Flying Coconuts

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Backstory: I first met Luis in Guantánamo in October 2016 during Wheels for the World.  He had stopped by the Guantánamo church with some other deaf members of the Baracoa Church in order to pick up donated supplies for the people in Baracoa as Hurricane Matthew had just barreled through the week before.  It was from him that I learned first hand, while trying to find a common understanding between Cuban and American Sign Languages, just how devastating the hurricane was for the people of Baracoa as he described vividly in sign language how people experienced living through homes being blown away, household debris, Palm trees, even coconuts flying everywhere, and waves, wind and rain pelted them as they held on for their dear lives.  I was happy to have a chance to talk to him further in Baracoa with the help of interpreters. This is his story.

A chance meeting at Guantánamo Baptist Church. The deaf in Cuba I met are proud to be identified as Christians.  They are showing the Cuban sign for God- which is the same as the letter "d" in American Sign Language.

A chance meeting at Guantánamo Baptist Church. The deaf in Cuba I met are proud to be identified as Christians.  They are showing the Cuban sign for God- which is the same as the letter "d" in American Sign Language.

My name is Luis Norge Infante, I am 33 years old and I was born being able to hear but became hard of hearing after suffering from horse fever as a child. My mom abandoned me so my grandma raised me.  When I was a boy I attended a deaf school so I learned how to read, write and communicate in sign language.

Before moving to Baracoa, I grew up in Holguin Province, and I attended a church with my Grandmother, but I was lost because there were no interpreters there for me to understand what was going on.  I had a hard time until I met some deaf christians from another church in Holguin.  That church had interpreters so I started attending services there and it led me to accepting the Lord when I was 16 years old.  In one meeting in Holguin for Christians, I met a girl from Baracoa who is now my wife.  Her name is Elaine Frómeta, she is 31 years old and was born deaf.

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We now live in Baracoa with my parents in law- Alina Esther Oliveros, 58 years old and Evaristo Frómeta, 68 years old.  My in-laws are both deaf and our daughter who is hearing also lives with us. My wife attended school as well and is able to read and write a bit and communicates in sign language, but her mom is only able to write, but not read while her father is not able to do either, although they both know sign language.

I work in the construction field, my wife and both in-laws work. Because we live with Alaine's parents, we are able to help each other out. My wife and I come from Christian families and our faith is important to us. We have a deaf ministry and interpreters in our church in Baracoa where I also preach to deaf people there.  My construction background came in handy when the hurricane hit us as our house was destroyed but we were able to restore my in-laws house while hoping to rebuild our house some day.