Monday, July 29, 2013

From Havana July 29

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 family.
            One 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.
            But 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.
            Bishop 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.
            I 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.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

At the Melia Cohiba hotel in Havana, Cuba. 7/23/13

First true blog post. At the Melia Cohiba hotel in Havana, Cuba. 7/23/13

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.

Now 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.  

Sunday, July 21, 2013


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!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

VBS at Christ Church!

So this past week I was helping out at my new church with their annual vacation bible school coming up with games and energy relieving activities. During my first month in Havana I will also be working at summer camps so this was a good warm up for that.
The chapel was transformed for this week of camp. 

This was by far my favorite game.

The goal was to teach team work, and it worked for the most part. 

Some singing

 The relay race champions, the 1st and 2nd graders. 

Shout out to Aly, my fellow game mastermind that kept it interesting for everyone the whole week.

Leaving for Cuba in a week! So shoot me an email and lets chat before I leave. Join me on this journey to the forbidden fruit of the Caribbean. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Quotes on mission.. And job description!

What we would like to do is change the world- make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended for them to do. And, by fighting for better conditions, by crying out unceasingly for the rights of the workers, of the poor, of the destitute--the rights of the worthy and the unworthy poor in the other words--we can, to a certain extent, change the world; we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world. We can throw out pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever widening circle will reach around the world. We repeat, there is nothing that we can do but love, and, dear God, please enlarge our hearts to love each other, to love our neighbor  to love our enemy as well as our friend. -Dorothy Day

In this movie, showed to us during orientation, the mission of one individual to unite the world through random dancing is a perfect example of the pebble mentioned in the quote above.

"It helps now and then, to step back and take the long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us. No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the church's mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
     This is what we are about: We plant seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capability.
     We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, and opportunity for the lord's grace to enter and do the rest.
     We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own. Amen."
--The words of Archbishop Oscar Romero who was martyred in San Salvador in 1980.

In Cuba I will be working as a representative of the Episcopal Church. My job title is "mission assistant" where my task is to further develop the relationship between our diocese. After orientation I realized that my real job is to be flexible, and be willing and eager to do what ever is asked of me. Another portion of my mission is to provide a fresh and largely unbiased perspective of what life is really like is Cuba, something that I take great pride in. In other words, my job is to take each and every one of you reading this now along with me. So shoot me an email! My official departure date is July 22nd so lets talk before then. Thank you all for your support.

Pictures from YASC orientation 2013!

I am now realizing that it is difficult to put the experiences of the last two weeks into words, so while I do that I figured I could share some pictures from the last two weeks. I mean pictures are worth a thousand words right? Enjoy.

Opening Eucharist with Bishop Stacy Sauls (Day 1)

Day at the Episcopal Church Center, informative meeting with The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori (Day 2)

The signing of the Covenant.

We got really good at this by the end of the two weeks. 

The group at Holy Cross Monastery, spiritual practice day by the Hudson River. 

On our free day in the City. 9/11 Memorial. I was impressed by the amount of security present at the memorial. This is a place that everyone needs to visit at least once. 

A sign located infront of the church that we attended on Sunday, Christ Church Tarrytown. Their flag had beed stolen one too many times so Rev. Susan Copley made this statement. It was an incredible service in both English and Spanish. The feeling of hospitality was overpowering, made us feel like we true members of the congregation.

Homemade empenadas for coffee hour. Can't beat that. 

The first stop on our Multi Faith Day in the city, Jewish Temple located in China town. 

Park 51 Mosque. Amazing info session with the incredible people fighting to enhance this place of worship and community center. 

Our final activity as a group. Create a 3-D collection of things we have learned from orientation and tips for other YASCrs embarking on mission trips. The bottom is my spiked ball of narrow-mindedness, something that can get anyone into trouble in the real world. 

Overall it was an amazing two weeks filled with laughter and cultural development. I hope this post does it some justice. Check out my fellow YASCrs Blogs over to the right! We are going to some amazing places all over the world. And leave your comment below! I would love to hear from you!