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Pray: Top Ten Signs You’ve Just Returned from a Short-Term Mission Trip

Posted by on July 29, 2014 in mission trips, missions, Read, Uncategorized | 8 comments

KLP in Panama1It’s no secret: we’ve raised a family of missionaries. Over the years, all five of our children—plus Tom and me—have taken multiple mission trips. In 2014 alone, five of us have served in East Asia (Karissa, five months); Slovenia (Andrew, one week); New York City (Tom, five days); Nicaragua (Melanie, five weeks); Panama (Karissa, five weeks); and Costa Rica (Tom and Marti, ten days).

Because Tom and I just returned from Costa Rica on July 20 and our girls also returned from Central America on July 25, there’s a whole lot of readjusting going on at the Pieper home. I present this list as both a humorous and serious look at the aftermath of short-term missions service. And no, I won’t identify who is exhibiting which sign.

You know you’ve just returned from a short-term mission trip when. . .

10. The house fills with the smell of unwashed (or less-than-well-washed) socks and sweaty T-shirts.

9. That salad/milkshake/hamburger/Starbucks/Chipotle/Chick-fil-A/other Western food you missed most tastes really good.

8. You begin every other sentence with, “One time in (insert name of international city or village).”

7. You go to your neighborhood grocery store and all you can think about are the children you met who lived on rice and beans—if their parents could afford them.                                                                                                                                                                                                            MRP in Nicaragua1

6.  You open one of your 27 Bibles and remember the people who were so eager to receive their first one.

5. You can’t forget the looks on the faces of those who received Christ. Or the tears on yours for those who didn’t.

4. You missed your family while you were gone, but now that you’re home, you miss your fellow missionaries more.

3. You realize that the same God who works in power overseas cares just as much for the people at home.

2. You can’t listen to comments about how wonderful you are for going to the mission field because you’ve met the real heroes who serve there every day.

1. You’re not sure you should unpack your suitcase. After all, you know God will call you to go again soon.

ATP sloveniaIf you’ve served in short-term missions or know someone who has, can you relate? Feel free to add to my list in the comments below—and join me in prayer for continued change in lives on the mission field and at home.




  1. 11. Your sleep schedule is completely messed up from traveling multiple time zones.
    12. You become overwhelmed with gratitude for all we have in this country.
    13. You catch yourself using common phrases from ____(insert country’s language) when you are speaking English again.
    14. You realize you left a huge part of your heart in ____(insert country) and you long to go back- a new version of homesick

    • Yes, yes, and YES! Thank you, Taylor! Dios te bendiga! ; )

      • You always check the clock and then compare the time in the US to the time in said country… I am pursuing being a missionary in India and when I returned from my short term mission trip last year.. All I could think about was India.. I kept looking at the clock and time here in the US and then thinking about what they might be doing at the church or city right then… I am leaving again for India in October and am so excited… Ahhh!! Thank you for your encouraging blog!!!

        • That is SO true, Elyse! I appreciate your thoughts so much. I know my daughter, Karissa, who ministered in SE Asia earlier this year, still thinks about what time it is where she served. Blessings to you as you pursue His plan.

  2. 1. You’re breaking the news to your son that his dog ran away while he was in Panama, and he takes it as a cue to describe how the village dog would bark at the monkeys roaming the Panama jungle at night…then describes the monkeys…

    • And I wonder who would have EVER done that? Thanks, Angie! That’s amazing, but not surprising.

  3. 1. You miss Marti Pieper, her notebook, and her prayer walks 🙂
    2. You catch yourself using phrases and words used by your team members.
    3. You are ready to go back after one night’s sleep in your own bed.
    4. Your body wakes you up after 5-6 hours of sleep.
    5. Your suitcase is filled with sand.
    6. People ask you what a highlight and lowlight from your trip are and you can’t answer because you want to tell them all the stories.
    7. The people you love the most, your missions family, and the precious adults and children you met overseas are always on your mind and you suffer separation anxiety from being apart from them.

    • 8. You forget what it’s like to drive a car. ; ) Thanks so much, Chelsea. It was a huge blessing to serve alongside you!

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