Sunday, June 2, 2013


How do I begin describing my experience in this beautiful country? I thought that one month wouldn't be enough time to become acquainted with a foreign culture and people. And of course I didn't instantly learn fluent Spanish, nor did I come to understand everything that makes Cubans tick. But yet my heart became filled with love and sympathy for the dear Cuban people. I found myself falling in love with these lovable people and associating with their needs and desires. I know I will go back again. . . hopefully soon!

So about the trip. . .

April 14 my brother Levi & I met with the rest of the evangelistic team in Miami, Florida. Our team was led by Henry & Arleen Stubbs who have been involved in evangelism in Cuba for 15 years. Others joined our team from Idaho, North Dakota, North Carolina, Virginia, and of course Levi & I from Kentucky. That evening went quickly, as we became acquainted with each other, spent some time in orientation meetings, and did last-minute packing.

April 15, at 4:00 AM we began the big day. We made it to the check-in line in the Miami airport without much mishap, aside from some confusion about what airlines we were traveling on! The ladies at the counter meticulously weighed our luggage, including our carry-ons, charging us each $1 per pound for everything above 44 lbs. That bill came to around $1,000, but we were thankful it wasn't more. What we were more concerned about however, was the reception we might get on the Cuban side. Would we be able to get all of our precious literature and Bibles through? Would we be subject to "taxes" and "custom fees" or have our books taken away? We had about 45 minutes in the air from Miami to Cuba to pray and prepare our hearts for any questioning or problems might lie ahead.

We were met at the Cuban terminal by immigration officers, eager to direct us to the private immigration cubicles. However, we soon learned that before we could go through immigration, we needed the original copies of our religious visas. (We had already received photocopies of our visas a couple weeks prior.) The originals had been deposited at the airport a few days before, but apparently not with the correct window of time for processing. We were thankful to soon find out that a dear airport official had labored during her off-hours to make sure that we could still enter the country when we arrived! This lady, Maria Rosa, stayed with us through most of our airport experience to make sure we didn't have problems. We were granted mercy through our whole experience in the airport, entering Cuba without sustaining any losses or fines. Praise God!

A bus from the Adventist Seminary met us at the airport and took us to the seminary for a couple hours to re-organize and prepare to go to our 3 separate evangelistic sites.

We organized and divided all the Bibles, craft supplies, and Bibles. This took time because we had wrapped up these supplies and "hidden" them all over our suitcases!
We ate a delicious lunch at the seminary. . .
After lunch we loaded back on the bus and took off for our respective evangelistic sites. Levi and I joined Judy and her son James Collar to work in a town about 1 hour outside Havana.
The meetings began that very evening, so we were busy preparing even during the bus ride! The Bible worker had done his part in spreading the word in the town and organizing church members to help with the meetings. We arrived in time to eat a quick supper and set up projectors, etc., for the meeting!
My part was the health presentations at the beginning of each evening meeting. I spoke about the benefits of water and exercise, the effects of alcohol and caffeine, and the ways to reverse diabetes and high blood pressure.
James not only was the main speaker for the evening meetings, but also served as a translator for my health talks.
Levi enjoyed working with the children. He spoke each evening using the Truth 4 Youth program, an evangelistic program designed for children.

Each night the children had a craft that helped reinforce the lesson learned.
Judy assisted Levi with the children and the crafts. Her experience with VBS was a valuable asset, making the children's programs run smoothly.
Our meetings were not always as full as we would have liked. . . but when the call for baptism was made, 4 precious people came forward! (The four on the front row of the picture below.)
A special highlight of our meetings was a wedding! A couple who made the decision to be baptized also chose to be married!
This girl actually didn't respond to the first call for baptism, but then she had a dream which impressed her that she shouldn't delay to follow Jesus all the way.
Another story that happened at one of the other evangelistic sites. . . a man became so angry at his wife for her decision to follow Jesus that he told her he wanted to either kill her or take her Bible. Sorrowfully she gave up her precious Bible. . .He chopped her Bible with his machete and then threw it on the doorstep of the Bible worker. Later God worked on his heart and he began to attend the meetings. At the end he decided he wanted to be baptized! Praise the Lord for changing his heart!
One special opportunity for ministry actually ended up being the very home in which we stayed! The family had experienced its struggles recently and our stay was exactly what they needed to point them to Jesus. In the end, the 2 children, Elsita & Lazarito decided they wanted to prepare for baptism!
2 weeks went by very quickly. . . It was so sad to say goodbye to our friends. . . but we enjoyed the time to meet back with our teammates and recount our blessings. We also enjoyed a day at the beach. It was Levi & I's first time snorkeling (and Levi's first time to the ocean!), so it was very special!
One girl from our group had an underwater camera. . . unfortunately it couldn't capture half the beauty!
The team finished the 2 weeks and then we saw them off to fly back to the USA. Meanwhile, Levi, James, Judy, and I stayed for 2 more weeks in Cuba! James has been studying at the Adventist seminary which has allowed him to live in Cuba for the past 4 years. He took us to visit other parts of Cuba, broadening our experience and allowing us to see more of the real conditions there.

