes and shower shoes. Sandals with straps like Chacos can also be used as water shoes, and simple hiking shoes. Multi-purpose soap such as simple castile soap can be used as face wash, body wash, hand soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, and dish soap!
Be creative, the possibilities are endless!
Know a thing or two about traveling on field assignments? Leave us your pro-tips in the comments below!