We gracefully tumbled into our sixth glorious Cuba morning. We had a late start at 10:00 am. After our routine yet new practice of praying in the morning and before every meal, we enjoyed our breakfast of Cuban coffee, bread (may be a little old), eggs, and tasty fresh fruit.
Our official business began with a visit to the Council of Cuban Churches (CCC). The gua gua took us through some luxurious areas of Havana – crowned with stately homes and hotels near the oceanside. Nonetheless, the homes and buildings showed their own signs of struggle – to maintain their beauty.
When we arrived, Midiam and Ruth greeted us at the door to share the Good News of their work throughout Cuba. This people to people, women to women, interchange was robust. We learned that the ecumenical CCC was founded in 1941 and includes 28 denominations. We particularly were impressed with the policy which focuses on women. In Cuba, women started to become ordained in the 1950s with a groundswell in the 1980s. Their seven programs include not only the typical Christian programs, but also Women and Gender, and Ecology and the Environment!
While women have equal rights (and reproductive rights!) in Cuba, and are paid equitably, we found common experiences between our countries. Women are the primary caregivers, although most work outside the home. When children are sick or the elderly need care, they are the one’s whom take time away from work. This affects their salary, and their economic well-being. We could have spent hours more with these women, but our day needed to continue.
It is worth noting that in the 1990s, with the fall of the Soviet Union, life in Cuba became extraordinarily difficult. Food, housing, and other basic necessities were not available for many. We learned that in this time, people came together to care for one another in a way that stays with them today. Cubans are a resilient people!
We eventually ventured to Comita for our farewell dinner. We could taste the love in our souls with which it was prepared. We then learned more about the important work of ICPC. The ICPC has 6000 members, and 76 congregations across Cuba. Their mission is to create more disciples. Evangelism is often quietly disregarded in our own community, not wanting to disrespect others’ beliefs. What we learned is that sharing “praise” that comes from the pure of heart is truly a gift. While the words and the sharing differ across our communities, the essence is the same.
We felt this commonality, as we shared our good-byes with this family that has hosted us – including the President of the ICPC, Eliseo, and his wife, Reverend Marelis. After exchanging gifts and an offering for the ICPC and an additional offering to support their work in the recovery of Hurricane Matthew, we returned to our home in Cuba, Casa Flores. We anticipate returning home tomorrow but are not looking forward to our good bye with Dayana and Osmani.