Our first visit was to a pastor and his family. This family has been faithful and earnest in their work for their own people. Despite great poverty (pastors are not paid much there!), they faithfully labor together as a family for the Lord. They were very grateful to welcome us into their home. (As a special donation to their work, James gave this family his personal laptop computer.)
 Next we headed to a piece of property that James hopes to develop into a missionary outpost center, perhaps as a place to host medical missionary training programs, etc. There are a lot of fruit trees, coconut palms, and nice ground for planting here. An Adventist family is staying there now, working on the land and reaching out to the rural community there. We really enjoyed our stay there, though it was the most primitive place we stayed.
Levi in front of a bunch of banana plants
James, the Cuban farmer
Levi & I enjoying a pre-breakfast feast under the mango tree! (I ate 5 mangos that time. . . yum!)
Finally we traveled to Camaguey to help with a medical missionary training program. I shared a class on literature evangelism, another class on chair massage, and another on prenatal nutrition.
After our travels, we stayed a few days at the seminary before leaving for the states. . . We also had the privilege of worshiping one last time with the church family we had left after the evangelistic campaign. This was very meaningful but only made it harder to say goodbye! How I long for that day when all of God's family will be Home together in our heavenly home. Come quickly Lord Jesus!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Of Cats & Mice

Scratching, scurrying sounds attracted my attention to the big metal grain barrel in our garage. Curiously I glanced inside the barrel to see a fat mouse attempting to escape what had probably at first seemed like mousy heaven. But the level of grain was very low and the mouse was unable to jump out after eating its fill. Not wanting to deal directly with this captive mouse, but eager for it to be disposed of, I went inside to find one of our two cats. 

Maya is a beautiful, mild tempered kitty. She is affectionate and playful with her human family. But she lives in fear. Fear that is, of our dog Whitney. Maya lives inside the house, rarely ever venturing out because she thinks that Whitney will hurt her. She is good at catching mice, but her chosen habitat affords her few opportunities for hunting. 

Chiquito is a handsome, brave kitty. He is has no fear of dogs; in fact, Chiquito taught Whitney a lesson or two a while back which results in him being treated with respect by the dog! He is also an excellent mouser, often going on successful hunting expeditions in the barn and fields. But Chiquito is very independent and usually grumpy. With few exceptions, he considers his human family a nuisance. 

Inside the house, I easily located Maya sleeping by the woodstove. I picked up the purring fluff-ball and headed back to the garage with her. As I stepped out the door, Maya immediately stiffened and dug her claws into my sweater. Ignoring the easy mouse-meal in the barrel, she clung to me in fear. Attempting to drop her into the barrel was impossible without being scratched by her sharp claws. Maya had caught sight of Whitney, who stood nearby innocently wagging her tail. After a few minutes spent trying to interest Maya in the mouse, I gave up on this scaredy-cat and took her back inside. 

Chiquito was located in his favorite spot on the couch, looking out the window. As I scooped him into my arms, he began hissing and growling at me! Ignoring his grumpy behavior I took him to the garage and dropped him in the grain barrel. In less than 10 seconds Chiquito had the mouse within his jaws. He was still growling, but he looked up at me with pride as if catching this mouse was something he did without any of my help. I reached down in the deep barrel to pick him back up, but he wouldn’t let me. Instead he jumped powerfully out of the barrel by himself and ran growling out into the woods to enjoy his tasty dinner all by himself. 

What foolish kitties Maya and Chiquito are, I laughed! One was too scared to accept the free mouse meal and the other took it with prideful arrogance and ungratefulness! And then it struck me. How often have I been like my cats? 

