Info and Helpful Hints for International Visitors/Teams

Short Term Mission Evaluation Form


  1. Make sure all passports are valid.
  2. Prepare by practicing testimonies, gospel presentation, lessons, etc.
  3. Go through information about Nigeria and Islam.
  4. Prepare a master list of team with each individual’s full name, address, phone number, and email to be filed with the Orphanage for official purposes.
  5. Help us make sure that sensitive information that could put any of our children at risk is not being made public by providing us with websites, blog sites where people may be posting about their trip.


  1. Check passports early to make sure they are updated.
  2. All passports should have at least 6 months left before expiry from the end of your time in Nigeria.
  3. Make 2 photocopies of the photo and visa pages of each passport (one should be left with an easily accessible contact in the US and the other should be brought to Nigeria packed in a separate bag from the passport itself).
  4. Once you arrive at your Nigerian destination all passports and tickets will be kept in a safe place and only the photocopies will be carried during in country travel.


  1. Everyone who comes to Nigeria needs a visa.
  2. Teams can work directly with the Nigerian Embassy or use a visa service(cost $100+) to secure their visas.  Unless their is a problem or an expedite is needed we recommend that you work directly with the Embassy.
  3. You will need the following items to secure a visa:
  • Two months or more prior to travel you will need to get a letter of invite from Minsitry of Mercy.  Via Email send us a list of all those coming which includes full names (as they appear on the passports) and addresses.
  • Go to the Visa Website:
  • Mark the box for visitor on your visa application form.  Each person or family unit that is coming needs to receive a letter of invitation from their Nigerian host.  (A husband, wife and children only need one letter.)  The letter should be general and avoid any religious emphasis so someone from a different religion will have no reason to deny the request.  If you have any last minute additions to your team, please inform us as soon as possible so that we will expedite an invitation letter to them.  Please do not add any names to your list without informing us first, to avoid any problems or embarrassment with immigration.
  • You will also need a photocopy of the first page (picture page) and stamped visa page from the passport of the one signing the letter and a copy of CERPAC cards (if the host is an expatriate).
  • The team will send their 1) letters of invitation, 2) passport pages of host, 3) visa forms, 4) passport photos (as stipulated on the visa form), and 5) payment in the form of money order about two months before traveling.

Visa Service:

There are several services, but the one recommended by our contacts in Jos is Travel Document Systems, 925 Fifteenth St. NW 3rd Floor, Washington DC 200051-800-874-51001-202-638-3800; (fax)  On their website they have all the visa forms, which can be downloaded by the team and used through the visa service or submitted on your own.


The team should call their county health department and get the recommended shots and anti-malarial medications.  The cost will depend on the individual public departments.  Some are inexpensive while some are very expensive.  You can also look for a travel clinic in your area.

Cost of Travel:

The team should send money out well in advance of their visit so that food can be bought and preparations made before the team gets to Nigeria.  The ministry does not have the extra money to buy these things up front to then be reimbursed later.  The ministry will provide an itemized breakdown of expenditures at the end of the trip and reimbursement will be made of any remaining money.

The money can be wired to Zenith Bank or sent through Western Union.  Details will be sent to the person handling the finances.

The team will be given the same exchange rate that the ministry gets.  If possible, the team should bring some cash.  It is good for the ministry to have some US dollars, and they can get the best rate with cash.  ($100 and $50 bills are best.  Anything smaller will get a lower exchange rate, and many places will not even exchange anything less than a $20 or $10 at all.  They also must be the bills with the large presidential head 2006 or Newer, not the smaller one.)

Here is a cost breakdown with ranges, depending on where the team is travelling from, the time of year, the strength of the dollar, etc.

Expenses BEFORE Nigeria

  1. Airline tickets                                $1600-$2500
  2. Shots/Anti-malarial                       $100-$250
  3. Visa fee                                        $150-$200
  4. Travel insurance (optional)            $50-$120

One-time Expenses in Nigeria

Transport to and from airport per person $120(includes room for the first or last night, driver, fuel, dinner, airport fees/tips)

*  If you prefer to make your own arrangements for transportation and lodging in Abuja, please let us know.

