When members of the Lau family were getting ready to go to Cuba at the end of December, they were looking forward to
participating in a mission at a cooperative that takes care of the disabled and the elderly and visiting patriarch
Ernie Lau's native land.
Both were unforgettable experiences.
I had a lot of emotions, but my daughter and I were able to do it," Lau said about visiting the farm that was taken
from his family during President Fidel Castro's agrarian reform. The Cuban people, the heart of the people, really
stand out for me."
Lau was literally shipped off to the United States from his 11th birthday party, which took place between the Bay of
Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. This trip, his first since he left 48 years ago, was his chance to
remember and say goodbye.
He was traveling with his wife, Kathleen, daughter, Lauren, and a group of young people who were participating on a
mission trip through The Annex, where Lauren Lau works. They helped build a chicken coop and dug trenches for
drainage on a cooperative run by the Rev. Willie Santiago, who was the first in Cuba to help the mentally ill and the
disabled, both young and old. Santiago's son and sister also work in ministry.
After the pope was there in 1998," Ernie Lau said, it really opened things up for Christianity. The government's
tolerating it because it brings aid to people on the island."
Santiago will be visiting Durango this week and will be making presentations about his work. Ernie Lau said it's not
so much about fundraising as making connections.
We're hoping he'll develop a relationship with the (First Baptist) Church," Lau said, and make friends."