Welcome back to the Friends That Carry On Podcast! We're a group of friends that like to travel the world together. We want to share our passion for travel through travel tips and tricks we've picked up along the way and stories of our adventures!
This week the Friends are changing things up a bit and discussing a different type of travel: traveling through mission trips. Friend and host for this week, Walt Palmer, walks the Friends through different mission trips he's taken over the past decade and things that stuck out to him. It's a humbling episode this week with a lot of heart, you won't want to miss it. Walt Palmer is joined alongside Friends, Jim Scott, Brian Romine, and Eric Fargo.
You can listen along here:
Walter’s First Time On A Mission Trip
The Friends started off by talking about Walt’s first mission trip to the Dominican Republic. They were in a coastal town and their task was to build an 80x120 church. When Walt and his team showed up, the only thing on site was an 80x120 slab.
In the Caribbean, some kids can go to school and some can’t. For those who can’t, they help in the task. In America, you’d use a concrete mixer but in this mission trip, there were two helpers for each person to mix concrete by hand. Everything went well. They finished the church and went back to America. But he felt off about everything. His friend who had been joining mission trips for 27 years explained that he felt so because he realized how fortunate he is in America. He was then hooked on it ever since.
Chaos In The Haiti Airport
One day, Walt was given the opportunity to go to Haiti, which was perfect because he had always wanted to go. Haiti is probably the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
Upon arriving at the airport, he noticed there were no conveyor belts but rather plywood planks where thousands of Haitians moving your luggage around by hand and screaming. Outside the airport, there’s 20 feet of chain-linked, metal fence with barb wires on top and again, thousands of more people screaming and yelling, trying to get money.
Walter explained that Haitians only wants the opportunity to earn money to feed their family, and there isn’t much opportunity around. But not knowing this and thrown into that culture for the first time, it was admittedly overwhelming.
FTCO Foodie Section
Bimini is in the Westernmost tip of the Bahamas. Bimini ladies would make conch salad on the side of the sandy strips. The Friends couldn’t forget it because one of the freshest things they ever ate. They cut up their vegetables right in front of you and walk to the ocean and pull up a conch right out. They cut out the meat from the conch shell, and add celery, carrots, lemon, and lime. They cook the conch on lemon and lime a little bit, then mix it all up with the rest of the veggies. You can choose sides and pay for it. It costs around $1-$2.
The King’s Soup (Soup Joumo)
While in Haiti, Walt and his team stayed in a compound with 20 feet of stone walls. The lady of the house was an American. The food here was good, they would sometimes have chicken, rice, goat, among other things. They did end up having King’s Soup, which is a big tradition in Haiti.
Haitians were once slaves and were forbidden to eat the King’s Soup (Soup Joumou), only the French masters are allowed to do so. Today, it is usually eaten in the New Year in remembrance of Haitian independence in 1804. Walter also talked about bringing his daughter to Haiti on a later trip.
Helping The Head Shrinkers In Ecuador
Last March, Walter joined a small group of five people. They drove 5 hours into the Amazon jungle. Today, the government has made a road 60 miles into the forest and the villagers can now take their harvest faster to the market. Before, the missionaries had to hike through these jungles to meet the tribes, and some were killed. There is still a tribe called Red Foot that kills outsiders.
Walter’s group helped the Shuar people to build a church and water filtration systems. Shuar people are known for shrinking the heads of their slain enemies. They’ve helped other tribes as well to build churches.
Mission Trips FAQs
• How do I join a mission trip?
You can reach out to local churches. Almost every year, there are mission trips set up.
• Who can join mission trips?
You don’t have to be a churchgoer or a member. We have young, motivated people, hairdressers, factory workers, skilled workers, and people from all other walks of life.
• How is the accommodation on mission trips?
You’d usually stay in bare homes. For the trip mentioned earlier, we stayed in a rundown hotel 40 miles from the site. Some trips Walt’s been on before didn’t have power at nights. You have an actual conversation with people – an art you’ve lost with all of our technology. Some nights we’d have rice and beans or rice and meat.
• What does a day normally look like?
First of all, it is not a vacation. Most of these trips are self-funded. For example, in the Dominican Republic trip, all of the materials used in the construction were fundraised in local churches. The people who joined those trips paid for their own or had other people pay for them.
• How do you book your flight?
The Pastors of the church will book the flight. It is often limited to 10-12 people.
• Why would you give up a week and pay money to work harder than you do in the US for FREE?
For Walt, we all have talents and gifts. We must share those gifts with people and when you do that, it is amazing. The other Friends agree that helping others is one of the better feelings in life, without thinking of anything in return.
What a way to travel! If anyone is interested to join, definitely reach out. There are many opportunities to help out. When you help others, you learn a lot about yourself as well.
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