by Maddie Keith ’19
If I was asked to choose today, word to describe today, I don’t think I could find one to encapsulate sll of the emotions, encounters, or adventures that we’ve had today.
Our day started at 2am, technically our second day of travel, as we met the before to travel to the airport. After a night filled with Apples to Apples and countless Vine references, us girls found it difficult to get up. Eventually, everybody met downstairs and we headed to check our bags, where we waited for what seemed like forever. All of us, delusional as we were, managed to make it through security with just enough time to walk right on to our plane. It was fairly empty, so obviously we all moved around to keep each other company. Ahmed, Aaron, and I played different card games, one of which Aaron taught us from China. Also, on this particular flight because it was so early, we got to watch the sun rise.
During our layover in Miami, we had some free time so we grabbed a quick breakfast at Dunkin Donuts and then just chilled, recharged for our next flight. Within the last thirty minutes before we started to board, I noticed people starting to say their “final goodbyes,” meaning that this was the last time that we would be connected to wifi or even have service at all for the next two weeks. This seemed to be the hardest hurdle to overcome, but once we were up in the air, there was no turning back.
The flight from Miami to Holguin was short and sweet. Besides some minor turbulence, we landed in Cuba with ease. Getting off of the plane and breathing in the hot Cuban air for the first time was an experience I will never forget. With no social media to post on, I found it amusing we all still wanted to document the moment we first stepped foot in Cuba. Alice brought out her disposable camera while Miranda and I recorded videos of us just screaming and spinning around, taking in the foreign landscape.
Then, we had our first bit of an issue, which was pleasantly surprising given how far we had come. Courtney’s suitcase did not make it to Cuba with us. After doing all we could and filling out a lost baggage complaint, we all got on the bus and headed on our approximately 30 minute drive to the church where we are staying. While arriving, I couldn’t help but stare out the window the whole time. I have never seen or visited a place like this in my whole life, so I was completely taken aback by Cuba’s astonishing beauty and unique personalities that scatter the streets.
Arriving at the church, we were greeted by many friendly faces, one of which was Carlos, a tall, dark skinned man. with kind eyes and a warm smile. We were shown to the boys room first, then taken upstairs to where the girls would be staying. Set up much like a typical overnight camp style cabin, we all immediately fell in love.
After taking time to settle in, we had our first group meal at the church, which consisted of a spread of rice, beans, a turkey and veggie mix, fried plantains, mango, and guava. I honestly could not have been happier to sit down and have a quality meal after the seemingly endless day of travel that we had just endured.
Stomachs full, we all changed into cooler clothing, and split up into different “service” groups for the day. Aaron, Eric, and Ahmed went and filled up the water bottles for members for the community that get their filtered water from the church. While Ike and the girls met in the little annex of the church to begin to prepare our song for service. Needless to say, the song will be needing a lot more work. More updates to come.
An hour or so passed, and all of the sudden BOOM. thunder, lightning, pouring rain. The boys quickly returned and we hid out in the annex. We used that time to begin learning our dance piece for service as well. A young man named Leo helped us out, and with little, but some initial resistance, we began learning our way through a piece dedicated to fathers. that will also need work as well, but it is moving in the right direction.
We ended our first day in Cuba with a family dinner of pasta and cookies. Even more delicious than lunch. Stomachs full once again, and tired as ever, we decided to call it a night and meet for our daily worship sharing. Oh, I almost forgot to mention our new friend Jesus! He is a five year old boy whose mom lives in the church, and after dinner, Angie, Miranda, Alice, and I all played with him. It was amazing to see how even with a language barrier, kids are still silly, fun-loving , little balls of energy.
Bed time for everyone was super early tonight, as needed. Tomorrow is our first full day of working in Holguin and we are going to need to catch up on as much sleep as possible.
We all miss home a little. but cannot wait to see what adventures Cuba has in store for us