I feel like this is one of the questions that many
people are asking about my trip at this moment. It has been a while since my
last post, and that is somewhat of a good thing because I have been so busy
with work here I haven’t had many chances to write.
The common understanding of missionary abroad is
that they are there to convert people and to assist with the growth of the
church. During orientation for this journey we were told that we should not
think like this; that we are going abroad to help in any way we can. I have
embraced this to the fullest and take any opportunity I can to assist. This
includes construction, painting, helping serve diner at the weekly Bible study,
tagging along for pastoral visits, and simple communication with the members of
the congregation. I am slowly becoming a man of all trades. I am now an expert
at mixing concrete (by hand), and have majorly increased my painting skills.
This past week we built a concrete walkway next to the church. My first task
was to rally the troops, a job that ended up being much harder than expected.
It took about a week to finish this project and three out of those five days of
work I was a one-man army. My determination to help gave me the strength to
move over a ton of materials by myself.
back to the old perception of a missionary, growth is something that is very
important for the church. Although I am extremely unqualified to preach the Bible,
I have found ways to assist with growth that really has nothing to do with the
church. The way I can do this is by building relationships. In my last post I
talked about the role of youth in the church, and the need to expand this young
presence. The easiest way to do this is to bring people in with activities that
don’t directly have to do with the church: movie night, a day at the beach,
bowling, dancing at the local club. Once relationships are formed the churchy
stuff can follow. The goal of this method is to not scare people away by
overloading them with the Bible. Let them find out for themselves that the
church is a place of community, and let them investigate religion in the way
that is the most comfortable for them.
thing that I have been doing is tagging along with Reverend Aurelio for
pastoral visits. He aims to visit everyone in his congregation at least twice a
year. This adds up to about 300+ visits a year. During these visits I do not
say very much: I let him do all the talking. But just by being there I have the
power to assist with the impact of the visit. It is not very often that people
have an American visiting their house. This is work that is very rewarding for
me because it allows me to initiate an individual relationship with each member
of the church.
that is all for now. In closing, I have realized that I am in the country of
rainbows. I have never seen so many rainbows in my life. I am sure that to the
Cubans I seem like the double rainbow guy from YouTube (you need to Google that
one) but this doesn’t stop me from pointing them out.
post is sponsored by: John Shea, Kitty Nardiello, Michael and Petrea Poler, and
James and JeannieKohm.
Thank you all for your support.
A few weeks ago I had a dream. In this dream I was
back at my house in the US and it was only October. I realized that I was no
longer in Cuba and that for some reason I had to leave Cuba early. I was not
happy with this. I immediately went downstairs to find my dad eating breakfast
and told him that he must send me back to Cuba. I was practically in tears
because I had to come home early. “I didn’t even have the chance to experience
Christmas with my host family,” I thought. When I woke up from this dream I
thought, wow I must really be happy here. If I am dreaming about leaving and
demanding to come back I must be in the right place. This gave me a new sense of
motivation and desire to continue my work here once I awoke the next morning.
the last weekend in September, I was with the men of the Episcopal church of
Cuba at Camp Blankingship in Santa Clara, Villa Clara. This retreat was for
several reasons. First, to work at the Episcopal Camp Blankingship -- helping
clear the land of thorn bushes and planting trees to be used for several
purposes. The trees that we planted included avocado, mango, plantain, oranges,
and other trees used for shade. On the first day, it was my job to attack the
thorn bushes. My weapons of choice were a machete and a branch; the branch was used to part the bushes so that I could reach to bigger stems located close to
the ground. After about an hour of straight up war I was attacked by two wasps.
I guess I lost the war because after that I decided to take a break to snap
some pictures of the work that was being done. A few hours later I was
exhausted, and decided to follow a few people to check out the stream located
on the property.
I approached the brownish water, I thought to myself that there was no way I was getting in this stream. The two other people that came with are already
prancing around in the refreshingly cold water. I stand looking at them in a
state of envy, but my American health consciousness is overpowering my urge to jump
in. Then one of them shouted out to me, “Just come and join us. How many
opportunities do you have to swim in a Cuban river after a long day of work?”
