Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cuba 1950's and 2004 • Joan Hust

My first visit to Cuba was in the 1950’s with a classmate from Florida Beacon College in St. Petersburg, Florida.  We stayed with Paul and LaVon Hartman from the Open Bible Church in Iowa.  This was my first real missionary trip to a foreign country.  I loved it.  It is the largest Caribbean Island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean.  It was only 90 miles South of Key West, Florida. The one propeller plane trip that I was a passenger was less than an hour from Tampa, Florida where I was a student at the St. Petersburg Bible Institute.   It was the end of the reign of President Batista, and the beginning of Fidel Castro.
 It was quite evident that the local church was vibrant for the Lord, but not the economy.  Paul had an open truck.  We went from village to village, and stood in the back of the truck, and held a service in the village. We arrived unannounced but we were well received and the village folks would gather around our truck.  Paul played a guitar and an accordion, and my friend and I played our saxophones. We had a one to two hour service in every village.  We sang, played a saxophone duet, and gave our testimonies on how we became a Christian.  Paul preached a sermon in Spanish, and gave an altar call.  Many folks came forward to accept Christ in those open air meetings. Paul and LaVon would return to minister to the people who gave their lives to Christ after we left and returned home.  Paul and LaVon worked in Cuba for fifteen years.  When they returned back to the states they worked with the Spanish families in the Tampa, Florida area. 
My second visit was with a team from Bethel Baptist Church in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho in 2004.We were welcomed by a local pastor and his family in the city of Cienfuegos.  I met many wonderful families, and the fellowship was precious. We had meetings out in the country in a barn, and some in houses where we would stand as there was not enough room for everyone to sit down.  We went house to house during the day and were transported by horse and buggy.  I had the privilege of visiting the home of Marta. She spoke Spanish and English.  Her daughter brought her Bible to her that was wrapped in cloth to protect it. Her lovely daughter accepted the Lord after we gave our testimonies and we had a precious time rejoicing in His love.    
Do your best to tell about JESUS everywhere you go.

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