This July, a group coordinated by the Walla Walla University Center for Humanitarian Engagement in connection with Maranatha Volunteers International took a mission trip to Cuba. There, the group visited with the locals and shared their time and talents with those in need.
The trip was the brainchild of David Lopez, the executive director for the CHE. When Lopez was 14, he took a trip with Maranatha to Panama. During the trip, a love and burning desire to help others, many of whom were living in poverty, began to grow in his heart. Lopez was strongly impressed to help those who were determined to start churches even amid persecution.
After accepting the new position leading the CHE, Lopez began making plans for a trip to Cuba. As the months ticked by interest flagged, permits were denied, and three months before the departure date, the trip was looking very different than originally planned. Lopez opened up the trip to whomever wanted to come and the CHE became a hub of activity as people donated toys, supplies for personal hygiene, and clothes above and beyond the call of duty.
Finally, on June 28, the group of volunteers landed in Havana, Cuba. For the next week, they visited church members and community members, shared their talents and resources, connected with people in need, and listened to the people’s stories. One of the volunteers shared the love of Christ through song with people on the street, deeply touching his audience. This led to a full scale concert for the church members and community people they had met, on the second Sabbath they were there.
The group of volunteers joined in local community events, including a Quinceañera, where they were treated as honored guests. They were also able to meet some of the needs of the people they met, such as purchasing a moped for the health ministries leader who had been walking a long route to help bedridden people.
Lopez said that since prior mission trips had been goal oriented, this one was special because “when other projects were brought up, this time we could listen to people’s stories, ask questions, and hear the needs behind their requests. Because of that we got to connect at a really deep level that I have not experienced before. This one was a very special trip.”
To find out more about the Center for Humanitarian Engagement, future trips, or ways to be involved in your own community, visit, wallawalla.edu/CHE.