Let me use my one week mission trip to Haiti as an example of a short-term trip. Three of the people, including myself, that traveled to Haiti returned home feeling as though they wanted to become missionaries. We did many worthwhile things, such as give away clothing and food, conduct two days of vacation bible school, and help with the building of a school room. We met many Haitians, and I fondly remember a quiet boy named Abner who was my age and allowed me to meet his family and look inside his two-room home. I have another fond memory of the children crowding around me so they could all stroke my smooth, silky hair. My heart was touched in many ways by the Haitian people. The people in this small village see many short-term white missionary teams come through every summer. Overall, an improvement is made in the lives of some, because the children get to use the new school buildings and eat lunch until full while attending school. However, do any of the Haitians that I met still remember me? Did I make a major impact in any of their lives?
I think that long-term mission trips do more to impact the targeted people. When a missionary is at one location for a long time, he or she is able to develop relationships in which there is trust and influence. Through the way the missionary lives his/her life and acts within the friendship, the indigenous friend is able to see the heart of the missionary and how God can inspire one’s life. Impact can also come through the missionary’s profession. As a nurse, I could work in a clinic or a hospital and help improve health care in Africa. I could work as a nursing instructor training nationals to become nurses, thereby helping improve the lives of the nursing students and their future patients.