Visitor Application Information:
Thank you for your recent email expressing interest in MCV/White River Iris Base. We are blessed by the abundance of volunteers wanting to come and serve the Lord here — upwards of 100+ every year!
Steps to Apply to Visit
A request to visit initiates an application process. As part of that process, you will be asked to supply the following:
Ø Pastoral Reference: Please have your pastor send us a reference directly to this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
It needn’t be lengthy, but it should include his or her reflections on your Christian walk and any significant involvement you may have in your church. Also, it should include a brief assessment of your suitability for a short-term missions experience in a setting such as we has here at Iris. (Your pastor should visit the Iris web site www.irisglobal.org if he or she isn’t familiar with Iris. He or she should take note of the information here for prospective visitors, and should comment in that light.)
Ø Copy of your personal Christian testimony send to email@example.com
Ø A clear statement of your vision for ministry (hopes and goals) for working with Iris Ministries: i.e., tell us what you would anticipate doing here, bringing here in the way of gifting or service, and what you would hope to receive from God while here.
Ø Tentative dates you would like to visit (Please note, if accepted, it is not always possible to accommodate you during your preferred dates.
We do appreciate your patience in waiting to make travel arrangements to come until you have received a written invitation from us.)
Visitors are responsible for their own travel arrangements, please be prepared to make your own way here as we are not able to facilitate arrangements between visitors.
After having received all of your application materials, we will read your information and pray about how God may plan to use you here. We will get back to you as quickly as possible once we have received your information.
Thank you again for your interest in what the Lord is doing here in Southern Africa. Please do not hesitate to contact us with your further questions. We will do our best to provide reliable answers to your questions and help you in any way possible. May the Lord direct you, as you continue to open your heart and seek him!
Michaels Childrens Village
Visitor Information Handbook
REVISED: November 2015
The following information has been compiled from visitor experience. Before emailing us with any additional questions, please read through this document carefully as most of your answers will likely be found in the following pages. You will find it helpful to make a hard copy and use it as part of your checklist before departure. Team leaders are responsible for sharing a copy of this document with each member of their team. Visitors are responsible for the information provided here – you may experience inconvenience if you have not read this thoroughly!
Visiting Other Bases
Since many of our visitors also visit the Maputo and Pemba bases in Mozambique, please, please, please let us know if this is you plan! Each base accepts visitors separately and has different visitor information. However, each base must confirm each visit separately, so please wait for confirmation before making your travel plans:)
South African Visa are given at the border/ or airport for free to all US, UK, and Canadian citizens. If you are not a US, UK, or Canadian citizen, please look online for information regarding your country and visas to South Africa.
Please note: You will need to obtain a notarized copy of your passport prior to arriving in Africa. This is a photocopy of your passport with a stamp of a notary on it. This is a requirement for all who visit or work at Iris Ministries. We ask that you obtain this simply so that you will not have to bring your original passport with you, when you go on outreaches or ministry. It is much more difficult to replace the original passport than it is to replace a copy, should something happen and it be misplaced.
We also have some recommended agents who frequently help Iris missionaries/guests- please request this information in a separate email. If you are not traveling during peak season (May-Aug. and Dec 14-Jan 3rd), we might be able recommend some good deals, so please email us!
Most international carriers only allow one 50 lb bag now. Please check with your airline to make sure. However, many of our guests have expressed that they are visiting an orphanage and bringing donations and the airlines do not charge fines…sometimes they do not even weigh the bags!!! But other visitors get stuck with fines/fees.
We often have inquiries as to what people can bring by way of donation. Please let us know if you would like more information on this and we can forward you separate information.
Good tip for SA and Moz: Hopefully, anything you have brought as donations, you have taken out of packages and distributed through your luggage so it does not draw undue attention. Teams bringing items should try not to pack “donation” bags; instead, mix the items with the team’s personal items. If your luggage is checked by customs, a good rule of thumb is to volunteer as little information as possible! Do not mention that you are bringing gifts, simply state that the items are for your use. If you have children’s items, and no children traveling with you, and they persist, you can say you are going to a children’s center so you brought items to play with the children with. Sometimes, our visitors end up having to pay an import tax (up to 50% for the value of the items) on the items they bring. But when all else fails, cooperate with the officials! Please also make the hospitality staff aware if you are bringing major amounts of donations- especially medicines. We may advise you not to bring everything/certain items. Please be in communication and we hope the above information will minimize any problems.
