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Cuba, 2014, The Beginning

October 22, 2014

It’s off to Cuba to work with the Churches in the Western Region of the island. I will be joining a Work & Witness team from the Nampa First Church of the Nazarene in Nampa Idaho. I fly to Miami where I meet the rest of the team. Then we take a charter flight to Havana where we spend the night before taking a bus to the town of Pinar Del Rio. Before we leave Havana we have some time to see some of the religious and historical heritage of Cuba. We visited the old Spanish fort named “Castillo de Los Tres Reyes Del Morro” or castle of the three kings. Built between 1563 and 1630 to guard Havana harbor.

Castel Morro overlooking Havana harbor

Castle Morro overlooking Havana harbor

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After seeing some of the sights in Havana and visiting some churches there we are off for the three-hour ride to Pinar Del Rio. Due to some last-minute complications we were asked to stay at a hotel about one half hour north of the city for the first two nights as rooms were not available in a hotel in town. As a result we were able to stay in a hotel overlooking the beautiful Valley of Vinales.

The Valley of Vinales

The Valley of Vinales

After a good nights sleep and a great breakfast at the hotel our first work day here will start with a visit to  the new Arroyo Hondo Church of the Nazarene under construction in the city of Pinar Del Rio. This church will replace the original Arroyo Hondo church which is in a very rural area outside of town. We will have a chance to visit the original church later in the trip.

The new Arroyo Hondo Church

The new Arroyo Hondo Church

The wall around the property had been constructed with the help of some of the team members that had been here on a previous trip to Cuba.

The wall built by some of our team members

The wall built by some of our team members

We met one of the neighbors named Zuleika who lives next door to the church who is friends with the pastor. She lives there with her two children and her aunt. She always offered coffee or tea to the team when we visited and agreed to do laundry for the team. We prayed with her and left her bags of dirty cloths which she graciously accepted.

Coffee at Zileika's house

Coffee at Zileika’s house

From here it was off again to visit the El Cafetal Church of the Nazarene out in the countryside about 12 kilometers from the city. This is a house church led by Jorge and his wife Glenis. This was their house but they had removed some partitions and blocked up some doors so the living area could be used as a chapel. They only had a bedroom, bath and a small kitchen left as living space.

Pastor Jorge and Glenis

Pastor Jorge and Glenis

 The El Cafetal Church

The El Cafetal Church

The church was in need of painting inside and out. The paint was there so we all got to work helping them with the job. Some of us worked on the outside while other helped on the inside. We moved all of the benches outside but it started raining after we got started so it was back inside with them.

Painting the inside of the church

Painting the inside of the church

And the outside

And the outside

We did what we could with the rain coming hard but knew we would have to return to help finish the job another day. Then it was time to stop for a meal and go back to the hotel for the night. We had devotions each evening before we turned in for the night giving us an opportunity to reflect on how God was working in Cuba.

The bible tells us in Matthew 16:18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. We see His church growing here in Cuba where ever we go and for that we give thanks.

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