Hello and welcome to the training packet for Catholic Mission Trips, INC’s annual mission to Bangalore, India.
Congratulations on getting to this point! God has called you in the beautiful and maybe intimidating direction of service through international missions, and hopefully, specifically to minister to people in India.
Thank you for your courage and initiative in answering that call. He has great plans for you ahead! Most likely, you already have some expectations about what this trip will be like and what you want to get out of it.
Throughout this packet, please challenge yourself to be open to God’s plans for you on this trip, not just what you are expecting! This packet will help provide you with all the information you need about travel plans and details about our specific mission, inform you about the culture of Bangalore, and facilitate self- reflection and deepening of spirituality.
If you have any unanswered questions at the end of this document, please feel free to ask!
Little ways messengers
We will be staying on site at the seminary. They have about 10 beds. They are narrow, low to the ground, hard wooden frames with a thin, firm mattress (more like a cot mat). If you wish, you can bring your own sleeping mat/air mattress.
Bug nets are not provided, so if you wish to have one, you will need to bring your own. Many people find they don’t get many bites, however, so a mosquito net is optional. You will need to bring command hooks (that can stick to the wall) for your net if it does not have its own frame to hold it up.
Each gender will have their own room (Men/Women), and a shared bathroom. The bathrooms have one toilet, a bidet, a sink, and a faucet/bucket for bucket showers. In general, Indians favor bidets over toilet paper so no TP will be accessible there. You should pack your own and make sure not to flush it as their sewer system is not equipped to handle that.
We will have more information soon on that topic.
We will be eating most of our meals at the seminary.
The diet consists of curry (vegetables most days, chicken occasionally) white rice, potatoes or noodles, eggs, and fruit/veggies. If you have any dietary needs, let us know and we will do our best to accommodate.
We will have regular access to clean, drinkable water. You may bring some personal snacks, especially if you have dietary concerns, but make sure you pack them in a way to prevent pest infestation (plastic baggies).
Daily schedule example
July 4 Arrive at BLR
July 5-13 Serve with the Little Way Messengers
July 7 Mass with the Bishop
July 10 Pilgrimage TBA/Free Day ...
July 14 Depart from BLR
10:00AM Mass and rest
1:00PM Teaching English and sharing our culture with seminarians
Catholicism in India
Here’s some background on Catholicism in India, drawn from The Future Church. Though Catholics represent only 1.6 percent of the population, India is so big that this works out to a sizeable Catholic community of 17.6 million.
The Church is divided into three rites: Syro-Malabar, Syro-Malankara, and the Latin rite. The Syro-Malabar rite has an estimated four million adherents, the Syro-Malankara about 500,000, and the rest belong to the Latin Rite. Local tradition credits the apostle Thomas with the introduction of Christianity, and believers who trace their ancestry to him are known as “Thomas Christians.” .
In many ways, Indian Catholicism is thriving. The Church is growing at a rate ahead of overall population growth, and by 2050 there could be almost 30 million Catholics. (That would put India well ahead of the Catholic population of Germany, for example, and bring it close to Poland.)
Catholic culture in India is very vibrant and respectful of other religious traditions, such as Hinduism. Catholicism in India enjoys wide respect for its network of schools, hospitals and social service centers. While the area we are in is not known for religious extremism and discrimination against Christians, we will still adopt caution in our lifestyle while we are there. In general, the community-oriented aspect of life in Bangalore is such that all members of the community get along well despite religious differences.
Karnataka is a state in Southern India and has Bangalore as its capital. It stretches from the north, from Belgaum to the south, of Mengalore. It has various land features: in the coastal region you will find numerous coconut trees and beautiful beaches and in the interior you will find mountains, valleys and farmlands.
Karnataka is the sixth largest state in India. Karnataka doesn't have a very long coastline, but has some of the most beautiful beaches in India. Some of the popular beaches are Karwar, Gokarna, Murudeshwar, Malpe, Ullal and Mangalore.
In Southern India (Karnataka) there are over 65 million people and only 2% are Christians.
If you have discerned that this trip to India is in fact the one for you, this is the information you need now.
I’m sure you have had roommates at some point in your life. Living in community is similar to that, but even better! It’s all about respect, understanding, and growing in your relationship with each other and God. You are about to be thrown into an adventure of a lifetime with a group of people that you have never met. It’s okay if that makes you nervous. It will surprise you how quickly you bond with the people around you when you are all going through this new adventure together. The following personality inventories will help you to think about your personality and all the things you are bringing to the table on this trip, as well as how you interact with other personalities which will help living in community with perfect strangers a little bit easier for all of us.
If you have already taken personality inventories of this nature recently, please revisit your results. If it was a year or more ago, consider taking the test again! At the very least, it’s interesting for you to see if you get the same result as last time.
Temperament test: https://personality-testing.info/tests/O4TS/
Here is a link to all the four temperaments, and what they mean. Read all of them to better understand your teammates: http://www.thetransformedsoul.com/additional-studies/miscellaneous-studies/the-four-human-temperaments
Meyers-Briggs test: https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test
This is a mission trip. Christ is at the forefront of everything that will happen. God is in control of everything that happens. We are not. Although for most of us, our aim on this trip is not to do anything for ourselves, it is to help others, God is exceptionally faithful to deepen your relationship with Him when you open your heart.
This trip is extremely emotional and spiritual in nature and you will likely be challenged greatly and grow deeply in this regard. This is the part of the training packet where we want you to spend a little time. Really enter into prayer and be close to God. We want to get to know where you are in your faith journey. This isn't a test, there are no "right" or "wrong" answers. People come on this trip in a variety of different spiritual highs and lows, and all seeking different things. An honest reflection of your current spiritual state will help us all to go in to this trip with the right mindset. Please take some time and fill out the following Faith Examination Document, which can be found at the end of this document.
