The nation of Cuba has long held the curiosity and attention of the United States. For over 50 years, a heavy veil has hung between us, creating a sense of mystery and intrigue. And ever since that veil began to lift, almost every major global news source has published a photo essay or exposé article on this unique country—but aside from the pictures of old muscle cars and peeling paint you've seen a-plenty, what has really been going on down there?
I'll start by sharing my personal connection to Cuba. My grandparents were missionaries there in the 50's, working as foster parents in an orphanage home. But when Fidel Castro took over in 1959, it quickly became a hostile environment for Christians and foreigners. They had to be careful about what they said around the children, who were now being sent to indoctrination camps. Living right off the main highway to a military base, they regularly saw motorcades drive by—especially leading up to the revolution. So in 1960, just three months after my mother was born, they moved to inner-city Miami and continued ministering to Cubans.
I've always been determined to carry on our family's tributes to Cuban culture—but my desire to learn more about the nation itself sparked a few years ago when one of my aunts returned to Cuba as a missionary. I began asking questions, seeking to glean new insight on things I had once assumed or taken for granted. And when Fidel passed away this year, it struck me that his death represented the end of an era that began the year my mother was born. From then on, Cuba rose to the very top of my 'countries to visit' list.
Recently, I had the opportunity to go to Cuba for a week. Before the trip, I watched a Netflix documentary series which recounted the entire political and social history of Cuba. (link) And from the moment I stepped out of the airport and into the heat of Havana, I set out to absorb everything around me—no detail was too small to take in. Wherever we went, I was furiously scribbling down notes and yet trying to stay as present as possible. I recorded every word on every billboard and mural; remembered every dish at every restaurant.
Walking around the streets of the city, I struck up conversations with locals and took notes on all that I observed. It was an incredibly eye-opening experience. I was able to connect the things I'd heard from my family or learned through research to what I was encountering first-hand. The entire week I was in Cuba, I sought to connect with this deep sense of belonging I felt, knowing that many of these vintage cars and crumbling buildings I was seeing were the very same ones my grandparents would have seen in their time here.
Most articles published about Cuba either avoid any controversial topics or are skewed by a certain political agenda, so I decided to do some more in-depth research for myself. I looked up as many online articles on Cuba as I could find and put together my own research report—a 'highlight reel” of the political, social and spiritual state of Cuba from a balanced perspective.
I'm including it as a separate piece to download because 1) There is some content I don't want to be associated with my name online, 2) I wanted to offer something exclusively for subscribers and 3) It's several pages long. ENJOY! 🙂
DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE INCLUDES:
- IN-DEPTH ARTICLE:
- Cuba's unique (and painful) colonial history
- Communism's impact on Cuban culture
- Cuba's spiritual climate and growing revival
- America’s complicated relationship with Cuba
- Cuba's uncertain, yet changing, future
- *FREE PHOTO PACK*
- Access to over 100 finished photos to download and use freely!
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