I want to encourage short term mission trip planners/participants to think long term commitment. My wife and I have been a part of 7 trips to the Dominican Republic, every other year since 1999. Our trips have always been construction trips. We have talked with Steve Brauning about the "commando" mission trips, where a team drops in, does the work and disappears, never to be seen or heard from again. Thru 13 years and 7 trips, our teams have built relationships as well as buildings. The benefits and rewards are unbelievable.
As a part of our last trip, February 2011, our first full day in the DR was spent driving 4 hours, one way, to see our friends Julio and Julia Cadet and their family. We have known these dear friends since our first trip in 1999. We have tried very hard to see them every trip. Even though their house was in the middle of very major remodeling, a new cement roof and other reconstruction and the whole family was living out of the kitchen and one bedroom, they were very happy to have us visit them and let them feed us.
This whole experience was one of the highlights of the trip and made a big impression on first time members of the team. I have to admit that this was not a part of our thinking when we organized our first team. I'm not sure if or how it would have changed the way we planned. Our initial commitment to returning is because we are Faith Promise supporters of the Brauning family.
Our experience with short term mission trips is that we have received so much more than we have given, bread cast upon waters. The long term commitment to returning to the DR has amplified that.