CU in Cuba 2016 (pt. 2)

Welcome back to my CU in Cuba Recap Pt. 2. If you missed last week you can catch up here. So basically I am currently on vacation with my family in Cuba at a resort. One year ago today I was away with my school on a mission trip in Cuba. So I wanted to do some recap on my trip from last year to reflect and get excited about going to Cuba this year.

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Last week I talked more about the learning experiences and culture shock from the trip. This week I want to tell you about my favourite memories from the trip.

So my very favourite part of the trip was night seven. We were going to a celebration at a church for their 7th year anniversary. We piled onto the bus, along with a bunch of Spanish pastors and headed to church. There was a guy playing guitar and one playing the accordion and they played and sang the whole way there. Before we even got to the church I was pumped up and excited for the night ahead of up.

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The guys playing music on the way to the church.

The church building was this cement box. There were no glass in the windows, no ceiling, and a dirt floor. There were long light bulbs just nailed on the walls and they had streamers and balloons hanging off the walls for decorations. There were wooden chairs and benches everywhere filled with people and more people were standing up in the back, along the wall, and even outside. The church was packed. When the church was just starting there had been 20 people and now seven years later, they have 100 people! God has really been working and moving there. This church was exactly what I had expected church to be like in Cuba, but it was also way better. With all the people packed into the small building and overflowing outside everyone was so close. There was no such thing as personal space at the church, but no one seemed to mind.

The music was amazing too. It was loud and vibrant and people were clapping, and singing, and dancing. It was just something I never want to forget. I really wished I would have known the songs so I could sing along, but just clapping along and swaying back and forth with the crowd was good enough. Even though the music and the service were in Spanish I could feel the love of God and I could feel his presence there in that church. The church had so much passion for Christ it was so encouraging.

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The church’s pastor was a woman, which was another thing that made an impact on me. As a young woman who may someday go into ministry, it was so encouraging to see a church that loves the Lord and has grown tremendously over the past few years be lead by a woman. It was further proof for me that God will work through those he chooses be it man or woman. It was really amazing.

Another thing we did that was a really good experience was spending time with some young adults from Matanzas. Even though we did not speak the same language we are all the same in one-way or another. We are all students and know the stress of school and work and we all love the one true God. I think my eyes were open to see exactly how huge God is. He is not just the God of me and my English speaking church in Canada, He is the God of the entire universe. God knows no language, and He isn’t contained to one part of the world. We were really brought together as a group of believers as we read the Word together and worshiped together. It was something that I think will make a big impact on my faith. I think this is the core of mission work, knowing that God is the God of everyone and everywhere. I had not really, truly realized that until this trip.

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We had a culture night with the young adults from Cuba – they taught us about Cuba and we taught them about Canada.

The biggest impact on me from this trip was learning the importance of unplugging. I am surrounded by so much technology at home and in my everyday life. I love social media and I’m addicted to my phone. Being cut off from technology and my world at home for two weeks gave me the opportunity to learn and hear from God in His creation.

I am someone who will look at the sunset, something that I see almost every day, and just have my mind blown. I love the beauty of God’s creation, but often technology gets in the way of that. When I’m home, when I see a sunset I have to stop, take a picture, add a filter, write a caption, post it, and then check every five minutes if it got any likes of comments. In Cuba if I saw a sunset, I just saw it and that was it. I would look and really truly appreciate it and admire its creator.

I’m so thankful for that. The absence of technology drew me closer to my God, the artist and creator of all. The time I would have spent posting a picture of a sunset was spent instead in praise and worship as I thanked God for the experience of the trip and the beautiful sights I got to see.

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A beautiful sky in Havana

I went to Cuba expecting to be wrecked. Everyone had told me that I would see things that will scar me for life and that I need to find an outlet for all the horrible and sad stuff I will see. But instead of being heart broken by all the poverty I was so encouraged. The people in Cuba do not live a life of luxury like I do. They might not even have half the stuff that I’m used to having everyday, but they are happy. Melly – our translator and an amazing friend I made on the trip – had said something that I will never forget; she said, “You cannot miss something that you never had.” They haven’t had everything that I have had. Instead they have each other. They are connected to each other. Everyone is like family to each other. They don’t focus on stuff but rather they focus on people. And they love God. They are on fire for Christ as they have learned to rely on him in every situation. I want to be like them. I want to be on fire. It is definitely something I have been praying ever since I got home from Cuba a year ago.

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Me and Melly on the last day of the trip!

Well there you have it, my recap of Cuba. It seriously was an amazing trip and I am so grateful to have had the experiences I had.

Thanks for reading,

Em

 

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