The United Methodist Committee on Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Ministries with logo

Report from Freedom from Silence Ministry

Holguin/Gibara, Cuba
April 2017

This conference was held to support the growth of the Deaf ministry in Cuba. Our first goal is to teach, support and enrich the ministries that are currently active in Cuba through teaching, sharing, praying and bringing the tools needed to assist in the ministry growth. The second goal is to spread the word of God to the Deaf in the most remote areas of Cuba by identifying, teaching, preparing, equipping current members of the Deaf community to become remote missionaries to these areas.

The theme of this year's conference was Joshua 24:15b, “Me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” The conference was 4 days and 3 nights that focused on the needs of the deaf ministry and the members of the deaf community in Cuba.

A total of 195 people attended this year's conference from the Cuban Deaf community and our missionary team of 12 from across the US. Attendees included the Deaf, blind or DeafBlind who attended with their families, translators and spouses. Thus we included the whole support community for the churches and missionaries and offered an opportunity for each member of that group to participate in the many activities to enrich and teach and support the struggles within this unique community. These attendees received travel, accommodations along with 3 meals a day and two snacks. (This is much more than they are accustomed to as rations are the mainstay of their diet).

During the day we had multiple classes going on for groups of men, women, translators, leaders, young adults, and children's ministry. Each day we provided teaching for all these groups that were faith based, providing a great time for them to learn, share, and receive support with the difficulties of their ministries to the Deaf in a hearing world. In addition all missionaries attending brought a total of 700 pounds of donated supplies to Cuba to include medication, glasses, clothing, underwear, back packs, shoes, crafts, and supplies each ministry needs to grow.

In addition to missionaries travel and conference expenses, we were able to fund the start-up of 10 small businesses in Cuba for the Deaf in their communities: 5 barber shops set up and 5 nail care salon. We also were able to leave 2,000 dollars for projects needing funding within the Deaf community across the country. As a team, we outlined and prioritized the projects for completion based on the most impact and ability to share or replicate the resources throughout Cuba as a whole. We have a second team that will be going to Cuba in July and we will receive an update on the project completion at that time.

In addition each missionary in this group shared our financial blessings with our Cuban brothers and sisters when God called them to do so. Many donations were not spoken of but some were celebrated like the following:
“The team as a whole donated money to a couple marrying allowing them to have wedding bands, a rice cooker and some of the very basic needs to set up a home as they will be establishing a new church in a very remote area of Cuba for the deaf. Hallelujah!!
“A couple in our group donated money for a deaf woman who is currently being treated for cancer for her travel expenses, medicine for her open wounds and paying for some of the care she needs to receive in order to live.
“A couple donated the money needed to build a restroom outside a home in a remote area as this couple donates their home and yard for the deaf ministry Church but their current septic/restroom is unable to handle the needs of the congregation.
“A husband and wife minister to the hearing in Cuba received funding that will allow both to learn sign language to incorporate the deaf into their church and to support the Deaf community in the area of the Church. This couple just finished a campaign with 5 other churches. In a week this campaign brought 166 people to Christ and they need to follow up with each one of those people.
“A couple sponsored all the costumes made for the conference for 3 evenings of plays and reenactments that were amazing!!
“An individual paid 1000.00 for a new refrigerator for our sister Church's Pastor.
“A couple sponsored a bike for transportation for our sister Church's Pastor as he has a special need child and must bike him to a special school at 8 am back at lunch 12-2 then return back to school from 2-4 pm. This is a 6 mile bike one way.
“Our sister Church's Pastor (which is in a remote mountain-side village) surprised our mission's team by bringing Deaf into the Easter service we shared and announced that God had laid on their heart that their Church needed to open its doors to both the Deaf and special needs in their greater community. Our team left a special donation just to provide resources for teaching of sign language and continued outreach until we can get a missionary deaf and interpreter to that region!”
These are just a few of the needs the team personally served on top of all that is done by our local Church and through the sponsorship of the United Methodist Committee on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministries. I truly wish each of you could come to Cuba once with us to see all that is being done with the money that is given.

The photo is of my conference layout with my scribbles on it! A sign in sheet for all attendees to the conference including all Missionaries from the US, pictures of our mission's team and the conference attendees.

Each member of our team along with the entire Deaf community in Cuba wish to thank you for the blessing of the grant you provided for our conference and extend a sincere invitation to anyone who has a heart for the deaf of Cuba to come with us and experience how God is alive and vibrant in the deaf community of Cuba. I have also enclosed a short video of pics from our trip.