Dr. Abel Zaldaña (left) hands the missionary book “Hope in the Midst of Chaos” to medical staff Orbelicia de Morales and Sabrina Gonzalez at the national hospital in La Unión in El Salvador. Seventh-day Adventists in the eastern part of the Central American country distributed sports drinks and books to thousands of frontline workers across four hospitals in the city of San Miguel, starting in July 18, 2020. [Photo: East El Salvador Conference]

August 4, 2020 | San Miguel, El Salvador | Nafri Machado / IAD News Staff

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 throughout Adventist churches in the city of San Miguel, packaged sports drinks and books on hope to many who spend hours suited 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 bio protective suits cause a lot of discomfort to medical staff who take care of the sick,” said Pastor Edwin López, district pastor in San Miguel.

Care packets packaged by Seventh-day Adventists distributed included a sports drink and books for healthcare workers at area hospitals in San Miguel, El Salvador  [Photo: East El Salvador Conference]

Dr. Leonardo Romero Taura, who works at the San Juan de Dios National Hospital in San Miguel, said that 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 then they put you out in the sun when the rays of the sun are stronger,” said Dr. Romero. “That’s how the medical staff feel when we use the  bio protective suits as they care for people infected with COVID-19.” Dr. Lopez said that the suit is worn up to 8 hours at a time, but some use them for 12 hours straight. “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 the 2020 missionary books by Mark Finley entitled “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,” said López.  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.

Adventist Nurse Reyna Rivas (right) holds the missionary book she handed to Dr. José Roberto Cruz (second from the right) along with nurses and hospital staff at the Social Security Hospital in San Miguel, El Salvador [Photo: East El Salvador Conference]

“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 in 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, Pastor Lopez said.

Healthcare worker William Franco holds packets with books and drinks at the Social Security Hospital in San Miguel, El Salvador. [Photo: East El Salvador Conference]

Many of the healthcare staff were grateful to receive the packets and to 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,” added López.   “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 of what we believe.”

Each book was identified with information on the Adventist Church, church’s radio station, Radio Stéreo Adventista (RSA), contact information for any assistance, support and spiritual guidance.

Adventist nurse Reyna Rivas hands a missionary book to a patient near the entrance of the the San Juan de Dios National Hospital in San Miguel, El Salvador. [Photo: East El Salvador Conference]

Pastor 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,” said Romero.  “I had the privilege of growing up in the church and that spirit [of service] of sacrifice and surrender still alive in favor of others.”

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