At sixteen you think the world revolves around you. Life is exciting you go out on dates, learn how to drive, hang out with
your friends. Who can ask for anything more? Have you ever thought about taking a missions trip? Well, I must say, when I
was at that age the thought never crossed my mind, but God’s plans our not our plans, so when my dad (the assistant pastor
at my church) announced to me and a group of young people that we were going to Cuba on a mission trip, I thought to
myself yea right! God had put a burden in his heart to take God’s love to a people unknown, a dream to take to take a group
of young people to face a challenge and learn how preach the gospel.
I must say I was a bit apprehensive about going to communist country, but who wouldn’t be? The stories that you hear of
how they torture believers and that food is so scarce that cats and dogs are a delicacy, would make anyone a bit uneasy. The
paperwork involved was an adventure in it of itself, but with God’s providence we were able to get everything done and as
our departure date got closer I grew more anxious, I was the youngest out of group of ten, but little did I knew that this trip
would change my life forever. The fear soon faded as the days grew closer and we became as one through much prayer and
Bible study, it became no longer just the vision of one man, rather the purpose of a whole church. Everyone got involved
from helping us raise the funds, to giving us cloths to take to the people over there, we were all excited about going to take
the gospel of Christ to a small island country in! the Caribbean.
The trip to Mexico was not that bad, but when we switched planes at Cancun to a Cuban airline that is when I thought to
myself, “Toto we are not in Kansas anymore”. The air inside the plane was stifled and it looked like it was built around
the 1960’s because of all the psychedelic material of the interior. The stewardesses uniforms did not look in tip top shape
neither, they served us some sandwiches that looked old, stale and to top things off, a group of serious faced arm soldiers
greeted us at the terminal. As we were escorted to the into the airport, we did not know what to expect from these strangers
and if asked anything we were to say we came to preach nothing more nothing less. I remember our group saying a prayer
before getting on the plane, asking the Lord to give them sleep so officials wouldn’t to ask too many questions and things
could run smoothly (we arrived at four in the mo! rning). Sure enough, one guard told me that he was so sleepy he was
going to let us through no questions asked and stamped my passport.
An old busted van came to pick us up, inside was the pastors of Iglesia Cristo Rey, Christ the King church, they were
very nice people and greeted us with hugs. As we traveled I noticed the streets were pitch black. Upon inquiring, I was told
that all power is cut off after eleven o’clock, this made our ride a bit more mysterious. Once we arrived to our destination, I
remember standing in the middle of the street gazing up at the stars and having a feeling that I had finally made it! As I
breathed in the crisp night air, I realized that the same God that had put those stars in place had made this trip possible! He
had allowed this young girl only sixteen, who hadn’t even taken a trip out of the state of Florida, to come to this foreign
country for a moment in time and I knew from that point on that my life would never be the same!
Walking the streets of Havana is like taking a trip back into the past, it’s as if time stood still in the decade of the 1950’s.
There were classic cars of all kinds, but they were old and almost broken down. The buildings were antiquated, deteriorating,
with signs of paint chipping and erosion. There is no air condition anywhere and the heat was a bit unbearable since we were
in the month of August! Things were so different in this place. We were a little bit in culture shock! How did I know that,
you may ask? Believe me, you go through culture shock when you go to the bathroom and there is no toilet paper and you
realize the newspaper is not for your reading enjoyment. Still, what caught my eye was the love of the Cuban people.
Wherever we went we were received with open arms and lots of love; they gave what little they had. I remember drinking a
little cup of espresso coffee with a small piece o! f bread for breakfast, because sometimes that is all they had. Yet, another
time the ladies of the house prepared us a beautiful spread of fruits like a continental breakfast for our enjoyment, they had
all pitched in to buy food from the black market and this really touched our hearts!
The churches that we preached in were on fire for the Lord. You didn’t have to tell these people to raise their hands in praise
and worship everyone was standing up with loud voices singing their hearts out, even the little children were dancing in the
Spirit! The people would travel miles in cattle trucks (that was public transportation), bicycle, or just walk to come to church
and worship a living God. In that short week we were there, many were saved, healed, and delivered every place we went. The
glory be to our Lord Jesus. I worked with the children ministry team doing puppet shows. At the end of each show you
would see all the little hands raised to the sky ready to give their hearts to Jesus. Although you are not allowed to do public
street services, if you would give someone a track they would take it with much enthusiasm and you would see them eagerly
reading it while walking down the stre! et, unlike here in America, when you give someone a track they throw it in the next
garbage. These people really have a deep hunger for God. The oppression that came with communism has served as a fuel
to burn the flames of revival no matter what the circumstances. Every place we went there were people willing to listen and
receive the gospel. Seeing these peoples’ condition painted to me a living portrait of Romans 8:35…”Who shall separate us
from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or
sword…” and I began to understand that nothing could separate Cuba from Christ’s love.
There is much more to tell but time will not permit me to write every detail of my journey. All I can tell you is that my trip to
Cuba taught me several valuable, life changing lessons, not only was I able to minister people, they in turn, they ministered to
me. They made me realize how fortunate I am to have the freedom to worship, to praise God aloud. I also felt ashamed,
because here in America we take that freedom for granted, it’s a battle just waking up on Sunday mornings. Being there also
made me realize how blessed I am to have a roof over my head and plenty of food to eat, many of these people don’t even
know where there next meal is coming from, there is no McDonalds or Burger King, all there is Jehovah Jireh my provider.
Their simple faith is powerful enough to lead them depend on God for all of life necessities, everywhere we went heard
countless stories of the great miracles that ! God had done. In the midst of poverty and shame there is a remnant of young
people on fire for God. I can still hear the song they sang…
Los jovenes estan levantando… the young people are rising up…
Cada unos estan orando por ti…each of them are praying for you…
Pidemos las paz, pidemos amor…we ask for love, we ask for peace
Cuba para Cristo, Cuba para Cristo…Cuba for Christ, Cuba for Christ…
Cristo es vida, Cristo es amor….. Jesus is life, Jesus is love…
Salvara mi país, lo hara mejor…. He will save my nation and make it a better place…
That year I learned that life was not about me. There are bigger problems out there and Jesus is the only answer for
this hurting world. The way I see it, you can sulk in your own petty problems going nowhere in life or answer the call to
soar like eagles. I chose to answer that call and fly, but I realized when I got there that I did not go just to tell others about
Christ, rather, I went hear Jesus speak to me, through a people, through a nation called Cuba.