Daily Expenses in Nigeria

  1.  Housing/Food/Water/Transportation/etc.             $35/person/day
  2.  Internet                                                                  $5/person/day
  3.  Generator/Electricity (when available)                     $5/person/day

Other Optional Expenses in Nigeria

  • School Outreach – varies based on number of schools visited and location of those schools; costs would include fuel for the car, driver, etc.
  • Construction Project – varies by project
  • Medical Clinic – varies by clinic; we can discuss the type of clinic you want to run and where, to determine the specific costs
    • Note: For security reasons, any public clinics (open to those not part of Ministry of Mercy) need to be held off of the MoM compound.  There are several other arrangements that can be made, but please realize that you will be in a bush area so the set-up may not be what you are used to in the States (i.e. dirt floors, no screens on the windows, no electricity, no running water, etc.)
  • Personal souvenir shopping money – people average about $100

Note: There are neither many opportunities for shopping nor many places that have souvenir-type items in our area.  We try to have a few things available for you to purchase if you are interested, and a trip to market can be arranged, but if your team wants to do much souvenir shopping it should be arranged to do this in Abuja (although things will be more expensive there).

Airfare is the biggest variable, but teams should be able to do everything for about $3000 per person for a 2-week trip.

Travel Agents:

Intermission World Travel, 4828 Parkway Plaza Blvd., Suite 190, Charlotte, NC 28217.  Contact Ashlee – she comes highly recommended:

Golden Rule Travel

  •  Tell them you are on a short-term mission trip.  You may be able to get “additional baggage” vouchers, which allow you to take extra bags for free.


British Air is great, but check first, they recently made some changes that makes you have to sometimes change airports in London and now possibly stay overnight on the way there and back, depending on where you are flying out of.  If that is the case, it will be too time consuming and expensive to travel with them through London to Abuja.  If not, BA is comfortable and the price is good.  KLM through Amsterdam, Lufthansa through Frankfurt and Delta also fly to Abuja, and people have had positive experiences with all.

Bringing Stuff:

Each team member is allowed a carry-on and 2 boxes or suitcases that can weigh u p to 50 lbs. each.  Check airline rules as they are constantly changing.  You can get sturdy boxes at a U-Haul type place.  Check with the airline on how big the boxes are allowed to be.  They have some very specific regulations now.  If you have any questions, contact your travel agent or the airline directly.  Make sure you also weigh each container before getting to the airport.


If you are planning on bringing gifts for the orphanage or for the children, please check with us ahead of time on what is needed.  Many things can be bought in-country, and luggage space could best be used to bring things we cannot get here.  (For example, many school supplies can be bought here; flip-flops can be bought here and are much cheaper.)

Lodging in Abuja:

The Baptist Guesthouse (09 523 1755) is N 1500 ($11) per night, per person.  A driver is N 1000. The ECWA Guesthouse (09 523 1067) and the New Anglican (09 523 1067) are each about N 4000 ($35) per night, per room.  (Most places will allow you to put 2-4 people in a room, but you will have to check their policies.)  Most other decent hotels in Abuja will cost at least $100/night/room.  Hope Eden is a guest house not too far from the airport, but not inside the city.  It is clean and comfortable in a beautiful, quiet, rural area, and meals are available for a small additional fee; however, there is no running water and the electricity is battery powered.  The cost is around N 1000 ($8) per night, per person.

Abuja Airport:

The Abuja airport is very nice and modern and is about 35 minutes from the city of Abuja (and about 5 hours from Otutulu).  The customs officials are usually nice and hardly check any bags these days, but do not take them for granted.  They are there to do a job, and their questions should be answered honestly and succinctly.  It is best to handle your own luggage if you can.  If you choose to let the baggage handlers help you, make sure to keep your eyes on your bags at all times and let your host take care of paying them.  There is a small souvenir shop in the airport.  Things are expensive there, but there is the opportunity to buy things.  There is a bureau of exchange in the airport as well, but it is better to wait and let your host take you to a place they know to exchange money.  You don’t want to draw attention to yourself by exchanging and handling money.

The First Day:

After arriving at Otutulu and getting yourselves settled and bags unpacked, members of the management of MoM will meet with the team for a brief orientation to the culture, the ministry, and the schedule.  It is better not to nap that first day, as doing so will then take you longer to get over jet lag.

Ministry/Activities in which teams can take part:

There are many opportunities to serve at MoM.  This is just a partial list: ministry – Bible Study/Sunday School/daily devotions, work with disabled children, medical outreach, professional training for staff members (i.e. teachers, health workers), health/safety teaching, child care, helping with school activities, computer tech work; activities – swimming at the stream, climbing the “mountain,” Anyigba market, soccer/volleybal.


If you want to do any type of documentary, please inform the management beforehand, in writing, explaining what type of documentary you want to do, for what purpose, and for what intended audience. Do not begin any documentary work without written permission to do so.


