Sometimes God opens a door to when and where you need to serve. That’s how our paths connected with Teresa Agüero and the elderly ministry. During one mission trip to Cuba, I gave a testimony about my elderly father and grandparents, who recently passed away. Afterward, Teresa shared that she was moved by my passion for encouraging those at the end of their lives. That’s when we learned about her amazing ministry to encourage those in her town.
The vision to launch the ministry came when Teresa was walking to work one day. She noticed many elderly people on the streets in her town in Florida, Cuba. As she spoke with them, she learned some never had children or didn’t have a family, and others had a family that struggled with day-to-day life, such as having the resources or time to care for them. Teresa saw a need in her community, and God put it on her heart to make a difference.
The ministry started in 2014 by initially providing breakfast, including bread and milk. Then, when more volunteers joined the ministry, they began providing lunch. They also offer a bag with items according to that person’s needs, such as rice, beans, and soap. They operate similarly to a social worker here in the US and evaluate each person’s needs to best connect their resources to those who need them. Finally, the volunteers deliver all meals and supplies.
Today, the ministry has grown into a team of five women. Besides Teresa, the team includes Paula Fernández, Mayra Olazábal, Iliana Olazábal, and Rosa Lezcano. Additionally, one volunteer is a nurse and cares for someone when a health issue arises. They work weekly, dividing the community into two parts, visiting 66 people in total and about six to eight per week. But this ministry extends beyond taking meals and providing care and resources for this incredible team of women. They attend church with the elderly when they can, listen, spend time, and love everyone in their care. And, in turn, they are loved back.
“I can see it in the smiles on their faces when they see us. For someone to spend time with them, listening and talking to them is what they need most. They need love more than resources. We are thankful for the love we share with them at every visit. And they miss us when we haven’t visited in a few days. This ministry has changed their lives and given them hope. They feel important knowing someone is interested in them and their needs.” – Teresa
Teresa has a job (paying about $42 a month) where she uses part of her own money to support the ministry. She manages and executes the ministry in her free time when she’s not working. The other volunteers don’t have paying jobs but love their work with the ministry. Teresa has the humblest spirit you’ll ever meet. She doesn’t ask for donations and rarely accepts support for the ministry.
After our first meeting, she invited us to visit the elderly in her care to see the team in action, encouraging people, providing care, and supporting those she calls “her children.” After that trip, our relationship grew, and we’ve been by Teresa’s side, supporting and encouraging her. We’ve equipped the ministry with a buggy to help make deliveries and some ongoing supplies.
Teresa is thankful God placed a passion in her heart for the ministry and those she cares for, allowing her to provide care. But her real message transcends beyond the island of Cuba because this story could take place anywhere, even in your community. Caring for the elderly is an important, beautiful job that is needed everywhere.
“You have something to give if you feel a passion for the elderly. But know your love is the most important thing you can share, more than food, clothes, or other necessities. So, give your heart with the love of God because they need to feel love and kindness. And you’ll see beauty and warmth shine in their faces. It’s a love job. We do it for love, the love of God he has put into our hearts.” – Teresa
One of Teresa’s favorite bible verses that reflects her ministry is Psalms 71:9.
“Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone.”
– Renee Snyder