Mission Accomplished!!!!

Re-entry into the US atmosphere is imminent as this is being written. Before we peel off our flight suits and go through the post-mission debriefing with Mission Headquarters, it seems fitting to reflect on a few snapshots from this maiden Montana mission to Cuba.

* During the final stage of our launch to Cuba we endured a Mission “hold” of one day in Newark due to a “Nor’easter” snow storm. No flights were then available from Newark for two additional days. Fortunately, our Mission Navigator (Eric) established contact with Houston (… “HOUSTON WE HAVE A PROBLEM”…) and rearranged final launch from Houston. Thus an extra flight stage and night in that Texas city. Hence our Mission time in Cuba was shortened by several days.

* From Houston, gliding over the blue expanse of the Gulf, we spotted Cuba!! Surrounded by a turquoise patchwork quilt shallow sea sifting into sand and green shore vegetation. Touch down! First the asphalt of the Havana Airport, then the chaotic motions of the Cuban baggage claim and Customs…. Finally!!!….on Cuban soil!!

* Havana is ruggedly handsome in it’s old age and patina, with stewardship apparent in it’s historic buildings and vintage automobiles, yet it’s people are youthful regardless of their age!

* Church services in Cuba resonate with enthusiastic and passionate worship. Booming amplified voices of Pastors, colorful young dancers with tambourines, music and songs that literally vibrate your heart. Via con Dios!!

* Astounding contrasts are everywhere in Cuba….rusted-out holes in sidewalk utility covers (watch where you step!), juxtaposed with the beautiful old, old, buildings dripping with the romance of Spanish architecture, shortages of staple foods (two weeks of rations per month), but the absolute best ice cream (Coppela – from Havana) that you will ever eat.

* Cubans share among friends, guests, and strangers with Christ-like action, backing up their faith through their service – as the hands and feet of Jesus. On the day we left, Oscar told us, “Christ is in Cuba, and He has grace for his people, and He will be with us forever. They (the people) do not have much money, but when we ask, He does not fail.”

* Friendships in Cuba are like bread — flour, water, salt, and yeast mixed with love patted, and rolled and allowed to rise baked to perfection and savored. Jokes and laughs, hand slaps (high fives are now universal), hugs, exchanges of gifts, food and mementos, promises of emails to come, vows of remembrance, and many, many prayers. God has been our cook and baker.

* Our governments may have differences, and we may be separated by tariffs, blockades, diplomatic exclusions, executive decisions, and legislation from souls who have not yet set foot in both countries….but, we remain neighbors only 90 miles apart – brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, grandparents….all of God’s family – drinking the same Earth’s water, breathing the same Earth’s air, warmed by the same Sun, and held in the same comforting and nurturing hands of God, guided on the same paths by the teachings of Jesus. Our intentional sameness is overwhelming.

* As we glide to a touch down on US soil, and the wheels of our craft are stilled, baggage is reclaimed and we disperse back to familiarity, the Mission travel is concluded….but the Mission continues. Each of the twelve pioneer Montana missioners to Cuba must now spread and share the great images, sounds, tastes, smells, touches, music, worship services, friendships, occurrences, and spiritual wealth that God has endowed on us from our Cuban experiences. This is our Quest. Our prayer of thanks to all who supported us in the name of Jesus thank you!!! Via con Cristo!!!! Amen.

2017 Montana Methodist Mission to Cuba