International short-term missions

How many people should be in my mission trip group and how long will we be there?
Buckner mission teams typically have 10-30 people and trips range from 5-14 days. If you would like a longer trip or to take more people, please feel free to discuss this with our missions staff.

When should we plan to go?
We can send groups year-round, with the exception of certain holidays depending on the destination country. Our missions staff will work with your church, school or group’s calendar to find the best time for your team to travel.

How old do you have to be on go on a mission trip?
Potential trip members must be at least 12 years of age. Anyone between the ages of 12-18 years old must get prior approval from Buckner.

How do we find out how much the trip will cost?
Once we have tentative dates and a destination for you, your Buckner missions coordinator will build a trip budget specifically for your group to give you the most accurate cost possible for your country, group size, team activities and travel time frame.

What will we do when we get there?
Mission teams may take part in leading Vacation Bible School programs, life skills training or medical projects, depending on the ministry location and their identified needs. You will have a very solid itinerary before you leave the United States.

Who are we spending all this ministry time with?
While there are many children living in orphanages, only about 5-6 percent of the world’s orphans currently live in orphanages or institutions. Because of this, Buckner’s International NGOs focus on finding ways to strengthen local families with the goal of preventing child abandonment. Through a model we call Family Hope Centers, our mission teams are reaching out to the communities from which many orphaned children have come. Teams may also have the option of spending time at an orphanage if there is one in the local vicinity. By spending time at a Buckner Family Hope Center, you have the opportunity to bless the holistic ministry happening every single day by committed Buckner staff.

Where will we stay and what will we eat?
Buckner mission teams typically stay in hotels and/or guesthouses and eat most meals in local restaurants. We can alter these plans to help cut the cost for your group if other secure accommodations are available. All lodging is approved by Buckner Missions staff or Buckner NGO staff prior to the group’s arrival.

What happens if I get sick or hurt while I’m there?
Volunteer mission trip insurance is included in your trip cost and coverage provides for accidents, medical assistance and evacuation and limited property insurance. Details of coverage will be included in the orientation manual or can be obtained by contacting our office.

How does each mission trip volunteer sign up?
Individual mission trip participants may register for a Buckner Missions trip by visiting our trip calendar and selecting the appropriate opportunity.

For groups serving through Buckner Missions, we will send you application and logistics information for your specific group after we cooperatively work out the details of the trip. Conversations with our missions coordinators are key in that process. Why not start one now? Click here to do so.

Begin planning your trip with with Buckner Missions Planning Guide, which can be downloaded by clicking here.

What is included in the cost?
Transportation: All travel within the country is included.
Accommodations: Hotel accommodations with private bath, based on double-occupancy rooms (many international hotels do not allow more than two per room). Single rooms are available at an additional cost.
Meals: Three meals and bottled water provided daily.
Taxes, visas and service fees: All entrance or exit fees, visa fees, portage, taxes, tips and service charges are included.
Translators: Local translators are present.
Miscellaneous (varies by itinerary): All scheduled cultural events, trip interpreters, secondary medical insurance, limited property insurance and administrative costs.

Items not included in the trip cost:
Cost of passport, baggage charges, optional excursions outside of the group sightseeing, additional soft drinks during meals, laundry, long distance phone calls and all other items of a personal nature. International airfare to/from USA is not included in land trip cost. Buckner can arrange all airfare travel; cost confirmed date of booking. Contact Buckner Missions office to coordinate your flight arrangements.

National missions

Where is the Rio Grande Valley?
The Rio Grande Valley is located in the southernmost tip of South Texas that includes eight counties with the largest being Starr, Hildago, Willacy and Cameron counties. According to the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau, it is estimated the population at 1.305 million residents. The largest cities in the Valley are Brownsville (Cameron County) and McAllen (Hildago County). Other major cities include Harlingen, Edinburg, Mission, Rio Grande City, Raymondville and Pharr.

What is a colonia?
A colonia is defined as a residential area along the Texas-Mexico border that lacks some of the basic living necessities, such as potable water and sewer systems, electricity, paved roads, and safe and sanitary housing. To learn more about colonias in the Rio Grande Valley, click here.

