Cuban Spirit

Reverent. Real. Resilient. Resourceful. These are just a few of the words I would use to describe the people I met in Cuba. By our standards, life is hard there, but they make it work. They are warm and gracious hosts. They serve with gladness, and they nearly always smile, no matter what is going on in their lives.  

words + photographs DR. KATHY WINGO

Cubans who follow Jesus have a great reverence for God and His ways. They serve with sincerity and dedication. They pray about everything. They take nothing for granted when it comes to God’s provision for them; they pray continually. Once, the pastor asked if our team could present a seminar on prayer sometime, and we agreed it would be more beneficial for the Cuban believers to present this seminar to American churches due to the fact they seem to set the example when it comes to prayer. They realize God has a plan, despite the challenges they face.


Cubans do not complain much; they accept things the way they are. But, they are real about the struggles. One man told me after 40-some years of working, his monthly pension amounted to $11 (dollars, not pesos). A woman told me she was trained as an engineer, but she took care of children in her home because she could make more money doing that. A young man who was trained as a math teacher told me he had to quit teaching because he could make more money working in a restaurant. These are the realities of life in Cuba, and the people are transparent about how challenging it is to earn a living. 


Cubans deal with constant shortages. I talked with someone who needed a medical test. She said the test was continuously delayed because the scheduler couldn’t get the equipment and supplies and the doctor on the same day. There are often shortages of gasoline. People just have to stay home whenever they don’t have enough gas for their vehicles. Another young man with whom I visited needed medication for some of the pain he was experiencing. There was none to buy, not even common pain medication we have here. At the church, we presented a seminar, and we needed pencils for taking notes. In a city of 40,000, there was no place to buy standard, ordinary pencils. According to what I have been hearing since the last time I was there, food is also now very scarce. Cubans deal with all of these shortages in stride and find ways to deal with the terrible lack of resources.

Kathy Wingo with children she met in Cuba.


Cubans are some of the most resourceful people I have ever met. They save everything and nothing goes to waste. Many of their vehicles go back to the time of the Cuban Revolution, which happened in 1959. Prior to that, many American-made cars were imported, but when the revolution happened, all contact with the outside world stopped. This is why you see classic cars from the 40s and 50s there. Due to their resourcefulness, they continue to put new engines in these cars to keep them running. It is very common to see horse-drawn carts, some of which transport passengers. One of the most resourceful people I met was a woman who liked to crochet. When I visited her in her home, she showed me a lovely bedspread she had crocheted by hand. She had made the entire thing from pieces of string she had saved for months and months. This string had come on large sacks of feed and each time a new one was opened, the string became her crochet thread. 

I have learned much from the Cuban people and have the highest respect for them. They are tremendous folks with a very generous spirit, and I will always carry them in my heart. KW

Dr. Kathy Wingo has worked in the counseling field since 1985 and currently serves as a contract therapist with Focus on the Family, helping with the marriage intensives that are held at the Branson campus. She is married to Richard, and they have one adult son, Ben. Kathy has traveled with several short-term mission teams through the years to help with music, youth and women’s ministries and currently serves in her church’s music department. Kathy is a native of Springfield, Missouri.

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