Covid-19 Update

Requirements for 2021 Team Members

Thirst Missions policy for all 2021 team members serving with us by location:

Appalachia and Alaska

Participants must either:

a). have received the full course of the COVID vaccine prior to the trip, or

b). have a negative COVID test within 7 days of travel.

Puerto Rico

Participants must have a negative COVID test within 72 hours of travel. As requirements are updated, location consultants will notify each group leader.

In addition, each participant needs to have no COVID symptoms in the week prior to the trip. While on the trip each person will need to answer five daily health check questions, making sure everyone is healthy during the entire trip.

Participants may be asked to wear masks and maintain social distancing and other safety protocols while on the trip, depending on the location and situation.

All travelers will be required to upload documentation of vaccination or negative test results to the online portal before travel.

Belize

Participants must have a negative COVID test within 72 hours of travel. As requirements are updated, location consultants will notify each group leader.

In addition, each participant needs to have no COVID symptoms in the week prior to the trip. While on the trip each person will need to answer five daily health check questions, making sure everyone is healthy during the entire trip.

Participants may be asked to wear masks and maintain social distancing and other safety protocols while on the trip, depending on the location and situation.

All travelers will be required to upload documentation of vaccination or negative test results to the online portal before travel.

All travelers will be required to have a negative COVID test within 72 hours of departure as they travel back to the US. They must present documentation of testing to the airline before boarding their flight back to the US. Rapids tests are available in Belize for $75US.

All teams going to Belize will be required to purchase travel insurance at $30 per person for the trip.

Those unable to travel with us due to Covid symptoms or a positive test will receive a 100% credit toward a future trip.

We look forward to safe, healthy, effective trips in each location in 2021. Thank you for being willing to go and serve. The needs are great!

Trip Safety During Covid-19

During this COVID-19 pandemic, we at Thirst Missions understand the importance of prudent precautions to ensure the safest environment possible for our staff and ministry partners. Over the past six months, our office has transitioned to a remote workplace. Staff have been asked to come into the office only when absolutely necessary to complete their work, and extra safety measures have been taken to follow social distancing guidelines, wear masks, and sanitize work stations. Our staff meetings have transitioned to video conferencing, as have our meetings with prospective location staff, church partners, and our service teams. These efforts were taken to protect our staff and those in our community at large.

Moving forward, we are committed to taking equally strong precautions to protect our service communities, location church partners, and the teams with whom we are blessed to serve. We are rigorously assessing all aspects of our trips to ensure the highest degree of safety possible for all involved. This includes such items as the cleanliness of lodging, meal prep, and transportation across all locations. We are also evaluating our ministries to focus on smaller groups serving in space, for the benefit of our mission teams, and the people those teams look to serve.

We are doubly blessed as an organization:

  • Our model of mission trips, which is based on private trips and one-to-one ministry partnerships, offers a safer alternative with respect to COVID-19 than the prevalent model of missions which calls for larger groups of multiple teams staying together, eating together, and serving together.
  • Our close location church partnerships offer us the opportunity to evaluate the safety of each particular church partner site, ensuring the comfort and safety of both the mission team and the community they serve.

These distinctives as an organization set us up very well for ministry to happen in 2021, even in the face of new challenges. Of course, there will always be risks involved in mission teams traveling and serving in any capacity. We do not strive to eliminate that risk, but to minimize it and shift our focus as servants of Jesus from meeting our needs to sharing the Gospel and meeting the needs of others.

The Grand Reopening.  As of March 1, 2021 all our locations are fully open to resume mission trips!  The needs are great in all locations and with a few precautions taken for the health of everyone, we anticipate a full and exciting spring, summer, and beyond of amazing mission trips in Alaska, Appalachia, Belize and Puerto Rico.

  • Start planning your 2021 trip. An effective mission trip takes a lot of preparation, promotion, and vision casting that often can take six to twelve months, depending on the size of the team, service location, and type of ministry work being done. Do not wait until next spring to start planning, because by then, it will be too late!
  • Prayerfully consider how you can safely be the hands and feet of Jesus in your own communities. We look forward with anticipation to the ministry that will happen through Thirst Missions in 2021. These efforts, though, will only be extensions of the work already being done in your churches, neighborhoods, and communities. We would love to talk through ideas on how you can mobilize a service team locally as you begin preparations for longer-term ministry abroad.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions about ministry opportunities with Thirst Missions, or if you have questions on what a mission trip could look like with us in 2021.

Blessings,

The Thirst Missions Team

2021 Covid Assurance Policy

Dear Potential Team Leader, 

We know that all of us as believers are facing a few realities we need to reconcile. First, COVID is a real threat that affects all of us, and something we all need to take seriously and plan for. We want nothing more than to see teams out in the field, but the safety of our teams (and the communities and churches we are serving) must come first.

Second, the need for ministry across our locations has never been greater.

Third, we know many teams and churches feel the call to get back out serving again. It’s a biblical mandate, and it doesn’t stop because of COVID. 

We will not be hosting any teams until March 2021 at the earliest, but we do expect we’ll see a return to a “new normal” in 2021 of teams serving in the field

If you would like to take the steps to get a team together to go, but you have the looming “what if” question of COVID, you’re not alone. In this unique circumstance, we have chosen to offer a COVID refund policy, applicable only to teams signing up for a 2021 trip, in the event that the state of COVID makes it inadvisable for you to go on your 2021 trip. 

