The Fat Lady

Dear Internet,

We’re baaaaaaack!  Having been stuck in a rut of non-communication since January due to limited internet access in Cuba, and, consequently, paralyzed by how much there is to share about the last six weeks, we’re working hard on Candy Crush to process and sort through everything. So much to tell. So little blog space. So much magazine to write.  Continue reading The Fat Lady

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Gate F12. Don’t tell.

HEY! We are at the airport in Miami, and after fielding phone calls from worried family members, I thought I’d share a little about what we learned this week, what we’ll be doing, and how it’s all going to work.

To travel to Cuba, we needed two permissions—one from the US government, and one from the Cuban government. Through our host ministry (the org we are writing about for World Next Door), we got a religious license from the US government to travel to Cuba, and this involved one of our Cuban host pastors writing a letter of sponsorship.

Entering Cuba has nothing to do with the religious license from the US, and in fact we have to just sort of conceal the religious license and enter Cuba through the tourist visa we applied for and received from the Cuban government.  The Cuban government is not so into our host ministry due to their work toward religious freedoms and bypassing the Council of Churches which confiscated 8 of 10 containers of Bibles the last time they came through, so if we entered Cuba on a religious visa as other sometimes do, we’d likely be watched or followed, potentially putting the ministry at risk on the ground in Cuba. Continue reading Gate F12. Don’t tell.

Blizzard Avoidance.

Hey, all. I am writing this at the last second as we are in the air to Miami on the second-to-last flight out of Indianapolis before snowpocolypse hits the midwest.

Seriously, look:

IMG_6974

And furthermore, look:

1414_snowmap

See where it says the number 14? THAT’S MY TOWN, Y’ALLS! The low tonight is -17 in Indy, and the High tomorrow is -15. We are expecting a foot of snow. In Miami? A balmy 87 or something tomorrow, then, like, 63 when the cold front comes through. I know. You want me to shut it.

Our escape did not come easy, though. American Airlines told us yesterday as we begged to move our Sunday flight to Saturday that they were sorry, there had been no alert issued, but we were welcome to call every hour. By this morning? A total alert, and we could leave in 4 hours as every flight after 6p would be canceled. Our whole reason for going to Miami was to attend a Monday morning meeting at the organization’s headquarters, to plan the projects we would be visiting in Cuba and to meet the key leaders. The soonest departure after the storm would be Tuesday, although American Airlines projected NEXT FRIDAY.

We kicked it into high gear, cleaning, making arrival arrangements and banging our heads on walls as we packed. We are allotted only 44lbs total from Miami to Cuba, including checked bags and carry-on, making it a pack-weigh-pack-weigh-pack-weigh morning. In the end, it turns out the camera and computer equipment weigh as much as SIX WEEKS WORTH OF EVERYTHING ELSE!

Travel whining aside, I have two major things to share. Wait. Three.

First thing: The Nepal issue of World Next Door is available for download! Remember all those intense updates about undercover brothels and Himalayan hikes and swarms of monkeys and adorable kids? THIS IS THAT ISSUE! The absolute best way to view the content (because it’s the most fun an interactive) is on a tablet or smart phone. But if you don’t have a tablet, don’t worry, you. The entire magazine is available on our website. The first image is a link to the download, and the second image is a link to the online content. Treat yo’self with one!

WND Nepal Ad

Nepal Web Content

Second thing: The Las Vegas issue of World Next Door will be ready for download in Februrary. Remember all those intense updates about brothels and strip clubs and Christians and cupcakes? THIS WILL BE THAT ISSUE!  I have to remind you about the download now, because…

Third thing: WE ARE GOING TO CUBA! And we won’t have easy access to internet. The minimal access to internet we’ll have will likely be available by dial-up on a few hotel PCs.  No real-time Instagram, though you can bet I’ll be later-gramming when I get back. No Facebook. Real time blogging? I have no idea.

This is our last stop on the World Next Door fellowship year, which blows my mind, and we are partnering with an organization called ECHO Cuba. The headquarters are in Miami, and that’s where we’ll spend the week learning about the organization before flying out to Cuba on Feb 11th. We know very little about the work they do in-country, which is why it was so important to catch them at this Monday first-of-the-year planning meeting! They have humanitarian projects going on all over the country, and their mission is to grow the local Cuban church, which exists underground in some parts. We know they facilitate pastoral training and small-group mission trips. We can’t wait to see what all they have in store for us, and we really hope it includes an airport pick-up and a host family in Miami :)

We do know we’ll be staying with a local Pastor and his family, and we know the itinerary is carefully planned with mandated tourist activities during the first week to reduce any suspicions :)  We think that sounds fantastic.

We’ve been to Cuba before, but only for a week and on a vacation, so we expect this to be a very different experience. We loved it though, and we’ve been counting down the days until we got to come back, so we’re thankful for whatever it is that lies ahead!

Thanks for sending us and journeying with us, friends. It’s been one spectacular year!

Jeff & Brooke

*We are now in Miami and my hair is instantly curly and all our bags made it and we’ve been claimed by our new friend Dulce and her little dog and we have a place to sleep and we are blasting the AC and watching the Colts and eating pizza. And those are all the things that have happened so far in Miami ;)