This article written by Linda Rutherford, Area 9 Treasurer
Several years ago I read an article about volunteering abroad. Since I love to travel, I thought it would be an interesting way to see and interact in the local area. I inquired about the possibility of working with children and possibly with music. However, I never actually received a definitive answer. So I put that thought “on a shelf awaiting further light” (a quote from a friend).
In 2012 a musician in my church gave a Minute for Mission about her recent trip to Havana, Cuba. Our church has had a partnership with the Luyanó Presbyterian Church since 1997. This area is one of the poorest areas of Havana. I realized I needed to talk to Tammy Linn about this mission.
In October 2013 I made my first trip to Luyanó, Cuba with 13 others. It was such an eye-opening experience. I took a set of handchimes for the church, hoping they could be used by the children and youth there. I was not able to work with anyone there on that trip and realized I had to let go of any expectations for the chimes, they were a gift to the church.
The next summer I saw a photo of the Jovenes (youth 18-35) and thought that is the group that needs to be playing the chimes. We sent an email to see if the Jovenes could ring chimes on my the next trip and got an immediate response – YES!
This November was my fourth trip to Cuba, and I am happy to say that they are using the chimes. They are now played by one of the Sunday School classes (9-12) and participate in worship often. This fall they played at the First Presbyterian Church of Havana for a presbytery meeting. Everyone there wanted to know what the chimes were and where they are made. Who knows? Maybe there will be other chimers in Cuba!
On Sunday, November 6, the chimers played for service three different songs. They played “By the Lakeshore” which is one of the congregations’ favorite hymns.
Now I have muchos amigos in Cuba. The Jovenes are still involved, and it is great to see them mature. There is a sweet group of niños who love the chimes and love Yahimi, their Sunday school teacher and leads the chime group. By the way, she has no musical background, had a short tutorial from an accomplished violinist at the church and does great teaching them to play chimes.
Will I go back? I hope so. The people are so loving and joyful, and I love seeing them each year!