This is an important question. Our answer is informed by our understanding of the mission of God and reveals our belief about the importance of partnership with local believers.
Brian M. Howell’s study, Short-term mission: An ethnography of Christian travel narrative and experience offers excellent recommendations for three phases – before the trip, during the trip, and after the trip. As you prepare to go, consider these:
Before the short-term mission trip:
1. Spend as much time studying the history, economic, politics and spiritual context of the community as is spent preparing for the activities.
2. Invite people from the country or community to which the team is traveling to address the group.
During the short-term mission trip:
1. Spend time talking to leaders of the community – Christian and non-Christian – about the problems solutions and initiatives already at work.
2. Present visits to a museum, educational institution, monument or natural site as part of the mission, rather than ‘just tourism.’
After the short-term mission trip:
1. Plan several mandatory follow-up meetings to review what people have learned, how it has affected them and what changes they have made or should make in their thinking or behavior.
2. Prepare a presentation of the trip, focusing on resources in the country and the work going on there, rather than a portrayal of the needs and how the team met them.
For those interesting in history and the experience of the Roma during World War 2, Korkoro, a film by Tony Gatlif includes a moving story, beautiful scenery, and fantastic acting. It is available for free viewing from Amazon if you have Amazon Prime: http://www.amazon.com/Korkoro/dp/B005IF19P2/ref=pd_rhf_ee_p_t_1_1BCQ