It’s that time of year where the holiday decorations have been put away, New Year resolutions have been made and possibly already broken and everyone is looking forward to the first signs of spring and love.
I was in the store the other day, and couldn’t help but notice Valentine’s Day cards, stuffed animals, and heart-shaped chocolates. These symbols of love made me think of my trips to Cuba and the number of wonderful people and experiences that have come into my life, which all started with my heart.
At its core, love requires friendship, trust, mutual support, and understanding. There are five things that come to mind that I’ve learned about love from Cubans:
- Follow your heart. Cubans have taught me to follow my heart and to have hope above all else.
- Patience is a virtue. Traveling in Cuba allowed me to relearn important values like patience and flexibility.
- True happiness is making someone you love happy.
- Give love without hesitation. On my first trip to Cuba, I fell in love with the Cuban people. Because they genuinely give their love to you without hesitation.
- Love is unconditional. Dani is in first grade in Entronque Rey, Cuba. She was born with an eye disorder. After almost three years of wearing an eye patch, doctor appointments, broken appointments, delayed operation dates then finally she had her much needed eye operation. Today she has the biggest most beautiful brown eyes you can imagine. She waits at the edge of the street jumping up and down for my arrival. I can barely exit the door of the van before she throws her arms around my neck. She melts my heart because her love is unconditional.
Love can make you do crazy, wild, unthinkable things, but it also has the power to make you into one of the kindest, most generous people in the world. I am incredibly fortunate to have someone who loves me so much and who does what she can to make me happy. I'm not sure if she knows it or not, but her presence alone is enough to brighten my day and every single kind thing she does for me makes me happier and happier.
1 John 4:19 We love each other, as result of his loving us first. God loves us unconditionally through all our faults and shortcomings. Just as Dani loves with the innocence of a child she does not see the “stuff” that comes with all of us. God does not see the “stuff” either. He loves you unconditionally just as you are.
My travels in Cuba have taken me from the hustle and bustle of the city of Havana to green valleys and tobacco fields of Pinar Del Rio. We travel over challenging roads to the enchanting historical city of Sancti Spiritus. I have experienced excitement, emotion, and love in the chapel at Camp Canaan. The challenging roads do not stop as we travel through Ciego de Avila, Camaguey, Las Tunas on to Holguin Norte. I cannot walk down the streets in Mayari without meeting someone I know. Into Guantanamo over desolate roads through rivers, yes through not over, I have traveled along the insolated coastline near Imias. On and upward to Baracoa, the city with an angry coastline. Finally, we’ve come to the end of the road, Maisi. The one common factor everywhere is their passionate “love of Jesus Christ and our heavenly father.”
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
For I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life. Pslam 143: 8