Keep a Flashlight Handy

Can you see in the dark?  Our eyes were not created to see well in the dark.  If you live in an area with unreliable electric power, you should keep a flashlight nearby at all times.  My basic rule is to always have a small flashlight in my pocket and have a larger one nearby, in my briefcase or backpack.  I also have flashlights that live in my vehicle, house, and at my bedside.  Each family member should have their own flashlight.  So what kind of flashlight should you have?  The market is full of options for a variety of uses and prices.  Here are some thoughts to help you think through this and some affordable recommendations.

Criteria for a pocket flashlight:

  • Small in size and light weight
  • Long battery life (lasts all night long)
  • Uses batteries that are rechargeable
  • Uses batteries that are available widely in many countries
  • Can stand on end like a candle
  • Durable construction – can withstand regular use and abuse in my pocket
  • Can be attached to a key chain
  • Can be attached to a neck lanyard for hands-free use
  • Simple to use – not too many modes or options
  • Recommended model: Fenix E01 (1 “AAA” battery)

Criteria for a backpack/briefcase/car/house flashlight:

  • Can shine a further/brighter beam that a pocket flashlight
  • Uses rechargeable batteries or can be recharged
  • Uses batteries that are available widely in many countries
  • Lasts at least two hours
  • Can be attached to a wrist lanyard
  • Simple to use – so all family members can use it
  • Recommended model for backpack/briefcase: MiniMag LED (2 “AA” batteries)
  • Recommended model for car and house: MagLite LED (2 “D” batteries)

Criteria for a headlamp:

  • Comfortable to wear
  • Light weight
  • Simple to use (while on your head)
  • Long battery life (lasts all night long)
  • Uses batteries that are rechargeable
  • Uses batteries that are available widely in many countries

Flashlights to avoid:

  • The tiny key chain models that use the quarter-size watch batteries – they often turn on in your pocket and the batteries are difficult to find and are not rechargeable
  • The tactical models that are designed for the military and police – they often use lithium batteries that are hard to find and are not rechargeable; some last less than 5 hours
  • The economy “10 LEDs for $10” at the local hardware store – ok for kids (to lose) and for the glove box, but not quality enough for everyday use
  • Large police style lights that may not be the image you want to portray in public
  • Any lights that use batteries you’ve never heard of – if they are hard to find in the big city, they are non-existent in more remote area
  • Lights made of plastic – they don’t stand up to abuse
  • Lights without eyelets for lanyards – they get lost easy
  • For the car, avoid anything that will not help you examine the engine area or suspension in the daytime – it needs to be bright
  • Any light that is not water resistant/water proof

Luggage Ready for Action

Instead of carrying a traditional suitcase or duffel bag, many missionaries use trunks or foot lockers as luggage.  They are made to carry heavy loads and withstand abuse.  They are affordable and have many uses on the mission field for carrying equipment.  You can stand or sit on them, they can hold water, keep out dirt, and clean them with a water hose.  Here are links to two popular models.  Conitco and Rubbermaid Action Packer

Electrical Outlets

Different parts of the world have various electrical outlets.  Here is a chart that shows the common types of outlets.

Type Description Picture Type Description Picture
A (North American/Japanese 2-blade)
Flat blade attachment plug
B (American 3-pin) Flat blades (same as type A), but with round grounding pin
C (European 2-pin) Round pin attachment plug D (Old British plug) Round pins with ground
E (French 2-pin) Round pin plug and receptacle E F (“Schuko” plug) Round pins with side ground contacts F
G (British 3-pin) Rectangular blade plug G H (Israeli 3-pin) Oblique blades/pins with ground H
I (Australian plug) Oblique flat blades (inverted V-shape) with ground I J (Swiss 3-pin) Round pins with offset ground J
K (Danish 3-pin) Round pins with spade ground K L (Italian 3-pin) Round pins with ground (in-line) L
M (South African plug) Round pins similar to type D but larger and with one oversized pin M

This information is from

Taking Passport Pictures

Do you want to save money by taking passport pictures for your family or organization?  If you also need photos for visas, work permits, bank accounts, staff ids, applications, or other documents, the cost can add up quickly.  You can save money by taking your own pictures, if you follow the specifications laid down by the US Department of State.  The goal is to produce a 2 inch x 2 inch picture of the applicant’s face against a white background without shadows or distortions.