He had a point, I thought to myself. Yet I still wasn’t convinced. They realized that I most likely wasn’t going to join them, and I continued walking further down
the river. As I was watching them, I thought to myself, “Oh what the hell, you
only live once.” So I jumped in and followed them down the stream. Once they
turned around and realized that I was right behind them they said, “you couldn’t
stay away could you? I promise you will leave feeling like a new man.” And this
was true. After about an hour of relaxation and conversation it was time to
head back to camp. When I got out of the water I felt like I was ready to get
back to work, as if the previous five hours of hard work under the intense
Caribbean sun never happened. Jose Marti once said, “Cuba’s sun doesn’t burn.”
I’m not too sure which sun he was referring to.
blog post is sponsored by: James Fellows, Peter and Christine Baldwin, the Rev.
David Holroyd, and Berry and Becci Bernard. Thank you all for your support.
The youth are the future of the church. This is
something that I have heard many times since my arrival in Cuba. One Sunday,
after the service, the youth gathered for a meeting similar to Bible study.
During this gathering several things were discussed, including this about us
being the future of the church. One person responded that she does not like
when people say that we are the future. In reality, we are the present of the
church. Why wait until the future to act when we can have an active role in the
present. (I will discus how we are presently playing a role later in this post
but I want to talk more about what was covered during this meeting.)
What is the hardest thing about being a young adult
[in Cuba]? This is a question that was followed by a pensive silence. Living up
to expectations was the first response given. In other words, accomplishing
what every teenager and young adult craves -- independence. In a society where
working professionals (dentists, lawyers, engineers) earn about $20 a month, it
is nearly impossible for a college graduate to live in a house by himself or
herself (basic house costing about $30,000). With a cell phone bill of the bare
minimum of $5 a month, cost of water, electricity, and food, it is hard to
imagine how people are able to survive on their own. Because of this, it is not
uncommon to see three generations living under the same roof, with all of them
working to support each other. In Cuba privacy and independence are things that
are almost as foreign as an American missionary.
one of my many conversations about American culture, the topic of college
graduates living at home with their parents somehow came up. “If you are in
your late twenties and still living with your parents there is something
wrong,” I said. In Cuba this is the reality. The only way that you will find
yourself living away from your parents is if you get married and your spouse
has a house or apartment that they inherited or somehow acquired. The dream of
young adults here is to get married, have children, and live a life of their
own -- independence.
adults have an important role in the church here: presence. When a large
majority of the congregation is made up of 70 year olds or older, the biggest
fear is that soon there will be a need for new members (if you get my drift.)
One method to attract people on a Sunday morning is music. The church in
Cardenas has a music group that consists of a drum set, bass, guitar, piano,
bongos, congas, and four singers. It is also important to note that two of the
people in this music group are the daughters of my host Aurelio. This hints to
the involvement that family has in everyday life here. Music brings life to the church, and the
people behind this music are all young adults. This is a perfect example of how
we are not the future of the church -- we are the present.
One thing I have heard is that congregations here
are very fragile. On one hand there is an appearance of prosperity. Hosting foreign
groups in churches geta a lot of attention in the larger community, which helps
the congregation grow. Attention is good. The problem comes when those visiting
groups stop coming, when it is not uncommon to see attendance decrease by half.
more would you all like to hear from me? Leave me a comment down below and let
me know. More food? More inventions? An article on Santeria?
post is sponsored by Lynn Roach (my extremely patient high school history
teacher), Sally Farrell, Sandra and Richard Tombaugh. Thank you all for your
post is a chapter taken from a book I recently received in a care package sent
by my father.
written by Richard Blanco. Chapter one in Cuba:
A Traveler’s Literary Companion, edited by Ann Louise Bardach:
the beginning, before God created Cuba, the earth was chaos, empty of form and
without music. The spirit of God stirred of the dark tropical waters and God
said, “Let there be music.” And a soft conge began a one-two beat in the
background of the chaos.
God called up Yemayá and said, “Let
the waters under heaven amass together and let dry land appear.” It was done.
