The Importance of Pre-Field Orientation

By Otto Kladensky
Co-Founder of Vineyard Costa Rica 

Pre-field orientation is vital for short-term missions. I remember clearly when a team came to Santa Marta, Colombia. The expectations of the team and the local reality came to a clash few minutes after arrival.

The team leader had rented a couple of apartments for the days the ministry team was going to visit the warm and sunny beach location to share Vineyard values and practices with the local congregations. When some of the team members noticed that there was no toilet paper in the bathrooms and that the towels were not “part of the deal,” a crisis developed. There were comments of desperation accompanied with tears. A prayer for consolation huddle was summoned quickly.

My first reaction was “Whaaaat?” And I followed that with a question to the pastor: What kind of PFO did this team have?

His response? “Some people do not read instructions.”

In the Vineyard we value relationships. We’ve got to do our best in prepping the team with basic short term team PFO in order to show we value our brethren “south of the border.”

Before teams visit us, we encourage them not only to pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but also to acquire some knowledge of the local culture and customs. The team leader should prepare a country / region briefing and even a small dictionary to assist the team in relating to the locals.

I wish all teams coming to Latin America would hold meetings to learn and practice what will they do on a trip, but if that is totally impossible, at least “follow the instructions” shared in the bulletins!