Where is Peñitas?
The Peñitas colonia is located in Hildago Country and is approximately 30 minutes west of McAllen Miller International Airport.

What is family coaching and how does it work?
Family coaching is a host of comprehensive collaborative services that addresses the assessment, planning, facilitation and social service recommendations of the individual or family’s needs.

Families meet with a Buckner social worker, who performs a holistic evaluation of the family’s situation and needs, including living conditions, family income, education, job skills ability and more. The family and the Buckner social worker work together to set goals and develop a customized plan for transformation.

This plan could include several steps and short/long-term such as learning small business skills, taking a parenting class or spending a certain number of hours volunteering at the Hope Center. It all depends on the family’s needs and goals. The average length of time needed to complete a transformation plan is six to nine months (longer in some cases).

When should we plan to go?
We welcome groups all year long. Ministry is ongoing 24/7/365 and so are the needs of those we serve. A lot of our teams choose to serve during the spring and summer months.

How old do you have to be go on a domestic mission trip?
Although we recommend children being at least 12 years of age due to the complexity of projects and maturity level, we welcome families of all ages. Children younger than 12 years of age will have the opportunity to process and sort humanitarian aid on our warehouse (depending on inventory levels).

What types of projects are available?
Depending on your group size, budget and skill level, we have projects ranging from sorting humanitarian aid to building a new home for families we serve.

Click here for cost and plans for a new home.

How does each mission trip volunteer sign up?
Missions trip by visiting our trip calendar and selecting the appropriate opportunity. For groups serving through Buckner Missions, we will send you application and logistics information for your specific group after we cooperatively work out the details of the trip. Conversations with our missions coordinators are key in that process. Why not start one now? Click here to do so.

How do we make our travel arrangements?
Travel arrangement varies by individual/group. Since you are traveling within the United States, most groups provide their own transportation arrangements. However, we are more than happy to help you with hotel, guesthouse and/or restaurant bookings or recommendations. Please call us at 956-583-2041 to begin planning your mission trip!

What is the nearest airport to where we will be serving?
McAllen Miller International Airport (MFE). It is approximately 30 minutes from our focused ministry area of Peñitas. The Valley International Airport (HRL) in Harlingen is about an hour from Peñitas.

Project Go

What does the process look like?
A $5 non-refundable deposit is due at the time of applying. Upon receiving your application, Buckner staff will contact you. At that time, you will be asked to complete a background check and submit three reference letters to our office. If you are accepted into the program, you will receive an offer and placement via email.

Should you choose to accept your offer, a $750 confirmation deposit will be due shortly thereafter.

What happens after I apply?
Once your completed application has been reviewed, you will be sent a link to complete a background check. Applicants will be notified within one month of receiving their completed application whether they have been selected. Information regarding scholarship awards and your tentative country placement will also be provided at this time. There is limited space available for our trips and completed applications will be processed in the order in which they are received. Country assignments are chosen based on the volunteer’s preference and the number of volunteers requested by each country.

If your application is approved, you will receive an email asking you to confirm your spot. In order to confirm your spot, you will need to submit the following items to us by March 1, 2017.
1. Sign and submit forms. A link to these forms will be emailed to you upon your acceptance into the program. They must be submitted electronically by the above date.
2. Send in a non-refundable confirmation deposit of $750. This deposit will be applied to the total cost of your trip. **Please review our Terms & Conditions as it relates to your payments, refunds, reservations, and cancellation penalties.
3. Submit a copy of your passport. It must be valid for six months from your return date. If you do not have a current passport please send a copy of the receipt showing that you have applied for a passport. Note: If you submit a receipt, you will later be required to submit a copy of your new passport upon its arrival.

Do I need to go the Dallas to orientation?

Yes! The Dallas orientation is required for all Project Go volunteers. The cost of orientation is included in the trip cost and covers materials, meals and necessary lodging. Parents are also invited (but not required) to attend a portion of the orientation.

