The morning brought another dose of Benedryl. This was our last, full day in Cuba.
Each time Paul has brought a team to Cuba, he scheduled a personal day where the team can visit Havana, see the sites and unwind a bit. That was our plan for the day. Everyone slept in a little. I generally don’t sleep late, so fortunately, I had a little project for the day to keep me occupied. The leaders wanted to hand out some gag awards to the kids that night and they thought it would be fun if we had a little drawing to go with each of them. So that was my contribution.
The free morning also gave Remi and I another chance to spend some time together. It had only been a week, but I knew I was going to miss that when we went home and got back to our regular routines.
By early afternoon, we boarded the bus and struck out for Havana. We made one stop on our way; it was an unannounced visit to a pastor that Paul knew from a previous visit.
During the previous visit, this pastor was just starting out and establishing a new church. They didn’t have a house, just a small metal container that they were living in that was once the back of a truck. It was big enough for a bed and a dresser. They built an impromptu kitchen and bathroom on the side. They lived there for three years while establishing the church. After that visit, Glad Tidings took on the project to help this pastor build a house and his church building.
When we arrived this time, they had established the church in a more permanent building and were living in a house. But their previous home didn’t go to waste; it was being used by the assistant pastor now. We gathered in the church which had pews and a concrete floor and the outside wall that was previously cardboard was now concrete. They were gentle and joyful and genuinely glad to see us. They served us coffee and then they brought us over to their house and showed us what they had built.
We boarded the bus again and drove to Havana. We walked the streets and our hosts explained the sites to us. We walked through the Plaza Vieja. They have a large metal sculpture of a naked, bald lady in heels holding a dinner fork and riding a rooster. There’s something you don’t see every day. I didn’t get any information on that from our hosts. I can’t imagine what it is a monument to, but there it is.
We saw a mariachi band. One of the guys playing looks like John Turturro.
We stopped by a shop to get some chocolate Cuban cigars. They tasted like Cuban cigars, so there’s no need to feel envious.
We took the group to an indoor market by the docks. Each of the adults took a few of the kids and we set a time to meet. We browsed through all the little shops, but a lot of the stores carried all the same items for tourists. I picked up a few things for my people back home: a painting for Rhonda, a chess set for Caleb and some necklaces for Robyn. The hair braiders were very aggressive with the kids and had to be shooed away. She called me something in Spanish that I don’t think was very nice.
After gathering the group together again, we wove our way downtown to a restaurant in the center of the city. Paul invited some of the pastors and their families. Everyone had a great time.
As we were leaving, we stood on the street to get a picture of the entire group. An American approached me and asked if we were Canadians. I told him we were and he shouted: “Canadians! Move!” He scooted us all over to the side because he wanted to take a picture. We laughed and struck up a conversation with him. You need to watch this video.
Our hosts drove us home. We sang and danced on the bus and had a very long tearful good-bye. Pastor W left us with these parting words:
“What can I say? It’s been a great week. It has been medicine for my life. Oxygen for my spirit. A Gift from God. Some people think that Christians cannot have fun. That’s completely wrong. It is because of Christ that we can have fun and laugh. Thank you for making me laugh so much. We love you. You’re our Canadian family.”
The kids lingered on the street by the bus for a long time. It was difficult to leave our new friends.
Before going to bed, we congregated in one of the rooms and handed out the gag gifts and drawings and we spent some time debriefing everyone’s experiences before leaving for home in the morning. The adults were spent and we headed off to bed. The kids stayed up and enjoyed each other’s company in the cool night air.