February 20, 2020
If there’s anyone on our staff who knows about mission trips, it’s Rebecca Makowski. Galilee’s Director of Serve went on her first mission trip when she was fifteen (to Sneedville, TN). She’s been on dozens of missions since, to places both near (Christiansburg, VA for youth missions or Crisfield, MD for Hurricane Sandy response) and far (Costa Rica).
Rebecca went on a different kind of trip earlier this month, wearing her hat as a United Methodist Volunteers in Mission Coordinator for training in Biloxi, Mississippi. Her mission on this trip was not to be in mission, but to learn to make all missions better.
Off-mission: Rebecca successfully discovered the Gulf of Mexico at Biloxi.
“I respect folks who feel such a strong call to mission that they are prepared to leave the comforts of home to serve. That they trust God’s call in their life and go where God is sending them is really, really inspiring,” says Rebecca.
“I was invited to attend UMC Global Ministries’ Mission Volunteer Training in Biloxi from February 5-8,” Rebecca explains. “The Mission Volunteers program recruits and trains Methodists from every conference to serve from two months to two years somewhere around the world. We learned the practical aspects of an extended mission, but also the important cultural and theological underpinnings of successful mission work.”
Rebecca’s roommate at training, Ana Diaz de Arca Garcia, will serve for
three months in Nuevo Progreso, Mexico.
“In my work at Galilee and with UMVIM, I send and coordinate short term mission volunteers. The Mission Volunteers friends I met in Biloxi are longer term missioners. My roommate, for instance, was Ana Diaz de Arce Garcia from Florida. She is going to Mexico this spring to work at House of Hope, a mission that supports children. She’ll work as a librarian for three months and so will need to understand cultural differences to best walk alongside the people she meets.”
“Mission Volunteers provides tremendous resources for those wanting to serve. It’s a program that takes people of any age. We had college students in class with us, and we had retired folks. There were individuals and couples. Some will be deployed domestically, while others plan to travel to one of over 30 countries. Not everyone was a missioner. Some were like me, called “mission advocates,” who work with volunteers and coordinate missions. We also had site hosts, representatives of the places that will be receiving the volunteers we send out.”
Mission Volunteers training swag.
“Training was intense! Class was facilitated by Una Jones, Eric Angel, and Natalia Daies from Global Ministries and Matt Lacey from UMVIM SEJ. We squeezed thirty hours into 2.5 days.”
“There was deep Bible study, learning the theology of mission work and why we do it. The Global Ministries team explained their structure within the UMC and how they work to ensure cultural appropriateness, child protection, and health and safety. The soon-to-be missioners learned about fundraising (all Mission Volunteers are self-funded and do not receive compensation from the UMC) and about social media avenues for getting the story of their mission to the people who support them.”
“Before I went to Biolxi, I read several books including “Cross Cultural Servanthood” by Duane Elmer, which I recommend to anyone involved in missions.”
Mission Volunteers @ Biloxi.
Mission Volunteers sends hundreds of volunteers to serve every year. Perhaps that is something that resonates with you. If so, we have someone freshly trained to help you understand and respond to the call.
Rebecca can help you serve in mission.
Rebecca Makowski manages a Facebook page for those interested in mission with throughout the conference and serves on several Conference committees that oversee mission work. She also coordinates the missions of Galilee United Methodist Church.