Monday brought another beautiful sunrise in Cuba along with the warm greeting of our rooster friends. We ended last night with a devotion from Señor McDonald looking at 2 Corinthians 11 and 12 being reminded to make much of Jesus…let’s lift Him up above everything else this week. Several on the team shared highlights of their experience so far. The general theme has been one of pleasant surprise about how warm the people here have been. We are excited about what God has in store for this week!
Breakfast today was scrambled eggs, fresh pineapple, and rolls. We are all enjoying the Cuban coffee and cocoa and hot leché. Each meal continues to bring great conversation and lots of laughter. Three meals a day together really does bond a team! We spent time this morning praying for the rest of the Spring Term teams that are getting underway today. It’s exciting to consider what God has in store for 19 teams serving all over the place full of people who have put their “yes” on the table to truly living out the gospel.
We did a passport check before loading up today and everyone is still looking good to return home with no problems 🙂 The bus departed a few minutes after 8 headed to the farm we will be working at in Jovellanos. Based on the tour yesterday, some of us will be collecting pineapples, some will plant coconuts, some will do some canning, and others will do a variety of odd jobs. This is a sharp crew full of hard workers, so this is bound to be a great day!
Traveling to the farm is another visual of what a paradox modern day Cuba is. We are passing Chevrolets from the 1950’s which are riding past horse or mule drawn carriages. We are riding in a school bus that was originally from North Carolina at some point and seeing Mercedes that were imported within the past few years. Several people are riding to work and the other day’s activities on horseback. And all of it seems to work together just fine.
When we arrived at the farm, Willie greeted us and introduced us to the rest of the farm staff. Our team was divided into four groups: planting coconuts, moving rocks, replanting palm trees, and sifting gravel. The crew got right to work. This is a competitive group…so we were timing our wheelbarrow loads and challenging each other to get more work done. Everyone was drinking water and helping each other out. We took a break at noon to eat an awesome lunch of fried chicken, rice, red beans, fried plantains, boiled bananas, potatoes, and a bread dessert. After lunch several napped while others sat around talking.
Willie had us load up to visit some of the church planters in town so that we could see their house churches. Both house church pastors were very hospitable and seemed to enjoy sharing with our group about their ministry. The pastors were very passionate about reaching their community for Christ! Our students enjoyed the opportunity to pray with and over the pastors. The last stop on our visit was to meet a young man named Leo. He has some physical challenges, but his mind is very sharp. Our team enjoyed visiting with him and also exploring the baseball field across the street that had two beautiful horses in the outfield.
We had an hour drive back to the guesthouse and several kids napped and others hung out. There was a quick dash to the showers and then we had a few hours to relax before dinner. Dinner was wonderful! We feasted on fish, pork, chicken, beans and rice, salad, potatoes, and a table full of desserts.
While we were eating, the salsa band arrived and started playing music. Melissa (our host for the week) and the musicians taught our group several authentic Cuban dances. Most of the group was really getting the hang of it! We’ve got some great pictures and videos to share when we get home. Mrs. Epp did an awesome job representing the adults!
Erika Garcia helped us close out the evening with a devotional from Matthew 6:14-16 and Psalm 119:105 reminding us to be a light for Christ in all that we say and do. After a quick check in to hear how everyone is doing, we laid out the plans for our day in Havana tomorrow, and then everyone headed to their rooms for the night.
Looking forward to posting this blog from Havana when we can catch a few minutes of WiFi!
Megan Strange, Cuba Team Leader
Our trip is off to a great start! Everyone has been able to grow closer and we’ve laughed until we can’t breathe. On Sunday, we had the opportunity to go to church. It’s really been an eye opening experience to see how much people appreciate what we take for granted. The joy and happiness that filled them with dancing and singing left me in awe. On Monday, we had the opportunity to work at the Experience Mission headquarters and speak with local pastors. Cuba is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Until later! –
Briley Lawson, 12th grade
This morning we worked at Willy’s pineapple farm in order to assist with their production and efficiency. The farm is all organic and sustainable and feeds about 70+ people, but it is not profitable because they give all of their food away to the people in need in the neighboring villages. Our work, whether transporting rocks to later form into gravel, planting trees, or other tasks, was to help get them a couple weeks ahead of schedule so that they can serve their community well. Although it was hard work, we had a fun time, even competing how fast my group could fill a wheelbarrow with the rocks(we have the world record of 8 seconds by the way). I hope that tomorrow we can have another good time serving so that the community is provided for!
Robert Mathis, 12th grade
Today the team worked on the farm with no complaints despite the hot sun and inconveniences of a farm. I was on a team that was planting and preparing soil for palm trees. It was a very repetitive task but the friends, kids, and kindness that was all around me drove any bad idea out the window. After we worked we had the most amazing lunch (I don’t know why so many American travelers say their food is bland because holy moly it’s the best food I’ve had in so long!) with all of my friends joking and having a good time!
Connor McArdle, 11th grade