What to Pack
Clothing: We dress in a way that is acceptable and modest in African culture. Men may wear pants/trousers or shorts (not too short please) and T-shirts or button-up shirts. Women may wear pants/trousers, ‘Capri’ pants/trousers, and skirts or dresses below the knee. Tops of any sort are acceptable, except those baring the midriff and spaghetti straps. For church services and other times of ministry, the nationals wear their best. It is disrespectful for visitors to show-up in “grubbies.” Ankle length dresses or skirts are most acceptable for ministry outreaches or church services.
Other necessities: Toiletries, towel, shower shoes, walking shoes, Bible, flashlight/torch, umbrella or light rain jacket. Electrical outlets are European two prong and SA three prong –220 volts
NOTE: To visitors during the May-Aug. season, please be prepared for cooler temperatures. It can get as cold as 20F at night and often it feels even colder due to the wind. We do not have heaters in our visitors housing, so all visitors need to pack very warm clothing and sleeping bags if visiting during this time! Please do not forget your long sleeves and jackets!!
Food and Other Expenses
Visitors are responsible for their own meals. We have a fully furnished kitchen at your disposal. Therefore, your expenses depend on you. We will take you to the supermarket upon arrival so you can shop for whatever food items you desire.
Budgeting guide in SA:
$50-100 a week for food, water, and snacks
$15 for special meal eating out
$10-15 per week per person for fuel (to help the ministry with transport costs)
$20-50 souvenirs and gifts
PLEASE NOTE: MCV/Iris Global is a faith ministry, entirely dependent upon the generosity and responsiveness of the Lord’s people to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. While there is no direct charge for your accommodation with us or our ministry to you, we ask that you remain sensitive to the many expenses related to your visit (including correspondence, accommodation, transportation, ministry, etc.) Many of our visitors are very generous, both financially and through gifts and supplies they donate to Iris. We would ask that all donations of supplies be given directly to the Hospitality Team for distribution, and that all cash donations be given directly to Jean Nicole, our Base Director, to ensure that they are expended in keeping with the Ministry’s current priorities and needs. If you wish to designate a particular area to benefit from your contribution, we will certainly honor your intention as much as possible. If you are needing a tax-deductible receipt for your donation, please send it directly to our Redding Office (Iris Ministries P O Box 493995 Redding, CA 96049-3995) before or after your visit. This helps us with our processing since we would have to send your donation back to America in order to be properly accounted for.
We recommend bringing an ATM card which money can be withdrawn upon arrival in SA. Changing US dollars into rand is often costly and the rates are never very good. However, the banks are required to give the going rate. That is why we recommend ATM cards. ATM’s are easily available and we will take you directly to one with a day of arrival if requested.
Please check the South African Government Website for the most up to date information on required vaccines. Often times your own government may also have helpful websites available for travelers with health advisories and warnings. To our knowledge at the time of writing, there are no travel vaccines required by the South African government. You should be up-to-date on standard vaccines such as tetanus, typhoid, Hepatitis A and B, etc. Please check with a travel nurse or the CDC website for current recommendations. Yellow fever vaccine is not required for South Africa/Mozambique unless you are coming from a country with the risk of yellow fever. Malaria prophylaxis is compulsory only for visitors also going to Mozambique. Some are daily pills, others are taken once a week. You must bring these medications with you.
Because of previous problems we now require that you come with emergency medical insurance. This is a requirement for all who visit or work at Iris Ministries, whether for a few days or several years. You will need to pay the premiums. Be sure you have enough money available to cover deductible amounts. Most domestic insurance plans do not cover travel to foreign countries, so check with your plan administrator to verify your coverage. If you need additional coverage, you can check with your travel agent, or contact Seven Corners, and check out their Liaison International Traveler’s Insurance. You can visit their web site www.sevencorners.com International travelers are able to obtain free, no obligation on-line quotations from Liaison International. In addition, if you like the quote, you can purchase coverage immediately through Seven Corners secure server and receive a Virtual ID Card immediately.
Telephone usage is limited to Iris staff only. No phone service (incoming or outgoing) is available to visitors except in cases of emergency. Please do not promise to call home upon arrival! We will send an email to your loved ones if requested. There is a small internet café in town which you can use on your free day.
We currently have 2 options for housing visitors. We have a house at the Children’s center which has three bedrooms, one extremely large living area which is used for sleeping at times, and two bathrooms with showers (and hot water!) We can accommodate up to 12-14 people in this house. The visitor’s kitchen is limited to one refrigerator and one stove; therefore, priority is given to visitors who have food allergies or upstanding circumstances. Visitors are also responsible for keeping the visitor’s center clean, so please be considerate of others.
