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This past May 5-19, a team of eight students and two Crandall staff went to Cuba and performed work and ministry projects as part of the students’ degree requirements. One of the students, Alex Pattison, shares about his experience.
This past spring’s mission trip to Cuba held many lessons for me and served as a massive catalyst for growth in my life. Myself and the rest of the team were challenged on many occasions with situations that were, quite frankly, exhausting. Whether it was physical work, or perhaps the emotional drain of meeting new friends and having to leave them within the same day, or even the race of trying to carve out enough devotional time to be refilled so we could go out and minister to others, we were always being challenged to minister in spite of ourselves. I can recall hearing the words “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” from multiple mouths on a few occasions. Despite this, the beauty is that we consistently pushed past our exhaustion and I came out having learned a few lessons essential for future ministry.
One of the most important lessons I gleaned from my time in Cuba is also one of the most simple: Don’t make excuses. Throughout the trip, I was presented with plenty of opportunities to give in to my spiritual, emotional, and physical exhaustion; however, it was the work ethic of the people in Cuba that made me realize how selfish this would be. Those to whom we were ministering had so much more on their plate than us, and yet it seemed that as we gave to them, they returned it ten-fold. From this, I realized that there is nothing in my life that should cause me to make excuses for not putting my all into my work, because there are people in much worse circumstances than myself who put one hundred percent of themselves into their ministry.
Secondly, I learned how much of a difference it makes to truly invest in getting to know those you are interacting with. Putting in the extra effort to learn about Cuba before going made a huge difference on this trip; it allowed us to have a piece of people’s story before we even met them. It became that much easier to get to know them and it allowed me personally to minister with a degree of empathy and genuine care that never would have been there otherwise.
These are only two of many takeaways from Cuba. For anyone who wishes to revitalize their faith and ministry, or even get to know a new culture, I cannot recommend a trip like mine enough, as beyond the clichés, it helped me to refocus and changed the way and the empathy with which I will approach kingdom work for, hopefully, the rest of my life.
Alex Pattison is going into his 3rd year of the Crandall-Acadia Bachelor of Theology Partnership, and is simultaneously working on a BA in Biblical Studies from Crandall, and a Bachelor of Theology from Acadia Divinity College. One of the requirements for the Bachelor of Theology is participation in this two week mission trip. The trip was led by BTh Director Dale Stairs, and Acting Manager of Housing and Campus Life Crystal Knowles. Eight other BTh Partnership students took part in the mission trip as well. Under a partnership through Canadian Baptist Ministries with the Fraternity of Baptist Churches in Cuba, the team participated in both work and ministry projects as well as some cultural exchanges. Upon return to Canada the students completed some assignments as the trip was a course for them.