“Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. Your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: ‘He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little” 2 Corinthians 8:13-15.
Orlian, our translator and friend, said this evening that he is being shown how the body of Christ works by being with us. How the church in Cuba depends on us, and how we depend on them. As Mike said though, “we receive far more than we give.”
Today, we were finally able to give back a little sweat and hard work after a weekend of settling in and sightseeing and worship. Our Cuban friends were rather impressed with our gusto as we cleared a storage area on the third floor full of props from what appeared to be a Christmas pageant and moved them to the first floor storage area. All the construction supplies including wood, 2X4s, smaller pieces, and gravel for concrete and putty also had to be moved to the third floor as well. Many of us sang while we worked, “trabajando en la luz de dios,” (working in the light of God,) one of the songs we sang in worship yesterday with the children. We shared a little sweat and a lot of laughter while working today passing buckets of rocks, moving 2X4s and toting camels, mangers and trees around.
We have been so blessed to have Belinda Paisley from, Granville, Ohio, who attends church at First United Methodist in Newark serving with us on this mission as she is extremely gifted with music, voice and song. Each day we are blessed to sing for our supper (really all our meals). She has been long-time friends with Vicki Walker, and we are learning many new songs of worship in both English and Spanish by having her musical talents and leadership on our team. And while Belinda is sharing her gifts with us, she was able to connect today with Jorge, a gifted songwriter and musician here in Havana who works at the church, and he taught her a song today. As she put it, sharing the love of music with other people is such a great blessing, and this way to connect with our Cuban brothers in Christ is such a treasure. Dan also shares a love of music, and Orlian and he connected with their iPods tonight. Orlian became the official translator of a number of Spanish songs, Dan already knew the words to these Christian worship songs, but he just didn’t know what the praises meant that he was singing! The two of them connected over a shared love of music and helped one another discover new artists. These are just a small sampling of the many connections that have been made with our Cuban brothers and sisters in just a handful of days.
Our construction work is building a parsonage for the preacher and his family on the third floor of the church’s property. Currently it is simply a storage area, so the team (along with a lot of more qualified assistance from our construction crew) will be building out the third floor, adding a bathroom and building several rooms so that Pastor Guillermo and his wife and children will be able to reside at the church in Central Havana. Pastor Guillermo came by mid-afternoon and shared with us that he had been busy praying and laying hands on the sick members of his church and community during the day, and he gave us as Rebecca called it, our five-hour energy shot for the
day! His charisma and enthusiasm is definitely the light of the Holy Spirit shining and working through him.
We concluded the day with Bruce's devotional on Luke 15, and Bruce encouraged us to see the story instead of as the prodigal son, as the prodigal father. Prodigal means wasteful, or generous to a fault, and we are so thankful that God sheds his grace wastefully on us! Pastor Guillermo also has what I'd call some prodigal energy, he gives of his energy so generously that when he makes his way around, we all work a little bit harder and faster. Thanks be to God!
We did play Katy Perry’s, Firework, song today, in honor of the fourth of July, to celebrate our nation’s independence, but as Mike said, we look forward to a day when our Cuban brothers and sisters in Christ can travel on missions to the U.S. to share their love of Christ and teach us how to worship.