anatomy of a mission(s) trip

So how do you prefer to say/write it–mission trip or missions trip? Me? I like the s. I think it encompasses having multiple missions on a single trip. Just kidding. That’s just how I’ve always said it, and I’m too old to change my ways.

Anyway. (I wonder how many second paragraphs of my blog posts consist of this one six-letter word that I use whenever my introductory sentence/paragraph gets long-winded, bunny-trailed, and/or nonsensical?)

Anyway (not to be confused with anyways).

Gabe and I took over 3,000 pictures on our trip to Cambodia. I know. And while you can rest assured that I won’t subject you to even 1/20th of those photos, I can’t imagine letting all of them languish away on Gabe’s external hard drive either. So, as time allows, I’ll do themed posts here and there with a few random ones thrown in for good Marla-measure.

Today’s picture post chronicles our entire journey FROM Columbus, Ohio TO Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 30+ hours of joy and excitement. (Actually, it wasn’t too bad at all.)

Our fearless team in the Columbus airport at 3ish pm on Wednesday, July 7. Front row: Lindy, Erin, Me, Kim. Back row: Doug, Gabe, Jason.

Our first stop was a little layover (and dinner–Auntie Anne’s pretzel!) in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport, but apparently we didn’t take any pictures. Hard to believe.

Here are Lindy and Erin working hard in the San Francisco airport making flashcards to help us learn the names of the kiddos in our orphanage. I was totally intimidated by the flashcards and never did use them; I just learned their names as I met them. Hard to imagine now not always knowing their names.

I don’t remember how long our layover was. Three hours? Four? Anyway, we had plenty of time for shots like this:

Taken by this clown:

The 12+ hour flight to Taipei, Taiwan wasn’t the most fun I’ve ever had, but I can’t complain. It reminded me so much of my flight from Alaska to Seoul, South Korea back in 1997 on my way to student teach in Okinawa, Japan.

Here’s me writing in my journal. Not sure if this is before or after my “night’s sleep.”

This is a shot of the little radar screen in front of us as we got ready to fly over Okinawa. I got so excited because I could actually see the Naha airport (where I landed 13 years ago) from the plane!

Here we are in the Taipei airport. None of our stomachs felt all that great by this point, and Lindy’s coffee that tasted just like GREASE didn’t help.

Here’s me (with bad gas) writing this blog post, thrilled to be having my picture taken.

This is the friend Gabe made when he got tired of taking pictures of us.

Meet Sam, a Cambodian man who married a French woman and has lived in France for 30 years. He was coming home to Cambodia for 5 months to visit family. He kept saying his English wasn’t very good, but since I knew about two words in French and zero in Khmer, we made it work.

Then finally! Phnom Penh! And that part of the trip (our arrival) is such a blur to me. Savong and Pisey, the orphanage directors were there. So was Savorn, the country director for Asia’s Hope, and his wife Sony.

And since the older kids were on vacation from school, they came along to help with our bags, give us beautiful wreaths of jasmine and shower us with hugs and smiles.

I love looking back on this picture now that I know all these beautiful people so personally. It’s cool to recognize someone from a photo, but I can’t wait to go back someday and see people I KNOW.

And there you have it. A really long journey that was 100% totally worth it. I’d travel a hundred hours straight to see those faces again.

So, tell me. Have you ever been on an overseas mission(s) trip? If not, do you feel God tugging on your heart to go? Where?

19 thoughts on “anatomy of a mission(s) trip

  1. Jackie

    Definitely “missions” in my book.

    I was blessed to be part of a missions team to Haiti almost 8 yrs ago. Our primary focus was in an orphange for kids with disabilities. Some were truly orphaned but many were abandoned because of their disabilities.

    It was truly life changing. These beautiful kids are forever stamped in my mind and on my heart. Smiles, hugs and laughter know no language barrier.

    I have loved being part of your missions trip. Thanks.

  2. kamrie

    I am actually going to Cambodia in about a week. I am so pumped to go. Although I am not feeling up to the 30 hour plain ride. I am sure like you said it will be well worth it.

  3. Kay

    I’ve never travelled overseas for a mission(s) trip, but I hope to someday soon. Because we don’t live anywhere near any of our family, I’ve always hesitated to accompany my husband on his many trips and thus leave our kids stateside without anyone (family) to run to their rescue if needed. But that will all change in a couple of years.

    Still, I’m looking into a trip to either Honduras, China or Brazil next year – 3 distinctly different places, huh?

    My husband heads to Indonesia, Monday, so please pray for his safety, his continued preparation for the trip, and his effectiveness as he teaches pastors in Indonesia a course on – of all things – cross-cultural evangelism. He’ll be teaching at a seminary there and encouraging local pastors and missionaries too.

  4. Heather

    Oh Marla, I loved seeing all the pics and who you went with and can’t wait to read more about it! I have never been on a missions trip overseas or anywhere for that fact. Yes, I feel God tugging at my heart to do this. I always find the excuses of kids, time, and I hate to fly, probably one of my biggest fears. But more than that, I feel God tugging at my heart to just share, to just share with others about His greatness and His forgiveness He offers through the Blood shed of Jesus. With neighbors, with strangers, through the blog world, just share!!

  5. Allison

    thanks for clearing up the hand holding picture. When I looked at it I thought he was holding your foot!

  6. Aaron C

    Great pictures! Thanks for sharing your trip with us!

    That radar shot of Okinawa brought back some memories! I landed there 15 years ago. Stayed two years and loved every minute of it!

  7. amber

    I love travel/airplane/airport pictures.
    But I love these even more because your faces are so so eager and happy to serve! Regardless of long layovers and nasty coffee.

  8. Denise

    God is tugging me to Cambodia….I see these pictures and so much want to be there. And it gets worse and worse the more others go…next time…I will go…darn it!

  9. Marla Taviano

    Ha! You make me smile, Gabe. No, Sam and I are not holding hands. SAM is holding MY hand. Or rather, my wrist. French men are much more free with their affection apparently. 🙂

  10. O Mom

    tough question.
    There are times I totally see myself being able to just pack everything up into storage and doing some kindof mission work. But the reality of my life (my husband) makes that seem impossible. I hope and pray someday yes.
    Thanks for sharing this with us.

  11. Betsy

    Ron and I were in Greece two years ago but it was not a missions trip but a business trip for him. For me, it was a huge awakening to what part religion appears to have in the life of the people there today—very little. I came home to find out that none of the mission agencies that our church supports have any missionaries there. Perhaps our job will be to support (someday) someone who is going there. It’s so sad to see that a country that Paul started churches in 2000 years ago has few Bible churches there today.

  12. sarah m

    Wow! what a long adventure to get there! I’ve been to Mexico to build houses for poor people two times, and ministered with the Salvation Army in poor parts of Oahu Hawaii for 2 summers in college. There is nothing like it!!!

  13. Elizabeth

    I call it a mission trip, but I’ve never been on one. Adrion took his youth group to Mexico years ago and loved it, and I hope my kids have the opportunity to go on a mission trip while they are young. I feel like I’ve missed out on a real growth experience by not experiencing much of life in other countries. I do think, though, that I would have a difficult time seeing extreme poverty and then coming back to the States. I would be one of those people who needs therapy when I come home!

  14. Peter P

    I went to India once, when I was 16, but the sheer scale of the poverty shocked me so much I was fairly paralyzed by it.

    I’m feeling my family should all go to the Philippines soon to work with some missionary friends of ours but I’m having a hard time convincing my wife! 🙂

  15. colleen

    LOVE hearing about your trip…and I”m not ignoring you…I’d LOVE to get together before school starts…are you free next week sometime???

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