For Your Mission Trip in Spanish: Vocabulary and Phrases
Next to the front door sits your packed suitcase with your passport and flight confirmation sitting on top. You’ve been to all the team meetings and eagerly reviewed the week’s itinerary multiple times. The excitement builds as you await the mission trip to Latin America that is bound to change your life. Yet one thing threatens to smother your sense of adventure: you lack sufficient Spanish skills. Maybe you’ve studied Spanish for years, or perhaps this trip is your first experience with Spanish. Either way, to have a successful mission trip in Spanish, you need to communicate to some extent with the people. Prepare to do ministry in Spanish with the following list of vocabulary and phrases!
Build Connections One Step at a Time
Don’t set your expectations too high when it comes to conversing with the locals—you won’t understand everything that people say! Because Spanish is so widely spoken, each Latin American country has its own accent and slang. It takes time to learn the complexity of a language, and a short-term mission trip in Spanish won’t provide enough time to learn every detail.
Focus on communicating what you can. Generally, people are very grateful and impressed when you attempt to connect to them in their language. Even if you stumble through broken Spanish, they probably can understand what you want to say and help you fill in the blanks. Your mission trip in Spanish is going to be a success by using the following tips!
To get through the week, use the words and phrases below! If you would like more general travel vocabulary, visit our travelers’ blog post.
Survive the Airport
Most missionary organizations provide transportation to and from the airport, but getting out of the airport can be a little difficult—especially if you are questioned by immigration. Here are some helpful terms, questions, and phrases to survive in a Latin American airport:
|El control de inmigración||Immigration Control|
|El reclamo de equipaje||Baggage Claim|
|¿Por cuánto tiempo estará aquí?||How long will you be here?|
|Estaré aquí por ___ días/semanas/meses.||I will be here for ___ days/weeks/months.|
|¿Dónde se quedará?||Where will you be staying?|
|Me voy a quedar en ____.||I will be staying in ___.|
|Abra la maleta.||Open your suitcase.|
|Sigua, por favor.||Continue, please.|
|El equipaje perdido||Lost baggage|
|¿Hacia dónde tengo que ir?||Where am I supposed to go?|
|¿Dónde está el baño?||Where is the bathroom?|
Look closely at the questions above. Do you notice a pattern? They all use the usted form. Most people in airports will treat you with respect by addressing you as usted, which is a formal pronoun. It might throw you off-guard at first, but just remember that they are being polite!
|¡Buenos días!||Good morning!|
|¡Buenas tardes!||Good afternoon!|
|¡Buenas noches!||Good evening/night!|
|¡Buenas!||Good day! (use anytime during the day)|
|¿Cómo estás?||How are you?|
|Estoy bien, gracias.||I’m good, thanks.|
|¿Cómo te llamas?||What’s your name?|
|Me llamo…||My name is…|
|Mucho gusto.||Nice to meet you.|
|¿Te ayudo? / ¿Necesitas ayuda?||Do you need some help?|
|¡De nada!||You’re welcome!|
|¡Nos vemos!||See you later!|
|¡Qué te vaya bien!||Take care!|
|¡Qué Dios te bendiga!||May God bless you!|
Learn the Lingo
¡Qué Dios te bendiga! is a very common phrase in Latin America, both in and out of the church. Just because someone uses this phrase doesn’t necessarily mean they are a believer; instead, it is a polite phrase used to say “thank you so much,” “take care,” or even “hello” in church settings.
Anytime you are doing ministry, a translator is usually available to help. However, if you make that first connection with someone in their native language, it means so much more. Here are some phrases to get the conversation going. If you don’t understand their responses or want to take your conversation deeper, you can always ask the translator to help.
