Vultures and the Curse Or The Spirit is Moving!!!!
- 2015 SRCFC Mission Trip to Mexico and Cuba Report
By SRCFC Member, Roger Kubly
They circle everywhere, waiting for death...the turkey vultures that is. Patiently flying big loops in the sky, they look like they have nothing better to do, but all the time their ultra-sensitive visual and olfactory sensors are searching for anything dead to scavenge.
We watch them while climbing but ignore for the most part their sinister intentions. But yet, one by one, we do all fail, fall...and die...and then what?...buzzards and nothing or...what if there is Heaven...and Hell?
Our recent trip to Mexico and Cuba was a reminder that all is temporary and planning for what comes after is the most important thing.
We all started to gather as members of Solid Rock Climbers for Christ in Mexico City on January 22 . Tears flowed from our eyes as I said goodbye to my wife, Martha, and 8 year old nephew, Vladymir, from Mx City, one of the few family members who loves the Lord with us. My wife and I had spent a couple days before visiting her sister's family in Mx City.
This was my third trip to Mex and Cuba with SRCFC. This is also year 30 of my journey with Jesus…knowing what a difference He made in my life…going from life without meaning and without pardon for my sin…to life forgiven and full of purpose and security in Him. What a joy to see old friends and renew remembrances from past journeys. We spend the night in Texcoco, a suburb of Mx City and the next day we leave for Pachuca, a city about and hour and half away. It was there that the Mexican Solid Rock National Conference was to be held.
We arrived at the Seminary Headquarters where we were staying outside of Pachuca just as the police were leaving. Someone had just stolen a bunch of computers from the main office. Buzzards at work??
The next day, we go climb at an area outside of the city. Not exceptionally good climbing...but a good day to be out. That night, after returning, I began to feel sick. Something is wrong in my system and Mr. Montezuma begins to run havoc. My friend Fernando helps me get some medicine from a local pharmacy, but quick trips to the bathroom continue. I start to laugh when I smack my head on the low steel frame going into the toilet...how low can I go Lord? Well...let’s see!
The following day we go to another climbing area and all is good until I lead a climb on the end of the rocks we are on. Nothing particularly difficult, but the high gravity machine is on all day and as I'm going for the 3rd draw, well above the 2nd, I slip and fall. On the quick decent, my left foot hits a sloping ledge below. I have a small cut on my finger but my foot really hurts. I hope its not broken. After being lowered to the ground by my excellent belayer, Adam, I get the bleeding stopped but the ankle is really starting to swell. OWE!! My climbing is done for the rest of the trip and I start to question whether I should go to Cuba. Do I see a vulture dipping just a little to see if I'm moving?
Where is God in all this? He's still completely in control, with His magnificent plan to use all things for good! First, He's slowing my fast paced life down and second He's redirecting my role in the trip from climbing and evangelism...to just evangelism and encouragement. I’m good with that! After a slow and painful return to the car from the climbing area, the bathroom calls continue to come...counting it all joy!!!....not quite...but enduring.
Third, God is showing me my complete dependence on Him. Johnny, our brother in Christ from the Seminary gets me some ibuprofen and then crutches and a plastic boot. A doctor comes and examines my ankle and thinks it is just badly sprained...that’s good!!...but I still can’t walk on it. I already knew this, but this situation reinforced the thought that climbing, or golf, tennis, ….whatever your thing is…doesn’t really matter at all in the big picture. How hard you climb or how long makes not one bit of eternal difference….UNLESS….you use it to bring the Gospel to lost people.
So there I am, on crutches, with diarrhea and still on mission to encourage our Mexican brothers and sisters in their spiritual journey and share the Good News with lost climbers. The question is: can I do that still in Cuba? For the moment I am doubting I can do that..but thankfully I have a faith-filled wife..who..after calling and telling her what has happened, urges me to go to Cuba, in spite of what has happened.
That night I take a very challenging shower..using just one leg and then later when having to run/hobble again to the bathroom..I again smack my head on the low toilet stall frame. A nasty word comes out of my mouth.
Sorry Lord...thank You that you’re still at work in my life showing me my great need for You. “Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like You? You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again!! (Ps 71: 19-20)
Thankfully even wounded I am able to teach an evangelism clinic the next day. Lord...make us all passionate soul winners!
The next day we head back to Texcoco/Mx City to get ready for the trip to Cuba. All US and Mx SR climbers are now together. Will we be faithful to our Savior’s call?
Just like that we’re in Havana Cuba headed toward Vinales, our area of operation for the week. We see many amazing sights on the Cuban highways..as in past years: Signs saying “Socialismo o muerte” Socialism or death! If you had to live on $15-$20/month would you go to your death for that? On the streets we see the amazing mix of horse carts, bikes, bike taxis, 50’s cars and new cars, tractors, and oxen. What a place!
We arrive in the evening at “campismo” a few miles outside of Vinales. We soon learn that water is available in the living quarters only a few hours a day...at unknown times...and no hot water. I’m continuing to hobble around on crutches and plastic boot and just as the Mexican trots leave, my throat starts to hurt and a full-fledged cough and cold sets in. But it’s all ok because I know what my mission is...and it’s not climbing! Stand clear buzzards!!
