Samaritan’s Purse Discovery Trip #1: Introduction


Back in September 2015, I applied to participate in the Samaritan’s Purse Discovery Trip, along with four friends who collectively we have been serving at Clayton Church and the Operation Christmas Child (OCC) ministry.

The following is a list of ALL articles in this completed writing series, including the last entry showcasing my YouTube videos:

  1. Introduction [this article] (Published 25/01/2016)
  2. God First (Journal Day 25/01/2016 | Published 25/01/2016)
  3. 7 Days Before You Depart (Journal Day 25/01/2016 | Published 27/01/2016)
  4. 6 Days Before You Go (Journal Day 26/01/2016 | Published 29/01/2016)
  5. 5 Days and Counting (Journal Day 27/01/2016 | Published 31/01/2016)
  6. 4 Days – Not Long Now (Journal Day 28/01/2016 | Published 02/02/2016)
  7. 3 Days Left (Journal Day 29/01/2016 | Published 04/02/2016)
  8. Less Than 48 Hours! (Journal Day 30/01/2016 | Published 06/02/2016)
  9. What Will Happen When You Return? (Journal Day 31/01/2016 | Published 08/02/2016)
  10. Today Is the Day (Journal Day 01/02/2016 | Published 10/02/2016)
  11. Day 2 (Journal Day 03/02/2016 | Published 12/02/2016)
  12. Day 3 (Journal Day 05/02/2016 | Published 14/02/2016)
  13. Day 4 (Journal Day 06/02/2016 | Published 16/02/2016)
  14. Day 5 (Journal Day 07/02/2016 | Published 18/02/2016)
  15. Day 6 (Journal Day 08/02/2016 | Published 20/02/2016)
  16. Day 7 (Journal Day 09/02/2016 | Published 22/02/2016)
  17. #17: The Aftermath? (Published 28/02/2016)
  18. Videos (Published 03/03/2016)

Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse Australia. Samaritan’s Purse is an international Christian relief and development organisation that offers spiritual and physical aid to hurting people. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has provided the basic necessities of clean water, food, clothing, temporary shelters and medical aid to people in desperate situations around the world. The organisation serves the church worldwide to promote the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Operation Christmas Child is effective in its simplicity, both here in Australia and abroad. Australians are moved to participate for many reasons; but the results are always the same – bringing joy into the life of a child.

For this 2016 season, three trips were offered, with our group selecting Cambodia as our preferred destination because of our church’s existing missional commitment to Cambodia. The three trips are:

Destination Dates
Cambodia 1 – 11 February 2016
Vanuatu 1- 8 February 2016
Fiji 6 – 14 February 2016

The cost covers international flights, accommodation whilst overseas, meals, travel insurance, in-country travel, visas and administration costs. The application process itself was fairly straightforward, requiring a State Manager’s reference, meaning that an existing relationship with the local state office was a prerequisite. Various forms naturally were expected to be completed and submitted. Two of the tasks as part of the application process did require a little more effort than just writing information on paper forms:

  1. Completion of the General Reference form
  2. Completion of the Medical Information form

For the first form, along with some of my friends, we approached our church Senior Pastor, who also had an existing association with the Victorian State Manager of Samaritan’s Purse. I was fortunate enough to obtain this on-the-spot when both the Senior Pastor and I were helping out with a wedding dress rehearsal at church. This allowed me to complete this task in the most efficient way, without having to spend time emailing and scanning the paperwork.

For the second form, one question required me to provide a signed certificate from my doctor stating that I was fit and well enough to travel to a third world country. This meant that I would need to make a visit to my GP, which took me a few weeks to finally organise. Fortunately, my GP was familiar with the procedure, since we belong to the same church community and over the years, many people have participated in other mission trips of similar nature.

Submission was due in by early October and notification was provided by the end of that month. Receiving that news was a beautifully timed way to cap off the record results from Shoebox Sunday and the campaign that the group of us had run throughout the month of October. Having journeyed together as a team meant that we had a strong bond formed over the last two years+ and we all were excitedly cheering the news as we each received the phone calls.

The period throughout November – December was a little quiet, and things only really started picking up pace with our webinar training session held in mid December. We discovered that the size of our team going to Cambodia was quite large – 22 in total, including the two Cambodian staff and two Samaritan’s Purse Australian staff. Interestingly, Clayton Church has also organised their mission trip to Cambodia – from 8 – 22 February 2016 and four of my life-group members are part of that team. The crossover of the two teams happens in prayer support; where a few of us in each mission team are supporting the other team.

The sharing of information and the journey of preparation has also allowed me to observe how different each mission trip is. Whilst both trips and organising bodies are mature processes, the nature of each trip is quite different and you see that in the different approaches to preparation. The Clayton Church trip is very much about creating opportunities in the harvest field for God to work, so training the team and equipping them with the appropriate skills to hear from God and trust in the power of the Holy Spirit has been a huge focus. Accordingly, weekly sessions for their team have been taking place since October 2015. In comparison, the Samaritan’s Purse trip is a tightly organised trip, where each day has a set program – a combination of visiting local social enterprises and learning about their operations, and visiting rural villages to distribute the shoeboxes. There will be some opportunities, but a lot less, to step out and let God to the work. In many ways, the Clayton team and trip is freer in terms of activity details whereas the Samaritan’s Purse trip is more controlled and planned at that detailed level.

The mission trip itinerary is as follows:

  1. Monday 01/02/2016: 1am flight to Phnom Penh via Singapore
  2. Tuesday 02/02/2016: Toul Sleng, The Killing Fields, Prison Fellowship, Kork Rhoka Health Centre, Boat Cruise
  3. Wednesday 03/02/2016: Takeo or Phnom Penh OCC Shoebox distribution
  4. Thursday 04/02/2016: Battambong
  5. Friday 05/02/2016: Svay Sisophon & Water for Families, Svay Chek
  6. Saturday 06/02/2016: School visit & OCC Shoebox distribution
  7. Sunday 07/02/2016: Church & OCC Shoebox distribution
  8. Monday 08/02/2016: Visit educational & social projects
  9. Tuesday 09/02/2016: Siem Riep, Old Market & Night Market
  10. Wednesday 10/02/2016: Ankor Wot followed by flight to Bangkok (transit only); Bangkok to Singapore
  11. Thursday 11/02/2016: Depart Singapore (transit only) and arrive Melbourne late morning

Preparation for us on the Samaritan’s Purse team includes a journalling exercise, commencing officially from today, Monday 25 January as the week leading up to our trip, which is where this new series fits into the mission. As part of my personal effort to prepare for the journalling, I have created daily entries which will be published over the course of the 11-day trip. In total there are 14 days worth of journalling, so my current plan is to release each entry on an alternate day cycle, ignoring the actual dates that the journal days correspond to. In this way, the first seven journal days prior to flying out will be scheduled for release through to the first week of February. This means that the first two journal days during the trip will be part-published, with only the “instructions”. These two posts will be updated on my return and the final five posts will be posted in full. This will complete the journalling aspect of my mission trip; future posts from the trip will most likely be added on based on the experiences I have and can only look forward to.