Going on a Short-Term Missions Trip? You Gotta Blog!

Camp Katrina - serving foodWe’re continuing to focus on missions in the month of July.  We’re still looking for missionaries who would like to be guest bloggers and tell how the Internet has impacted their missions work.  Please contact us if you’re interested in writing.

While I have never lived outside the U.S. for an extended period of time, I have done a couple of short-term missions trips.  And I can tell you from personal experience, that blogging while on a short-term missions trip can add a whole new dimension to the trip.

My first short-term missions trip was back in May of 2000.  A group from my church went to San Jose, Costa Rica to help a church there begin construction on a new education building.  We did the back-breaking work of digging out the footer with shovels and tying together grids of rebar in the 90+ degree heat of Costa Rica’s tropical summer.  It poured every day right around lunch time, and when the rain let up a bit we’d go back out and keep working.

San Jose, Costa Rica missions tripIt was a tremendously rewarding experience though as we worked side-by-side in the trenches with the pastors and members of the church, many of whom had quite meager resources but still took time off work to help.

We stayed in the home of a missionary who lived in Costa Rica.  He had just recently gotten dial-up Internet service and also had an early-model digital camera.  This was before blogs really became common place, but our church at a website created with OurChurch.Com’s Beacon Web Builder, which meant the site could be updated from any Internet-accessible computer in the world.  So, most days during our trip, I would upload photos from that day and add a new page to the website with a summary of that day’s events.  The church secretary emailed everyone in the church to let them know daily updates were being posted to the site.

When I got back I was overwhelmed by the number of people who said they had checked the website, appreciated the updates, and had been praying for our team.  It was really awesome for our team, and it was equally beneficial to the other people in our church.

Katrina distructionFast forward to September 2005…  Hurricane Katrina had just devastated the Gulf Coast.  A friend at church and I felt led by God to organize a team to go and help with the relief effort.  We made arrangements to serve at what became known as Camp Katrina in Waveland, MS.

Camp Katrina was basically a tent city that had formed in a Kmart parking lot.  At the time about 5,000 meals a day were being served in the “cafeteria.”  In addition to cooking and serving meals, our team also served in the “store” where semi-trailers full of dry and canned goods were being, and in the cleaning and maintenance of the facilities.

Camp Katrina - dining tentKatrina had destroyed the power systems in Waveland and the surrounding communities.  Electricity at Camp Katrina was provided by diesel generators.  I was quite surprised to see two computers with Internet access had been set-up in the main dining tent.  We hadn’t expected to be able to blog, but after a quick call, our church’s web administrator set-up a blog, and we began posting updates with photos several times a day.

The blog has been uninstalled since then, but I was able to dig up the pages I archived.  You can see them here, here, and here.  (Note that since the pages are archived none of the links work.)

As with the Costa Rica trip, many people back home read the blog on a daily basis.  They prayed for us and felt a real connection to what we were doing.  What made it even more exciting for those of us in Waveland was that many people posted comments on the blog, which were a real source of encouragement.  So, in this case the communication was two-way.  I wish I had archived the comments.

Camp Katrina - washing dishesNow days it’s so easy to set up a free blog on a site like blogger.com that any group going on a short-term missions trip can blog as long as there’s an Internet connection available where they’re going.  I can’t emphasize enough how much of a blessing it is to both those serving as well as those back at home.

If you’ve blogged on a short-term missions trip, post a comment and tell us about it.

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

4 Responses to “Going on a Short-Term Missions Trip? You Gotta Blog!”

  1. Dear. Brothers In Christ
    I am writing to invite to send a short term missionary team to help us to reach the Love of God in the jungle.
    We can develop here some of this following projects:
    Aventure missionary trips to the tribals, sailing in the lomgest in the world amazon river, work with the children of our orphanage, children cruzades, reach the Gospel, church planting, encourage and training leaders, conduct medical and dental clinics, construct temples, met the jungle and the animals in their natural state.
    I would like to hear from you
    In Him
    Anibal

  2. joseph hlelen Jul 16, 2008 at 8:17 am

    l would like your organisation to help us complete our church building and to provide medical services to tne less privillege in our village.

  3. Hi folks,

    I know that we have many readers who live in poorer parts of the world who would love to have a group come to help their church or ministry. I am sympathetic to your needs, but this is not the place to try to ask for help. Let’s try to keep the comments on the topic of blogging while on short term missions trip. If you want to post information about your ministry and try to arrainge for missions trips to your locations, you can do that in our forums:

    http://forums.ourchurch.com

    Thanks,
    Paul Steinbrueck
    OurChurch.Com

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