ARMF Trip Update
Well we are now on the 5th day of our trip. Many kilometers have been traveled and much has been accomplished, but we still have 8 days to go. The relationships we have built is indescribable. To many of us they are not only our friends but family as well. We have laughed together, worshipped together and cried together. We hope that you are enjoying our daily reports as we visit the sites that the foundation supports.
APRIL 24-MAY 6TH,2019
CAMAGUEY CHURCHES & PROJECT
We hope you have enjoyed our trip updates from Holguin, Guantanamo Day Care Centers and San Antonio. We hope that you have gained an understanding of how the Moravian church is growing in Cuba, and how your contributions and support have been critical in the lives of those less fortunate.
Today we will review the activities from the province of Camaguey and the village of Santayana. After leaving Guantanamo, we traveled west almost 8 hours to the Camaguey. Camaguey is located nearly in the center of the island of Cuba. It was once one of the early hubs of a vibrant Cuba prior to the revolution. The village of Santayana is about 5 kilos outside of Camaguey.
Santayana is one of the original church homes for the Moravian church. The village inhabits around 3,500 people. The foundation has worked with the church in Santayana in 3 areas. The purchase and refurbishing of a church building, a clean filtered water system, and the funding and building of an 80-acre farm that supports both the church families and the community. Since we have known the folks in Santayana from the beginning of our foundation, we have become very close to them and our visit was as much a business update as it was a family celebration.
The first need we addressed was moving the church from the back-garage shelter amongst the pig pens and rabbit cages, to a standalone house that they have completely renovated into a sanctuary, library and Sunday school rooms. Three years ago, the need for a temple was solved when we were told the neighbor right beside the old church and pastors’ home was up for sale. With your help we had the funds to purchase the home and the church members went about renovating it from a house to a temple. Maybe you have heard this story. After we purchased the house there was much renovation needed. On our next trip six months later, as we were riding to Santayana with Aldo the pastor, he was so excited to show us what had been done. When we arrived at the house church and walked inside, we saw a miracle. The church had been completely restored, complete with furnishings. We could only ask how they did it since we had sent no funds for this project. Their answer was simple, “We sold enough goats off the farm to raise the money”. Not only did they raise the funds, but they did all the work except for some labor that a team from Home Moravian provided earlier. Is God working in Cuba? How can there be any other answer but YES!!
The second need was to figure out how to get access to clean filtered water. We were advised that over 300 people in the community, almost 10% had contracted Cholera. Santayana has been our test case on water systems. We first found a filter that would help only the church house. After realizing that while this put a bandage on the situation it was not a good fix.
The foundation found a 2nd solution that would deliver clean water to the church house and the church goers, who could come by the church and get some clean water. Even with this in place we could only accommodate 50 or so folks in the church.
The 3rdsolution is the charm. Due to our close relationship with the Cuban Council of Churches we established a relationship with a foundation called United Servants Abroad who specialize in water systems for Cuba and other underdeveloped countries. On our visit, we were able to see the system we purchased for $6,000 installed in a secure room in the church. The last hurdle was the purchase of 2 roof tanks. Those funds ($525) were left for this purchase. Systems must be contained in a secured building for safety reasons. A complete system may cost upwards to 8,000. Once the system is up and running a schedule will be set for ALL the community to be able to come by the church with their bottles and secure clean water. The community will have days and times that they can get access. What a wonderful solution. We have not only helped our Moravian brothers and sisters, but we are helping an entire community without limitation of what faith they may or may not be.
I have attached a picture of the system and the first two we tried in Camaguey. I think you will agree with your help we have progressed logically to the final solution. This is the same system we are setting up across the island. We currently have 4 systems in different stages of implementation and several more being ordered. We could not do it without your support.
After meeting with the church leaders in the morning, we went out to the farm the foundation supports for an afternoon of fellowship with our Cuban family. This farm has gone from 80 acres of brush to an active working farm with goats, chickens, turkeys, cows, bulls, horses, bees and pigs. They have gone from pulling water out of a well to, pumping by hand to installing a windmill for automated use. They have gone from no business plan to an active plan of clearing the land methodically and producing meat, milk, cheese and vegetable for the church AND the community. They started with on caretaker’s house to now having two houses. The church continues to have big plans for this farm and feel very blessed to be doing God’s work and feeding and supporting the needy.
We are so proud of all the work the church in Camaguey has done and could not be any prouder to watch them gain their footing and strive toward self-sustainability.