Murray UU Church | 505 North Main St | Attleboro, MA 02703
July 13, 2017
. . .

"People to People 

in Cuba"

Monica Staaf

Periodic travel bans and a trade embargo by the U.S. Government made this tropical island off-limits to most Americans until recently. Decades after the Cuban Revolution, Cuba is a country in transition. Is Cuba a mecca for music and dance, a socialist paradise, a country of strong family ties, a tourist destination, or a repressor of free speech? A recent traveler to Cuba will share her experiences and conversations with Cuban people.

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"Let's Go Fly a Kite" 

David Laferriere

We will probably be the first people to fly miniature kites in Murray UU Church. These miniature kites are made for the great indoors so we won't have to worry about wind or rain. Miniature kite plans can be emailed so you can make and decorate your own miniature kite and bring it to the service. I will also bring some miniature kites for others to fly.


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Cuba:  People to People
  by Monica Staaf
  If you ban a book or picket an art exhibit, I will go out of my way to  seek it out. Since our country has restricted American travel to Cuba  off and on for more than fifty years. Forbidden fruit appeals to my  contrarian nature, which is part of why I decided to visit Cuba.

Until last year, Americans could only visit Cuba as part of a group for  limited purposes, such as medical or educational. My family and I visited the Soviet Union on this type of tour in the 1970s. Government tour guides tightly restricted our movements and interactions with individual Russians. Buses drove us past Russians standing in block-long lines to buy scarce food. Glen traveled to East Germany in the early 1980s and watched soldiers search the undercarriage of trains for stowaways who were desperate to escape to the West. 

Glen and I like to meet people when we travel - whether we make music, communicate with a dictionary, or just smile at each other. In a modest way, we try to further the UU goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.

Last year, American airlines were permitted to fly, offer commercial flights to Cuba, and individual travel - people to people exchanges - were authorized by an executive order. Since we knew that the order could be revoked with a stroke of a pen, we seized that window of opportunity to visit.

Cuba is a country of contradictions. It is hot, beautiful, and full of eye-popping colors:  orange, parrot green, red, turquoise, hot pinks, sunshine yellow painted on homes and buildings. There are vintage Cadillacs and Buicks from the 1950s in hues of lavender, hot pink, baby blue, shamrock green, with massive grills, or fins, cruise the avenues of Havana with tourists in tow. Cubans don't drive these cars to be quaint. After the Cuban revolution, the government banned private ownership of cars except for those that were owned before the revolution. While private cars are legal; ownership is not common. Outside of Havana and smaller cities, we rode on highways that were virtually deserted except for horse-drawn carts carrying people and sugar cane and the occasional bus or car. Farmers plowed tobacco fields with oxen or Soviet era tractors in the red earth of Vinales.

The cities of Havana and Trinidad, and rural Vinales pulse with live music on street corners, in plazas, in restaurants, night clubs, and outdoor cafes:  high energy Afro-Cuban drumming, mournful ballads accompanied by Spanish guitar, salsa, jazz. Some musicians asked us if we copy their music onto a flash drive and play it in the United States since they didn't have a legal way to send it themselves.

This vibrant music and dance makes it easy to forget that in Cuba, individuals can be arrested for making art or writing literature that does not support the Cuban government. The Cubans whom we met passed around American music and movies on flash drives because they're not available through the government-controlled media outlets. There are some Internet cafes/Wi-Fi spots, but the government blocks access to sites that do not support the government. 

The front page of our summer newsletters will feature select written work from the Murray Writers' Circle.
Summer Blooms
Flowers in the Unity Garden. 
Donations Needed for RE
The RE Program is in need of the following for our September Bake Sale:

2 bags of large marshmallows
4 bags of chocolate chips
1 box of Chex cereal or a generic type
2 bags of M&Ms
2 boxes of brownie mix
3 13x9 foil pans

Thank you for your support!

