Cuba 2012

May 24 2012 / ShareHim in Cuba A, Apr. 20 - May. 5 '12 #543
by Carol Roeske

Campaign Site Narrative from Alacranes, Matanzas in Cuba A. The speaker assigned to this site was Carol Roeske.

The preparation instructions were very good and the reminders about each requirement were helpful. En route the coaching and help of Pastor Leanor were much appreciated and I appreciated his creative approach to getting support funds where they were needed.

The trip into Cuba was quite uneventful except that that one of the group brought with him some radio instruments which were not allowed to import and that caused quite a considerable delay at customs and immigration. Our hotel accommodation was very comfortable and the meals provided at the conference office were exceptionally nutritious, colorful, and delicious. Everyone was very friendly; however, not very many spoke English. We were taken to a bank to exchange money which was a good idea. It was difficult to use traveler’s checks and Canadian cash had a 14% higher exchange rate than U.S. cash.
The trip to our Hub City, Matanses, was delayed for several hours waiting for something in the office and the trip the trip which took only about one hour and a half to return took for some reason and circular route over 4 hours, reaching our accommodations at about 3 am. Our host and hostess who were providing the guest rooms were extremely gracious, even at that hour. The place Carol and I stayed was very nice and the hosts at Villa of Odalys and Pino in Matanzas were so very nice. It was immaculately clean and secure and we were given all the help and privacy we needed. They were happy to provide meals and laundry service at reasonable prices and the host was a trained chef. I recommend it highly (Villa Odalys y Pino, Calle San Miguel # 13107 entre Larga Descoto y Calle Nueva. Playa. Matanzas. Cuba. [+53][45]24 4177)
Thursday, the day before the first meeting, we were taken to meet the pastor’s family, the translator and see the meeting site in Alacranes. Pastor Alexis Betancourt and his wife Judith Santibanez had a son, Marlon and daughter Aliandra. We discovered that no one at the site could speak English except for the translator, Mr. José Torres. They told us that in answer to prayer they had been given the use of the Masonic Temple the day before, since their church was having the roof replaced and they were refused the use of the local theatre. The hall was a big empty room with a throne at each side and one at the back and a stage in front. There were no plug-ins for power but there were lights. By the next day, Friday, they had moved in the church pews from the pastor’s house and beautifully decorated the hall. A young man from the church had wired in an extension cord from the light system and each night he brought over a DVD player, amplifier, microphones and speakers and monitor from the pastors house.
Our usual daily schedule was shower and devotions and a simple breakfast (sometimes arranged by one of the hosts). The six of us: Charles and Cecilia Pea, Roger and Chalene Binder, Carol and I all lived in guest houses within meters of each other. The Peas were our excellent resource people and called us together each morning for worship, prayer and review of our activities. They were a great source of information and encouragement as well as arranging a couple of interesting outings. After worship, we would study our programs and sometimes walk down by the bay. The six of us had our noon meal together for the first week with the cook at our place then over at the pastor’s house when his wife got back from youth camp. The meals were exceptionally good and attractive. We had rice with various kinds of beans and the pastor’s wife and helpers made interesting things with gluten also something that resembled fish with beautifully prepared salads and tropical fruit. In the afternoon we would study some more, prepare our equipment, and leave for the meeting at about 5 to 5:30 pm.

The trip to Alacranes usually took about an hour and 15 minutes. We would discuss details concerning the meeting and have supper with the Pastor’s family and our translator. Judith would prepare a smoothy kind of drink each evening from mango or mame and we would eat it with bread, pineapple, bananas, and papaya as a big family. We would usually have access to the hall about 7:30 pm and would set up our equipment to start the meeting about 8:00 pm. The church group managed the first part of the meeting with the Jesus film, song service, special music, scripture, a special drawing with prizes for the children and one for adults, a children’s story or health talk, the theme song, and then the sermon for the night which they called the conference. Many of the members could sing very well. They did not have a piano for congregational singing but used sound tracks on the DVD which played many familiar hymns and songs for accompaniment. At the close of the meeting there would be a short call for response and then we would go to the back and greet everyone as they left, then pack our equipment and drive home, arriving about 11:30 – 11:45 usually.

Our first evening was discouraging as we could not get access to the hall until about 30 minutes before starting. The sound system could not be connected to our computer for the Jesus video so we used their DVD player and a small monitor. Our computer equipment would not work although it worked well when we tested it during the day in preparation. We used two sections of the Jesus film, a children’s story and emergency sermon by the pastor to cope. When we arrived back at our lodging after the meeting we worked and prayed with Roger Binder on the computer till about 1:30 am until we were able to adjust the settings.

We woke next morning at 5:30 am and left at 6:30 praying and fasting that our equipment would work. It was working when we set it up but after Sabbath School when we went to use it for church it went awry again but with prayer got it going miraculously. It worked for the evening meeting until just before the end when a thunder storm caused a total blackout. We managed the dismissal and packing up with a flashlight we had in our pocket. We wrestled with equipment for several days; speaking without pictures one evening. Finally we learned how to re-set the computer to the extend setting which would automatically switch back if the computer was not attached to the projector before it was turned on or if the connection was accidently bumped during set up. Then we found that the jury rigged power line was too light to accommodate all of our equipment unless we juggled it so finally were able to use a projector for health talks. We usually had 30 to 40 visitors even though the only truck which brought some of them broke down for several days and the rain prevented some of them from coming. The church members were very supportive and active with remarkable activity from the youth.
Carol had some interesting things to interest the children and help them remember the lessons like a little bag of polished colored stones to remind them of the stone that shattered the image of Daniel 2. These were highly prized. On the second Sabbath School the youth presented a very impressive skit illustrating how one can be tempted and how the Holy Spirit helps to resist.
The Pastor’s family with whom we ate our noon meal were good friends of Alexis and Judith and they came over with us one evening and we had a big supper together before the meeting.
On the last Sabbath we had to meet in another church where there was a baptistery but we had good attendance. After Sabbath School there were 4 baptisms and several came forward afterward indicating a desire to be baptized. They also expressed their appreciation to us and the interpreter with a beautiful little farewell ceremony. Then Carol and I presented the last study on heaven as a joint presentation. It was well received and in conclusion, when the congregation was invited, they sang with great enthusiasm, “When the Roll is Called up Yonder” with us in Spanish.
I praise God that in spite of our difficulties, the pastor Alexis, his family and the people grew very close to us and expressed great appreciation for our coming and fellowshipping with them. One evening the pastor was very pleased about the health message as one he was working with told him that he now understood the dangers of using tobacco. One night he was particularly pleased with certain visitors and each night expressed his appreciation of the messages.

When the people were asked to respond to the messages they were enthusiastic and everyone seemed to enjoy and join the singing and prayer. We praise God that in spite of our difficulties and weaknesses the pastor and all the people expressed great appreciation. There were sad farewells and even tears with our hosts and us as we parted. We pray and trust that our fellowship has been an encouragement to many.
Can we improve this page?  Yes  No