CCPT News Updates and Personal Stories
Nov 2018 Work / Ministry Team Report
On Friday November 16th the CCPT team was going to leave for Cuba, it was a small but powerful team lead by Pastor Gord Gilmore. The team included Pastor Brian Lofthouse, Luke Frazer, Troy and Kerry Dowdall from Stayner and long time mission man Ivan Winger. Thursday evening Gord called me from the hospital to tell me that his Doctor had told him that he would not be going on this trip. You can imagine the anxiety that this called since none of the other team members had been to Cuba before. I told Gord that I would go if I could and started to pack my bag. I went to the airport with hope that there would be a seat on the plane. I told the rest of the team as we traveled to the airport that it was not very likely that I would be going to Cuba with them but I would ask the airline once we got to the airport. When I asked the airline they told me no, I would have to talk to the Hola Sun agency when their office opened in Toronto. As I waited and the rest of the team got their tickets and were ready to proceed to customs a man came up behind me and said hello how are you. When I turned around to my surprise it was the Hola Sun rep that I had worked with for many teams and trips to Cuba, over the past 15 years.I told him that I had Gord’s ticket and I would like to replace Gord for this trip he looked at me and said let me call the office and see if I can get the change over. Over the next half hour and many calls he was able to tell the airline that I could have Gord’s seat and would provide them with the paperwork. My faith was strong and it was complimented by the prayers of many. Our trip was good.
The next day in Cuba we traveled to Palmira to meet with BIC Cuba President Luis and Ricardo our translator for the team. We then traveled to our work assignment at the farm project at Lajitas. Our assignment was to build a new washroom on the new house, clean the trees and brush from around the field and to build fencing on part of the property.
Sunday we traveled to the Training Center in Palmira for the church service. Pastor Brian was asked to take part in the service. After we were introduced to the congregation Pastor Brian led the service in a foot washing of President Luis and also took part in the baby’s dedication. After this great time of worship we had lunch and a fellowship time until the bus picked us up. We went on a tour to Trinidad, one of the oldest cities in the area. We had room on the bus so some of the youth group came with us.
Our next stop that day was a fantastic supper and visit at the new church in Cruces with Pastor and wife. They were so excited to have us visit with them as we were the first out of country people to visit their new church. After our supper the congregation arrived and introduced themselves to us each person who spoke (about 15) told us that they would soon be baptized. Pastor Brian was invited to pray for another baby at this service. What a wonderful day to make new friends and to witness first hand how God is working in the Cuban Church.
Monday we were back to the farm and cutting, digging, cementing and on Tuesday building the fence. On Wednesday we worked with the Camarones Church where there was a rotted beam in the church and part of the roof had fallen in. As the team worked to remove the bad part of the roof it became evident that the whole structure was not in good condition and should come down for rebuilding. Cuba leadership, the church members and the Pastor gave permission to take the structure down. This also meant that the pastor’s house also had to be removed for safety. The church family were very supportive and worked very hard with the team to take down this unsafe structure and salvage things that could be used for the rebuild of the Church and Pastor’s house.
The pastoral couple were relocated to a barn like structure at the opposite end of the yard to enable the rebuilding of the Church and Pastor’s House. I would estimate between 30-40 people from the congregation worked with our team to get this job done safely. Following this fantastic day of work and fellowship the team returned to Palmira Training Centre for the evening. On Thursday we were back to the farm to continue with work. The fence was looking good and there are a lot of trees and brush that had been cleared. When some of the neighbors saw what was taking place they also volunteered and helped tremendously. Some of the team made lasting friendships with these neighbors.
After work we returned to the Training Center for a farewell supper and fellowship time.
It had been a great week, the team worked hard and made major contribution to the areas assigned to them for work projects. Not to make light of the fantastic friendships that were made as we worked with the Cuban people at each project sight. We arrived home safely and Gord’s infection has also healed, Praise the Lord! Thanks to all who prayed for the team and time in Cuba.
March 2019 Western Churches Work / Ministry Team Report
We returned a few days ago from our sixth mission trip to Cuba, from Saskatchewan, since January, 2014! When we asked the team members to describe the highlight of their experience in Cuba, every single person mentioned a relationship that they had formed or renewed as the most important part of their trip. Of the 16 people who went on this trip, 11 had been a part of previous teams. Several were very excited to see the finished Training Centre in Palmira for the first time.
Most of our team members packed their personal items in their carry on luggage, in order to have more luggage space for humanitarian baggage and gifts. We took a total of 36 50-pound bags! Six of our bags did not arrive with us, but five of them showed up at various points of the week. God is good, and His timing is impeccable.
We took part in two children’s ministries, one on Sunday in Vueltas and one on Friday in Santa Clara. There was over 100 children at each event. We were very impressed by the attentiveness of the children. We also enjoyed the excitement and enthusiasm of the singing, the skits, and the games. Two of our team members were 13 year old girls from the Massey Place congregation in Saskatoon. They had been fundraising for months to purchase children’s Christian books in Spanish. After they presented the books during the children’s ministry events, they answered questions about what it’s like to live in Canada. The Cuban kids really wanted to know about the cold and the snow, and whether we had polar bears and penguins!
When we take a team to Cuba, one of our prime objectives is to support and encourage pastors and churches. We had the opportunity and privilege of visiting five different church communities that we had not been to before, in addition to being in Palmira again. In Palmira, we met with the area pastors and presented them with Blessing Bags. Our Saskatchewan churches had generously donated many supplies, which we assembled into backpacks. We knew about the shortages Cubans are currently experiencing (much worse than usual) and we have received a lot of heartfelt gratitude from many of the people who received a backpack. They were filled with various office supplies, a flash drive loaded with Spanish resources, as well as assorted hygiene items. Much needed, and much appreciated!
On three of the days, many of our team members pitched in to help with work projects. We had taken various tools and gloves, and were able to do lots of digging and shovelling alongside our Cuban friends. Some of the ladies enjoyed the chance to help out in the kitchen, too. It was wonderful to have 3 fully bilingual Canadians and 2 Cubans who could help with translating, but there was also lots of animated facial expressions and body language to facilitate communication, as usual!
We were given 10 3lb bags of dehydrated soup packages (each one enough to feed 100 people) by an organization called Prairie Gleaners
Now we are back to our Canadian lives again. When we left it was in -43 windchills, after the coldest February in 80 years here on the prairies. (It was -16 the night we returned, and it felt balmy!). But each of us has left a piece of our hearts in Cuba, and there has already been talk about ‘next time’….We all really love our Cuban brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Ruth Griffith, on behalf of Pastor Lloyd and the Saskatchewan team
Cuba Mission Testimonial
March 02 – 09 2019
I return from Cuba knowing that Cubans have benefited because of our short-term mission trip. Lasting relationships have been formed. Some people received needed clothes and other supplies. Pastors were encouraged and received sound teaching from Pastor Miguel. And literature was left for children and the pastor’s that was very much appreciated.
However, I think the biggest benefit is for the Canadian team members. Hopefully each one of us, has learned things from our Cuban brothers and sisters that make a permanent difference in our lives. For example, we see that our inner Joy should not depend on our outward circumstances. We see childlike faith and dependence on our Saviour….that I desire.
One of the things I most enjoyed from this trip was watching our two 13 year old team members who seem to be maturing before my eyes. I was thrilled with the way they mingled with and loved the Cuban people. I pray that this trip to Cuba makes a meaningful lifelong impact on these two young women.
– Brett Passmore