A North Texas church group was on a mission trip in Cuba at the time of the country’s late leader’s death, Fidel Castro. They are now they are sharing how the mood of the country changed as the official period of mourning began.
Dr. Michael Bowie Jr. was in Cuba for eight days with 14 of his church members from Dallas St. Luke Community United Methodist Church.
"At one point, you would see a lot of tourism. A lot of locals moving around. A lot of energy,” the senior pastor recalled. “But on Saturday and Sunday, it seemed like the energy was… depleted."
That was when the historic interruption came on their mission trip: Fidel Castro's death.
“You could feel the heaviness in the church, so we worshiped with the Cuban people,” Bowie said. “When they mourned, we mourned."
The senior pastor says things went from joyful and spiritual to surreal.
Michele Newsome and Inner Lewis also went on the mission trip. They recalled the challenge to get a newspaper bearing the headline of Castro's death as a keepsake.
"At first, I think they thought we were trying to mock or make fun of the fact or celebrate,” Newsome said. “Then they realized we were sincere and wanted to know and understand it."
The mission trip participants say stores made it known the country was in mourning. No alcohol was for sale, and music was no longer heard. They have countless pictures and memories but had one life-changing experience that included helping to comfort those in mourning.
“God has used us to be a blessing to others,” said Bowie. “I tell you it’s a life-changing experience."