Why did you want to go to Cuba?
I had felt for a while that I wanted to serve God’s church outside Europe. I wanted to serve God and see his good work in a different culture. Also, I wanted to go somewhere where people spoke Spanish. With OMS, I had the opportunity to go to Cuba, which made me really happy because my father is from there and my grandparents still live there. All these things together made me feel that it was God’s will for me to go there.
What did you do?
I went to Havana, knowing basically nothing about how I would help. Eventually, I was in the church with the people working there and I helped in anything I could. I went to visit elderly people in their homes with another lady. We spoke with them of the Gospel and gave them food each week, and cleaned some of their homes. I helped in a summer school for children as well. I invited children from the streets to the programme, and I was doing crafts with them. I attended a small group and had fellowship with the people there. After two and a half weeks in Havana, I went to the centre of the country to visit another city and the church there. I had the chance to live with the pastors for two days and to see how their church grew and how the service was different. Later, I went to three youth camps for 12 days. There, I helped in the kitchen. It was good to see that nearly 500 youth could hear the Gospel there.When the camp finished I went to visit my grandma for a week.
How did this trip impact you personally?
This trip was an unforgettable experience. This was my first time to travel alone, but I didn’t feel lonely. There was always someone from the church to be with me or to help me in everything, which was really great. I felt God’s care for me, knowing he is with me all the time and that I was safe with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
I always knew that God is big, but through my trip, I experienced it firsthand as well. For example, I heard the same teachings of God there as I do here. This showed me how big Jesus is, who is king of all nations.
I was impressed by the way people live in Cuba, by their deprivation. Despite this, they were happy, making jokes and being friendly with each other. I saw they trust the Lord daily to resolve their problems.
How did you see God at work during your time there?
I saw God’s work in the lives of the people going to the church in Havana. I really liked that they were talking a lot about God’s work to others, and that they prayed a lot. The Holy Spirit changed the lives of those people, and God was working through their lives. I also realized that it’s God’s hand that brought so many youth to those camps that I also attended. I liked how the youth reacted to the teaching there and how they applied it to themselves.
I also heard a story about how God worked in the life of a pastor there. It was the most impressive miracle for me. There was a 17-year-old boy who attended church each Sunday. One day, he got sick and the doctor said that his illness had no cure. The boy’s aunt asked the pastor to go pray for him in the hospital. When the pastor arrived, the parents wouldn’t let him in, saying, “If the doctors cannot help him, there’s no hope for him.” So, after a few tries, he went to the director of the hospital to ask for permission to go in to the boy’s room. The director let him in, where even the parents couldn’t go. When he sat down by the bed, next to the boy, he heard the boy’s heartbeat getting slower and slower. He prayed to God with a simple prayer, saying, “I know, Lord, that you have the power to cure this boy. If it’s your will, cure him to glorify your holy name. In Jesus name, amen.” After he finished, the pastor heard the heartbeat get faster, but he left the room. After a few weeks, the boy returned to church and that’s when the pastor knew that God had healed him. It was an amazing story, demonstrating how God glorified himself.
This trip impacted me in many ways, it opened my eyes to a different culture, to another way people can live. And by the grace of God, my faith got stronger. I feel it was a huge gift from God that I could go and experience these things. For a long time I felt this huge desire to go, but I did’t see how I could actually go, because I didn’t have the resources for it. I’m really thankful for all the support that I got to actually go on this trip. I hope you can also experience the huge grace of God, that He gave us through Jesus Christ, and feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. God bless you all!
– By Vanessa Claro, OMS Hungary Foreign Intern