 2017 | 
Summer Services
 Murray Unitarian Universalist Church

 Produced by the Religious Services Committee

 JUL. 16   People to People in Cuba | Monica Staaf

 Periodic travel bans and a trade embargo by the U.S. Government made this tropical island off-limits to most Americans until recently. Decades after the Cuban Revolution, Cuba is a country in transition. Is Cuba a mecca for music and dance, a socialist paradise, a country of strong family ties, a tourist destination, or a repressor of free speech? A recent traveler to Cuba will share her experiences and conversations with Cuban people.

JUL. 23   Let's Go Fly A Kite | David Laferriere

We will probably be the first people to fly miniature kites in Murray UU Church. These miniature kites are made for the great indoors so we won't have to worry about wind or rain. Miniature kite plans can be emailed so you can make and decorate your own miniature kite and bring it to the service. I will also bring some miniature kites for others to fly.
 JUL. 30   What's On Your Altar? | Marguerite MacLean

 If you could create your own altar, what would it look like? Come and join us for a presentation and discussion on altars and their significance in religion and spiritualty. If an altar represents what we hold most sacred, we will explore the question... What's on your altar?

AUG. 6   Resistence | David Calusdian
There are countless times in history when people of faith have

stood up for their beliefs and resisted oppressive or opposing political regimes - even when faced with dire consequences for their actions. UUs are certainly no exception and have taken sometimes unpopular stands to live their social action convictions. In a time of divisiveness and political turmoil in Washington and throughout the country, what does "resistance" mean? And how do we stay true to our core UU values in today's political climate?

 AUG. 13   Faces of Forgiveness | Richard & Janet Plumb Who needs it? What is it really? Where does it fit in the human experience? Why is it so important? How do we get there? These are the questions Richard and Janet Plumb will explore in their Summer Service on Sunday August 13th, 2017. They will present their perspective of forgiveness through personalexperiences, Lessons from The Course in Miracles, Simon Wiesenthal's The Sunflower and others.

AUG. 20   What Would Will Rogers Do? | Len Yutkins

Will Rogers was a wit who knew the secret of how to disagree with people without being disagreeable. In the current political scene, we all could use a reminder on how to disagree with others without meanness.

AUG. 27   Service TBA | Rev. Gretchen Weis
Service description to come.


SEP. 3   Building Interfaith Bridges | Caleigh Grogan

In such a polarized country it can seem impossible to make progress and produce change in line with our UU principles. I believe interfaith work is one way we can begin to overcome this feeling. There are people of different faiths who share our passion for justice, and building bridges across faith boundaries allows us to harness more energy to use for progressive transformation.
2017 Summer Concert Series
Thursdays at 7:30 pm


  JULY 13th    
  CCC Cool Jazz Concert
   Kirk Whipple, piano, Tom Casale, bass,    Randy Cloutier, drums.    SPECIAL GUESTS:  Kara Casale, vocals &   Marilyn Morales, piano.
  AUGUST 3rd    
  Whipple & Morales:   Duo Pianists & Composers
   Husband and wife duo perform a virtuoso 'tour de force' concert   of works for 1 piano/4 hands, including their internationally    acclaimed interpretation of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue."

  AUGUST 17th    

  CCC Chorale -- Our Tribute"
   A concert in honor of lost loves & veterans.
Adults $25,  Seniors & Students $20,  Children 5--17 are FREE with paid adult, limit 2 children per adult. Murray members & friends $15!

Tickets available 30 minutes before concert.

For more information, please call:  508-491-8888, 

or visit our Facebook page at:

We have a great need for the following items:
                         - Personal Care Items
                            i.e., shampoo, bath & hand soap, lotion, deodorant, etc.
                         - Dental Care Items,
                            i.e., toothpaste, floss, mouthwash
                         - Paper & Plastic Grocery Bags
All donations are greatly appreciated, but, our clients are particularly grateful 
for the feminine care & personal care items.
Thank you for your continued support!
Murray Church Food Pantry Team
WANTED: Heavy Duty Tote Bags
The Food Pantry needs your heavy duty tote bags. Please bring in those tote bags that have been accumulating in the back of your closets, in the cupboard, in the garage... The Food Pantry will fill them with groceries and give them out as reusable bags. Thank You!


