One of the most basic mission trip goals is be an encouragement to the missionary family. Every trip I have taken has had that at the top of the *list* because it is important. A missionary family will see God work in miraculous ways on a field, but they will also see the devil work, especially if a great spiritual battle was just won. You are almost guaranteed to have the devil come along and do some damage after a person gets saved, after sin is dealt with, or after a literature blitz. That's why a missions trip is important... it gives an opportunity to offer spiritual insights and some plain ole encouragement! Imagine how you feel after being away from people you love (for instance, your family or your church) and how refreshed you feel after talking to them. Missionaries are no different, and maybe they need it more so than you or I do because their fellowship is limited.
My typical week consists of being in church on Sundays and Wednesdays (encouragement), working at church Monday-Friday with other Christians (encouragement), and usually spending some part of my Saturday with a Christian somewhere in the day (encouragement). I'm an extreme case because my job happens to be at church, but the majority of Christians get weekly doses of encouragement!!!!! That's why e-mail, letters, phone calls, and visits are important: they are tangible evidences of prayer and love for the missionary.
On my last trip, I spent some time with my good friend Gina, the missionary's daughter. Several years ago Gina's dad had come to Bible Institute to train for the ministry. Gina and I, along with several other girls, spent those years together doing different activities, but soon her family went back down to Maryland. Fast forward a few years to this past May. When I went to visit, I wondered how exactly I could be an encouragement. I found out all I had to do was just do what I do back here at home: share what the Lord's been doing in my life, talk about blessings at church, and just day to day things. Gina, in turn, was encouraged because of what was shared. Missionaries are real people who are just like you and I. So think what encourages you and then turn around and place yourself in the missionary's shoes. Just this morning I wrote a letter to a missionary's daughter in South Africa and it took all of about 15 minutes, if that. So what can you do? Can you encourage a missionary today? It doesn't take much... :o)