Early morning on July 29, 2017, thirteen travelers left on the Cuba Mission Trip. We flew out of O’Hare to Ft Lauderdale and connected to a flight right into Havana, Cuba. We were met by Diyana, a divinity student who is working for Pastors Ary and Beidy at Central Church in Matanzas. We were happy to fly a commercial flight from the States to Cuba. We did not have to travel via a charter into Cuba. A small detail with major consequences. We were introduced to a bigger part of the airport in Havana, which we had not experienced before.
We traveled the back country to Matanzas, not along the coast. This was also a new experience. We passed through many small towns and more rural areas between Havana and Matanzas. We were immediately reminded of how poor and rustic the outskirts of the city life are for the people of Cuba.
It was very hot and humid the entire time we were in Cuba. There were occasional ocean breezes and some refreshing rain showers. However, the temperatures immediately returning to the 90s.
We spent a lot of time at Central Church in Matanzas with the people of the church. We attended Service on July 30th. We all participated in the service by introducing ourselves and sharing our prayer of thanks for our safe passage to Cuba. The children sang to us and all were very welcoming. Mallory Schaal presented the book that she created, including pictures of our First Church Family and their greetings. We spent the week in prayers with our Church family in Matanzas, through home visits and a Bible study at church, comparing notes. We also met with the Session of the Church and answered their questions.
We cooked breakfast for the Seniors. Some of us painted the area of the church that is used for Sunday school and the church benches. We also did crafts with the members of the Church. Kathi Wilson led a painting craft. In the process, we learned that both Catherine Neal and Deb Yale are very talented painters. Pete Wilson led the youth in a box craft, an extremely well received activity. The young people were so focused and intent on their boxes.
Once again, we experienced an amazing week in Cuba. We are so grateful for the donations our Church Family sent to Cuba. I am personally grateful to all our Travelers: Pastor Gillian, Jeff and Theo Leavell, the Schaal Family, Kathi and Pete Wilson, Ben and Catherine Neal and Deb Yale. These individuals were dedicated to their assignments and represented our Congregation in excellent fashion. On August 12th, the Cuba Travelers 2017, met at the home of Pastor Gillian to de-brief our Mission Trip. We discussed our experiences and how to present our Mission work to the Congregation. We also shared some visions of what the Mission should entail in the future and steps to further cultivate this Cuba Mission work in the future. We eagerly want to share all this information with the Congregation.
Please join us on September 24, 2017, as we present greater details about our Mission Work in Cuba to our Congregation. Come and see the country of contrasts, a Cuba still in the midst of change but still very impoverished. We have so much to share about our experience in Cuba and all the work ahead of us in our Cuba Mission work.
Thanks for supporting this Cuban Mission Trip; we are so grateful for the prayers and donations that were extended to this Cuba Mission effort. Please continue to hold the Cuban people and Central Church of Matanzas in your prayers.
Georgia L. Herrera
Cuba Traveler 2017