Jul. 22:
Murray Hosts Food 'n' Friends Soup Kitchen

Murray Serves the Food 'n' Friends Soup Kitchen every 4th Saturday of the month, from 8 am -- 12:30 pm, at Centenary Methodist Church, located at 39 North Main Street in Attleboro.


Help out once for an hour! You'll make all the difference!


We need volunteers for all shifts and tasks. Tasks we need help with:

    Early (8 am -- 10 am)
  • Set up tables & chairs
  • Make sandwiches
  • Prepare main meal
  • Wash dishes
  • Serve coffee & juice
    Later (10:45 am -- 12:30 pm)
  • Plate meals
  • Serve guests
  • Breakdown tables &chairs
  • Wash dishes
  • Sweep & mop 
Feel free to share this info with anyone who might be interested in helping out! 



Contact Stephanie Paquette at or (call or text) 401-603-8386.

Jul. 22:
Murray Family Event
Saturday, July 22nd, 2017
Come join us for a day of history and fun.
Visit Battleship Cove Naval & Maritime Museum 

honoring the ships and men that served our country. 

This will be a fun time for young and old.

We will meet at 9:30 AM in the Murray Church parking lot to carpool for those who wish. Otherwise meet us at the Battleship Cove Visitors entrance at 10:30 AM. 

If you have questions or need a ride, please contact 

Richard Plumb at 508-285-8590 home, or 508-450-2485 mobile

or email:

Battleship Cove is located at  5 Water Street in Fall River, MA 02721 

Phone: 508-678-1100, or visit their website at: 


 Adult: $18.00, Senior: $16.00, Active Military w/ID: $0.00 

Children 4-12: $11.00, Children 3 and under: $0.00 US Military Veteran w/ID: $16.00 


Jul. 26:
HELP NEEDED to Unload Food Delivery Trucks
    We receive food twice a month, and we need help  receiving the delivery. Food pick-up times are   the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays each month. The  trucks need to be unloaded requiring some lifting.                           
  This is one way Murray reaches out and is visible in  the community, but it takes many volunteers to   receive and distribute the food. If there are any  strong bodies available on those days who would  like a light workout, please contact: 
Roger Boucher at 508-838-8249, or email  at
Thank you!
Image from

  From Green Sanctuary

 Caring for the Earth Is a Spiritual Act
None of us is called to solve the world's problems on our own. We are called simply to do our part through small steps carried out consistently with faith in their power to make a difference.
Recycling DO:  
Recycle paperback books and spiral notebooks

Recycling DON'T: 
Do not recycle straws or eating utensils
Refurbishing Fellowship Hall
The Property Committee is looking for people to help in developing a plan for refurbishing Fellowship Hall. This will include things such as lighting, entrance ways, windows and floors, and developing a cost estimate and time frame for completing the work. It is the Property Committee's hope that Fellowship Hall can become one of the 'jewels' of Murray Church.
Please contact Tom Stuart at, or Rob Hasselbaum at, if you are interested in participating with this team.
Yoga at Murray

  The yoga group will meet intermittently  during the summer. If you aren't a regular  participant please contact Barbara or Karla  to make sure we're meeting on a particular  Monday:  

Barbara Clark at, through July 11th, 
then from August 28th -- September 4th.
Karla Bassler at from July 11th -- August 21st.
Aug. 1:
Bill Harley performs at Slater Park
Tuesday, August 1 at 6 pm
Slater Park is located at 825 Armistice Blvd in Pawtucket
A fun FREE concert for the whole family.

It's outdoors, so bring your own seats.

Join you Murray members & friends for an entertaining evening!

