Our Cuba Mission Trip

For the last several weeks I have had so many thoughts running through my mind regarding our nine day mission trip to Cuba.  By no means was this my first large mission trip (actually my 7th), but this venture into Cuba impacted and affected me in so many ways.  This trip was also different from other trips I have made.

{Warning: A LOT of pictures coming up!}

Cuba-Ready | ohfiddledeedee.com

“How am I supposed to sum up this trip with words?”

It is a question I have constantly asked myself in the days since our return.
After much thought I found that there are several verses of scripture that put the people and mission in Cuba into perspective:

Romans 16:16 ~ “Greet one another with a holy kiss.”

I Peter 5:14 ~ “Greet one another with a kiss of love.”

Psalm 133:1 ~ “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!”

I Peter 4:9 ~ “Be hospitable to one another without complaint.”

I Thessalonians 5:11 ~ “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing”

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These beautiful people of all ages, with hearts so full of love and a language I do not speak greeted us with most precious and sincere kisses each time we entered a home, church building, dinner setting, and conference center. From the moment we entered the country, we were family although we had never met.

Isn’t that what our mission should be in all aspects of living?

Christian Love?

Oh, how we felt this in it’s simplest form!

We here in the USA can learn so much from the Cuban Christians.

In fact, our first meal was in the home of Oscar and Mildre; a beautiful, gracious and loving supper that was just a first taste of the hospitality the Cuban Christians had to offer.

Cienfuegos-Airport | ohfiddledeedee.com

Madeline, my parents and I left for Cuba on Saturday, July 29.  We flew from Atlanta with a forever layover in Miami into Cienfuegos, Cuba; the first stop of our trip. Once we arrived in Cuba we met up with another gentlemen and his grandsons, from the congregation where my dad preaches, who was to work with us as well.

Family-in-Cuba | ohfiddledeedee.com

Mission trips have so many purposes from humanitarian to evangelism, but what was our purpose in Cuba?

It was to visit with the Christians.  It was to encourage and uplift the members of the church.  It was to council with those struggling and those who were searching.  It was to teach and preach.  And it was to support the church in Cuba as it is growing and trying to reach out from larger cities to spread Christianity throughout the island. We did this beginning the morning after we arrived with a Sunday of worship and praise with three churches within the province of Cienfuegos, followed by a retreat involving the Cienfuegos churches and an International conference of teenagers in Varadaro in the province of Matanzas.

The Cuban people are strong and proud.

They do not want us coming in to convert the island for them, but to teach them how to do the work so that they may do it for themselves!  Their heart and desire to serve God as demonstrated for us in the New Testament is truly inspiring.

Our Sunday spent in the Cienfuegos province was one of praise and worship and a welcome that was truly a glimpse of heaven as each and everyone present greeted us with a precious “holy Kiss”.

While we had never met these people we were welcomed with open and loving arms; strangers who are also our brothers and sisters.  We visited with three churches participating in worship and communion at all three locations.  It was a long, but beautiful day.

Not all churches in Cuba meet in “church buildings” as we do here.

The church in Nuclear City (Juragua) meets in an apartment home they have purchased.  These apartment homes were built for the Russian scientists, solders and families when a nuclear plant was being built in the area.  Now these homes are filled with Cuban families and the church.

Nuclear-City-Church | ohfiddledeedee.comNuclear-City-Church-2 | ohfiddledeedee.com

The church in Cruces meets in a flat in downtown.  It was a beautiful area with gorgeous architecture, but the streets were oh-so quiet on a Sunday afternoon.

Cruces-Church | ohfiddledeedee.com

Cruces-Cuba | ohfiddledeedee.com

And the church in Cumanayagua meets in the home of its minister.  Cumanayagua is mostly a residential and farming community…..

Cumanayagua-House-Church | ohfiddledeedee.com

…and they have an ice cream factory.

Let me tell you, fresh coconut ice cream is so scrumptious!