God called the fertile red earth Cuba and the massed waters the Caribbean. And
God saw this was good, tapping his foot to the conga beat.
God said, “Let the earth sprout papaya and
coco and the white coco flesh; malanga roots and mangos in all shades of gold and amber; let there
be tabaco and café and sugar for the café; let
there be run; let there be waving plantains and guayabas and everything tropical-like.” God saw this was good, then
fashioned palm trees—His pièce de résistance.
God said, “Let there be a moon and stars to light the nights over the Club
Tropicana, and a sun for the 365 days of the year.” God saw that this was good;
He called the night nightlife, the day He called paradise.
God said, “Let there be fish and fowl of every kind.” And there was a spicy
shrimp enchilado, chicken fricasé, codfish bacalao, and fritters. But He wanted something more exciting and
said, “Enough. Let there be pork.” And there was pork—deep fried, whole
roasted, pork rinds, and sausage. He fashioned goats, used their skins for
bongos and batús; he made claves and maracas and every kind of percussion instrument known to man.
out of a red lump of clay, God made a Taino and set him in a city He called Habana. Then He said, “It is not good
that Taino be alone. Let me make him helpmates.” And so God created the mulata to dance guaguancó and son with
Taino; the guajiro to cultivate his
land and his folklore, Cachita the
sorceress to strike the rhythm of his music, and a poet to work the verses of
gave them dominion over all the creatures and musical instruments and said unto
them, “Be fruitful and multiply, eat pork, drink rum, make music, and dance.”
On the seventh day, God rested from the labors of His creation. He smiled upon
the celebration and listened to their music.
college professors would tell me that I should not just quote an entire
passage, that I should paraphrase it and analyze it to extract only the
important information. However, with this I feel like the only way to capture
the accuracy of what is written above is to quote it word for word. And let me
tell you, nothing can compare to pork in Cuba.
This post is brought to you by: The Rev. Linda
Spires, Trinity Church Hartford, Leslie Pelzer, and Diane Loring. Thank you all
for your support.
Today I asked my host to leave me in Varadero. This may
because I need some meditation on the beach to write you this message. I think
it is just a good excuse to spend a day on the beach writing. Today’s post is
about food: breakfast, lunch, and dinner and everything in between. I guess the
appropriate place to start is with coffee. It is fortunate that I have a very
high tolerance to caffeine because here we drink coffee after every meal. Cuban
coffee is in espresso form, consisting of a shot per serving. When people here
ask me how I like my coffee I give them a very simple response, “Cuban.”
Since I have arrived in Cardenas my breakfasts have been of five-star quality,
at least by Cuban standards. Freshly squeezed juice, mango, guava, or a
combination of any left over fruit that is around. Warm milk, coffee, scrambled
eggs, fresh ham, and freshly baked bread make up my morning. If I am lucky I
get something that’s called a disco, or
CD. This resembles a grilled cheese but it is in the shape of a flying saucer.
And if I am super lucky, sliced mango. The view that I have from where I am
writing now is so stunning that it is truly a challenge to concentrate on food.
The clearest turquoise water, palm trees, murals painted onto white pillars, a
gazebo that seems to be only reserved for special weddings, and kite surfers
taking advantage of the Caribbean breeze.
back on subject, lunch. The key item that can be found in every midday meal is
rice. White rice, fried rice, rice and black beans, or as Aurelio calls is arroz con todo. (rice with everything)Many thought that I would be sick of
rice and beans by now but if I have a meal without them I feel like something
is missing. Fresh avocado, cucumber, green beans, the occasional chopped
lettuce, mango, radish, and the occasional other tropical fruit make up the
salad portion of the meal. There is always some form of meat included: chicken
with soy sauce, regular chicken, pork, hot dog, hamburger, or the occasional
forbidden food -- beef. This seems to be the most important meal of the day,
for this time is spent avoiding the intense noon sun and is often followed by
an intense siesta.
is relatively similar to lunch. The same assortment of fruit and vegetables for
the salad, rice and beans of some sort, a meat of some kind and fried
plantains. This is a time where the family gathers to decompress from the long
day of work. Following dinner, besides the inevitable marathon of novelas, is desert, or postre. Ice cream, either chocolate or
vanilla, fruit preserves of mango or grapefruit, and guava with cheese are the
most popular forms of desert. Aurelio continually suggests that it is American
cheese but I let him know that this cheese is far better than American cheese.