We will be booking our flights through a Mission Travel Agency this year to ensure compatibility of flights. The travel agent will help to assist you to book travel that is either the same to mine (preferred and encouraged) or analogous to it. I plan to book our flights in early March.
DO NOT DO NOT book flights on your own, as this causes too many complications. We will all be taking a car together from the Bangalore airport to our final destination (about an hour and half from the airport) so we need to arrive at similar times at the airport, which the travel agent will assist us with. We will create a travel plan and a meeting place once everyone has booked their flights. Keep in mind most of the flights from USA to India have long layovers, so you may need to plan a few extra days of travel on both ends of this trip if needed.
In the event that your flights are delayed or cancelled, the travel agent will assist you to create alternate travel plans, and we will communicate with you as much as possible to arrange your airport pickup. Once you leave the main airport terminal at Bangalore you are unable to re-enter so in the event that you are waiting by yourself you should remain inside near baggage claim or by where they book taxis until we are able to arrange your pickup. There are security guards in these areas who will ensure your safety. DO NOT DO NOT attempt to arrange transportation on your own. We have a trusted driver, many drivers are not trustworthy and the language barrier could result in you getting terribly lost.
We will be purchasing travel insurance for our trip which will cover us each for a certain amount of medical/dental care, emergency care, evacuation, and travel delays/cancellations. CMT will pay for the basic package, but if you'd like more coverage on your trip you are welcome to cover the additional cost yourself. Details will be sent out later.
You will need to see your doctor before leaving the country. You need to make sure you are up to date on your immunizations and shots. Chances are you will have to go to a special travel clinic to get some of the shots you may need, because most doctors don’t carry certain ones. The two attached links give you more information. The most common immunizations needed are the Hepatitis A shot, Tetanus (if needed) and Typhoid. Other vaccines may be recommended as well. The CDC website for the area we will be in (Bangalore) will have all the suggested and required vaccinations listed. You may also already have some of them (like Tetanus and Rabies) so check your immunization records before seeing the travel doctor/nurse. You also have the option to get Malaria medication from your doctor. This a precaution that is strongly recommended to anyone traveling in India, but the area we are traveling does not have a large malaria-infected mosquito population. Consult your doctor and decide what is best for you. There are two popular types of oral malaria prevention medicine, one that you take every day and one that you take once a week.
Health information for traveling to India:
Since we are only staying in India for 10 days, we are eligible to apply for an e-tourist visa. Basically, this is an electronic visa we can apply and get approved for online. More info can be found about it here: https://www.indianembassy.org/pages.php?id=120 The visa generally gets approved quickly and is very easy to apply for. The window for the visa to be valid is 30 days before the trip. Since the approval process is generally a few days, you should apply for this visa no later than 5 days before the trip. Make sure to save and print EVERY email the Indian embassy sends you in response to your visa application. You will need these emails (especially the one stating that your visa application has been accepted and approved) printed out when you check in for your flight to India.
Link to e-TV application site: https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html
Here is some information you will need to complete your visa application.
Our port of arrival will be BLR (Bangalore)
The purpose of our trip should be listed as tourism/sight seeing.
Our expected arrival date will be provided to you when our travel plans are solidified.
US citizens do not have a Citizenship/National ID number, unless you are willing to put your social security number (which I am not), so either use your SSN, or put N/A
For the question: Have you lived for at least two years in the country where you are applying visa? They are asking if you have lived at least two years in the USA, not India. The question is awkwardly worded, so I did some confirming research.
When it asks you for your contact person in India, put Fr. Selvaraj
The address of the place we will be staying is
If there is any further information you happen to need, please don't hesitate to ask!
Passport (and a copy)
Any and All Flight / Medical information (printed off)
Some spending money (You can get it converted to rupees beforehand if you wish)
A mosquito net and hooks to hang it
Bible and Religious reading
Christian prayer book (if you have one)
Type D Outlet Plug (they have a different outlet system than us)
Hand Sanitizer / Wet wipes
Snacks (if you wish)
Toiletry Items (dry shampoo and anti-itch lotion are two of my suggestions!)
Any medicine you may need
Sleeping Pad or air mattress
Toilet Paper (worth mentioning twice!)
Appropriate attire only
- All shorts at or below the knee, no tank tops or sleeveless shirts, ladies beware of any cleavage bearing tops - crew neck is best. Also check your clothes to ensure they aren't see-through. Indians take modesty very seriously.
Work clothes - capris/loose pants and t-shirts are best, I find. You may also get pretty wet/dirty, so keep that in mind.
Sight seeing clothes - bring some comfortable walking shoes and an outfit you are comfortable wearing out around the city (must adhere to above modesty guidelines).
Clothes for mass - For daily mass, it is appropriate to wear your work clothes if you wish (as long as they adhere to modesty standards above.) But you will need to bring one or two "church" outfits as well, for Sunday mass and other occasions. A dress or long skirt is best for the ladies and men should wear pants and a nice shirt.
Shoes - we spend a lot of time on our feet so make sure you bring comfortable shoes. I usually bring one pair of tennis shoes and one pair of comfortable sandals. Most people in India wear sandals as it is customary to remove shoes when going into buildings or certain areas of buildings (like the chapel).
If you have any questions or need any clarification, please let me know!
Thanks, and I hope to serve with you soon! You are in my prayers.