This year the Spiritual Development Office sent out three Fusion Spring Break trips. An international team went to Havana, Cuba, an in-country group went to Ferguson, MO, and a local group went to Boston, MA. We sat down with student Ashley Prax who went on the international trip to Cuba and heard her story of growth, shifting perspectives, and a passion for missions.
"The goal for our Fusion trip to Havana was to build relationships with our bothers and sisters at the churches in Cuba. Our group of nine ENC students, all girls, was led by Larry and Lynn Bollinger. We traveled to the Nazarene Seminary in Havana. For that week the nine of us girls lived in two bunk rooms in the same house on the Seminary's property. We all shared one bathroom! Our close proximity had its challenges but it definitely helped us grow closer. The seminary is across the street from Fidel Casto's home and it provided such an interesting contrast to have the seminary, a place of religion and faith, facing the center of communism and oppression in Cuba.
Every day on our trip looked a little different. On Tuesday we picked up trash and branches and worked to help clean up the campus. On Wednesday, 25 students from the seminary came in and we worked with them to plant 80 palm trees on campus. After we finished the grounds work, we all went to the campus cafeteria and had a time of testimony sharing. There was a language barrier, but thankfully two of the ENC students on the trip acted as our translators and helped us bridge that divide. It was neat to hear the testimonies presented in the students native language and then interpreted for us.
Tuesday night we went to a church for young men. Each of the guys shared their testimony with us and it was amazing to hear where they came from. Some of them had families that worshiped the devil. Some of them grew up Buddhist and some grew up going to church. There was such a wide variety of faith backgrounds and it was so encouraging to hear how different we are, and yet how similar we all are because of our shared faith in God.
We made a lot of relationships during the week. There were three ladies that cooked and cleaned for us everyday and a guy who had volunteered to be our driver. They all worked at the seminary and were excited to meet and to serve us. That was a humbling piece of the trip, seeing these people be so excited to serve us. They made us feel so loved! By the end, the driver Albertico, even said he had nine new daughters!
One of the days we explored old Havana, or as the locals day "Habana". I really appreciated that we got to do at least a tiny bit of sightseeing. This was my first trip out of the country and I wanted to see everything! With the free form structure of the trip, we felt at ease. There wasn't a lot of stress and we had the flexibility to move as the team needed with the intention of building relationships. Our post-trip training sessions have been extremely helpful in aiding us as we continue to grow as a team and process what we learned.
Every night all of us students sat down and shared our experiences of the day. There were a lot of tears and laughing. We shared our high points and low points of the day and had some great time to process as a group what we were collectively and individually learning. We were all so touched just by the process of building relationships. This trip really expanded our circle of understanding and showed us all how seemingly small the world is. None of us really knew each other before the trip but now we all have shared this amazing experience and will be great friends for a long time. With no access to our cell phones or the internet, we were forced (in a good way) to communicate with only each other and that really helped us bond. After all, no one else would understand what we were feeling as much as the other people who were seeing the exact same things.
I originally wanted to go on a Fusion trip after hearing about my brother's Fusion experience during his freshman year at ENC. Now that I have actually gone on a Fusion trip, I couldn't imagine spending my spring break any other way! The Fusion trip changed my life. Between getting to serve at the seminary, making relationships with the students and staff there, and seeing myself grow in ways I would have imagined, I want to go on a Fusion trip every spring break!"