A couple of weeks before the team leaves for El Salvador the final preparations are made. The entire team gathers together, everyone bringing a couple of empty suitcases. All around the room are 20 to 30 tables filled with all the supplies There is toothpaste and toothbrushes, readers and prescription glasses, flip flops, muscle rub, medical creams of all sorts, gauze, children’s Tylenol…. all the supplies needed for the upcoming mission. After meeting some of the new members (newbies), socializing with friends, old and new, everyone is instructed on how the bags are packed. There is frenzy of bags being packed and weighed, packed again (or unpacked) until the desired weight for each bag is 45 to 50 pounds. The first bag is packed and you get your second bag and repeat the process.
Once the bags are all packed and there are no supplies left, the bags are set to the side and an informational meeting is held. A slide show is shown and the newbies are told about the history of the mission, typical days in El Salvador, problems we may see, the importance of being safe while in country, not drinking the water… information so everyone knows what to expect.
Packing day accomplishes two steps for the Mission. First, all the supplies needed for the Mission with the exception of the prescription medicines which were done early by the planning committee, are packed up so each team member can bring them to El Salvador. The second step is team building. It is the first time the team is together. Everyone gets a chance to see friends from previous Missions and get to know new friends. This is the beginning of building the team. They are working together to achieve the purpose of the Mission, to help the people of El Salvador.