‘Beautiful’ Outside and Inside
Hours before their historic concert in Cuba, members of The Salvation Army’s New York Staff Band (NYSB) traded their brass instruments and uniforms for paintbrushes and T–shirts. Joining them was Commissioner E. Sue Swanson, territorial president of Women’s Ministries, Lt. Colonel Kenneth W. Maynor, territorial program secretary, and soldiers and officers of the Havana Central Corps. That morning, everyone pitched in to help give the 55–year–old corps, which also serves as the Divisional Headquarters, a makeover.
“It’s a joy to count on this group of soldiers, officers, and friends of the Army who have traveled to Cuba,” said Lt. Colonel Julio Antonio Moreno, divisional commander. “They are doing more than just handiwork here. They’re sharing the love of Christ.”
Watching members of the NYSB climb ladders and navigate awnings to reach the highest walls of the corps building caused the local residents to take notice. Some people asked about future services and events, and others shared stories about how they had received assistance from the Central Corps.
Beyond just getting a fresh coat of paint, the Havana Central Corps is in the middle of a real makeover. The Cuban government has recently allowed the Army to open its own store on the premises, which Moreno says will increase the Army’s visibility in the community, as well as provide much needed funds for the corps.
Across the street, a two–story residence and office building was recently completed. It will provide offices for corps employees and accommodations for officers who visit from other territories.
Getting approval from the Cuban government to grow has been a difficult task, but Moreno is grateful for the support he’s received from General André Cox, who visited the island last year.
“The General’s visit highlighted the influence that the Army is having on Cuba. There’s great respect in the community for what we do here,” says Moreno.
Commissioner Sue Swanson, who was happy to climb ladders and to touch up letters in the name “Ejercito de Salvacion” on the corps building, said she was impressed with the NYSB’s devotion to their duty.
“To see how hard our staff band is working makes me proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with them. They have skills I didn’t think they had!” says Swanson.
“It’s a blessing to make the outside of the Central Corps look beautiful again, but it’s even more of a blessing to meet the people inside this corps. Their love and hospitality have been wonderful.”
by Hugo Bravo