Therefore we wanted to come to you–even I, Paul, time and again–but Satan hindered us. – 1 Thessalonians 2:18 NKJV
Randy reminded me of this verse as we were laying on the cold, hard floor of the customs area of the çuban airport. We were rejected by the officials and commanded to spend the night in some uncomfortable circumstances until the next plane could, as they put it in their broken english, “take you back to your country.”
We traveled without incident until we landed in havanå and came to the immigrations office. The young lady smiled, took my picture, asked me a couple simple questions and then sent me through. “Welcome to Cuba,” she said. I thought that was going to be it, but I was wrong. The moment the door opened I was immediately approach by a man in uniform who wanted my passport. I gave it to him and proceeded to send my luggage through the check point. I was then approached by another customs officer who drilled me with many more questions. Apparently I answered them satisfactory and he sent me through. I thought I was home free, but, again, I was wrong.
When I walked through the final gate into Cubå, I noticed that Randy and Kyna were being herded over to another area of the airport. Stan and Donna were already out and greeted me by the road. I thought I would get a head start, so I converted some cash in to pesos and bought an ice cream. When we waited for about half an hour, we began to wonder what had become of Randy and Kyna. I had just finished my ice cream when I noticed that the customs officer that had drilled me with questions come out of the airport. I thought that he could be looking for me so I attempted to avoid him by causally ‘site-seeing’ in the opposite direction while sidestepping behind a large pillar… It didn’t work. He commandeered my passport and brought me to a luggage check. He opened one of my bags and wasn’t too surprised when he saw a bag-load of medicine and and other medical supplies. He had found the same thing in Randy’s and Kyna’s bags.
Whenever our church goes to Cubå (at least once a year for 12 years) we always send medicine and medical supplies (and that without incident). Apparently they just can’t get all of what they need. So we pack as much as possible to help them out. The doctors are very thankful for the simplest of things. Unfortunately enough, though, the custom officials aren’t so thankful. They are more concerned with technical details that I will spare you from. So they collected us up and sent us back.
Since it was about 6pm on Monday and the next flight out of the country wasn’t until 12pm on Tuesday, the custom officials were kind enough to give us a small corner of a cold hard floor. When we tried to move around a little they would point back to our corner and say, ‘No, no. You stay here.’ We were forbidden to do anything except to sit. They let us use the bathroom as much as we wanted, but neither the men’s or the woman’s bathrooms had any soap, paper towels, toilet paper or toilet seats! The officials never told us if they were going to leave us there or give us more comfortable accommodations for the night. After a loooong wait they finally confirmed that this cold, hard floor was our bed. We unloaded our bags and slept on our pants and shirts and whatever else we could find. Kyna and Donna slept on floats they had packed. Stan curled up on chairs. The floor was so cold that I put on four shirts and two pairs of pants. I was still cold. They must of had the A/C on 20 below.
I spent a lot of time (since I had so much) praying. I turned my bible to Acts 16 and read about how Paul and Silas were beaten with rods and had to spend the night in prison. Instead of complaining, they began to pray and to sing praises to God. I thanked God for my cold floor.
After an eternal night and a long morning we were finally escorted to our plane. They allowed us to get some coffee and breakfast. The cafe con leche was pretty good, so I decided to let the good taste of that coffee be the taste I would leave Cuba with. I wasn’t able to minister to the people this time, but I’m not going to let it stop me. It wasn’t my purpose to go there with the intention of having a good experience. I was there to preach the gospel. I was there to help the people. I believe that God has given me something that I can bless them with. If God permits, I will go back and I will show Christ’s love to that nation. I will show Christ’s love to those officials. I’ve already prayed for them. May God bless them richly.
Thank you so much if you helped to support me on this trip. I’m so sorry that I wasn’t able to minister as I intended. I will update you all further via letter.
This may have been my first mission trip, but it won’t be my last. I’ll simply let this negative experience fuel the fire of my passion to reach the lost of the world. Thank you again.