We arrived in Camaguey, Cuba on Thursday, March 17, 2019. As we stepped out, the tropical island breeze and royal palm trees greeted us warmly. We were quickly stuffed into a green truck/bus, all thirty-nine staff and students, bell choir, craft supplies, and suitcases packed with clothes to give away. We shared the traveling roads with bicycles, brightly colored cars from the ’50s and horse-drawn carriages.
We arrived at the SDA conference office for dinner; fried plantains, congri, a rice and bean dish, and tomato and cucumber salad. This meal is a staple of Cuban households, and would soon be a favorite of the students.
That evening we drove an hour to a small. Packed church of people. Our concert was scheduled at eight in the evening. Unfortunately, we arrived an hour tardy, sweaty and tired, we had never started a concert so late in the evening. As soon as we arrived we scrambled to assemble the bell choir. But there was a small problem. Not all of our tables came with our flight. Instead, we improvised and made a makeshift table of bell suitcases on the ground. Bell players kneeled in front of the table in order to play. The choir belted songs to the cantata called Christ is Coming in Spanish. They had never sung so powerfully, and accurately. The Spirit God was in the midst of us.
Each evening after Thursday followed the same routine. We arrived late to the church, instruments were compromised, but the Spirit of God blessed. People were happy to listen and hear the choir sing.
During our stay in Camaguey, we met some youth from the church. They came to see multiple concerts and we shared transport with them. Language barriers created awkwardness but students attempted to speak Spanish, and in turn, the youth tried to speak English and bonds were formed. They played hand games, shared favorite songs, and books and laughed together, while trying to learn French from our French 2 students. It was a blessing to get acquainted with high school students in another country.
Our first four days in Camaguey quickly came to an end. Soon each pre-selected group prepared to go to their different cities to do evangelistic meetings. In those first four days, a burning desire to save souls ignited in the hearts of students and staff. We had learned the people of Cuba were thirsting for the word of God. Read our blog next week to see what happened in the town of Jimaguayu.