We awake in the morning to a magnificent view of being surrounded by the “mogotes” or great cliffs that stand guard around our camp. O God , Your Great Power is evident everywhere: The Heavens declare the glory of God and the Earth shows forth His handiwork!!! Ps 19;1
On this first full day in Cuba all our group goes to climb leaving me to explore as best I can in slow motion on my crutches in the campsite area. Where should I go Heavenly Father? Who do you want me to reach here?
That question is soon answered as I hobble toward the main entrance. Several people are there waiting to guide tourists on various local hikes or horseback rides, including a taxi driver. We start conversing (Spanish sure comes in handy) and I ask them some questions about their spiritual lives. As they realize the lack of His real presence in their lives, they are soon praying with me to make Jesus real in their lives, and especially for Ricardo, inviting Jesus into his life for the first time. Thank you Lord for Jujlian, Joany, Marcial, and Felix…then as I go from place to place, Carlos and Alejandro…who gives me a ride on his bull “campo alegre” (happy camper), then Franklin, a bartender, Phillipe and Julio all get the Gospel in verbal or written form.
That night, our leader, Calvin, comes back with a similarly sprained ankle and we decide to go into town the next day with Hector and Dairon, two Cuban brothers in Christ. What a parade of people the Lord brings to our path then…beginning with Frankie and Yumisbel. We start to talk with them using the illusion cards I have and they quickly understand that Satan is a great deceiver and desires to distract them in whatever way he can and keep them from God’s presence. They both realize they have a sin problem and that Jesus is the only solution to this. They both pray with us to ask Jesus into their lives and repent of sin in their lives. I am heartbroken that I cannot give them a little Gideon Bible, as a case of them was accidentally forgotten in Mexico.
Next I see a hopeless looking man sound asleep on a bench across the park area. I ask my Cuban friend Hector if we should wake him up. This guy almost looks like movie character with streaks of dirt on his face, very old clothing and shoes that are barely holding on to his feet. We risk waking him up and he opens his eyes wide to see us sitting next to him. We gently tell him we’re there to help him in any way we can. He tells us his name is Ramon and that he is in charge of cleaning the park (when awake). He tells us he is a Christian. Excelente!! How can we bless you Ramon?
The Lord prompts me to ask if we could buy him some new shoes. He says “ok” and we head to Walmart…well not quite Walmart…but Cuba’s little version of it…a small store nearby with many basic goods in it including a bin of tennis shoes of different sizes. We match up a pair with his and then I suggest that he throw away his old shoes and put the new ones on. OK…he starts to take one shoe off and in a moment a stench wave smacks us all almost off our feet. He realizes that too and quickly puts the old one back on. The ragged sock underneath…if you could call the rotted cloth that, has gone a long time without seeing daylight…or water. WE head over to another place in the store and buy a pair of socks for him too. He tells us he’ll be heading home to bathe and change into his new shoes and socks. So that’s what our sin is like to you God…a vile stench!!! Yet You see fit to wash our feet…and cleanse our filthiest sin!
When we go outside he has a great smile, showing his friends his new treasures. We are blessed to have been part of making a difference in his life.
We move on across the street sharing with numerous other people as we go. We then go back to the Park and Calvin starts to share with a couple from Italy.. We spend quite a bit of time with them talking about their lives and life in Cuba…and finally about their spiritual life. It’s a little hard to understand because of their limited english and spanish, but we do share the Gospel with with them and they are glad to receive it. What a joy to share Jesus along with our Cuban brothers Hector and Dairon. They join in the battle for souls fully.
Cuba is so full of life and culture…much more socially oriented than us…at least that’s how I see it…and thus they get the connection that Jesus wants to make with each one…not all of course…but many. We spend the next days at the competition talking, watching the climbing, and waiting for openings that God arranged in ways only He can do. We had some very sweet times together sharing with the Cuban group…especially in the evenings with testimonies, preaching, and teaching. Special thanks to Maikel and Steven for things they shared. On one of the morning meetings a number of people raise their hands to receive Jesus as their Savior.
One of the best blessings for me was the music of Rafa and Yamil. God has given these two brothers a most precious gift of song…for HIM! Rafa had written a beautiful song for Solid Rock and he and Yamil played it a number of times. “Roca Solida” What a delight!! I had done an evangelism “magic” time for the group and when Rafa came over to where Calvin and I were staying, we sat out in front, and before my amazed eyes he wrote and played this song: “Don’t let your eyes be fooled! “ I was blown away!! Lord your power in and through us is phenomenal! All praise to YOU!!
We ended the week after the competition with the prize giveaways. Due to the manner in which this was done we didn’t get to have a clear cut group time and thus I was disappointed to not be able to give the non-believing Cuban climbers a final opportunity to receive Jesus.
The good part was they all got Gospel tracts and we were able to share with many of them. We had good discipleship time with the Mexican and Cuban climbers and many seeds were planted for Maikel and his teammates to work on in coming years.
Again…what a privilege Lord to be Your children and be able to do Kingdom work for YOU. To YOU be all the honor, glory, and power, forever and ever…AMEN!!! Yes there is a real Heaven and Hell and Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life…and no one goes to the Father (Heaven) except through Him. (Jn 14;6) And buzzards…stay away…the Spirit of the Living God has authority in this place and the blood of the Lamb is cleansing one life after another!!!!
Date Posted - 05.19.15