From Hide & Seek to Friendship

I used to carry an old digital Polaroid camera on my early trips to Cuba. The photos I took meant the world to people because many had never seen their picture before. One family I met while I had that Polaroid camera is Ernestina, Pepito, and their daughter, Yaima. Pepito works in the yucca fields daily, and Yaima works with special needs children. Yaima’s husband, Efran, works in a restaurant in another town about 45 minutes away. They have two daughters, Adriana and Angelica, who helped me develop a relationship with the family that will last for years.

On one trip, I noticed the two small girls at the house sitting on their front porch one afternoon. The family lives together in one home. So naturally, I approached them and started a conversation. I asked if I could take their picture. The girls had not seen a Polaroid camera and were giddy with excitement to see photos of themselves. It warmed everyone’s heart to watch their faces light up with big grins and eyes dance as they gazed at the pictures.

Kids love to play hide and seek. So, on a later mission trip, I visited the house and hid small things around the porch, like Barbie dolls. For the girls, finding these hidden gifts around the porch the next day became a game and was exciting.

After a few visits, we were invited inside for coffee. Then, we were invited for dinner. Now, we’ve been to dinner at their house three times. Flan is my favorite dessert, and Ernestina made a delicious flan in a pressure cooker on one visit. They don’t have ovens in Cuba, so making food in pressure cookers is typical.

We have visited the family for at least five years and have continued our fun game of hide and seek at every visit. We keep in touch with them often. Their friendship helped us see how warm and friendly people are, even in hard times. They always have a smile, welcome us into their home, and offer coffee and anything else to make our visit comfortable. We look forward to developing our friendship over the years.

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