Sponsored by the Pawtucket Parks & Recreation Department

Cuba...  (continued)
The vast majority of Cubans are employed by the Cuban government and typically earn wages ranging from $15 - $30 per month. They can legally own and rent their apartments but cannot sell them without government permission. They cannot travel outside of Cuba without government approval.

Raul Castro legalized a small number of occupations in the private sector, such as renting rooms to tourists or owning a restaurant. Glen and I chose to stay in private homes and apartments to meet and support our hosts. Several had only begun hosting a month or so before our visit to meet the growing demand of American travelers. Despite our limited Spanish, we invited our hosts to a nightclub. Other hosts invited us to a birthday party where we danced, and older men played dominos. People were excited to learn that we were from United States. Despite our limited Spanish, people marveled at photos that I showed them of Glen shoveling snow in a snowstorm.

We ate succulent pineapples, papaya, guava and mango;  tasty chicken, pork, black beans, and rice; and plain omelets, bread, and cheese. Desserts and sodas were sweetened only with sugar cane. Yet Cubans have government issued-ration cards that restrict their access to eggs, sugar, and meat. The New York Times reported months ago that the increase in tourism has led to a food shortage for average Cubans. Food shortages were easy to witness in a cold, grim Soviet winter;  but are harder to see in touristed areas of a lush, tropical country. 

I grew up watching my mom and grandmother mail supplies to their relatives in Estonia that had been seized by the Soviet Union. We brought soap, over the counter medicine, and English language magazines, all which were in short supply in parts of the country.

Because of our country's trade embargo, debit cards, credit cards, or anything else issued by American banks will not work in Cuba. Glen and I each carried several thousand dollars with us - and crept about like drug mules - since we had no other way to access funds if we encountered any problems. We felt safer in Cuba than in any other country that we have visited. We encountered no street crime or harassment.   

More than 50 years ago, the Cuban Revolution overthrew a dictator and ushered in education and health care for poor Cubans who worked in sugar cane fields under poor conditions. The Revolution continues to be a major influence on Cuban culture and values. Billboards and murals at the entrances to towns and cities depicted Che Guavara, Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, and Cubans who fought the United States at the Bay of Pigs. The billboards proclaimed, "Viva La Revolucion" and "Siempre La Revolucion."  

 We visited the Museum of the Revolution in Havana and museums in other cities that were dedicated to the revolutionaries/Los Banditos, the Bay of Pigs/Playa Giron, and a mausoleum in Santa Clara dedicated to national hero, Che Guevara, and other revolutionaries. I grew up thinking of the Soviet Union as a bear menacing smaller countries. Somehow, it never occurred to me in my American privilege that a small nation like Cuba would view the U.S. in the same way. As our guide, Daniel, mentioned at our first museum, "I have to warn you; you are not the good guys in this museum."

 While many Cubans welcome expanded American tourism, they fear that the United States will once again try to seize control of Cuban resources and that illegal drugs, gambling, and the Mafia influences that existed before the Revolution will return. 

 What Cuba lacks in unfettered access to electronics, it makes up for in human connections. Children kick a soccer ball in a town plaza while their parents watch them from a bench. Families stroll arm and arm along the Prado, a grand boulevard with a pedestrian promenade in old Havana. Neighbors hang laundry on their balconies and call to each other. Friends laugh and dance together or wave at foreign visitors.

 Last month, a new executive order was issued. It banned the people to people exchange that Glen and I found so meaningful while continuing to allow group travel, cruise ships, and direct flights. Ironically, this will drive many American visitors towards hotels owned by the Cuban government - the regime that country has repudiated for decades - and away from the homes of individual Cubans who could benefit greatly from tourism dollars. Our hearts go out to them and others who will be harmed by this ban.

 Interacting with people in Cuba and other parts of the world furthers understanding and connection for us and for those whom we visit. Glasnost or openness led to the fall of the Iron Curtain in the former Soviet Union. By our voices, we can bring a different form openness and understanding to and from Cuba.