August 11, 2020

‘Like 12 hours in a Sealed Bag in the Sun’

Nafri Machado, Inter-American Division News

Seventh-day Adventists in east El Salvador recently distributed thousands of small care packages to frontline workers in local hospitals. Dozens of health professionals, doctors, and nurses from Adventist churches in the city of San Miguel packaged sports drinks and books on hope to many who spend hours suited up in protective gear in many of the local hospitals.

“The eastern part of El Salvador is one of the hottest regions in Central America, and many of the hospitals here have no air conditioning. So the use of bioprotective suits causes a lot of discomfort to medical staff who take care of the sick,” said Edwin López, district pastor in San Miguel.

Leonardo Romero Taura, who works at the San Juan de Dios National Hospital in San Miguel, said the days are challenging when wearing a protective suit. “The feeling is horrible; it is suffocating. Imagine that they put you in a plastic bag, seal it, and put you out in the sun when the rays of the sun are stronger,” Romero said. “That’s how the medical staff feel when we use the bioprotective suits as we care for people infected with COVID-19.” Lopez said that the suit is worn up to eight hours at a time, but some use them for 12 hours. “During that time, you cannot take off the suit for anything … and you end up completely dehydrated.”

Many church members joined in the initiative by sending funds to purchase, prepare, and distribute 3,000 packets with drinks and copies of the 2020 missionary book by Mark Finley, titled Hope in the Midst of Chaos.

“The point was to share a little bit of relief and share hope to the heroes on the frontline, who day by day are dealing with so much suffering and death the coronavirus has brought in,” López said.  The initiative came about after a series of media reports on the challenges health professionals face each day, caring for those infected with COVID-19, he added.

“Our intention was that as we supplied an immediate need in them, their hearts could be open to the message of love and hope,” said Jackelin Ortiz, a church member who helped distribute the packets.

“We are very thankful to our Creator for making us part of His mission,” said Johana Castro, another church member in San Miguel. “God put in our hearts to help those in this special initiative; we just obeyed His voice.”

The initiative, which began its first distribution phase on July 18, 2020, in San Miguel, has so far benefited thousands in four out of the eight local hospitals in the city, Lopez said.

Many health-care staff said they were grateful to receive the packets and be prayed for as they face the pandemic in the hospital every day.

“The project was done in coordination with the Dorcas ministry of the local churches, which are always ready to collaborate in humanitarian activities in the great commission of taking the message of hope and highlighted that Jesus is our salvation from eternal death,” López added. “This project has not only motivated one church that I pastor but the entire district of churches to continue being witnesses in the community, showing that our actions testify to what we believe.”

Each book contained information about the Adventist Church, the church’s radio station, Radio Stéreo Adventista (RSA), and contact information for assistance, support, and spiritual guidance.

Alexis Romero, president of the church in East El Salvador, said it was very satisfying to see pastors motivating members to share love and spread the gospel. “It was great to see that from generation to generation, the spirit of service continues in the Adventist Church,” Romero said. “I had the privilege of growing up in the church, and that spirit of sacrifice and surrender is still alive in favor of others.”

The original version of this story was posted by Inter-American Division news.