Across the Kitchen Table
Cuban Women Pastors and Theology
MARGARITA M. W. SUÁREZ
It was Christmas Day 1999, and we’d been invited to Christmas dinner with Davila Caceres and her family at her father’s house across the street from the church. I knew that her brother and his wife would be there, and Davila and her two sons and her father and stepmother. I knew that Cesar, her husband, wouldn’t be there: he was conducting services at two churches in the interior of the province and wouldn’t arrive home till late. I felt most privileged to have been invited. Davila and I hadn’t known each other long, as I had arrived on the island a mere five weeks before.
What an incredible five weeks it had been! On November 15 we’d left our home in Oak Park, Illinois, at 4:30 in the morning. Rubén, my seven-year-old son, was still asleep when my husband carried him into the car, but he awoke right away, knowing that this day was the beginning of a six-month adventure. I had long dreamed of this adventure, fed by my earliest childhood memories—to live in the land of the palm trees, of Marti and Maceo and, of course, of Fidel. I wanted to continue the search for my roots and for my long-forgotten family. Rubén had been added to this hope and dream. For unlike me, with my lifelong struggle with the Spanish language, in this dream Rubén would be bilingual, able to speak the language of our heritage, de la patria de su abuelo.
All of this was made possible due to the fieldwork I needed to do for my doctoral dissertation. I’d chosen to investigate Protestant Cuban feminist theology, a topic many in the States found strange, asking, “You mean there is a Protestant church in Cuba?” or “Are there any women pastors in Cuba?” or remarking, “I didn’t know that there was a viable church in Cuba.” To each I would say, “Yes, there is a growing Protestant presence on the island with quite a few women pastors.” On November 15 I didn’t know where this trip would lead us, but I knew that we were in God’s hands.