Trip Leader Guide

What is the ministry in Italy?

If you haven’t seen it already, make sure that take an opportunity to read the overview of the ministry work on this page.

What are the different roles on a short-term team?

A Trip Leader has the primary responsibility for the successful execution of the trip.  A Trip Leader may either be someone from an agency or a leader from your church or organization.

A Group Leader may, or may not, be the same person as the Trip Leader.  If the Trip Leader is from a different organization than the group, such as a mission organization, then the group will need a Group Leader who will lead in coordination with the Trip Leader.

A Participant is someone who is part of the trip but doesn’t necessarily have leadership responsibilities for the group.

What are the Trip Leader responsibilities?

Among the responsibilities of the Trip Leader:

  • Arrange and communicate the group’s itinerary and ministry plan with the team as well as with the Search Party team.
  • Manage all of the logistics for the short-term team, including the air travel, lodging, transportation, and food.
  • Take responsibility for any assistant Trip Leaders, Group Leaders, and trip Participants.
  • Manage all communication with everyone traveling as part of the group.
  • Become a single point of contact for communication with the on-ground contact in Italy.
  • Ensure that all legal concerns, emergency planning, and needed insurance is complete before arriving in Italy.

How will we know that it was a successful trip?  What work will we do?

The short-term teams are prayer walking, sharing personal testimonies and the Three Circles, and starting new 3/3rds Groups in an effort to find persons of peace.  We are praying that God will raise up leaders who will lead a discipleship movement among refugees, so the outcome of a successful trip will be the start of a new discipleship relationship with a new person or group of people and an introduction of those people to our teams in Italy.

Specific successful outcomes will include:

  • Starting a new 3/3rds Group among refugees with a potential person of peace.
  • Training believing refugees in the tools that you have learned to share with others.
  • Introducing an intern or on-ground team member to the newly formed group for ongoing mentoring.
  • Entering the information for newly-found persons of peace on the Search Party website.

What types of skills should the team members have?

Our team provides online training that every team member must complete, including Trip Leaders, Group Leaders, and Trip Participants.  By completing this training, the team members will understand how to share their testimonies, share the Gospel of Christ, and start new 3/3rds Groups.

Beyond this, French, Arabic, or Italian language skills will provide a significant advantage to having a successful outcome to your mission trip.  If it is possible to include people with these language skills in your trip, please do it!

And finally, depending on the planned ministry activities, there may be certain skills that are required.  For example, if the team in Italy presents an opportunity to visit a camp, and you determine that you would like to play music as a way of starting a relationship before making individual connections to share the Gospel, you will obviously need people on your team who are good and both playing music as well as engaging people into connecting with what you are doing.

What does a typical day look like for a short-term team?

A typical schedule will be the following:

8:00 – 9:00: Breakfast
9:00 – 10:00: Worship, Prayer, Devotions
10:00 – 12:00: Debrief and training for the upcoming day
12:00 – 1:00: Lunch on your own and travel to assigned locations
1:00 – 7:00: Work in coupled pairs to prayer walk, present testimonies, and Three Circles
7:00 – 8:00: Travel back to lodging, rest, and prepare for dinner
8:30 – 10:30: Dinner and debrief from day’s events

At times, depending on availability, it may be possible to visit inside of a camp during the main work time of the day, although this is not guaranteed.

When can the team come to Italy?

The team in Italy has scheduled specific months when we will receive a team. You can propose a team on the Search Party website and our team will confirm with you once the team has been accepted.

How will we coordinate our trip?

You should first register a user account on the Search Party website and then start the process of proposing a trip.  A Search Party team member will review your trip and reply with any questions.  Once your trip has been approved, you will receive an email and you can begin the ministry and logistics planning process.

The Italy team will provide an on-ground point of contact who will assist you in the planning and execution of your trip.  It is possible that this person may change over the course of your time working on this trip, but their responsibilities include:

  • Assistance in the development of your itinerary.
  • Answer your questions before arriving and during your trip.
  • Assist you in developing your ministry plan and locations and provide final approval of the plan.
  • Meet you, the Trip Leader, at the airport to help you start your trip.

What if I have never been to Italy before?

You will have opportunities to communicate live with your point of contact in advance of the trip.  Additionally, your point of contact will be happy to answer questions via email. We encourage you to come early, in advance of the team, to get accustomed to the lodging, transportation, and the locations where you will be doing the ministry work.

What is the best way to travel to Italy?

You will fly to the city where you will be working. Our team will help advise you find your best travel routes.

There are many different options for flying to Italy.  Many online travel sites will route you through Rome, although you may find better rates if you fly to other major cities in Europe and then take a less expensive airline such as EasyJet, Transavia, RyanAir, or others into the final city where you will be working.  

Where will the team stay?

You are welcome to choose the lodging location that will work best for your team. We recommend checking and for the best lodging options. In certain cities, team housing may also be available.

What are the best transportation options?

You may choose the transportation option that will work best for your team.  The following options have worked well to date:

  • Rental cars
    The largest rental car that we have found is a 9-passenger van.  There are several rental car options available at the airports.
  • Public transportation and walking
    • Public bus: These can be good options for getting around in the larger cities.
    • Metro train:  Most Italian cities have a Metro subway train which can be very helpful.
    • Walking:  Italian cities frequently have a tourism bureau with useful information on their website.  You can also easily use Google Maps to assist in your travels.
  • Taxi
    Taxis are also an option, although they can be expensive at times.

