Extended mission trips.
August 2, 2005 9:06 PM   Subscribe

So, I really want to do some missionary/volunteer work for an extended period of time so I come seeking advice on possible organisations to work with.

I'm looking for some extended (think 6 months-year) missionary/volunteer work where I get to a) help out in the community (obviously) and b) build a strong sense of community with my fellow volunteers. I know I posted a similar question a while back, but after some research based on that thread, I don't think criterium b qualifies very well. Also, seeing as I am Catholic, I would prefer if it had some Catholic affiliation, though I am not opossed at all to working with other Christian or secular organisations. Right now, I'm not so much concerned with what kind of work I'd be doing but moreso with finding a good program to contact and go from there. Any suggestions or personal experiences in extended mission trips are greatly appreciated!
posted by jmd82 to Work & Money (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sorry, this is perhaps rude for the first reply, and I'm sure your heart is good, but MISSIONARY WORK????

They're no longer considered a bunch of ignorant heathens who need to be saved, you know. Perhaps they like their own beliefs?

I find the idea of missionary work to be absurd and obscene. Well hey that's my opinion.

Now, about volunteering work for an aid organisation, I couldn't help you because I'm Australian and may have different groups to turn to, but I would start with Red Cross or Oxfam or World Vision, or Care Australia. We also have government funded positions for young professionals in developing countries, apply via AusAID.
posted by wilful at 10:11 PM on August 2, 2005 [1 favorite]

I was a Volunteer in Mission with the Presbyterian Church right after high school. For four months, I worked at a school for Native Americans in Arizona They provided housing, and I received a stipend of $150 a month. The one thing that really affected the experience was the fact that at 17 I was about 50 years younger than most of the volunteers. At the time, the program allowed you to apply for positions with a number of groups and mission programs around the world.

Both the Presbyterians and Methodists have programs, I'm sure there are many denominations that have mission programs.

A note to wilful: much mission work nowadays is aid based, and less conversion based.
posted by trixie_bee at 10:24 PM on August 2, 2005

Response by poster: Sorry, this is perhaps rude for the first reply, and I'm sure your heart is good, but MISSIONARY WORK????

Ah, oops, let me rephrase. I don't mean missionary work in the sense of "go out and proselytize the heathens!" Rest assured, I do not want work where my job is actually verbally preaching the Gospel- I prefer to use actions where I help those in need, and hence my desire for this. I didn't think anything about the word "missionary" because I've been on a few short-term mission trips where we called ourselves as such and never tried to do what you so loath.
posted by jmd82 at 10:52 PM on August 2, 2005

ah, cool, ignore me then. I mean hey i respect your beliefs, I just think eveyone should respect others beliefs. I distantly know some hard-core Christian proselytisers currently working to save souls in northern Pakistan, and frankly I think they'll get what they deserve when the inevitable ugly incident occurs.

Anyway, I'm not helping with advice here, so moving right along...
posted by wilful at 11:37 PM on August 2, 2005

A quick google comes up with this for Catholics, but I have more personal experience with the Church of the Brethren Volunteer Service. I have not yet worked with them, but some of my friends have and have had great experiences. The Church of the Brethren is generally pretty liberal, especially those involved in BVS. There are opportunities for international missions, most of which are two year commitments. One year terms are usually in the US.

As far as building community, you can be placed in a situation where you will live and presumably work with other volunteers, or you could be sent on a solo mission. From what I have heard from friends, you will not be alone in either situation; there is a lot of emphasis placed on building relationships with the community you are working in. You won't have to worry about being in trixie_bee's position, a majority of volunteers are young people and they have separate orientations for older adults. There is housing provided and a small monthly stipend. I believe the only expense is travel to the orientation site.

You should find opportunity to grow closer to other volunteers during the three-week orientation. There are only a few volunteer orientation sessions each year for the BVS, and it looks like the application deadline is coming up at the middle of this month for the fall orientation. I would recommend browsing the website (FAQ) if you are interested in peace/pacifism, social justice, etcetera. Good luck.
posted by kyleg at 11:44 PM on August 2, 2005

You might find something in YWAM, although it might be more evangelical than you'd like. From what I've read of your posts in the past, you might find World Harvest Mission to be a good fit—except their only short term mission trips seem to actually be one-week-long, paid conferences and times of prayer. (I'm pretty sure that's not what you're looking for this time.) Perhaps they wouldn't see six months as "short term"?

Although I haven't been on any missions trips to speak of, I have a number of friends who have worked with different orgs, including the two linked above. I'd be more than happy to chat about this more with you, or to put you in touch with people who know more than I do. E-mail's in my profile.
posted by Alt F4 at 3:13 AM on August 3, 2005

The Jesuit Volunteer Corps offers one-year placements within the U.S. (though international placements require a two-year commitment).
posted by gorillawarfare at 7:12 AM on August 3, 2005

Peace Corps?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:06 AM on August 3, 2005

Response by poster: I'm pretty sure that's not what you're looking for this time.
Aye, I've already done a few of the week or so mission trips and looking for something more lengthy this time.

Peace Corps?
Considered it for a while, but after some research I don't think it's the right program for me at the moment. Want something more community-oriented with my fellow work group.
posted by jmd82 at 9:39 AM on August 3, 2005

Best answer: I was thinking about this today. I don't think this is the answer, but maybe your local Habitat for Humanity has a six-month position? Again, I don't think it's quite what you want, but I thought I'd toss it out there.

... a few minutes later ...

Oooh. Oooh. I thought of this earlier today but forgot about it until just now: Check out the Catholic Worker Movement.
"The Catholic Worker Movement, founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin in 1933, is grounded in a firm belief in the God-given dignity of every human person. Today over 185 Catholic Worker communities remain committed to nonviolence, voluntary poverty, prayer, and hospitality for the homeless, exiled, hungry, and foresaken. Catholic Workers continue to protest injustice, war, racism, and violence of all forms."
The page I linked lists out their current volunteer needs, where you get choice descriptions like this (emphasis mine):
"Charlottesville Catholic Worker community is looking for a live-in volunteer for a small hospitality house. Love of children, arts, biking, gardening and resisting the empire may make you a good match. Please call shelly at 434-295-1388. p.s. we have chickens :) "
Although there aren't any positions listed near Athens, they do have spots all over the country, and it sounded like you were maybe into traveling a little bit.
posted by Alt F4 at 7:16 PM on August 3, 2005

Response by poster: Resisting the empire? Wow!! Any job description with that listed sounds rad to me. I wonder if they can eat the chickens...
posted by jmd82 at 7:28 PM on August 4, 2005

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