Friends for Cuba,                                                                                                                       February 2016

Fascinating and complicated--that's Cuba. Whatever you read about Cuba, reality is probably the opposite. After thirteen years, we still find ourselves puzzled about life there. But from Reach Out's recent trip we do know that our friendships and ministry continue to grow wider and go deeper.
Growing Wider
Praying with Cuba Leaders

The wind of God's Spirit is blowing strongly all across the island of Cuba. We saw this clearly at our Eagle Leaders Gathering with 47 trainers--our largest group ever. We heard extraordinary reports of results in remote areas, on college campuses, and across denominations. We appointed three new regional leaders to guide our growth in East, Central, and West Cuba. The result: more leaders equipped, more teens discipled, and more lost kids following Jesus!
Going Deeper
Reach Out's USA Team

Wives play a crucial role in our Cuba ministry. Almost all of them lead youth ministry in an equal role with  their husbands. Both do it with little or no financial benefit. We decided to focus on inviting the wives and giving them special treatment. It became quite a party!

My wife, Lawanna, orchestrated the party.  She was deeply moved by the outcome, and through her eyes describes the ministry to the women...
Bras and panties. Yesiree. That's what Reach Out took to Cuba for our leader's wives this year. For twelve  years, Barry has gone to Cuba to train and encourage leaders with a team from Reach Out--all men. This year, he asked me to join him--and I did--along with four others--Randy and Marcy Godfrey, Randy Riggins, and Joe Edwards.

Marcy & Zoe
Every time a Reach Out team goes to Cuba, they return with nothing--clothes, shoes, even laptops stay behind as gifts for our Cuban leaders. I felt the tug on my heart to give--well, not just give, but pamper and spoil--the wives, mothers, and ladies of Cuba. Our Cuban country leader, Elio, provided a list of virtually unattainable items in Cuba. Along with cold medicine and toothbrushes, ladies underwear topped the list. That line item rattled me!  How could such simple things--things we take for granted and can easily pick up within a mile radius of our homes--be so difficult to obtain?

Agape Gift Bags
With the eager help of women in my Bible study, I launched my "Mission to  Pamper." Through their generosity we collected all kinds of impossible-in-Cuba feminine gifts--cosmetic bags, lotion, hand mirrors, foundation, mascara, lipstick, chapstick, eye shadow, perfume, deodorant, nail polish, earrings, necklaces, along with the much needed underwear. Putting the packages together, I was touched deeply. Each woman's agape gift bag overflowed! 

Smiles All Around
On our third evening in Cuba, when the ladies received their gifts, you could feel the joy in the room! Smiles, squeals, laughter--uncontained enthusiasm!  These humble, dear women, do "hard life" and still choose joy each day when "easy" is not part of their lives.

Three of the wives were pregnant. When I wondered aloud how they fare during pregnancy, I found out from one husband, "When the wife is pregnant, the husband simply gives his portion of the meals to his pregnant wife without reservation. It's his contribution to the pregnancy." [Note to self: next time, take plenty of pre-natal vitamins.] Quite humbling!

The honor of giving to these women immediately turned into receiving from them. Odalys, one of the wives, whispered to me through tears, "You have mothered us this week. We have felt nurtured and supported by your words and presence. And we've never had that before." Oh to give so little and receive so much!

"Mission to Pamper" -- Huge Success!
Giving More

A special "thank you" directly from Cuba
You can see why we desire to give more in Cuba. Your prayers open the doors wider. Your gifts take the ministry deeper.  Thank you for supporting us in Cuba and around the globe! 

Jesus is Lord,     
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