COVID Refund Details

There are two criteria that would trigger a refund from Thirst Missions to your church/team. 

  1. There is no widely available and affordable vaccine yet. (Available meaning you can get it within a two-hour drive and affordable meaning $200 or less.) 
  2. COVID is making travel difficult or inadvisable to your location. Examples include: 
    1.  a COVID-related travel ban or advisory in the area you are going to serve (Appalachia, Alaska, Belize, or Puerto Rico). 
    2. Your home airport is closed and/or quarantine is required after you arrive back home. This is not what we would consider viable travel. 

The Thirst Missions payment schedule has the registration payment, then payments of 10 percent, 30 percent, and a final payment of 60 percent two months before your trip. The decision about a refund would be made by Thirst Missions 10 weeks (2.5 months) before travel, and before you’ve made that final 60% payment. 

The refund would be 95% of what has been paid in, with the 5% going to defray some of our administration costs for trip planning and preparation. 

This policy was designed with the specific purpose of providing the assurance necessary for teams to move forward in their missions trip planning and preparation for the 2021 season. As such, this amended refund policy will only apply for trips scheduled for this period. 

Additionally, this policy will not apply to trips paid for with credits from previously scheduled trips. In the event that a trip is partially paid for by credit, only the amount paid for with non-credit funds is eligible for refund.

If you have any questions regarding this policy amendment, or would like to learn more about what a trip with Thirst Missions could look like for your church in 2021, please do not hesitate to contact us at 651.464.2212.

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Travel FAQs

Is travel insurance required for my team?

Travel insurance is required for teams going to Belize and strongly suggested for teams serving in Alaska and Puerto Rico. It is also offered for teams serving in Appalachia.

How does my team get travel insurance?

Your group leader can find out more from your location consultant, who will let our Finance Director know if you would like to add Travel/Medical Insurance. The team will pay for insurance as part of their final trip payment. Thirst Missions will do the requisite paperwork, then issue the insurance certificate and information.

What is the CDC requiring for air travel?

The CDC is mandating that all travelers wear masks while traveling on “ airplanes, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-share vehicles.” Masks may be removed briefly for drinking or eating.

The CDC is also mandating that travelers into the US must have a documented negative COVID test within 72 hours of travel. This only applies to our Belize teams, and only for as long as the CDC leaves the requirement in place.

What are the details on the test for Belize teams?

The test can be a saliva test/“rapid test” or a PCR/nasal swab test. We have a clinic in Belize City that we secure appointments with and can do rapid tests at a cost of

$75/person and can do them and get us results in a timely fashion.

More economical and quick options are on the way, but not available yet. We will update as they become available. Initial estimates show pricing to be in the $25 – $50 range.

What’s the status and forecast for the vaccine?

As of the end of January 2021 somewhere between 25 – 30 million Americans have been vaccinated. The goal is 100 million more by the end of April, and vaccinations to all Americans that wish to have it by the end of June/early July range.

So we anticipate that a significant percentage of those traveling with us this summer and after will be vaccinated.

What is the forecast for COVID by summertime?

We expect the COVID threat in all our locations to continue to go down by mid to late summer, for the following reasons. As more people get COVID and recover, that helps to build herd immunity. As more vaccinations go out, that will also help the equation. Lockdowns and mask mandates in the locations we serve has kept them from being

COVID hotspots, and all of the locations are getting vaccines as well. With each month that goes by in 2021 we expect the situation to improve.

What happens if I get COVID while I am serving?

If you are having symptoms, we will take you to get tested at the participant’s expense. If you have a positive test, travel insurance purchased through Thirst Missions will cover any lodging and medical expenses you may have in all of our locations. (We require travel insurance to Belize, and strongly recommend it for Alaska and Puerto Rico, and it is available for Appalachia.)

For teams serving in Belize, to be cleared to travel after a positive diagnosis, you need to either:

  • Quarantine for 10 days and have a negative test, OR
  • Quarantine for 14 days

Travel insurance will cover lodging, food, and transportation to the airport if necessary.

What happens if a minor without either of their parents starts showing symptoms and/or test positive during the trip?

The group leader will be in contact with the parents to decide the next steps, and Thirst Missions will provide support as needed.

What support does Thirst Missions provide to someone who needs to quarantine?

Thirst Missions will help to set up the person with suitable lodging (paid for by participant or covered by travel insurance), access to order out food, and staple food and beverage. Additionally we will be available to help out if the person experiences an issue they need local support with.

What does our travel insurance cover?

Trip interruption (quarantine), trip delay (quarantine), missed connection, baggage and personal effects, accident and sickness medical expense, emergency evacuation.

Assistance services are included.

What is the cost of the travel insurance?

We have recently updated policies to one that will definitely cover COVID expenses without condition, and one that covers all our locations, including domestic. Cost of this policy is $30 per person.

Is it a group or individual policy?

Everyone in the group is covered, and we require the entire team to purchase the policy. I.E. if a group of 20 is going, we need all 20 to carry the policy, not only a few. The entire team gets the policy or not.

What happens if I test positive before I travel?

The participant will get full credit toward a future trip (valid for 12 months), or if a last-minute replacement can be found that person can use credit.

Credit will be issued for the church.