“Early in the 1920’s, Rev. Forrest had a visitor from Cuba, Rev. B.G. Lavistida, who was a Presbyterian Cuban missionary. His wife was from New England, where some time before she had met Rev. Forrest. They wanted their boy to attend school in the states, and Rev. Lavistida had come to Toccoa Falls Institute to see about his enrollment. The acceptance of this lad as a student opened the doors of the school to another group of people–Cubans. At that time, Rev. Lavistida, who became the head of a school at Placetas, Cuba, began sending more students to the Institute. As they returned to their country, the recruited others. Mabel Bailey (later Mrs. Thomas Willey), a graduate of Toccoa Falls, was called to Pinar del Rio as a missionary. She also was instrumental in sending Cuban students to the school. This phase of the work grew, and through it many souls were brought to Christ both at Toccoa Falls and in Cuba.
“One student, F. Garcia, upon his return to Cuba, summarized the influence of the Institute in a letter to Rev. Forrest:
“‘I wonder if to say that–I remember TFI–would be the right term to use. I rather would say–I feel TFI–and am very glad it is so. By TFI, I mean the whole thing, or rather, the whole blessing. Beginning with the consecrated people there, and ending with the trees on the campus. The results of my twenty-six months among you are to be felt in my life as long as I live.’ (Mr. Garcia afterward became the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Havana, a great church.)” (text from Achieving the Impossible with God by Lorene Moothart)
Editor’s Note: The following report is by Ruth Damron.
The Cubans Are Coming
In 1936, when Toccoa Falls Institute celebrated its 25th anniversary, the Cuban students wanted to do something special to show their appreciation for the kindness of the faculty, staff, and fellow students. They wrote to a radio station in Havana and asked to have a nice Cuban flag sent to the school to be presented to Dr. and Mrs. Forrest. The flag was sent but arrived too late for the presentation.Since we do not have a yearbook for the year 1936, we do not know who gave the presentation or the names of the students who were here at that time. The handwriting was beautiful.
Before my father, Troy Damron, realized he had cancer, he had planned his next book. He was going to write about the Cuban students–why they came, how they heard about the school, what they are doing now, and to have them write about their experiences and present status. He was going to call it, “The Cubans Are Coming.”
We would like to hear from the former Cuban students. Spread the word around and let’s hear from as many of you as possible. Does anyone know if there are former students still in Cuba? If you were in the 1936 group who presented the flag, tell us what you remembered about that time.
P.S. We do not know what happened to the flag. We wish we still had it somewhere.