by Molly Stephenson and Jenna Davis, Cuba service trip co-leaders
Co-leaders Jenna and Molly are the designated bloggers today. Our final day with our gracious hosts here in Holguin started with yet another wonderful breakfast of fresh mangos, papaya, yogurt, bread, cheese, Cuban coffee, and juice. We spent the morning weeding in a community hydroponic garden, which gave us the opportunity to see how fresh the food we have been eating here truly is. We weeded row upon row of cucumbers, garlic, water cress, and lettuce beds.
Our afternoon included one last shopping spree in town followed by an enjoyable outing to the local baseball stadium to watch the Holguin Cachorros compete against the Santiago Avispas, the under-twenty-three-year-old minor league teams. We left before the game ended, but not before Thomas had bought a Holguin Cachorros cap and jersey.
Our church friends regaled us with a special farewell dinner of arroz imperial, a rice dish with chicken, shrimp, olives, and assorted vegetables, side dishes of plantains, cucumber, carrot and tomato salad, followed by cake for dessert. They also surprised us with a lovely gift for each and every one of us.
In gratitude for the new friends we have made, the friendships we have renewed, and for the meaningful cross-cultural service learning experience we have shared, our group prepared hand-written thank you messages for the core crew of Cubans who have cooked, cleaned, and cared for us here at the church. During our evening worship, our students also expressed their heart-felt appreciation and respect for a variety of the people who have touched our lives here in Cuba
During an informal meeting with the church choir this evening, Sydney presented the choir members with matching colorful T-shirts. The choir members donned their new shirts, then we all strolled down the street this evening to sing for the elderly parents of one of the choir members.
From our perspective as trip leaders, this has been a wonderfully successful and meaningful service-learning adventure. The students have been cooperative, helpful, appreciative, and open to new experiences.
As we end, we offer a quick review of what we did in this beautiful place. Please feel free to use this list as starter ‘talking points’ with your kids!
Lots of physical work: church work projects in Holguin and Puerto Padre, meal set-up and clean-up, deep cleaning projects, weeding
Lots of community sharing: making crafts for celebrations, time in Floro Perez (a spot in the countryside where there is a very small, developing Quaker church), attendance at the Arts High School graduation, singing with the youth choir, and participating in church services and Sunday school.
Lots of excusions*: Centro de Diversion El Valle, time at a pool, Rio Alcala, a day in Santiago de Cuba, and a visit to El Morro, Playa Pesquero, Salto de Guayaba
*Our Cuban hosts make certain that there are at least ten church member Cubans on our excursions. For most, the price of admission to where we journey would be cost prohibitive.
Parents, we hope you will ask your son or daughter about what they gave of themselves and how it felt. Please also ask them to share what they received. Ask them who they imagine was grateful for their service. Ask them for what they feel grateful. Thanks for the loan of your wonderful children. Happy summer.