Two weeks ago, I had the good fortune to accompany a short-term mission team to Haiti. Prior to the trip, I attempted to collect some resources that would help facilitate a daily group processing time. My goal was to focus the debriefing time in four major areas:
a) brief worship and prayer
b) logistical recap/planning — That’s where we’d review the schedule, what’s getting accomplished, what do we need to tweak, etc….
c) “What are we learning about…” — This isn’t so much team building as it is trying to catch the cross-cultural near-misses, the lessons learned about working with local people, and what that is teaching us about ourselves, etc.
d) Body life — This is where we planned to extinguish possible brushfires. We would invite the “feelers” to speak up… evoking the things we need to consider. If necessary, we’d call for folks to talk one on one (if they hadn’t already).
Several people pitched in. Jenny, a Member Care specialist in our office at Team Expansion, reminded me of these resources:
Reentry After Short Term Missionary Service
Sorting It Out: Simple Questions for Debriefing Short-termers
ShortTermMissions.com – Various Articles
We had used the “Round Trip” curriculum — all 5 weeks of it prior to the trip. (It was originally recommended to us by a Missions Pastor in Evansville by the name of Pat; Thanks Pat; it worked *great*!)
There were several others who fed me questions to ask, discussions to lead, etc. In the end, the debriefing time each night turned out to be the highlight of the trip. The short-term missions team developed into a kind of “virtual family” that would experience things out in the community by day, then share them with each other at night — so the overall group picked up on everybody’s joint over all experience. Furthermore, the evening sessions really helped everybody process the day, pick up on what we were learning, avoid duplicating mistakes, etc. Several participants told me, 6 and 7 days after the trip, that they were missing those evening meetings. They had formed a kind of community through those sessions, yet, that community didn’t cause them to “ghetto” during the day. In fact, just the opposite: the community experiences at night seem to fuel their fire to be more and more adventurous and outward-focused during the day.
Are there particular resources you’ve used for meetings like those? Is there a book or study workbook you’d recommend? Feel free to remind us of past Brigada references… and thanks in advance to anyone willing to post your best suggestion.
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