Sometimes there is coconut pie, and thin pie that is sold by bike venders on
the street. There are many more things I can write about the food yet but as I
mentioned above it seems that the ocean is clouding my memory. So I will post
more about food throughout my blog posts this year.
savory post is brought to you by, Sally Ferrell, Audrey Scanlan, Drew Smith, and
Bruce Shipman. Thank you all for your support.
You realize that Cuba isn’t a paradise, right? Why
did you leave America to come here? When we all wish we could trade places with
you, why would you submit yourself to suffering? How does my haircut look? How
are the women here in Cuba compared to the other places you have traveled?
What, you don’t like hamburgers? Don’t all Americans like hamburgers?
Cubans are very curious people, and all of these
questions have been asked of me. Yet, when answering them I must be very
cautious and patient in my responses. Sometimes it is best to dance around the
answers to attempt to change the subject, but when that fails it’s best to be
honest. Honesty is easier to defend and justify than lying. In a country that
is so close to the United States it is amazing how far away Cuba really seems.
It’s as if you could reach your arm out and touch Florida, yet when you try your
arm gets chopped off.
This may seem cheesy but bare with me. You know the
scene in movies where the main character looks up at the moon and remembers the
people he left behind at home? It brings them a sense of relief because they know
the people they left behind can see the very same moon. To me this is
essentially a universal symbol for equality. Anyone in the world can look up
and relate to the same thing. Yet with this symbol of equality we insist on
living lives of inequality. I know that this is something that we cannot
control, but maybe we could use this moon to unite and relate to people all
around the world. Once we do this it is incredible how much we have in common
with people who are absolutely nothing like us. One night while I was looking
up at the vast starry night sky in the middle of the country, el campo, this idea came to me. It was a
beautiful moon that night.
As I mentioned in a previous post, Cuban ingenuity
is at a very high level. When materials are unavailable, improvise. I have
tasted about five different kinds of homemade wines, been offered homemade mayonnaise,
used homemade bug spray, and seen homemade car air freshener. When we start
talking about machines and tools the inventions are mind blowing. The lawn
mower at the church I am staying at stopped working a few years ago. So what
they did was rip out the useless engine and blades and replaced it with a
washing machine motor and a bolted on machete. And guess what? It works very
well. Don’t have a drill? Grab another washing machine motor and attach a bit
to the end of it -- problem solved. Need a motorcycle? Take your bike, put a
motor on it, attach a water bottle filled with gasoline, and hold on.
This blog post is sponsored by Margaret and Donald
Romanik, Thomas and Virginia Army, Marnie and Robert Muller, and Matthew
Calkins. If you would like to sponsor a blog post, or support my mission here
in Cuba click the donate button at the top of this page. Thank you all for your
As my host The Reverend Aurelio de la Paz Cot
reminded me once I arrived here, I will be participating fully in the church
community every Sunday. He told me that this Sunday he will be presenting me to
the community and that I should prepare something to say. “It doesn’t have to
be a sermon but figure something out,” he instructed. I have never had to speak
publicly in a foreign language so this task brought a bit of anxiety. I knew
that I was going to thank the priest for his hospitality and this opportunity
but besides that I was clueless. I am a person who works better under pressure,
so I left a good majority of this planning for Sunday morning. By communion I
had figured out what I was going to say. I got up in front of about 100 people
on a very warm Cuban morning and explained to them what my mission was. I told
them that I am here to socialize, communicate and to help. Talking to this
audience felt really natural and comfortable and the only word I messed up was “pride.”
