Christian Hospitality in Little Havana
Students experience faith in action
Students in Bethany’s Comunidad Cubana en Miami J-Term expected to learn about Cuban and Latino culture and improve their Spanish as they interacted with people in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami.
And they did.
They listened to lectures, served with DOOR Miami, talked with local people, shopped in stores, and enjoyed ethnic cuisine in restaurants along Calle Ocho.
What they did not expect was to be overwhelmed by the deep generosity and hospitality extended to them by their hosts. During their weeklong stay in Miami, the 12 students along with their teacher Craig Mast and his family, were hosted by three Mennonite families originally from Honduras, who provided meals, places to relax and sleep, and incorporated them into their daily activities including attending an evening church service.
Junior Sol Brenneman says, “They were so generous with everything. We never went hungry and they gave up their beds so we had a place to sleep. Our host father even stayed at a friend’s house so there would be room for us. We saw faith in action.”
One morning Sol and two classmates, Jesse Amstutz and Roberto Ramos, became engaged in a lengthy morning conversation with their host parents that lasted nearly three hours, listening to their hosts’ immigration story: why they left Honduras; the hardships in walking to the U.S., of finding food, and staying safe along the way; and the difficulties of starting over in a new country with little money, no job, no place to live, and needing to learn a new language. Jesse says, “At first Craig was upset that we had missed our morning class, but when we told him what happened, he was instead excited that we had that opportunity to hear their story.”
Serving with DOOR MiamiJuniors Kaylah Price and Carolyn Saylor too enjoyed interacting with their host families, forming friendships with girls near their age, and note, “We enjoyed hanging out together and talking. They were sad to see us go—as were we.” They and other Bethany students formed bonds of friendships with their hosts—based in their common faith—that transcended race and culture.
As they said their good-byes, the hosts again astounded their guests by profusely thanking them for coming. Jesse says, “They were thanking us when we felt we should be thanking them. Then I realized that our being there meant that we cared about their culture and lives. And that was important to them.”