Hola From Cuba,
We are here. Finally.Not that it takes so much time to get here like Africa or other remote locations.Just finally as in the moment we have all been waiting for has arrived.Months of preparation, anticipation, apprehension, all come together.As has been my experience, mission trips produce instant familial familiarity. That is, close quarters, a flat tire in the middle of nowhere, some sarcastic humor, some ribbing and teasing as we reveal our individual idiosyncrasies, and before you know it strangers are family. We have spent quite some time on the bus traveling to the eastern end of the island to visit our friends in Cabezo, where Floris has helped build the new church. What a joy to worship Cuban style. We met as old friends, picking up where we left off last. It is always such a joy to see first time travelers experience Cuban worship. A bit loud, exuberant, joy filled, uninhibited the spirit moves and takes over. We have several young adults on our trip and to see the wonder and engagement makes us all feel so full. The service was on a Saturday night and we are in the country yet the church was packed.Young and old. We are blessed.
The very next day we drove back westward to our final destination of Ciego de Avila. This is the first Methodist church in the city that will be built here. The pastor and his congregation meet in an old barn like structure. What a blessing this place will be to the community. I am reminded of some of our Imagine initiatives the young adults, programs for children, and of course a new campus in a new place that is lacking a Methodist presence. Monday afternoon a special kids program was held. 40+ children of all ages came. The excitement the team members had for sharing ourselves with the kids and the bonding that took place was so moving. The positive effects of people to people, culture to culture, dignity, respect and just plain old interaction but with Christ at the center effects everybody and everything. It isn’t what we do, it isn’t who we are, it isn’t what we brought, it isn’t what they get but who and what we are through Christ together.
This week we will work to pour concrete forms and lay the second story concrete roof. We can always be tied physically to this spot through that work. But this afternoon we get the honor of giving a sewing machine to the ladies of the church to start a sewing ministry and this evening with the young folks we are going to celebrate Christ in the park with music and fellowship between us all. We will by the end of the week have new friends and all our lives will have come together for this week in Cuba. Changed? Absolutely. Life altering change? Perhaps. The mission teams here have produced over 5 new pastors and more lay ministry than ever thought possible. Cuba, like home, is fertile ground with abundant fruit. How transformative it can be to be harvesters along-side our brothers and sisters.
Dios Se Bendigan,