This comfort came from the way church is lived out.
key word here is energy. Aurelio dances his way up to the altar during the
procession and sings along to the hymn the entire time. He has memorized the
entire church service, from his sermon to the hymns. The church uses a
projector to display the readings, prayers, and lyrics for the service. When I
asked about this, the answer wasn’t that they didn’t have the prayer books for
the entire congregation -- it was that because the congregation is mainly
elderly and it is easier to keep people’s attention with a projector (and the
letters are in a larger print). After he found his way to the altar, he plugged
in a cross directly behind him that illuminated green LED’s that surround the
outside of the cross. At first this made me chuckle but then it started to grow
on me. In his house there is a hand-drawn picture of Jesus with a massive smile
on his face, as though he just heard the funniest joke in the world. I asked
him about this and he said that it was a gift, and that usually pictures of
Jesus are of him being serious (I will try to upload this picture at some
point). “What, Jesus can’t have a good time too?” This is the theme for his
service and it is one that I enjoy. There is no falling asleep during Aurelio’s
Sunday Mass. The passing of the peace was its own ordeal, took about 15 minutes
to settle everyone back down to continue with the service. The love and happiness
of the people here is very real.
post is sponsored by: Rev. Lois Keen, James LeVan, Nancy Jacobs, and Helen
Ross. Thank you for your support.
I am now settling into my new home in Cardenas, a
room in a dorm located on the church property. Cardenas is a city that sits
right next to the world famous Varadero Beach. The first thing I did once I got
here was to paint the walls a new color. In Cuba, your selection of paint
colors is very small, only about 5-6 options. So I chose verde, which turned out to be a kind of olive green. Again the
satisfaction of being productive here outweighed the disappointment of not
being able to select from all the colors of the rainbow. This being said, I
have become the master of going with the flow. In my first month here I have
slept in 9 different beds. I don’t know what I will be doing next week, or even
tomorrow, but instead of letting that get to me I have learned to embrace it. I
go where I am needed. This has turned into my answer to the question of what I
am doing while I am here, I go where I’m told.
have finished reading my first book here in Cuba, and I must admit that it’s
the first full book I have read for leisure in a very, very long time. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, by
Donald Miller, is a story about stories. Donald is faced with the task of
turning one of his books into a movie, something that may sound easier that it
actually is. In a paragraph explaining what makes a good story, he says:
A story goes to the next level with two key
elements, and both of them have to do with the ambition of the character. First,
is the thing a character wants must be difficult to attain. The more difficult,
the better the story. The reason the story is better when the ambition is
difficult is because there is more risk, and more risk makes the story question
more interesting to an audience. The greatest stories are the ones in which the
character’s very life is at stake. There needs to be a question as to whether
the character will make it, whether he will defeat the enemy or the enemy will
defeat him (Miller, 156).
my case, my life is not at stake at all. Cuba is an extremely safe country
where violence is looked down upon. The thing that may be considered at stake
is my quality of living. Adapting to the challenges that the Cuban people face
everyday has been my biggest task, one that I have become accustomed to and
embraced fully. One of the locals asked me if I have enjoyed my time in Cuba so
far and I responded with an honest and enthusiastic “of course I have.” He
responded to that by saying that I must like suffering; because how can you
love a country where day-to-day life is its own challenge. My answer was that I
don’t like suffering but I love culture, and this is a place where there is no
lack of culture.
another note I want to talk a little more about Itabo, the mission that I
talked a bit about last post. This complex is a perfect example of how the
Cubans have embraced sustainable agriculture and practices. Plant crops include
green beans, cucumber, black beans, sweet potato, coffee, potatoes, mango,
guava, plantains, papaya, star fruit, chili peppers, herbs, pumpkin, and
regular and green onions. Animals include chickens, turkey, beehives for honey,
rabbits, and soon will include a pigpen with a methane treatment plant to
match. This project is the dream of Gerardo and Bishop Griselda. Construction
started in 2004 and is nearing completion. This church is a model that will be
followed by many other Episcopal churches on the island.
This blog post is sponsored by Maria & Fausto
Tamayo, Rev. Joan Phelps, Bob Hooper, and Harry Elliott. Thank you all for your
support. If you would like to sponsor one of my blog posts please follow the
donation link to the right of this page.
