I am a Cuban. My sister and I arrived in the United States of America in 1961. I was nine years old at the time and my sister was five. Yes, alone, our mother, a widow, put us on the plane in La Habana, and we were taken to an orphanage upon our arrival in Miami. No, I never lived in Miami for longer than about six months. Yes, our mother and us were re-united. She escaped from Cuba by boat about four or five months after we arrived in the USA. We were re-united and were sent by the Catholic Welfare folk to Ohio, where they had found my mother a job and us a foster home while she learned English and got situated. So, I grew up in Ohio, had a paper route, learned to build snowmen, and moved from place to place as out mother got better jobs. Eventually she met a good man and re-married and we settled into his house in Mansfield, Ohio. I was a 15 year old teenager.
During our wanderings, my mother was able to sponsor her sister and her children out from Cuba and to the United States. I can remember at least one period of time during which our mother, our aunt, two female first cousins, my sister, and I lived in a one bedroom apartment. Eventually, our mother and aunt were able to sponsor other relatives, and we now have many relatives living here in the USA. Many of us “inter-married” and so we now have a quite extensive and quite multi-cultural network.
Needless to say, none of this was necessarily guaranteed to keep me strong in the faith, although my mother tried. I rebelled during my teenage years and left Roman Catholicism for some vague hippie philosophies and a lot of rebellion. By 1970 I had been expelled from college after my first year, a year in which I was very confused and quite directionless. When I returned to Mansfield in defeat, I was approached by a friend who had become a “Jesus Person.” He took me to this “farm” that was filled with about four middle-aged adults and lots of early 20’s Jesus People. One of those adults was a Southern Baptist pastor, a former Campus Crusade staffer, and uncomfortable supervisor of hippy Jesus People, and is now the Very Rev. Gordon Walker, an Archpriest of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese. His story, along with others whom I know, is chronicled in the book, “Becoming Orthodox” by the Very Rev. Peter Gillquist.
My journey was different. I eventually ended up as an Anglican priest, and a missionary. My wife and I served in both Bolivia and Perú, and our three lovely daughters spent a decade of their formative years in South America. I ended up as The Archdeacon of Arequipa of the Anglican Church of Perú, which is part of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, which is part of the Anglican Communion. We returned to the USA when our children began to attend college and I took a parish in one of the dioceses of The Episcopal Church. Within less than four years we realized that this was not a Church in which I could doctrinally live. So, after prayer and inquiry, my wife and I were chrismated into the Orthodox Church. I am currently helping out at an OCA parish with the permission of my Metropolitan.
As you read this blog, may you pray for me and for my family and our growth in Christ. May you give me constructive feedback. But, may you also find in my musings, quotes, and analysis a better understanding of how to live and think “Christianly.”
If you want to contact me, please email me at: orthocuban @ orthocuban.com.