|¿Tienes un momento para hablar?||Do you have a moment to talk?|
|¿Crees en Dios?||Do you believe in God?|
|¿En qué crees?||What do you believe in?|
|¿Eres cristiano?||Are you a Christian?|
|Soy cristiano/católico/mormón/ateo.||I am a Christian/Catholic/Mormon/atheist.|
|¿Tienes una Biblia?||Do you have a Bible?|
|Aquí está una Biblia para ti y tu familia.||Here’s a Bible for you and your family.|
|¿Asistes a alguna iglesia?||Do you go to church?|
|¿Quieres venir a la iglesia conmigo?||Do you want to come to church with me?|
|No importa tu pasado.||Your past doesn’t matter.|
|Dios te ama tal y como eres.||God loves you just how you are.|
|Jesús se murió en la cruz por tus pecados.||Jesus died on the cross for your sins.|
|Jesús resucitó y está vivo.||Jesus resurrected and is alive.|
|Dios te está persiguiendo.||God is pursuing you.|
|Dios quiere una relación contigo.||God wants a relationship with you.|
|¿Te puedo contar lo que hizo Dios en mi vida?||Can I tell you about what God did in my life?|
|Dios siempre está contigo.||God is always with you.|
|¿Te gustaría un tratado?||Would you like a tract?|
|Gracias por tu tiempo.||Thank you for your time.|
Use Tú or Usted?
All of these Spanish sentences use tú when referring to the listener. If you are at a beginner level, stick with tú for everyone so you don’t have to memorize more conjugations. However, if you feel confident, check out our blog post on when to use tú versus usted.
Pray from the Heart
Talking to God is a very intimate act, and it may feel uncomfortable to do in a foreign language. What’s more, prayers are difficult to translate because of their intensity and quick pace. Do you want to try to say some of your prayers in Spanish? Practice using the phrases below. If it proves too difficult for you, though, then pray from your heart in English. Most people do not mind what language you use to pray!
|¿Puedo orar por ti?||Can I pray for you?|
|¿Tienes alguna petición específica?||Do you have a specific prayer request?|
|Dios, te doy gracias por este día.||God, I thank you for this day.|
|Gracias por la oportunidad de conocer a ___.||Thank you for the opportunity to meet ___.|
|Te pido que le ayudes, que le des fuerza.||I ask that you help him/her, that you give him/her strength.|
|Dale consuelo en tiempos difíciles.||Give him/her comfort in difficult times.|
|Bendiga su vida, su familia y su trabajo.||Bless his/her life, family, and job.|
|Ayúdale buscar más de tí.||Help him/her seek after You more.|
|Da a conocer tu presencia en su vida.||Make your presence known in his/her life.|
|En el nombre de Jesús oramos, amén.||In Jesus’s name we pray, amen.|
When praying in Spanish and asking God to move, you use the subjunctive mood a lot. This is an advanced topic, but if you feel ready for it or are curious as to why you use it in these situations, check out our subjunctive blog post!
Live to Serve
There are so many different types of ministry that you could do on your short-term mission trip in Spanish. Here are some basic phrases that are useful in almost any situation. If you would like a longer list of useful vocabulary, read this blog post about outreach trips with your youth group!
|¿Cómo te puedo ayudar?||How can I help you?|
|¿Qué necesitas?||What do you need?|
|Aquí está.||Here you go.|
|¿Qué tienes?||What’s wrong?|
|¿Necesitas medicina?||Do you need medicine?|
|¿Quieres comer algo?||Do you want to eat something?|
|Te invito.||My treat.|
|Estamos repartiendo comida gratis.||We are giving out free food.|
|Estamos construyendo casas.||We are building houses.|
|Estamos haciendo una jornada médica.||We are doing a medical outreach.|
|Mañana hay una actividad con los niños.||There’s an activity for kids tomorrow.|
|¡Todos están bienvenidos!||Everyone is welcome!|
Give without Expectations
When you ask somebody if they would like something (food, coffee, clothes), they may often respond with just gracias. This is another way of saying “yes, thank you,” but the “yes” is implied. Furthermore, people you meet might be shy and unsure of whether to accept your help or gifts. Te invito (which literally means “I invite you”) is a way to show them that there are no strings attached and that they can accept the offer without hesitation.
Now It’s Time for Your Mission Trip in Spanish!
As the date for your short-term mission trip quickly approaches, practice these phrases and questions as much as possible. You can even write them down in a small notebook to carry with you while on your trip so you are always prepared! If you have any questions or would like to practice your Spanish conversational skills before your trip, schedule a free class with one of our native Spanish-speaking teachers! They can help perfect your skills and give you even more information to help you connect with the people in Latin America. ¡Feliz viaje!
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