Where will we eat?

There are many restaurants available, including for those on a budget or if you would prefer to try restaurants that are a little more upscale.  In addition, pizza can be purchased for delivery to your hotel. In some cities, we may also have a relationship with a caterer who can cook traditional Italian pastas and other foods if you would like.

What should I wear?

In Sicily, the dress is fairly casual, although due to the nature of interacting with Muslim refugees, we do ask that everyone is conservative in their dress.  To that end, t-shirts and either long pants or shorts at the knee are required while on the streets or in the ministry centers.  For ladies, loose skirts below the knee are also allowed.  One-piece swimsuits only should be worn for days at the beach.  You should not wear church or mission group shirts or other overtly Christian, American, or other nationalistic clothing.  Simple, immemorable dress is best.

Especially in the summer, the weather will be warm in Sicily, so please make sure to dress for the heat.  We suggest several changes of light clothing, wearing light colors, hats, and light cotton while not wearing tank tops or other types of more revealing clothing.

Please bring 1-2 sets of clothing to look a little nicer for church or other activities that we may engage in.

You will be doing a significant amount of walking, so please wear comfortable, closed-toed shoes.  The streets and sidewalks are made of large, uneven cobblestones, and there is broken glass and other debris in many places, so your shoes should be sturdy and give you the best chance for walking over that terrain.

What if someone gets sick or injured?

There are several hospitals and pharmacies in the area.  The Trip Leader will be responsible to take the team member needing medical attention to the hospital or to the pharmacy.

How will we know where everything is located?

The Search Party team has created maps in an effort to make your trip as successful as possible.  Please refer to the map and let the short-term team coordinator know if you have any questions.

How much does a trip cost?

As the trip leader, you will determine the price of the trip for your participants based on your organization’s situation and guidelines.  The following table provides a general sense of the prices during the summer, the peak time of the year. Prices are variable in other times of the year.

  • Airfare: Between $1,200 and $1,800 round-trip.
  • Lodging: Between 25-40 Euro per person per night, depending on your rooming plan.  Most hotels will have single or double rooms, meaning you can put 1 or 2 people in them.  Some may also have triple or quadruple rooms.
  • Transportation:
    • Rental cars
      • 9-passenger van:  $1000 for 8 days / 7 nights
      • 5-passenger car:  $500 for 8 days / 7 nights
    • Public transportation:  Approximately 15 euro per person per day
  • Food: Depends on your budget and food preference, but 25 Euro per person per day will allow you to eat reasonably well.
  • Mobile phone: 20 Euro per phone for a SIM card with data that will work in a GSM-ready phone. You can also use your home carrier’s international plan.
  • Recreation: Depends on your chosen activity, but a reasonably priced activity can cost between 10-20 Euro per person.
  • Souvenirs: To taste and type of souvenir.  Ask your on-ground contact person with any questions.
  • Ministry money: If your ministry time requires resources, you will need to budget the necessary resources for completing your ministry work.
  • Donation to on-ground ministry: Search Party asks for $100 per person to facilitate the work of the team.

Cash vs. Credit Cards

Italy is largely a cash economy, although in larger cities, you will find more places that take credit cards. In any case, there are some important tips to remember:

  • Italy uses the Euro.  American dollars are not accepted.
  • The most convenient way to receive euros is to use an ATM card and withdraw money.  Make sure the communicate with your bank that you will be traveling in Italy.
  • American dollars will have a different value from the euro.  You can see the current dollar to euro exchange rate on Google.
  • American banks typically charge a fee for international bank withdrawals, although there are banks that will refund these fees to you.
  • If you bring dollars, you will be responsible to find a way to exchange them to euros, likely with a local bank or at the post office.  Local teammates do not have a way to exchange dollars to euros for you.

What donations should our team bring for the refugees?

It is difficult, and quite expensive, to bring donated goods to give to the refugees.  Further, there are many, many people and giving an item to one person but not to another makes the situation more difficult, not easier.  As a result, we ask that you not bring donated items with you on the trips.

Instead, if you would like to donate, the best way to do that is to bring cash with you, preferably in Euros, not Dollars or other currency.  That money will be used to directly benefit the refugees through the purchase of clothing, shoes, games, Bibles, blankets, or other goods to meet their needs.  Depending on the amount of the donation, the purchase of the goods may be deferred and combined with other donations so that all of the refugees can be accommodated within the group where the donated goods will be provided.

Will my smartphone work in Italy?

Maybe. If it’s an iPhone or GSM-capable, then you will likely be able to use it.  Click here for tips to use your iPhone in Europe.  Otherwise, put your phone in Airplane mode and call/text using WiFi networks.

What apps do you recommend to put on smartphones?

  • Google Translate.  Be sure to download Italian so it can be used in offline mode.
  • WhatsApp.  This messaging app is very popular in Europe and by refugees.
  • We also recommend downloading local maps of the city where you will be working in Google Maps.

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