God sets up divine appointments for us all. I believe that. When I went to Springfield, MO last September I went for a Network for Women in Ministry meeting. The meeting was very good and informative. But it was after the meeting when I believe my divine appointment really began. After the meeting we were invited to go on a missions trip to Cuba with Global University and see the impact the school was making in Cuba. When I heard the invitation…. I knew I was supposed to go.
The trip was scheduled for March 16-19. So… last week I boarded a plane for Havana, Cuba and experienced the missions trip of a lifetime. I went with a group of ladies, most of whom I’d never met before. Our mission was to visit Global University Cuba and see how the Bible School is making a difference there. We were also scheduled to speak at a women’s event and tour several house churches. We also toured old historic Havana.
Our first day of ministry was the Women’s event at one of the local churches. It was a full day and I spoke in the last session. It was my first time speaking with an interpreter but Pastor Lily Rodriguez from Texas made it easy for me and she did a wonderful job!
I do not speak Spanish so there were many times I had to grab hold of one of our interpreters to help me communicate with the people. It’s frustrating when you want to say something but cannot speak the language. During my message I metioned that I was a country girl. After Lily interpreted, everyone started laughing. I looked at Lily and said, “What did you say? What did you call me?” She said, “The word I used to translate means country bumpkin.” I told her that was more accurate anyway. After the service a lady came up to me all excited. I asked Lily to interpret what she was saying. She wanted me to know that she was a country bumpkin too. There are country girls everywhere. ; )
That evening we went to a house church. We met the pastors before church and had the opportunity to hear their stories. They are a beautiful couple who are both crdentialed pastors. He heard the story of Saul on the road to Damascus and identified with him so he gave his life to the Lord and they have seen God do amazing things in their life and church.
Their church service was electric. The people sang with such gusto and fervor. Three young women sang a song about being daughters of the king and fighting for their families. You could see the passion in the their eyes and hear their love for Jesus in their voices.
During the services I was asking God some questions. There are decisions that I’m trying to make and I told God I needed to hear from Him. When the service concluded, a women came up to me and started talking. I asked Chystina Farthing, (who is raising funds to serve as a full-time missionary to Cuba) to interpret for me. The woman told me that she was an intercessor and had been praying for me and that God had something to say to me. The things she spoke to me were the things I was asking God about. Praise the Lord! He hears our prayers and wants to make His will known to us!
The next day we visited some house churches. These pastors and these churches are simply amazing! They are so hungry for God! The first church we visited is pastored by a young couple 25 and 26 years old with two small children. They started the church when they were just 18 and 19. They live 18 kilometers from the church and have no transportation. They rely on the Lord to provide transportation and He always does. The farthest they’ve ever had to walk was about 3 kilometers.
The church meets on the back patio of a man’s house. When the pastor started the church he said he tried everything he was taught in Bible School but nothing worked. So one day he decided to just go to the church and pray. While he was praying, some ladies heard his prayers from across the fence so they went to the church. Each time they would get together and pray more and more people would hear their prayers and the church grew! They have a beautiful congregation who have wonderful stories of how Jesus Christ has saved them from their atheist beliefs and transformed their lives.
The next house we visited was on top of another house. A young man, his wife and their little boy live in a house connected to the church. It is also a small area but they squeeze 70 people hungry for God into that room. They minister to about 50 children whom they teach at a nearby park.
On our final night we were taken to an outdoor tabernacle to meet some of the Global University faculty and students. They cooked us a delicious meal. It was my first ever whole roasted pig complete with a hat on it’s head. I ate tropical fruit I had not eaten before and also had yucca. This I really liked and will try cooking. We’ll see how it goes…
The students and the faculty we heard from were so inspiring! They go to such great lengths to get an education. Many are professionals with full-time jobs, some have to travel long distances and yet they make a way because they are so hungry to know God’s Word.
As far as food goes…. I naively expected to eat Mexican food there. But Cuban food is very different from Mexican food. It doesn’t have the spicy kick that Mexican food does. We were told not to drink the water – only drink bottled water. At the women’s event, when the ladies were lining up for refreshments, a little elderly woman came and grabbed me by the hand. She marched me passed the long line of women right up to the front of the line and told the ladies to give me something to eat. One lady handed me a cupcake and the other handed me a glass of cola. I took both.
I noticed the cola didn’t taste like any cola I had ever had before. Later I found out that it was homemade cola made with their unfiltered water. Yikes! I prayed, “Dear Lord, don’t let me get sick!” I’m happy to report that all was well and I did not get sick.
The hotel we stayed in was nice and modest. The staff was very friendly. One thing that seemed to be missing everywhere we went was toilet seats. I don’t know why. But, I had a toilet seat in my bathroom at the hotel and was thankful for it.
There is so much to say. I took in so much that I could never adequately express it. This trip to Cuba, in more ways than one, was a divine appointment. I went to Cuba to serve and give and show them love. But I have no doubt that I received much more than I gave.
As I close, I must give a special thanks to our two missionary leaders, Daniel Irizarry and Chrystina Farthing. Their heart for Cuba was contagious. They were so patient and accommodating. This trip was the success that is was because of their love and leadership. We love and appreciate you and will continue to pray for you.
And to the rest of the team… I say thank you for such a great trip.
Pastor Andrea Fruscella from Jacksonville, Florida.
Pastor Lily Rodriguez of Texas City, Texas.
Kelly Woods, Worship Leader. She and her husband pastor in Broken Arrow, OK.
Teri Herndon, Elk Grove, CA. She and her husband serve in the CA District A/G office.
Judy Rachels, Southern CA. Chair: Network for Women In Minstry, Assemblies of God.
Dr. Barbara Cavaness-Parks, Springfield, MO, Co-author of God’s Women Then and Now. The book that changed the life of my ministry. (Dr. Parks is in the purple signing her book) Dr. Parks also Co-Authored, Unbelievable Yet True and This End Up.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to minister with such a great team and to meet the Believers in Cuba. Revival fire has spread across their nation. Yet they still need our prayers. But this one thing I know… The church of Jesus Christ is ALIVE and well in Cuba! Praise the Lord!
(just a few random photos)