Church on the Square- Baltimore visits Santiago de Cuba- A Personal Reflection
A team from Church on the Square have visited the Santiago de Cuba region twice in the past 6 months, bringing fellowship and a years' supply of water system parts to the churches in that region. One of their team members shared the following:
Why we go on mission trips
I recently went on a mission trip to Cuba with a multi-denominational group based at Church on-the-Square in Baltimore, Md. At breakfast on Day 6, a fellow team member who had been working with the pre-school told me that she would like to buy a duffle bag full of school supplies and send it down to Cuba with me on my next trip, which I was already planning.
I was going to Palma Soriano to meet with the priest there to discuss that future trip. My taxi wasn’t coming until around 10:00 a.m., so I stopped in to the pre-school classroom to talk with the director while the kids were outside. The director, Iliya, knew that I had a cold and she asked me how I was. I told her that I was a bit better and she asked if I would like some tea;. I accepted. (When you’re helping others, it’s important to let them help you. Not to mention, I appreciated the offer!)
Her “tea” was about 6 ounces of boiling water poured over a few mint leaves that she had gathered. She gave me half of her tea. I asked Iliya how she was doing: “Agotada" - Exhausted. Her bicycle brakes had broken that morning on the way to work. I’ve done a good bit of work on my own bikes over the years, so I asked to look at it. A cable had broken on the rear brake. This cable has a special fitting at the end and one cannot just jury-rig a fix. The part would be difficult to find in Cuba. I looked over the bike and saw that the knobby wheel was worn smooth and the rubber was cracking. It would not last much longer. The bike seat was held together by two bands of duct tape. And it was a child’s bike with the seat extended really high. It just wasn’t much of a bike.
My team member (the one who had told me that that she wanted to send a duffle bag of supplies on my upcoming trip)was sitting with the kids, and I did not want to disturb her. Instead, I looked for the trip leader and told him about the bike. I also mentioned that I had noticed one in the window of a nearby store for $280. Shortly after that my taxi arrived and I went off to my meeting.
When I returned from my meeting, there was a brand-new bike sitting in the courtyard. The team had taken up a collection, arranged with the rector’s wife to convert our U.S. currency into something that would work with the store’s restrictions, and bought the bike. Iliya’s husband, who is a helper at the church,had assembled the bike. I am told that when Iliya saw it, she was overwhelmed and said that she had heart palpitations.
This is why I go on mission trips!
This story exemplifies the impact these trips have on the Cuban people, and importantly on our US missionaries who often receive more than they give.