7 Steps to Successful Photos (from

 Frame subject with full face, front view, eyes open
 Make sure photo presents full head from top of hair to bottom of chin; height of head should measure 1 inch to 1-3/8 inches (25 mm to 35 mm)
 Center head within frame (see Figure 2 below)
 Make sure eye height is between 1-1/8 inches to 1-3/8 inches (28 mm and 35 mm) from bottom of photo
 Photograph subject against a plain white or off-whitebackground
 Position subject and lighting so that there are no distracting shadows on the face or background
 Encourage subject to have a natural expression

Some helpful links:

See the Department of State Website for more information

Currency Conversion


Universal Currency Converter under license from Terms of Use

Expense Reports iPhone BlackBerry Android WAP

Renting a Vehicle in the US

Are you looking for a vehicle for your upcoming furlough in the US?  There are some organizations who specialize in providing vehicles to missionaries.  These organizations also sell vehicles to missionaries at special prices as well.  If you plan to be in the US for a year or longer, you should consider purchasing a vehicle.

MATS International 888-776-7211

  • Monthly rental rate ($490 compact car, $640 sedan, $790 mini-van)
  • No mileage rate (unlimited mileage)
  • Purchase your own insurance
  • Mechanical repairs paid by MATS
  • Accidents, flat tires, windshields, etc… paid by renter
  • Delivery available for $0.65 per mile to any airport (Indianapolis, IN and Dayton, OH are free)
  • Vehicles from sales lot
  • Richmond, IN

CMTS Ministries 610-488-6975

  • No monthly rental rate
  • Mileage rate ($0.15 per mile)
  • Insurance $175 per month (must be 25 years old; includes foreign drivers)
  • Repairs over $100 paid by CMTS with advance approval
  • Maintenance under $100 and insurance $250 deductible paid by renter
  • Vehicles may only be driven east of the Mississippi River
  • Donated older vehicles
  • Bernville, PA

Missionary Tech Team 903-757-4530

  • Monthly rental rate ($120 car, $170 mini-van)
  • Mileage rate ($0.08 car, $0.10 mini-van)
  • Purchase your own insurance
  • Repairs over $100 paid by Missionary Tech Team with advance approval
  • Routine maintenance paid by renter
  • Donated older vehicles
  • Longview, TX


Tracking a Flight

If you are concerned about a friend who is running late or needed the flight number or other information for a flight, just turn to the web.  Here are three good options.

Google Search

Just type the airline code and flight number as a Google search.

Travel 2.0 with Trip-it

Trip-it is a free web-based service that organizes your travel details for you.  Just forward your itinerary email to and they build organize this and send you a link to your on-line itinerary.  You can add flights, rental cars, maps, weather, and more.  You can share these details with family or co-workers and they offer off-line access for the iPhone, Android, and Blackberry devices.  The premium version offers advanced features.

Laptop International Surge Protector

You know you should always use a surge protector for valuable electronics, but most conventional power strips are bulky and are either 120V or 240V, not both.  So instead of traveling with two power strips for just a laptop, you should consider a special surge protector for your laptop.  This multi-voltage model plugs in in-line between the two parts of your power cord and attaches to the power supply with a velcro strap.  Once you plug it in you never have to worry about forgetting a surge protector again.  It also provides protection for LAN and phone cables.

2-pin model 3-pin model

Short-term Teams Security Training DVD

If you are looking for a way to equip short-term volunteer teams in the area of security, here is a great tool.  Fort Sherman Academy has produced a DVD called Safe Travel Solutions.  In six training modules, your team will learn how to handle hostage situations, demands for information, and general criminal activity.  More than generic security tips, this training is specifically designed for missionary volunteer teams serving overseas.  A key ingredient is the true testimonies of missionaries and short-term participants who were victims of various crimes.  This training is vital for new and experienced teams.  View short excerpts below or check it out at