“Don’t do something, sit there. Don’t sit there, do
something!” This has been a phrase that I have repeated to myself ever since I
arrived in Cuba. All I have wanted to do is to help, to do something
constructive. Whether that is ripping through a concrete wall to install a new
air conditioner, sweeping, or helping to repair a broken chair, I have jumped
at any opportunity to be productive. There are times, however, when there is
simply nothing for me to do. In this time I am reading, chatting with locals,
or taking a quick siesta. Communication is a very important thing in Cuban
culture. I have spent countless hours talking about politics, sports, life in
the U.S., and many other random things. This is where I feel my real work lies.
As I communicate
with people I start to become a member of their family, someone they can trust.
Cuban culture values family as number one; a close second is dancing but that
is beside the point. I have been welcomed here by everyone I meet. Here I am
not seen as your typical American, partially because of my Spanish accent and
love for the country and people of Cuba. It seems like in America people live
to work, not work to live. In Cuba money is the last thing on people’s mind.
This has been forced upon them but is not necessarily a bad thing. This allows
for time to slow down and smell the roses.
I arrived in Itabo, a small city in the province of Matanzas that many Cubans
have never even heard of, I was fighting a small head cold. Let the concoctions
begin! When I first arrived I was given a warm mix of lime juice and who knows
what else. The following day, the local farmer made me a tea made up of orange
tree leaf and a few others that I was unable to identify. Finally I was given a
cough syrup that I will upload a picture of later. When there is a lack of
traditional cold medicine, people are forced to improvise. I feel like these
improvisations worked better then any other cold medicine I have used in the
has been my main job so far. This is something that I have found to be very
valuable. In a culture that is based around communication, not being able to
communicate is debilitating. The group that came from Tallahassee came for the
music festival. With them they brought their talent and a shared passion for
music. It was my pleasure to translate the many thank you’s they were offered
for their support and visit to the island. Music turned out to be another form
of communication as they arrived with no previous Spanish experience.
group of 24 people arrived the other day from Christ Church Bronxville, NY. They
came to Itabo with the sole purpose of working manual labor. This included
digging holes, mixing concrete, planting coffee trees, mango trees, and
participating in arts & crafts with the locals. One of the things they
brought with them was a water purification system. The installation of this
system has allowed for clean drinking water that will be used by the community
and visiting foreign travel groups. On our last day in Itabo, we played a game
of baseball with some of the locals. The bases were made up of cardboard and
other random trash items that we found scattered across the field. To the left
of home base was a horse, simply tied up watching us play. The home run line
was a sugar cane field and the right foul line was made up of thorn bushes,
bushes that seemed to be a magnet for the baseballs. The love for baseball in
Cuba is something that is more important than American safety standards, which
was apparent by the speed at which pitches were being thrown. I have to admit
that one of my hits fouled into the crowd and struck one of the locals in the
rear end. I promptly went up to apologize and she responded with a massive
smile and a swift “todo bien” or its
all good. This game was an incredible experience for both the group and me alike.
am starting to get into the flow of life here. Locals keep reminding me that I
am already turning into a Cuban, adapting to local dialect and tradition. This
gives me great joy. They no longer see me as an American but as someone who is
part of their community. This weekend I will be traveling back to Itabo, then
onto Camaguey. After that trip I will return to Havana to collect my things
then will proceed to Cardenas. Cardenas will be my home base for a while. If
anyone wishes to talk to me I now have a local cell phone, my number is
58392908. I have heard that the website hablacuba.com works best for making
calls to the island. This is the second best way to get a hold of me besides
email. That’s all for now. Thank you all for your support and this opportunity
to come to an island filled with vast amounts of love and culture, I truly feel
blessed for this opportunity.
blog post is brought to you by the Reverend Geoffrey Ward, Terry Pendleton,
Eunice Sutphen, and Carmen Rivera. Thank you again for your support.
I am starting to get into the flow of life here in
Cuba. One of the things I have adjusted to us “Cuban time.” When someone here
tells you that they will meet you at 9 o’clock what they are really saying is
that you can expect to see me within a few hours of that time. There is no real
sense of urgency here, things will happen when they happen, and I love that.