The other option is our dorm like housing in Backdoor. Housing is very rough and we do not have running water in the Backdoor locations. All water used has to be carried up from a nearby well in buckets. Kitchens are available, but regular bathrooms are not. The Backdoor option is perfect for any visitors who want to really experience it all.
It is important to realize that most of our visitors stay in our short-term compound, sharing their living space with other visitors from all over the world. We really want each visitor to get “wrecked” while they are with us…what better way than lots of kids waking you up in the morning with their songs/prayers? Living in close community, quite honestly, has it’s challenges: sometimes it’s noisy at night or early in the morning (don’t forget earplugs!); someone may not clean up after themselves in the kitchen; someone may drink your soda by accident, thinking it’s theirs . . . However, living in close community can have it’s benefits as well: someone you just met stops what their doing to pray with you; God uses someone to give you a word of encouragement or a prophetic word; you see God work through you and people you just met on an outreach trip; you exchange email address to keep in touch with people all over the world . . . As we cannot foresee what challenges and blessings your particular trip will hold, we pray that you will ask God to prepare your hearts with much patience, hope and flexibility! During our busy times, especially the months of May through September, we often have to combine visitors from different teams (or here on their own) in the same room. We also may not be able to accommodate husbands and wives together (we can arrange for people to stay in a local hotel. Please email Teisa in advance regarding this option). Occasionally, we ask teams to bring tents to sleep in. We ask your patience, in advance, with our limitations!
Opportunities to Minister
Visitors must plan on being as self sufficient as possible. Our hospitality staff is limited to generally overseeing visitors- we are simply unable to organize personal ministry opportunities and projects for every visitor. Please be prepared to take initiative in finding opportunities and serving within the guidelines given at orientation.
It is not possible to list everything here that you may be able to do while at Iris, but this may help you in terms of advance preparation to know some of the things you could be doing.
– Local school assemblies (20 min testimony or message)
– Feeding Center discipleship time (20 min lesson, M-F )
– Outreaches (pray for people, share a greeting or preaching)
– Teaching pre-school (very basic lesson, craft, snack even if you don’t know SaSwati)
– Adopting a house (you could do work projects in the house, bring donations of clothes, bedding, towels, etc., organize an activity with them, make them a meal or dessert, throw them a party, pray with them at bedtime- the options are as limited as your imagination, crafts with kids, drama or dance workshops)
– Medical clinic (for those of you with medical, nursing or first aid experience)
– Organize athletic events (which would best be accomplished if you bring the equipment as ours gets worn out quickly)
– Work projects (various needs throughout the Center)
Sky is the limit! Let us know what your passions are and we will do our best to help arrange things.
IMPORTANT NOTE: MCV/Iris Global cannot and does not guarantee your safety, health, or comfort. We are serving in an underdeveloped and dangerous area of South Africa, in unpredictable conditions. You will be joining us in trusting God as provider and protector. You will not have the full attention of any missionaries, staff or translators. Once again, please plan on being as self-reliant as possible. We see again and again that God does amazing work in each visitor. Be open to what God may do with you here! He is good! Please take note of the contact numbers below and be sure to advise us if there are any last-minute changes to your arrival plans. It may be helpful to print these out and bring them with you so you can contact us at any point along your journey.
Team ideas to adopt a project:
-Playground for the Toddlers
-Exterior painting of the 4 houses
-Gardens need to be established for each house. Currently, we have one large garden for the base. We hope to have separate gardens in the future that will foster increased work ethic and skills for the youth.
MCV Wish List:
Baby House needs:
-Baby clothes (12m-24m) Diapers for Stage 4-5
-Sleepers (summer and winter) XL Diapers for 2 year old
-Baby walkers Infacare Formula (stage 2-3)
-Baby digital thermometer
-Crib sheets (standard size)
-Baby books/toys and toddler books/games/toys
Kid Houses needs:
-Birthday gifts for all ages
-Girls clothes (especially for 9-16 year olds)
-Boys clothes (especially for 5-7 year olds)
-Desks for homework/studying (6 needed)
-Acrylic paint & brushes& small canvases for prophetic art/art therapy
-20 lts of Plascon paint
-Carpets for winter
-Playground for Toddlers
-Video Intercom (x2 for security)