TUPELO, MISS. (WCBI) – This past Sunday evening, members of Tupelo Freewill Baptist Church gathered to sing praises. And to hear from four of their own who spent 8 days in Cuba last month. The church has sent several teams to Cuba over the past few years. But this was the first mission trip for all members of this team.
For music minister Terry Richardson stepping off the plane was a big surprise.
“I experienced culture shock for 2 or 3 hours, thinking should I really have come,” Richardson said.
The team spent a few days in Havana, then traveled to Pinar Del Rio where they worked at the Freewill Baptist Seminary.
They took more than 40 suitcases full of medicine to give away, they also helped build a small church and assisted at a government run orphanage. Wherever they went, they encountered people who had few material possessions, but were not lacking in hospitality or thanksgiving.
“I believe the Cuban people are some of the nicest, most humble people I’ve ever experienced in my life. They live on little of nothing and they don’t go around poor me, poor this, they are so humble for what they have and appreciate what they do have,” said Glenn Kuykendall.
Team members saw first hand the impact communism has had on Cubans.
“It was like stepping back in time, a lot of old cars, from the 1950s,” said Mike Ratliff.
While Cuba was hostile to Christianity for years, members of this mission team said they were free to preach and worship wherever they went.
“Seeing what they have, everything they have is old or given to them, what they have is hand me down things they use but it does not hinder the spirit of worship for them, it enhances it, I think,” Richardson said.
As they boarded the plane for the return trip home, each team member knew his life and priorities had been forever changed.
“They live on so little and I think it changes my mindset that we don’t always have to have what we think. Also to be content with you got. They make do with a lot less and I believe we can too,” said Kevin Tutor.
Each team member said they would go back if they ever get the chance.