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Friday, March 21, 2014

Cuba: Day Four

Day four started like every other day - up early, rushing through breakfast, off to pick up interpreters and on to the church.
Then we had a bit of fun. 

It's always great to surprise team members with a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday - particularly when it's truly a surprise.

Yet the day posed an interesting challenge. We'd completely exhausted our small church plant's contacts. The day before we'd resorted to knocking on doors, hoping for divine appointments. Today, some of us headed into other neighborhoods to see what we might find. Kelly remained behind in Tamarindo - he and his interpreter (who was also his church member guide) were having great luck with divine appointments within the neighborhood park.

As is usual with this type of work, there was some knocking, there was some visiting and there was some waiting for appointments to return home.

We still had some good visits in the neighborhood before we took a break for lunch.

And what is a birthday without a birthday cake? (By the way - this one was delicious!)

The day finally wrapped in the late afternoon. My interpreter  had to head home to take his wife to the doctor, so I enjoyed some downtime with the Tamarindo evangelism team.

Our time together included a lecture by one of the church members, who was an anthropology professor at the state university. He shared with us the history of one of the prominent local religions, Santeria. (Click on the link I've provided to learn more.)

Of course, everything was translated for us.

After our lecture, the team headed off to dinner at a paladar. Paladares are restaurants run out of private homes. The home owners are given permission to run their business by the government and pay taxes. They are a great place to get authentic, tasty Cuban food.

I can attest to the tasty. My red snapper, served with roasted tomatoes and olives over homemade pasta was - in a word - AMAZING.

And I think any dinner is amazing when it's shared with new friends. (Sigh...blurry photo. You take what you can get when you ask the waiter to shoot a photo at night with a mobile phone!)

Before I sign off, I want to share one more story from the day.

When we hopped in the vans to head to dinner, I had a bit of a panic because Kelly wasn't there. When I tracked down our group leader, I was told "He had an appointment - he's taking a taxi to the paladar after he's finished."

Sure enough, Kelly met us at the paladar and shared the story of his appointment as we enjoyed appetizers.

He was preparing to leave with the group when a lady walked up to the church and asked for someone to come to her house and tell her husband the Good News. Kelly was the only member of our team outside, so he, his interpreter and Zaida, the church member I'd been working with, headed to her house.

Kelly spent nearly an hour talking to her husband, working through some very hard heart issues and feelings of hopelessness and unworthiness. Finally, the husband accepted faith - surprising Kelly and everyone in the room.

It was a great visit.

But what was even greater was our realization that the man Kelly had shared with was the husband of the woman I'd shared with the day before - that's why my church member had gone with Kelly on the visit.

This was the same man that I'd promised Kelly and I would pray for. The same man that we had prayed that someone would share Jesus with. The same man who had a "heart of stone" for his wife.

Earlier that afternoon, the church had spent time singing and praising God for working above and beyond their hopes and expectations. They had less than 40 appointments set for our team - yet over 200 had come to saving faith. The church was astonished. (As I mentioned earlier, I felt like we were seeing a modern-day version of the early church from Acts.)

Listening to Kelly's story of sharing faith with the husband of the woman that I'd shared faith with the day before was astounding to me. Rarely do you get to see such a complete picture of hope fulfilled and prayers answered.

So I think it's appropriate to end this post with a snippet of Tamarindo Baptist praising God. I know I still am.

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