When the phone rings at the CanJoe Company, there are often some amazing offers, opportunities, and ‘cannections’ waiting on the other end. On a rather gloomy winter Sunday afternoon back in about the year 2002, one such call was received from a man, Vernon Tate, who worked with a charitable medical missionary group that was headquartered in Charlotte, NC. His group, he explained, was involved in special medical missions to the communist country of Cuba and he was seeking information on how his elite group might get some canjoe instruments, or plans to build them, in order to supply them to a few sick Cuban children. After several minutes of discussion, it appeared that the best way to accommodate the immediate needs requested was to offer a significant number of instrument parts that could then be carried by the medical mission members who would then personally deliver them to the intended recipients. One concern, at that time, was that the CanJoe Company, being a very small (one man) operation, could not, alone, adequately accommodate the time factors of the mission’s needs. It was then decided to ask the help from another canjoe maker, an old friend whose operations and financial capabilities better suited that specific situation, that man being Herschel R. Brown. After the initial conversation between Mr.Tate and myself, I immediately made a phone call to Herschel and explained the circumstances. For many years, Herschel and I had often worked together on other canjoe related opportunities and after he heard the issues of this exigency, he gladly agreed to furnish the requested materials for this venture. A connection was then made between Herschel and Mr.Tate for all the final details. Wasting no time, Herschel shipped to Mr.Tate all the materials that would be required in order to complete 25 canjoe instruments; 25 pre-fretted finger boards, 25 tuner keys, an ample supply of strings, screws and other hardware needed along with detailed instructions on how to assemble them. In order to get these items into Cuba, though, each mission member then accepting personal risk, carried separately the different parts in their own baggage. For instance, some carried a few finger boards only, some carried a few tuner keys, others carried in a few packages of single strings, and so on. Upon the arrival of each individual mission member to their final destination and each having successfully gotten through the country’s customs checks with their ‘cantraband’, they then got together, completed the assembly of the instruments and distributed them into the hands of 25 of Cuba’s youngest cancer patients; kids who badly needed the therapeutic power of music and smiles. An email message to my in-box soon followed via Mr.Tate and it simply, succinctly stated that “the hills of Havana, Cuba are ablaze tonight with the sounds of canjoes!” So, in that collaborated and concerted effort between myself, Herschel Brown, Vernon Tate, and a group of dedicated medical missionary professionals, without fanfare, or as some might say, with 'no cigars', and when very few US citizens at all could even cross those boundaries, we together effectively conquered the barriers of those communist Cuban borders by successfully hand delivering to 25 sick Cuban kids the coolest hand made one-stringed musical instruments in the world, the one-stringed things officially called “canjoes”… and with them … lots of SMILES!