From beginning to end this summer in Cuba was a whole lot of crazy, and even ramped up to the level of mysterious at times. In some matters, I think we will never really know what went down behind the scenes, yet we cling to a God who is sovereign in all. This quote by Elizabeth Elliot kept our eyes on Him alone during this past summer.
“I know of no greater simplifier for all of life. Whatever happens is assigned … Are some things, then, out of the control of the Almighty? For every assignment is measured and controlled for my eternal good. As I accept the given portion other options are canceled. Decisions become much easier, directions clearer, and hence my heart becomes inexpressibly quieter. A quiet heart is content with what God gives.”
All in all, it was a very crammed packed 5 weeks that challenged us to the max, and blessed our hearts deeply, as we got to serve alongside local leadership in a variety of ministry opportunities.
Our religious visas were put into our hands 12 days after we arrived in the country, and came with the catch that we had to leave Cuban territory 5 weeks earlier that we had originally planned. This being said, we know that God truly answered the prayers of many who where keeping this before the throne. Maybe the answer was not exactly as we had expected, but isn’t that the way God often works. After all, His ways are always higher than our ways, and His thoughts higher than our thoughts. In Him we can ‘choose’ to find our rest.
Pastors and their families gather to fan the flame
One of the highlights of our trip was getting to spend a full week at a Pastor’s retreat. It gave us an incredible opportunity to know and appreciate so many families and their ministries taking place all throughout the country of Cuba. We loved the diversity of hearing of God at work in urban centres, while others were in remote mountain areas travelling from congregation to congregation on horse back.
There were times of laughter, learning, fellowship and blessing. We heard over and over of the value of encouragement and strengthening of these pastoral families. It was a great time of “filling them up” and then seeing their overflow and excitement at heading back to where God has placed them.
Youth Camps exceed our expectations
Never for the faint hearted, although to be honest there were some moments where our “old hearts” did look like they would faint hahahah – the heat factor was incredible. What a joy to be involved in 2 youth camps over a period of 10 days, pouring into the lives of 230 youth. We find it hard to put into words all of the joy, power, love, hope, forgiveness and praise of the Lord that took place in those days. Perhaps the following photos will do it justice.
If I did attempt to use some words they would be … soul searching, intimate, dynamic, brokenness, community, uplifting worship, tangible hope, and eternal fruitfulness. Many of these teens come from broken and unchurched families and just sobbed as they shared that never had they experienced 4 days of such unconditional love and joy in their lives – their tears were of thinking about what would await them when they returned home.
While it was an incredible privilege to be involved in the teaching and games at these camps, I think our greatest joy was in building relationships with 60+ of the future leaders of Cuba (ages 15-30) being equipped to lead, mentor, and facilitate small groups. The theme this year was “Unveiling your heart before God” and these future leaders did this beautifully as God worked and spoke among them.
Amazing leadership team worshiping with teens July 2017.