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Addressing 10 Health and Safety Concerns for Missionaries

Are you interested in missions or support someone about to embark on a mission trip? Over Encompass’s 120+ years of sending missionaries, we’ve noticed some common concerns people often have regarding health and safety. It’s wise to have a plan, so here is some of our advice. 

  1. Avoid Ingesting Tap Water: If you’re going to an area where traveler’s diarrhea is common, make sure you don’t ingest the local tap water. Avoid ice cubes made from tap water, brushing your teeth with tap water, and even fresh produce washed in tap water. Whenever you wash your hands, make sure you fully dry them before handling food. Only drink bottled water or water that has been boiled.
  2. Travel in Groups: Use the buddy system, and don’t go anywhere alone. If you are clearly from another country and are seen wandering around alone, you’ll be more vulnerable than if you are in a group of people.
  3. Don’t Attract Attention: When you’re out in public, make sure your valuables are secured and concealed. Beware of pickpockets, and don’t flash around your mobile phone or laptop. Also, avoid being loud and boisterous so you don’t attract more attention to yourself than necessary.
  4. Consider Travel Insurance: Insurance for short-term mission trips is really affordable and could really help protect your wallet in the event of an emergency.
  5. Notify Your Bank: Tell your bank and/or credit card provider where you plan to be and how much you plan to use your credit and/or debit cards. They can probably set limits on spending amounts / ATM withdrawals and watch for unusual activity in locations you don’t plan to be. Many banks allow you to freeze your debit card from their app, and then you can unfreeze it when you need to make a withdrawal. The goal is for your card to be usable when you need it, and unusable if stolen.
  6. Maintain Healthy Habits: Make sure you get plenty of sleep so your body can recuperate and stay functioning at its best. Stay hydrated to prevent medical complications. Practice good hygiene by washing your hands, and taking showers regularly to avoid exposing yourself to unnecessary pathogens.
  7. Pack a First Aid Kit: Pack commonly used first-aid items like antiseptic wipes, adhesive bandages, antibiotic ointment, tweezers, adhesive tape, and sterile gauze pads. Also include some over-the-counter medicines like Ibuprofen, diarrhea medicine, and your preferred cold medicine.
  8. Use Local Clinics: If you get more seriously injured or sick, consider going to a local clinic or hospital. We often think we have to pack many medical supplies when traveling to a foreign country, but most locations have the clinics, medical professionals, and medicines needed to treat basic injuries and illnesses and more.
  9. Buy Phone Service: Upgrade your cell phone to an international plan or even buy a local SIM card and cell phone service. That way, you’ll be able to easily call for help in case of an emergency.
  10. Jot Down Important Info: We recommend jotting down the address of where you are staying as well as some phone numbers and carrying them with you in case your phone gets lost or stolen. We tend to rely so heavily on our phones for storing information and navigating town, that we can’t do those things without it.

While it’s wise to prepare as much as we can, we shouldn’t live in fear. Ultimately, God is the one we rely on for health and safety everyday at home, and He is the one we should also rely on for health and safety overseas. Following God’s call usually comes with risks, but one of our values is “prayer that leads to vision that leads to risk-taking faith,” because we know that doing things God’s way is always worth it!