Monday, March 3, 2014

Lessons from Cuba 3

For me, the most difficult part about writing is the first sentence, even the entire introduction.  I've wrestled for days with a way to say what I hope to say without coming across judgmental.  That's certainly not my intention.  So, I'll jump in with both feet, and hope this ends better than I'm starting.

We were blessed with seven laptops, multiple cell phones, and several digital cameras, which we were able to take into Cuba with us.  These things are hard to get in-country, and when you can find them, the cost makes them prohibitive.  At the same time, each of these items were donated to FOCUS because they were "outdated," "old," functioning "slowly," or in need of some repair.  In other words, they were discards, not quite good enough anymore.  Our nephew, Paul, went along with us.  Paul knows the ins and outs of computers as if he'd been born experimenting with one in the womb.  I'll brag on him a second - he is amazing!  Paul worked magic on those computers.  He cleaned off the hard drives. He vaccinated away speed-sucking viruses.  He added new software - all in Spanish; and, on every computer, he purchased and provided a high-end Bible program, knowing it was our desire to bless a Cuban pastor.  These were still old, outdated, discards, but Paul redeemed the value of them in a BIG WAY!

I just wish you could have been a bug on the wall as we handed these gifts to the pastors and their wives.  Our dear friend, and contact in Cuba, had prayed long and hard as to who these blessings should go to before we arrived.  One by one, he would call the pastors into a side room during one of the conferences, and allow us to gift the computers, the phones, and the cameras.  The word that comes to mind is heartwarming, but the word doesn't do those scenes justice.  These men would break and cry as they would hug their "new" computer to the chests.  Their wives would also silently weep, and one squealed, "Oh! A digital camera! I have prayed for years for a digital camera!"  One pastor could hardly get out his words, "Thank you! This will change my ministry!" By the end of the week, we still had one computer left to give.  Following a full day of speaking in conferences, a full night of evangelism, then praying over a woman with stomach cancer, and a child who had fallen recently and was left with a traumatic brain injury, we all loaded up in the van, and headed to the local bus station.  There standing on the corner was a pastor from Havana.  This young pastor had traveled 14 hours by bus just to receive his computer.  We explained that God had blessed us and we wanted to bless him.  I looked at the computer he was getting.  It was the oldest of the computers, which means it was the slowest of all the computers.  Here in the US, no one uses Windows 95 anymore.  Here, it wouldn't sell for any amount of money, probably ending up in the trash behind some Goodwill store.  Fourteen hours he had come by bus to receive this computer, and he stood there and wept.  He tried to thank us.  I found myself embarrassed and humbled.  We had done so little…but not in his eyes.  That piece of junk meant the world to him!  After taking his gift, he once more embarked on a 14-hour return trip.

Nothing is wasted in Cuba.  Everything is refurbished, remade, recreated, and the resourcefulness of the people is inspiring.  In the center square of downtown Cuba is a one-room business that is filled with old sewing machines.  In that space, women re-create old clothes into new clothes, and sell them.  Cars that shouldn't still be on the streets, still run, probably with engines held together by rubber bands.  Resourceful.  Good stewards.  Making the most of everything they have.  Not embarrassed by old, worn out, discarded.  When life is hard, and "stuff" is expensive, resourcefulness is necessary.  I look at what we've had over the years, and given away, sold, or tossed simply because we were upgrading.  I'm not advocating poverty.  I'm not trying to send anyone, especially myself, on a guilt trip for having new, or nice things.  I left Cuba simply thinking I want to think twice before I replace. I want to learn to be a better steward of "stuff."  I want to honor the Lord with my resourcefulness and creativity when it comes to old, or worn…  I fear that deep inside me is this rich-woman-mentality in a middle class life.  The two don't fit, can't mix.  So, I want to take away and learn a lesson from my Cuban brothers and sisters on how-to make the most of all I'm blessed to have…but most of all, how to appreciate and be thankful for EVERYTHING!

…I have a stewardship entrusted to me (1 Cor. 9:17, the Apostle Paul).

…in everything give thanks (1 Thess 5:17).

No comments:

Post a Comment