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Dec 19, 2014 6:52 PM

Exeter church prepares for trip to Cuba amid diplomatic changes

EXETER - As the diplomatic thaw between the U.S. and Cuba draws worldwide attention, the Christ Episcopal Church in Exeter prepares to return to Cuba for its second mission in March.

Rev. Mark Pendleton, who is leading the mission, says 17 people from the church are going to Cuba where they will install water filtration systems in churches to combat disease.

The reverend lived in Cuba for a year in the '80s and has made several trips to the Island Nation. He says he's personally witnessed the poverty and anguish the more than 50 year old U.S. travel and trade embargoes have imposed on Cubans.

Rev. Pendleton says the efforts to normalize relations between the two countries are long overdue.

"This is a sign of hope. Again, it is not going to happen tomorrow. These are going to be slow steps for the future, but I think this time there's a sense that the tide is turning. That more openness will deepen the relationship between the two countries and will lift people out of what has been a very, very difficult life," said Rev. Pendleton.

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