We would like to have an anonymous written evaluation for each team member.  This helps us get good feedback and plan for the next trip/team.  We will have copies of the form available here, but you can help us out by making a copy for each team memberand bringing them out with you.

Evaluation Form


How long does it take to travel to Nigeria?

  • It takes about 8 hours from the East Coast of the US to Amsterdam, Frankfurt, or London, where you’ll have a layover (the biggest variable), and then 6 hours to fly to Abuja (do NOT fly to Kano or Lagos!).  The team will have to spend a night in Abuja either on the way in or on the way out depending on the airline you use.  On the trip from Abuja to Otutulu (approximately 5 hours if driven non-stop) you may want to have the following items handy in the car to make your trip more comfortable: sunglasses, lip balm, water, snacks.  MoM has a branch in Lokoja, which is on the way to Otutulu, approximately half-way through the trip.  Arrangements can be made to visit our Lokoja branch on your way to or from Abuja if your team is interested.

How many days is the minimum for a trip?

  • You can do a trip in 10 days, although 2 full weeks is better.  Less than that is not really enough time when you consider the 2-3 days spent in traveling to and from Abuja.  Longer trips are also possible.

What will the weather be like?

    • It depends on the time of year.  Generally the weather will be warm.  Highs will be from 70s-90s.  Dry season runs from October through April and is usually pretty hot through the day and the night.  Depending on harmattan in December-February can be cooler, especially at night.  If you are coming in the dry season, you will want lip balm and lotion – the air is dry.  Rainy season runs from April through October and is usually a little bit cooler, especially after a rain.  You may want a raincoat and umbrella.

What will the food be like?

    • Breakfast: bread, tea, coffee, fruit, oatmeal, corn flakes (more expensive, but can be bought here), bean cakes, cornstarch pudding, fried yam, eggs
    • Lunch and Dinner: pasta, potatoes, yam, rice, Ramen noodles, various sauces, chicken/beef/fish (this is usually included in the sauce, not as a separate dish)
    • Snacks: peanuts (boiled or roasted), roasted corn (not sweet corn), various fruit (whatever is in season – oranges, bananas, pineapples, coconut, etc.)
    • Special diets are nearly impossible to accommodate so if you require one you should plan on bringing much of your food with you.

What kind of clothes can we wear?

    • Men can wear pretty much anything they would wear in the States.  Women generally wear skirts or dresses with the hemline below the knee.  Capris or scrubs are acceptable for women when playing sports and other activities, but it is still more culturally sensitive to wear skirts.  One piece swimming suits or shorts and a t-shirt are okay for swimming at the stream.  You may want to bring one “dressy” outfit for church or in case you get a chance to go to any festivities.  People here tend to dress up for such occasions.  When ministering in any church or praying publically and during Sunday service, women usually wear head coverings.  Bring a few scarves to use as head coverings.
      • (additional note: Please be sensitive to the culture and ask if in doubt.  Some examples: 1) Our church denomination does not allow women to speak/teach in the church.  If your group is in charge of a church service, please do not have the women participate in the speaking (they can sing a special number or be part of a drama).  2) Relationships between males and females are viewed differently here.  Whether you are dating someone in the group or not, public displays of affection (including hand-holding, reclining on one another, backrubs, being alone where others cannot see you, etc.) are prohibited between males and females.  3) Courtship and marriage practices are different here (the words dating/boyfriend/girlfriend – in fact – mean you are having sex).  It’s okay to ask questions to understand how things work, but making jokes and teasing people about who they are going to marry or should hook up with may make people uncomfortable and/or cause offense.)

Will we be able to do laundry?

    • We will make arrangements for someone to come and wash your clothes, although it is best if you handwash your own undergarments.

What about electricity and water?

    • We have a 60 KVA Mikano generator, which we usually run for three hours in the evening when there is money for fuel.  Arrangements can be made for additional running time at additional cost.  We sometimes have small generators which can be hooked up to selected rooms and run at other times as well for additional cost.  The standard voltage here is 220.  If you have appliances that are 110-volt, you will need to use a step-down transformer before plugging them in.  The wall sockets here are different as well, so you may want to check at a travel store for an adaptor so that you will be able to plug in your appliances.  Bring flashlights for use in the middle of the night.
    • Water is pumped to tanks in each dwelling and “runs” through virtue of gravity.  If the pump is not working, arrangements will be made for water to be supplied to you.  Some of the toilet facilities have a shower head, in others you will have to bucket bathe.  We also have a well on the property so water on the compound is safe to drink, but if your group prefers, arrangements can be made for you to purchase bottled water.  Off of the compound, it is best to drink only beverages that are in bottles or cans.