God has given me many opportunities to be a witness to people for Him. He softens the hearts of the people, prepares the way, and provides for my every need along the way. His Word is filled with promises of protection, guidance, and victory. My cooperation is the only thing God needs. And yet, like Maya I often avoid or run away from witnessing opportunities because of fear.  At other times, I go out reluctantly like Chiquito. And though I don’t deserve it, God rewards my humble efforts with success and victory. But what do I do? I return with prideful selfishness, as if it were due to my own efforts that victory was given! 

Hmm. . . quite a lesson to learn from cats and mice. May God take from me my selfish pride and unreasonable fearfulness and make me more like Him!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fundraising for Cuba!!!!

Dear Friends,

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! I pray that all of you are in good health and are receiving the blessings of God in your life!

God has blessed me in many ways and I am excited about the doors He has been opening for me. To give you a brief update on what I’ve been doing in the recent years. . . I spent a fruitful year as a student missionary in Nepal & India during 2009-2010 following my graduation from Ouachita Hills College. My experience in the mission field opened my eyes to the needs in the world and confirmed to me God’s calling to brighten the dark corners of the earth. I also came to see the importance of obtaining medical missionary skills for any future work in developing countries. I returned to the USA and enrolled at Uchee Pines Institute in Alabama for one year to receive lifestyle-oriented medical training. I spent the next year canvassing door-to-door in the USA, ministering to people, sharing Christ-centered literature, and also learning leadership skills in working with the canvassing programs. This past fall I attended a 3 month academic intensive for midwifery! I am not sure if God will have me continue to become a midwife, but I have been walking through doors as God opens them.

Speaking of God opening doors, another door has opened to me recently. That is, an opportunity to go to Cuba! During childhood my grandmother had the privilege of growing up as a missionary child in the country of Cuba. Because of this background I grew up eating fried plantain bananas, rice & black beans and being told stories about the beautiful country of Cuba. However, Cuba never stood out to me as a place especially in need of hearing the gospel (at least not above that of any other Latin American country). I knew it was very poor. I knew it was Communist. I knew about Fidel Castro. But until recently I didn’t know that access to Bibles and Christian literature was so restricted.

Bibles are not sold in Cuba and the government restricts what is printed and distributed in the country. In many churches, the church members tear a single Bible into sections, sharing it around so that at least each family has a portion of the Bible to read. The restriction of the Word of God, combined with the Communist influence and extreme poverty has made Cuba a field much in need of missionary labor. Because the distribution of Christian literature (a.k.a. canvassing) has been my ministry over the years, this need especially caught my heart strings.

April 15-27 my brother Levi and I will be going to Cuba. We will be putting on an evangelistic campaign for 2 weeks with Henry & Arleen Stubbs, a dedicated couple who have conducted many mission trips to Cuba through the years. I will be preaching during the evening meetings and Levi will be speaking for the children’s meetings. During the daytime we will be visiting people in their homes, sharing in a personal way the love of Jesus and helping with any medical missionary needs. [We are hoping to extend our visa and stay a little longer after the campaign to make the most of the investment made in our trip. If this is possible, we will also be visiting churches in the island, encouraging the believers and sharing medical missionary presentations.] This will be Levi’s first mission trip, so I am eager to see how God can use this trip to open his eyes to the world’s needs and deepen his commitment to a lifetime of service for Jesus. We also plan on “smuggling” in as many Bibles and as much Christian literature as our personal baggage can contain!

So how can you help? We will need help with prayers, Spanish Bibles, craft supplies for the children’s meetings, and of course funding! If you have extra Spanish Bibles or Spanish literature sitting around gathering dust or a big collection of stickers/construction paper/scissors/glue etc. that you wish to help with, you can mail it directly to me: 359 Three Angels Dr., Liberty, KY 42539.

To go to Cuba, Levi & I must each raise about $1,400-$1700. This amount covers the airfare to Cuba, visa expenses, the supplies for the evangelistic campaigns, housing, and other expenses of the trip. You can make a check payable to “World Youth Group” and specify my name or Levi’s in the memo line. You will receive a tax-deductable receipt for your donation. The address to send your check to is:

Henry & Arleen Stubbs
World Youth Group
PO Box 1454
Westminster, South Carolina USA 29693

Thanks so much! “The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” Numbers 6:24-26

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