Cultural adaptation is key when traveling abroad and Cuba is no exception. Havana
is an incredible city. It is unlike any other place I have visited in Latin
America. When I asked my hosts about the dangerous areas which I should avoid
they responded that there aren’t really any. I am able to walk back to the
Cathedral from the local hotel, the Melia Cohiba, no matter the hour. I am
writing this post at 9 P.M. with no fear of having to trek back to my room in
complete darkness. Don’t get me wrong I am still being cautious and aware of my
surroundings but Cubans are not people of violence, they are people of love and
thing that you will notice over the course of this year is the degradation of
my English abilities, and you must excuse me for this. The internet
infrastructure here unfortunately won’t allow me to post pictures, so the only
way that I will be able to do this is if I am fortunate enough to send pictures
back with visiting groups from America.
I tell you this, Cuba is an island made up of MacGyver’s. An item is not broken
until a Cuban declares it broken; how do you think they are able to maintain
the classic cars Cuba is know for? I spent two days helping the workers at the
Cathedral install an air conditioning unit in one of the apartments here. Using
the most basic tool imaginable we blasted through a brick wall to make room for
the new unit. There is something incredibly satisfying about using your hands
and basic tools to accomplish a task like this. The AC unit is a refurbished
piece of machinery that is easily older than I am.
Maria Griselda Delgado del Carpio and her husband Gerardo Logildes Coroas are
incredible people. Not only have they welcomed me into their home like their
own son, they spend every free moment of every day working. Whether it is
filling out basic paper work, visiting local churches, or installing a new showerhead
in the guest apartment, they bring a new meaning to hard work. Thank you for
your hospitality and all the work you do for the church in Cuba.
also what to give a shout-out to my fellow YASC’rs. I regretfully will not be
able to follow your journeys, as I am unable to access to your blogs at the
moment. This being said, I encourage everyone reading this to click the links
to your right and check out what these incredible people are doing around the
world. I can’t wait to reunite with all of you to talk about the things we have
accomplished over the course of this year.
This blog post is sponsored by the anonymous donor
from Christ Church Exeter. Thank you for your support, it is much appreciated.
First true blog post. At the Melia Cohiba hotel in Havana,
Yesterday I began my journey to the island. Three planes and
a short car ride was all it took to find myself at the Episcopal Cathedral,
only four blocks away from the hotel where I am writing this post. Reality hit
once the plane touched down in Havana; this is the place where I will be living
for the next year. At first I felt the natural feeling of panic about this
fact, but once I stepped off the plane and smelled the air of the night I
realized that I was home. The smell of the trees, diesel fumes, and the
Caribbean reminded me that I arrived at a place that I love. These smells
remind me of every trip I have taken to Latin America so far. Before I went
through immigration I had to locate the person who was guarding my visa for me.
I saw a man with a clipboard and went up to him to find out about my documents.
He asked me immediately if I was William and when I responded “si” he welcomed me to Cuba and thanked
me for the work I am doing here. This took me somewhat by surprise, but I
welcomed the greeting and went on to find my bags at baggage claim.
I sit, smoking my first Cuba cigar of the year (Montecristo No. 2), reflecting
on what I have experienced in the last 24 hours. I guess you can consider this
my first real blog post as I search to find my blogging voice. My final comment
of this post is that it is HOT! Luckily the recent heat wave the east coast
experienced prepared me well for the Caribbean sun.
Pictures may be hard to send right now, as the internet speed is very slow. Stay tuned.
So today being my last day in the US I am filled with many mixed feelings, mostly those of excitement, anxiety, and positivity. Today I was commissioned as an official representative of the Episcopal Church in Cuba. These are some picture from today at church...
Tomorrow I start my adventure. I will be posting updates through this blog as often as I can. The internet will be one factor that I will need to tackle once I am in Cuba (Internet is a costly and complicated luxury on the island.) So for this blog to be successful I need your feedback throughout the year. Leave a comment! Let me know what you guys want to see. More pictures? More stories? More random Pendleton stories? You all are as much of a part of this trip as I am so your participation and communication is essential. Next blog post will be made from Cuba! So subscribe and talk to you soon!