I had the privilege of introducing my home church leadership to Proclaim Cuba when we traveled to Cuba in November 2022. Accompanied by Hillside Community Church’s Senior Pastor, Pete Chiofalo and church elder, Steve Amato, we toured the eastern region of Cuba to deliver much needed supplies, encourage our team, and see our local pastors in action.
My prayer for this trip was connection and encouragement for all involved. I believe God provided both. Below are a few excerpts from my travel journal.
Nov 5th Travel Day -
We got off to a bumpy start at DFW with some luggage tag/kiosk issues at check-in but the rest of the travel went well. While there were long lines in Cuba at the health check station, immigration and the final metal detector scans, we made it in with everything. Praise God! All will be used to help people and further the ministry work in Cuba! Pete and Steve were great mules!
Leaders from the team met us at the airport. We picked up the 8-person that had arranged from the US due to the new complications of Cubans renting cars. Nothing is easy for them.
We arrived at our small B&B and dinner was waiting. Ladies from our organization had been cooking, and it was ready for us on the roof garden.
The food was so good. During dinner we learned they spent more than two weeks trying to acquire the food. A local pastor works in a butcher shop, and he was able to get the chicken and the beef. This was the first time I’ve ever seen beef in Cuba outside of a tourist restaurant. It was very touching that they went to such lengths to make us feel comfortable.
I roomed with our translator and my friend. He recently lost his wife and this was the first time I was able to give him a hug. I also shared a few things for his family and his community, like toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors and deodorant, all things we take for granted. It is good to be here again. The accommodations are very nice… good beds, clean, AC, hot water, and we were spared a blackout, at least for tonight.
Sunday 11/6 -
We were honored to visit 3 churches:
This church is on the 4th floor- We heard their beautiful singing as we pulled up to the complex. We met one of the church members, he spoke English and said he worked catering for the filming of Lord of the Rings and King Kong in New Zealand. That was unexpected 😊 The church is in a small apartment, but they are full of life. They need more room. We each gave a word of greeting and encouragement.
This home church is on the covered roof of an apartment building. The entrance to the church is a spiral staircase and it is a tight fit to get up. We all thought, “there were elderly people there …, so how did they get up there?” God makes a way. The church is filled with wonderful and welcoming people. We each gave a word of greeting and encouragement, and then it was time for a song. The instruments they had were rough, but they knew how to use them, and we all joyfully sang to the Lord. Like the previous church, they need more room, and we were told there is a property available nearby because the family wants to move to America.
A church in need of a pastor. Our church tour continued on up into the nearby foothills, where we came to a church looking for a new pastor. The pastor became sick last year and is in the US for treatment. He will most likely not return. They are working to find a replacement, but they will need to sell the house and it is possible the new owner would not be Christian and would not allow access to the church. We are praying that would not happen. We shared a cup of coffee with the family, and Pete prayed for them.
Tuesday 11/8 -
We loaded up the van with seven people, luggage, backpacks and the kitchen sink … we were loaded down!
Before we started breakfast, a woman entered the house and said she had been going to buy groceries when she recognized Pastor Alamino, and she wanted to share a testimony. She told us that 3 years ago she was at a service with Pastor Alamino, and he asked if anyone needed prayer. She was embarrassed to go up and tell him she couldn’t have children, but she finally did, and he told her to whisper it in his ear. He prayed for her and said go home and have relations with your husband.
She showed us a picture of her daughter. Everyone applauded.
After an amazing breakfast of Cuban coffee, eggs (called a tortilla in Cuba), toast, juice, fruit, and cookies, Pastor Alamino thanked us for coming and for putting up with them 😊 Pete gave Pastor Alamino a word of caution about temptation and pride as he referenced pastors in the US falling left and right.
Pete said our Cuban “abuela” could come and live with him… she was ready.
We took some pictures and hit the road to Holguin, about a 3 hour trip…some mountains and a lot of pot holes along the way, but we were able to see and hear where the ministry started.
Our generous team had prepared lunch for us as we pulled into a parking space at the Holguin airport and ate. We shared last words of appreciation and encouragement and said our goodbye with heartfelt hugs.
God answered the prayers for connection and encouragement on this trip. May God continue to strengthen our relationships as we work together in the body of Christ.
Thank you, Cuba. As always, we take a piece of you in our hearts. We will be back!
This excerpt covered only 2 days from a 4 day trip. During their journey, Andrew’s team visited many more house churches and mission spots located in the eastern provinces of Cuba. If you want to hear more about this amazing trip and the impact it had on Pastor Pete Chiofalo and Steve Amato, you can hear their story on the On Mission with Proclaim Cuba Podcast, episode 21.