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Cumanayagua-Cuba | ohfiddledeedee.com

As you can tell, home churches are most common.  I like it.  The sense of community, closeness and the bond is something large churches here in the states lack.

Each worship service was a little different, but one thing was the same thoughout; passion!

The acapella singing in Spanish was filled with such gusto; you could totally hear the meaning in each song we sang.  I had the words in Spanish before me and knew the melody’s, but much of the time could only listen as it was so beautiful.

Spanish-Sunday-Singing | ohfiddledeedee.com

Sunday-Worship-in-Cuba | ohfiddledeedee.com

Dad speaking on Sunday with our translator, Oscarito

After a Sunday of worship we joined many of the Christians in the Cienfuegos province for a three day retreat at a local hotel.  During these days of study Dad, Momma and myself taught different Bible classes.  I had four lessons to prepare for ladies classes and chose the subject of “Priorities”. I believe that subject crosses cultural boundaries with women across the world!  My focus was on keeping God first in your life followed by our marriages, then family and home.  I had to speak using a translator which was an entirely new experience for me.  Much time was spent in prayer as I hoped what I had to share made sense and was well received.

Cienfuegos-Church-Conference-2 | ohfiddledeedee.com

We enjoyed periods of devotional several times a day as well as meals together.  It was a time to get to know others, despite language barriers.

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Sweet-Cuban-Friendships | ohfiddledeedee.com

Sometimes speaking different languages creates a closer bond than speaking the same.

Down time was so much fun as well. It really doesn’t matter what country you live in, teenagers are teenagers, and fun is always fun!  From bubbles to the beach to playing Bananagrams to tie dying shirts there was so much to enjoy!

Cienfuegos-Church-Conference | ohfiddledeedee.comChildren-Cienfuegos-Church-Conference | ohfiddledeedee.comCuban-Beach | ohfiddledeedee.com

Cienfuegos-Cuba-Beach | ohfiddledeedee.comCienfuegos-Cuba-Conference | ohfiddledeedee.comtie-dying-Cuba | ohfiddledeedee.comTie-Dyed-Shirts | ohfiddledeedee.comCuban-Teenagers | ohfiddledeedee.com

After leaving Cienfuegos on Wednesday afternoon of our trip, we made the several hour drive to the Matanzas province where we were to attend the International Youth Conference at a hotel in Varadero.  There were over 300 young people from across the country of Cuba gathered to worship and study over three days!

IglesiaDeCristo

Cienfuegos-Teens | ohfiddledeedee.com

Teenagers from the Cienfuegos churches

The opening night was singing at the church of Christ in Matanzas and then the conference began early the next morning.

Varadaro-Youth-Conference-2 | ohfiddledeedee.com

Varadaro-Youth-Conference | ohfiddledeedee.com

Some of the young people from the Cienfuegos province who attended to conference

While I didn’t speak at this conference, Dad did….

And so did my Madeline.

Varadaro-Youth-Conference-3 | ohfiddledeedee.com

Madeline taught a class to over 100 girls using a little of her conversational Spanish, English as well as a translator.  Let me tell you, she did an amazing job shedding some serious insecurities, as this was her first time ever to speak publicly like this!

 

 

 

 

A choral group from Harding University was a part of the conference as well.  They held singing class teaching new songs and also multi-part harmony.  Most Cuban singing was done in unison, so adding the harmonies made it even more beautiful!

Harding-University-Singing-Class | ohfiddledeedee.comSinging-Class-Harding-University | ohfiddledeedee.com

As I mentioned earlier, it is so hard to find to the words to describe this beautiful experience.  The spiritual part of Cuba is precious and sincere.  The cultural part of Cuba will draw you in and win you over.  The people are so kind, warm and loving.

Happy-Smiles-Cuba | ohfiddledeedee.com

And I can’t wait for the opportunity to return!

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6 thoughts on “Our Cuba Mission Trip

  1. Pingback: Strolling the Streets of Cienfuegos | Fiddle Dee Dee by Jennifer Jones

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