For the third year in a row, UF’s branch of Cru, the Campus Crusade for Christ, will go on a mission trip to Cuba and Guatemala to install water filters.
About 30 students will leave for Cuba on Dec. 16 and return Dec. 22, and about 50 students will travel to Guatemala from March 3 to March 9, said Wade Bayless, one of the organizers of the mission trip.
Despite safety concerns, Bayless said he thought there was a greater need to provide clean water to Cubans after the effects Hurricane Irma had on the island.
“Safety will be a very big concern,” the 26-year-old said. “We really thought it through and seeing the greater need for clean water there over the potential risk, we just felt this trip is worth taking.”
Students will receive five water filters each to install in the homes of 250 families in Guatemala and 165 families in Cuba, Bayless said. Each filter costs $40 and is expected to last about 10 years, he said.
Bayless said the filter is like many tiny straws 0.1 microns in diameter, which enables the filter to pick up any larger bacteria.
“I’ve used it multiple times demonstrating to people, and I’ve never gotten sick,” Bayless said. “I mean, we take some pretty nasty water and put it in there and demo it for people and it’s just a really incredible filter.”
Bayless said he expects students to gain a change in perspective on these mission trips.
“We seem to have all of these things that seem like a big deal, but then you meet these people who live in these really tough conditions and don’t have really anything as far as social status or financial income,” he said. “It just really changes your whole perspective on life.”
Ricky Aldridge, a student leader at Cru, wrote in an email that the church has partners in each country they visit. He said they pick which families get a filter based on who needs it the most. Aldridge said there’s a waiting list in Guatemala and Cuba.
Aldridge, a UF psychology junior, said these mission trips are different from ordinary mission trips because of the families they impact. “Each family has a story,” the 20-year-old said. “Our purpose is going into their homes and giving them not only clean water, but clean spiritual water through the Holy Spirit for life.”
Aldridge said helping out will give students a broader look at their beliefs.
“The students will take away a new look on their faith,” Aldridge said. “They will see Christianity unboxed.”