This week in PCUSA Mission:
“Two Way Ministry” in Cuba
“The dishwashing detergent is lost.” In Cuba, one would say,
“El detergente de lavar platos está perdido.”
That means that you will not find dishwashing detergent in the store these days. As we enter our fourth year as mission co-workers in Cuba, we realize how easy it is sometimes to forget that we are strangers living in a foreign land. We still remember many embarrassing instances when we called household items a different name from what residents called them. Yes, we have spoken Spanish since childhood, and day-to-day conversations are easy. But regional nuances in the way people in Cuba talk to each other provide learning experiences for people like us. This phenomenon happens in any country. Even in the United States, regional accents and idioms need to be “translated” for people from other parts of the country. In Cuba, there are many words and phrases that Cubans have developed to talk to each other that require some thinking if you are not from the island.
Day after day, our partnership in mission ministry teaches us that mission is a two-way street. We need to listen and learn as much from the people as they will learn from us. As we learn to listen not only to what people say, but also to what they mean, we engage in a ministry of partnership in which we also realize the many ways God is present, active and blessing the people in Cuba. Al-though we knew that as Presbyterian mission co-workers we were not bringing Christ to Cuba, it is another experience to witness how the Holy Spirit is supporting and guiding our brothers and sisters in Cuba to engage in God’s mission for the church and the community. During these last three years, we have learned about the sacrifices and dedication of hundreds of brothers and sisters in local churches serving the Lord and helping the community fight the root causes of poverty, creating opportunities for reconciliation and peace by breaking the circles of violence and empowering the church to witness to their faith even in difficult times.