Cuba Sister Church
In May of 2017, Wesley at USF was able to visit our sister church in Granma, Cuba for the first time. A group of 12 flew to stay in Bayamo with the District Church. Donations of medicine, clothing, sports equipment, and more flew down with the team to be able to distribute to local churches and house churches around the community, including our sister Church in El Salivial.
Taryn, one of Wesley's current staff members, shares her experience:
Every day was a little different during our Cuba Mission Trip. The first day was spent in the mountains where we helped in the building of a new church. The next day we attended a local youth group. Wednesday was spent painting the iron fence around our host church. Thursday was spent getting to know our sister church, playing soccer and eating with the members. Friday, we toured small missions in the surrounding area. Our final day, Saturday, was spent at a park where a few games of baseball and kickball took place. I could spend hours talking about each day in Cuba; how each person I met along the way influenced me and amazed me and compelled me. Each day had its own set of wide eyes: watching the people of a country in the midst of poverty embrace life and God and laughter. I learned more about my God, my life, and this complex world in the week I spent in Cuba than the nineteen years I've lived in the United States.
Outwardly, I have little in common with the people of Cuba. I have bountiful access to clean drinking water, I have social freedoms given by my government, and I have the opportunity to eat more than I need. I do not dance for every song when I get excited about the nature of my God. I don't hike across a river and a mile up a mountain just to get to a small mission made of palm leaves and dirt. I don't use an outhouse. I don't wait for rain water to quench my thirst.
This is why my experience in Cuba was important, and it is also why having mission trips like Wesley's is important. God set the example of community in the Bible, telling us to communicate with our brothers and sisters in Christ. I saw the importance of this in Cuba, and I also saw the best examples of it.
God's example of community tells us to dance with women in a small church in Cuba. It tells us to play soccer with local kids even when it is ninety five degrees out. Cuba taught me a lot of things, but none more important than community. It is one of the foundations of our religion.
As Christians, we are in the most beautiful and beneficial of communities. When we work and meet in community, the results are incredible. There is love and kindness, poverty is attacked and injustice is met with opposition but most importantly, the gospel is shared across the world. This was my experience in Cuba with Wesley.
I do not dance. Not even in the awkward, ironic, yet endearing way. But Cubans love to dance, and I love my Cuban community.
So I danced.
Relay for Life at USF is a yearly community based fundraising event of the American Cancer Society that Wesley at USF has participated in annually. Each year, more than 30 students from Wesley table, walk, and fundraise for everyone and anyone affected by cancer. Over the last few years, Wesley has raised hundreds of dollars towards finding the cure for cancer.
It all begins at 12 pm. Vendors set up booths and goodies to sell to raise more money for those affected by cancer. The night goes on with games, races, relays, scavenger hunts, talent shows, and more. Testimonies are shared, tears are shed, laughter is heard, and most importantly, community and love are present for the next 24 hours. At 9 pm, 2 am, and 6 am, funds are raised.
Relay for Life is a great opportunity to support our community around us, to share joy and love with each other, and to be an impact.
So even if its pouring rain, or 50 degrees outside, or 3 am, We Relay on.
We believe here at Wesley that communing and maturing together impacts our lives individually and as a community to participate in good works around us. We seek to impact USF, the Tampa Bay area, and the world at large for Christ and for love. As we are compelled to do these good works, we find we are further propelled inward to grow with one another.
These good works include raising funds for Relay for Life, participating in food drives, taking part in Heaven's Kitchen and Metropolitan Ministries, and donating to our sister church in Cuba.