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Washington Adventist University makes historic mission trip to Cuba

Eleven students and faculty paint houses and distribute clothing for 10 days in Havana.

Washington Adventist University makes historic mission trip to Cuba

One of the 186 Cuban residents who received free medical services. [Photo courtesy of Washington Adventist University]

Students from Washington Adventist University cleaned streets, painted houses, and conducted a health screening clinic in Havana, Cuba, marking the first time that a Seventh-day Adventist university in North America has sponsored a humanitarian mission trip on the Caribbean island in living memory.

A group of 11 student and faculty volunteers painted 20 homes and treated 186 people at the health screening clinic during the 10-day visit, the university said this week.

In addition, 280 Cubans participated in English-language classes, 315 children participated in a Vacation Bible School, and 2,027 people attended a spiritual revival led by the visitors.

“Seeing our students serve like this brings joy to my heart,” said Baraka G. Muganda, vice president for ministry at Washington Adventist University, located in Takoma Park, Maryland.

Student volunteers also distributed clothing along with 156 pairs of eyeglasses, 120 toothbrushes, and 110 jump ropes during the May 19-29 trip.

“I am glad I went to Cuba,” said Kaliah Copeland, a first-year student. “The people changed the way I view life.”

Washington Adventist University said short-term mission trips are central to its way of life, noting that its motto is “Gateway to Service.” The university has sponsored 19 mission trips in the past five years to Brazil, Costa Rica, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Mauritius, Philippines, Russia, St. Kitts, Tanzania, and Zambia.

The visit to Cuba, which is enjoying a thawing of relations with the United States after decades of hostilities, was especially meaningful, said Alvin Fuentes, a university professor who accompanied the students on the trip.

“I have learned a lot of lessons from the people of Cuba,” Fuentes said. “They are humble, loving, and they worship God whole heartedly.”