From Kathy Blose: My family was called to help serve in the first Spanish speaking unit in the Reading Pennsylvania Stake in 1992. It is the Hamilton Branch, across the street from the place where the Liberty Bell was hid in an old church basement.
While living in the Allentown area, we became acquainted with Antonio (Tony) Fernandez of Cuba and his wife, Almedelia and their sons Tony Jr. and Mario. Tony Fernandez often shared how he had years earlier worked closely with Fidel Castro, in Cuba. He said that at first Castro was a very loving and devoted family man, but that power went to his head. Tony defected, flying out of Cuba for Europe. Everywhere he went (Spain, France, etc.) he was slapped in jail for his association with Castro. Finally he came to the United States. Here, he was also imprisoned for a while until it decided he was not a threat. He met and married his wife Almedelia in Pennsylvania. They struggled hard at first but Tony is one of the hardest working Cubans I have ever met. Tony now owns two businesses -- a Cuban restaurant in southside Bethlehem and a painting business.
I am not sure of how Tony became a member of the Church but I am so glad he decided to join the Hamilton Spanish branch. He was in the Allentown ward (mostly anglo) and said he needed improve his English. But he is not young and learning English for a very busy man is not an easy thing. Tony is now about seventy years old. I remember how we fasted and prayed for him to come to the Hamilton Branch and he did. Tony soared in his testimony and was able to serve and he is a great instrument in the hands of the Lord in the kingdom today. Their branch has greatly struggled but will someday become a ward.
A few years ago Tony boldly went back to Cuba and he got his son Tony (from a first marriage) and his daughter-in-law, Lazara (Latchi) out of the country with their two little daughters. The family joined the Church in the Hamilton Branch. They have since moved to Lancaster, PA and then to Miami. I saw that their faith was very strong.
Tony told us about his friends who came to the United States -- literally swimming to freedom while being followed by sharks. He said he knew famine in his country, about prisons and want. He said we don't appreciate our freedom here enough.
To know Tony is to love him. He sounds like a General Authority when he talks about reactivation and missionary work! He is a great man and he has a deep love of his Cuban roots. Tony Fernandez still serves in the Hamilton Branch, and is one of the best gospel doctrine teachers I have ever met. We probably will return to live not very far away from Tony by September. The branch there became like a family to us and we visit as often as we can.