Roger was born in Cuba, the son of a Pastor. His Dad had long wanted to be freed from the tyrannical rule in Cuba and so when Roger was two, he applied for a visa so our family could leave.
This only resulted in him being shipped off to a work camp to cut sugarcane for six days a week, 16-hours a day. Every 45 days he was allowed to return home to visit us. His health suffered from the lack of food, hard work, harassment from the guards and the pesky mosquitoes.
After two more years, the visa was finally approved but then another problem surfaced, Mom was 8.3 months pregnant with my brother Isaac and the rule in Cuba was that the baby had to be born before leaving. Dad was not to be delayed any longer; he had had enough of tyranny. So Mom found the biggest dress she could, packed one small suitcase (all we were allowed to leave with) and we made our way to the airport. Right before we passed the guards who checked our passports, my pants dropped and Mom bend down to pick them up, covering the 10.5-pound baby bump, so we got through and freedom was finally ours.
Our family paid a high price for freedom. We lost home, bank accounts, hard-earned cash and everything valuable. We left behind family, co-workers and friends. Arriving in Spain where we knew less than 5 people.
We also left stability behind as we moved to eight different places in a few short years. It seemed like my Dad’s favorite phrase was, “We’re moving.” Dad health suffered from the hard work with the sugarcane; the rest of us from not having much to eat.
But thanks to my Dad, we could choose freedom and to have a better life. We settled on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico and my Dad continued to work as a pastor. My brother and I were very active children and soon people in the neighborhood started calling me “cubiche,” slang for Cuban. But I was glad to be away from Cuba and the communist tyrant. Unbelievably another tyrant took its place. Its name is legalism, and it was found in the place where you might least expect it; the church.
–continued next week–
Condensed from the book: Everyone Welcome, by Roger Hernandez, pgs. 9-12