Anticipated bazaar benefits Cuba and our own backyard


Horse-drawn taxis like these prepared to fill to overflowing each day with people on their way to and from work in Holguin, Cuba.

Chuck Palmer

Award-winning Suntree photographer Chuck Palmer brought back images of severe poverty tinged with hope from last year’s mission trip to Cuba. Suntree United Methodist Church’s 27th annual Christmas Bazaar on Saturday, Nov. 1 will support missionaries in the field there, as well as charities that meet the need in SUMC’s own back yard.

“We couldn’t help but stare at all the people catching a ride to work in the back of the horse-drawn carriages all crowded together on the little two-lane highway,” Palmer said. Outside the tiny town of Holguin near Guantanamo Bay, where SUMC sister church Iglesia Metodista El Redentor is a beacon of modernity, there are four rural missions steeped in even greater paucity. 

“Our Suntree United Methodist Church Cuba Missions caravan felt like we were in a time machine traveling back to a civilization, the likes of which none of us had ever seen before.”

The bazaar will help SUMC reach its 2014 goal of $10,500 to support the sister church and its four rural missions — one soon to be declared its own church — where missionaries are paid just $60 for three months. A Sept. 26 dinner at the church also raised awareness and funds. The next mission trip to Cuba is November 14.

“Our missionaries live like their neighbors under thatched roofs, they walk on dirt floors, and often eat just one small meal a day,” Palmer said.

The anticipated free bazaar from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. features the Unique Boutique, Attic Treasures, silent suction, free car wash by SUMC youth, entertainment for children and adults, and photos with Santa for use in Christmas cards. A barbecue luncheon is available for purchase midday.

“We have a reputation for having one-of-a-kind items you won’t find at the mall and all for really reasonable prices,” bazaar organizer Heather O’Neal said. “We have people who wait all year for this sale and do all their Christmas shopping in a day.”

Proceeds from the sale also go to offset wear and tear of church facilities used heavily by civic groups at little or no charge, and to directly benefit a number of charities sponsored by the church. Some of them include Habitat for Humanity, which provides home ownership for low-income families, Harmony Farms equine-assisted therapy in Viera, Second Harvest food bank supplier, Feeding Children Everywhere, the DOCK’s Dorcas Outreach Center for Kids, His Place homelessness ministry and CITA’s Christ is the Answer men’s homeless shelter.

“We may never fully understand why God has blessed us with the opportunities we enjoy while so many people in Cuba and around the world live with the challenges they do,” Palmer said. “However, we can certainly understand how God blesses us even more when we commit our prayers, our time and our financial support to those less fortunate.”

For more information on the SUMC Cuba missions, call Chuck and Nancy Palmer at 321-258-6660 or email; for information on the bazaar or to drop off items for the sale to the church, at 7400
N. Wickham Rd., call 321-242-2585.