How can I fund my trip?
Most volunteers put together an array of fundraising efforts to fund the cost of the trip. Refer to our fundraising page for helpful ideas and strategies. We also offer a number of scholarships. The deadline for scholarship applications is January 15, 2017.

Can I apply for a scholarship?
Yes! We have a number of scholarships available this year. Apply by January 15, 2017.

What is the refund policy?
Please refer to the Resources page for information on policies and procedures.

Who manages me?
You will work with the Buckner manager of long-term opportunities in Dallas, and they will guide you through every step of preparation. While serving internationally, you will have a peer team leader and you will be under the supervision of the native international staff. They are responsible for the care of you while serving as well as overseeing your work and planning your schedule. You will have constant contact with your Dallas manager during your time of service.

How will I prepare for my trip?
Upon acceptance, you will prepare through training materials, conference calls and a Dallas orientation. The Long Term Opportunities Manager will walk alongside you throughout this process.

What kind of work will I be doing?
Project Go volunteers spend their time working with vulnerable children and families that receive various kinds of assistance from Buckner. The work you will do varies at each service location. Volunteers are encouraged to expect the unexpected and be flexible serving in whatever areas are needed in various ministries and last-minute projects.

What if I can’t speak the language?
In service locations where a translator is needed, we will provide one for your team. This is included in the land cost of your trip. In some locations there is no need for a translator. In general, you do not need to worry about the language. We welcome all levels of fluency … or lack thereof!

What will I eat?
Depending on each country’s living arrangement, volunteers will either eat in restaurants or have the opportunity to cook their own meals. The welcome packet you receive will specify according to your service location. In general, you can expect a lot of beans and rice with an occasional side of chicken and a tang of spice! Past participants encourage you to bring snacks.

Where will I be staying?
It varies in each service location. Your welcome packet you will specify according to your service location. Most teams will stay in apartment hotels or mission team lodging centers. All lodging arrangements are chosen because of their high level of safety and the cost is reflected in the land cost total.

What if I get sick?
Your land cost includes travel insurance to utilize during your month of service. While you are responsible to pay out of pocket while in country, you can apply for reimbursement by filing a claim with the Dallas office. It is covered with a $100 deductible. Each location has formed great relationships with area clinics. If trip participants are not well, they will be cared for by the medical staff at these clinics as well as the international staff. We also ask that they immediately notify the Dallas office.

Will I fly with my team?
Because you will depart out of your home city, you will connect with your team on a layover. We can arrange for you to depart from the same city as other team members but you should note that this may increase the cost of your trip.

Is it safe to travel with Buckner?
Buckner is extremely cautious when it comes to the safety of our volunteers. This is an area that we are not willing to compromise. We monitor the type of food you eat, your lodging and we provide security at the hotel and at the service location when needed. This is all reflected in the land cost of the trip. We work with a third-party security consultant that monitors the state of each service location. While we do not anticipate any problems, we do have policies and procedures in place for an array of circumstances. You will also go through security training at orientation.

Do I need to collect any supplies?
You may need to collect supplies and curriculum material with your team. Location-specific information will be given to you upon your acceptance into the program. Historically, past participants have brought an entire suitcase full of supplies. We encourage you to solicit friends and family to come alongside you in this effort instead of purchasing them yourself.

What information can I give my parents?
Parents may refer to the Parents’ Page

What kind of people should serve through Project Go?
It is highly encouraged that each volunteer operate within a Christian worldview, live above reproach, be comfortable as a self starter and have strengths in being flexible. They must also feel comfortable praying with children and teaching Bible stories. It is also important that volunteers are capable of handling the emotional and psychological rigors of working with hurting children in a foreign culture.

What should I expect?
Expect the unexpected. Expect for things to not always go exactly according to plan. Serving vulnerable children and families involves a lot of variables so sometimes volunteers may plan on doing one thing and find that they are needed in another area. Flexibility is a major attribute of a good Project Go volunteer. The Dallas office goes to great effort to provide as much information up front but there always seem to be a few surprises along the way!

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