Thriving in Cross-Cultural Ministry – Leaving, Article 2 of 3

By David Harakal

Thriving in Cross-Cultural Ministry

Installment 8: Leaving, Article 2 of 3

The Six Months Prior to Departure

Please help me select a title for the book these articles will become:

Reminder: Your fellowship, sending organization, or team may not align with my advice. Trust your leaders as you respectfully share what you learn.

If you missed the first of the Leaving series, or would like to see all three parts in one place, visit


  • If you are U.S. based and will be traveling back regularly, get Global Entry.
  • What kind of visa do you need?
    • When do you need to apply for it?
    • Gather the documents you need for your application.
  • Schedule visits.
    • Use Calendy or another scheduling app.
    • Ask people to honor start and end times.
    • Block off times for your closest friends and A-Team.
    • Do not schedule anything for your final week.
  • Do you need to supplement your wardrobe?
    • Check with your receiving team and leaders.
    • Attire may differ by region of the country or area of the city.
    • What can you purchase locally after you arrive? Support the local economy and go shopping with a colleague after you arrive.
    • Take advantage of sales for items you need before you go.
  • Review your team’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), contract, or other governing documents.
    • Verbal commitments mean nothing. If your leader promises you something, make sure it is documented in writing.
  • Schedule doctor appointments.
    • None during your last week
    • Discuss preventative vitamins or medicines.
    • Get prescriptions filled for at least six months.
  • Assume each visit will be your last until your first home assignment. You need “good goodbyes.”


  • Do not cancel your cell phone yet.
  • Purchase your flights once approved to do so. If flights are purchased for you, confirm them.
  • Review visa requirements, which change.
  • Plan your packing and purchase items you need (vacuum bags, favorite toiletries, prescriptions, luggage. . .)
  • Host country phone plans:
    • Can you use your current plan until you get a local number?
    • Can you use an eSim? If so, get one.
      • Note: It is normal not to connect until you land.
    • Ensure your phone is unlocked.
  • Get a grocery shopping app. Use a shared list with your spouse or roommate(s).
    • Use it for things you need to buy before you leave.
    • Use it to remind you what to pack.
    • Use it to store items you need to get when you arrive.
    • Use it to keep track of what you need from your home country after you arrive.
    • Use it for groceries, too!
  • Purchase luggage, tubs, and packing materials. See packing suggestions at
  • Get an international driver’s license, if necessary.
  • Download apps you need and ensure they work.
  • Get a travel credit card
    • Chase Sapphire Rewards or Capitol One Venture X are expensive but quite good.
    • Get a frequent flier number for any airline you travel. Miles will add up.
  • Establish remote backup (e.g., iCloud, SOS Online, Backblaze). Start it now. The initial backup can take a long time.
  • Rent an AirB&B for your last week, if needed.
    • If friends and family exhaust you, apologize, but stay in your AirB&B.
    • You need to leave rested.

If you want to learn more, dig deeper:

  • Foreign to Familiar by Sandy Lanier
  • Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem
  • Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor
  • Getting Started: Making the Most of Your First Year in Cross-Cultural Service by Amy Young

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Reliant or any other entity with which he is affiliated.

Please share your thoughts on this topic in the full document: .

This article is part of a series. For prior articles, resources, and the author’s biography, visit

Books by this author:

This article is submitted by Reliant. Reliant is a Missio Nexus member.  Member organizations can provide content to the Missio Nexus website. See how by clicking here.

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