A Mission Story from Joe Jarvis, President/Founder of the Armando Rusindo Mission Foundation (ARMF)
Many of you know my story of how my heart was touched the first time I visited Cuba to attend their first Moravian Conference back in 2013. When I returned, I decided to form a foundation to support our brothers and sisters there as they begin to work toward their goal to become self-sustainable. The Armando Rusindo Mission Foundation (ARMF) was started in June of 2014. At that time, I had no idea that we would have the growth we have had in the past 3 years. Thanks to our donors the lives of our brothers and sisters there have been touched in many ways. Just to see the smile on their faces makes all the work we do such a pleasure. Mostly what I wanted to do was help the patients in the hospital that Bishop Sam Gray, Armando Rusindo and myself visited for the first time. I could feel the spirit of God touch my heart that evening as we visited and prayed with these patients. The living conditions that we witnessed that evening was heartbreaking. I remember commenting to Sam that if we could just give them a small amount of support I would be satisfied.
God had another idea and was I surprised. We now have a board of 9 highly qualified people with expertise in many areas that highlight our projects. We have bought 2 houses in the past year providing worship centers for their growing congregations while supporting the purchase or renovation of 2 others. Each time we go down I am amazed to all the work our friends there have done all on their own. The funds we give them is only a small portion in each project. The “sweat equity” they put in is by far more than we could ever produce.
A good example is what happened during our visit this past February (2017). We were going down to do a site visit at the 2 buildings we had purchased last year. We needed to evaluate their needs in restoration, so that we could aid them with funds and work teams to complete the project. When we arrived in Santayana, Camaguey our friends were so excited to show us the building. As we entered the building we saw a freshly restored sanctuary, library, children’s room and kitchen all complete with furnishings. I must admit that it brought tears to our eyes. And what really caught our eyes was a was a large cross on the wall they had constructed with Styrofoam behind the pulpit. I could not help but ask “how did you do this with no money”. Well the answer was simple. We had bought them 2 or 3 goats a couple years ago for their farm and now they have 40-50. They sold enough to pay for the work. “How creative.”
One of our now pressing projects is to install clean water systems where we have the Moravian churches in the different provinces of the country. Our first attempt was to install a very simple unit that was attached to a faucet at the pastor’s house in Santayana. This procedure proved to work for a few people in the village. With a 10% Cholera rate in Santayana which is mostly affecting children, we knew that a more sophisticated system needs to be implemented. On our next visit, we installed a larger system that will support as many as 50-75 people. We had installed the system on the roof of the house where we thought would be the best area. Due to the monthly maintenance, our friends have reinstalled it at ground level making it much easier to maintained. With a village of some 3,500 people we are investigating a very complex system that should support a huge portion of the town. A project of this magnitude is very expensive. The cost of one is in the 5,000.00 range. We are looking to support initially 3 or 4 towns with these systems. With the installation of systems of this type we will move closer to eliminating water borne diseases that they deal with daily.
Transportation is very expensive and not very dependable. Each trip we take we most rent a van and driver from the United Methodist Church to visit our congregations across the island. Our idea is to purchase a van for the Moravian headquarters. They will in turn be able to lease it to other groups as they come down and in turn provide income for the church.
Our Lord has blessed the foundation in more ways than I ever expected. Our brothers and sisters in Cuba are so thankful for all our donors have done for them in the past 3 years. We have a lot of work yet to do, but we know with the blessings of Jesus Christ, we will prevail and the lives of our Cuban friends will be a little more comfortable.
GOD IS WORKING IN CUBA