On January 13 2017, a group of members from Oakhurst Baptist Church enjoyed their first trip directly from
the Atlanta Airport to the Havana Cuba airport. How nice to get there in a couple of hours instead of a couple of
days. OBC has maintained this trip for fourteen years, and now we are including in our trip work with One Library
At A Time. Last year we set up a library in Perico at a church we have been working with for years. This year we
are working with a new group of friends in Guanajay, Cuba.
Javier, the pastor of the church in Guanajay, had heard about our work in Perico, and contacted our leader, Wayne
Grinstead to see if we could to the same at his church.
There were three of us who shopped for books for the Guanajay church in Decatur, GA. We were looking for children’s
books here in the states because they don’t have illustrated children’s books available because of the expense it would
take. We had the good fortune to have the Decatur Book Festival in the fall of 2016, and we bought most of the books
there. We also shopped at several children’s book stores in the area.
There were nine of us going down on Jan. 13, and we all had books in our suitcases plus sacks of directions for making
index cards, setting up files, organizing books, and labeling books. When we got to Havana, Wayne called Javier to arrange
for our meeting on Monday with the church members to buy adult books. We learned that Pastor Javier, another man, and
two young women who would be doing most of the work setting up the library. We were happy to learn that one of the
young women just graduated from college, and the other was in her first year of college. We met at the store, and spent a
good while looking at books. We found that they were not finding a lot of books they were interested in, and when we asked
about this, they told us that Havana was going to have a Book Festival in February, and they wanted to save about half of
the money we had brought to buy books there. That sounded like a good plan. Wayne had asked if they could take the
books we had bought in the US back to their church so we wouldn’t have to carry them around. This also included the
materials we would use to set up the library. They were glad to do this.
Our plan was to meet them in Guanajay on Thursday to set up the library. They were enthusiastic about our coming. We
got there about 10:00 to start the set up, and we were very surprised when we walked into the church and looked to our
right to see the library was already in place. It turns out that the young woman who had graduated from college had
worked some in the library and planned to be the librarian for the church library. The younger women had learned a lot
about library organization as a freshman in college. We were amazed, and we checked out their work and found that they
had done a very good job. It turns out that the younger girl is the daughter of the pastor, and her mother met with us also,
and showed a great deal of interest in adding the library to their church ministry. We sat and talked a good while, then they
served us lunch, and we went on our way quite pleased with what had happened.
We think it might be a good idea to seek out college students to assist in the libraries especially in Cuba since the students
have access to college without paying. This was a delightful experience. Elise Phillips