My family and I went to church with friends of ours this morning. It’s a charming and friendly small church of a different denomination than we are, but coming together is still a precious experience. We learned that in the evenings the church holds a Spanish service. This began when Pastor Doug felt a need to provide a place for migrant workers to come and worship when they were in the area for summer work. Tonight would be a special night. Everyone was invited to tonight’s service and share a meal afterwards.
I had to go back! After being in Cuba earlier in 2009 I came to appreciate the Spanish language, the hospitality of the people and, of course, good food. Granted, the Spanish speaking congregates at tonight’s service are not from Cuba, the latin culture was evident in the warmness of our hosts.
My wife and I sat in the service and I was awash with fond memories of sitting and celebrating in the Spanish churches I have previously visited. I began to miss my friends; Joshua, Soto and Xiomara, as well as many many others. One young girl I met in Cuba had a smile that radiated pure joy. She was just twelve years old and actually preached a sermon on our first night. She spoke barely more English other than “My name is Coosie. What is your name?”
It was both mine and my son’s first trip to Cuba. He was just 11 at the time and took everything in stride. From immigration searches to repeated immigration questioning, from police stopping our vehicle…repeatedly… to the chickens running over our feet during dinner in out palm leaf dining room, from the guy trying to steal out camera equipment to playing soccer and football with children who have never thrown a foot ball before. The fresh tropical fruit, cutting coconuts from the tree with a machete, trying new foods and giving our new friends peanut butter for the first time.
If you haven’t embraced cross cultural experiences, you are missing out on what the world has to offer. You will only get out of an experience what you put into it. Get out of your comfort zone, visit new places, talk to new people and make new friends because everyone has a story.