Do we need bedding, towels, etc.?

  • It is a good idea to bring your own towel, a sheet, and a small travel pillo.

Are there lots of mosquitoes, problems with malaria, etc.?

    • There are mosquitoes.  If you want to bring a mosquito net, you can, but it is not a requirement – depending on where we are able to accommodate you, it may also be difficult to find a place from which to hang it.  If you use repellent, you should be fine.  You will be taking an anti-malarial, so you should not worry too much about malaria.  However, it is still possible to contract malaria while on an anti-malarial (or if you miss some doses).  Malaria usually takes at least 2-weeks to manifest, so if you develop flu-like symptoms after returning home, be sure to tell your doctor that you were in sub-Saharan Africa so that they will know to check for malaria.  If you get sick while in the country for 10 days or fewer, it is almost certainly NOT malaria, as malaria (as stated before) has an incubation period of approximately 2 weeks.

What kinds of things should we bring in addition to our own personal things?

    • This may depend on the specific mission of your team.  Discuss this with the management of MoM ahead of time.  You may also want to bring some small gift-type items that you can give to your hosts or any special friends you make during your visit, but this is not necessary.  You can also ask around for people to donate used laptops.  They are great here because they can be used in 110 and 220 and they are difficult to get here.  The main thing is that you are bringing yourselves!

Can Children come?

    • Bringing children is fine, but if they are under 16 we require that they come with their parents or a guardian.  We have had several kids come out, and they did great.  It is a great experience for any age – use judgment about certain situations.

What about the use of credit cards in Nigeria?

    • Do NOT use them in the country.  If you are carrying them with you, they should be locked away once you get here.

What kind of projects/needs can we help out with financially?

    • There are many financial needs with the running of an institution of this size.  Please see the list of our “priority” needs under needs on the website.  If while you are here, you see an area of need that is not on our list that you would like to help out with, please discuss your idea with the management first, before declaring your intent or promising someone aid.  We do not want to stop anyone from helping in any way they feel led, but the management can help you to go through the proper channels, etc. within the ministry for providing such assistance.

Is it possible to adopt children from the orphanage?

    • Due to recent changes in Kogi State law, it is currently NOT possible to adopt from MoM unless you are a Nigerian citizen living in Kogi State.

What are some other ideas that might help us on our trip?

    • Crafts:  A place where you can get good craft supplies and gifts is Oriental Trading Company, Inc.,, 1-800-228-2269.  We have approximately 150-200 children (all ages).  It is not necessary to have the same gift or craft for every child, but our general class size for arts and crafts is 20-25 students, so it’s good to have a full-class set of each craft.
    • Munchies: Especially if you have children or teenagers in your team, you may want to bring some American snacks with you in case they have trouble adjusting to the food.  (i.e. beef jerky, granola bars, crackers, easy mac ‘n’ cheese, etc.)
    • Communication: Please inform your prayer partners back home to not depend on hearing from you once you reach the village.  There is internet service at Otutulu now, but it is slow and does not always work.  There is some cellular phone service as well, but it is equally unreliable.  If you (or they) expect to be able to make frequent contact, you may be frustrated and disappointed.  (Caution: I would restrict team time on the internet and/or create a schedule for who can use it when – if not, people tend to plug in to their computers as soon as the light is on and this limits their interaction with the children.  It also makes it tempting to stay up late at night meaning that you have tired team members the next morning.)
    • Church involvement:  Get your home church involved by having a sign-up sheet for things you want to bring along (sports equipment, arts/crafts supplies, clothes, school supplies, money donations, etc.)  Send a letter out to the congregation informing them of the trip and inviting them to partner with you in prayer.  They will thus be with you in spirit, and you will be more effective in your ministry.
    • Rest: Make sure you plan on resting some each day (MoM has a “siesta” from 2-3 p.m.)  You may think you won’t need it, but the demands of ministry will wear you out, and the climate (HEAT!) makes it hard to get your energy back quickly if you don’t take time to rest.  If your body gets too tired, your immune system will be less effective and you will be more likely to get sick.

***To enable us to accommodate you well and keep everyone actively involved in ministering without overstretching our staff and resources, we request that teams be no larger than 15 people at a time. 

Thank you for your heart to come to Nigeria and serve with us.  The difference you make is not just for the day, but for eternity.  We hope the preceding information helps a little bit.  If you have any further questions, please contact us at .