I have seen the photos so many times… you as a little boy, living in a foreign land I couldn’t even fathom. The stories of your childhood delighted and enchanted me, although you were never the source of the magnificent stories. They usually came from Grandma or Mom, glimpses into a life that seemed impossibly far from the life I shared with you. You were quiet about your undeniably challenging childhood. But those stories I heard made you superhuman to me…. special, special, special. I wanted to be like you. I wanted people to tell stories about my life in a faraway land, full of challenges and adventure.
It was a typical day for us in Cuba…. October 29th, 2012. You had been gone for 15 years and we had been traveling to Cuba for the past five. Our little family was bouncing along the Cuban roads in a church van filled with various Cuban pastors and friends. One of them? Your friend, Armando Roca. He has become a friend to us, Dad. He has been our guide, translator, cultural adviser and endless source of entertainment. I had asked Bro. Roca several times to take us to the house where you lived in Cuba. He always assured me it was so close, yet he always postponed it for another day.
This day was different.
Sometimes I wish I had a little warning for the big moments of my life, just so I could prepare myself emotionally and mentally. I had no time to prepare for turning the corner and seeing this house.
The funny thing, Dad, is that this house was within walking distance of the house where we always stay in Havana. I had probably walked and driven by it multiple times. But this was the moment that God chose to introduce me to my past.
Do you recognize it? In spite of the weathered exterior, the unsightly fence, damaged roof and the overall neglect…. surely you recognize your childhood home.
I can’t describe the depth of my desire to sit down and talk with you about your life here… the very same town where we do much of our work in Cuba. I know bits and pieces… how you went to an English school, played on the grounds of the famous Tropicana, the way you could hear the music late into the night. I know about the humidity and the hard work of planting a church, the language that was as natural to you as English.
But Dad, I long to know what it was like for you. Did you love Cuba the way I love Cuba? Did it feel like home the way it feels like home to me? Did you realize you were right in the middle of history and a brewing revolution? Did you leave behind people you love the way I have left behind those I love? Did you walk along the Malecon, breath taken away by the magnificent beauty of the ocean beating against the sea wall?
I had mere minutes at your house. Some day I will go back, introduce myself to the owners and stay to soak it all in. On October 29th, 2012, I had brief, hurried moments. You can tell by the photos how rushed we were, what a whirlwind it all was. But our photo, taken just steps away from your photo, is a prized possession.
House 3511. In a city we both call home.