Hello, my name is Ismenia Castellon (Caty), general doctor from El Salvador.
This is the first time I participate with the medical Delegation, which provides important help to communities in need due to their geographic location, we are really grateful and impressed with these kind and nice people, because they help others with a big smile, loving what they do. It's beautiful to see how interested they are to our people.
May the Lord bless and multiply all you do and strengthen you to continue with such humanitarian work.
Hola mi nombre es Ismenia Castellon (Caty), soy medico General de El Salvador.
Es la primera ves que participo con la delegacion medica, la cual brinda una una ayuda muy importante a las comunidades menos favorecidas debido a su ubicacion geografica, muy agradecida e impresionada con estas personas tan bondadosas y altruistas, ya que brindan su apoyo con una sonrisa disfrutando lo que hacen. Es hermoso ver como se interesan por nuestra gente.
Dios les multiplique y sigan adelante con tan bella labor humanitaria.
Greetings and blessings. My name is Simei, I’m a general doctor.
It has been a privileged to participate with the medical delegation and the pastoral team in the beautiful visits to the communities in Berlin. As Salvadorans we are really thankful that you consider and think of us in such a special way. Each member of the team is unique and helps in a particular way. An important vision of work - including the communities - is for them to be part of the team. We have beautiful memories of the importance of serving others and doing it with that beautiful smile that makes you who you are. All of us are surprised because of your loving spirit. Greetings and sincere thanks. Blessings.
Acts 20:35 “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Saludos y bendiciones, mi nombre es Simei médico general.
Ha sido un privilegio participar en estas hermosas visitas a las zonas de las comunidades de Berlín junto a la delegación médica y la casa pastoral. Como salvadoreños estamos muy agradecidos que piensen en nuestro país de esta manera especial. Cada miembro del equipo es único y aporta de manera particular. Una la visión de trabajo importante, incluir a las comunidades, es volverse parte del equipo para ellos para nosotros. Tenemos hermosos recuerdos de la importancia del servicio y de hacerlo con esa hermosa sonrisa que les caracteriza. Todos nosotros muy impactados por su espíritu de amor, saludos y sinceramente gracias. Bendiciones.
Hechos 20:35 "En todo os he enseñado que, trabajando así, se debe ayudar a los necesitados, y recordar las palabras del Señor Jesús, que dijo: Más bienaventurado es dar que recibir"
We started the day at 6:30 am with a breakfast of scrambled eggs, beans, and tamales. Then at 7:30 it was off to the beach. We rode in the back of the truck about 90 minutes to get to Espino beach. We rented a shelter where we kept our stuff, had lunch and rested.
When we got there, the beach had gentle rolling waves. We took a walk, played frisbee and swam. As time went on the gentle waves became a big, rolling tide with waves splashing up to the roof of the shelter. We drank coconut milk from a bag for a snack and then are a lunch of lobster, shrimp or fish with waves crashing around us. The seafood was great! After lunch, almost everyone found a hammock to rest in. We went back to the pastoral house and took a walk to the town center to see the beginning of the marching band festival.
It was a lovely day off from the clinics. Everyone is refreshed and ready to go to work tomorrow.
Today our medical delegation visited the community of San Isidro. San Isidro is the partner community with my church Covenant Presbyterian. This was my third time visiting San Isidro and each time I have been impressed by this communities organization and compassion. We had the privilege of having our clinic in the local medical building. This medical building is conveniently located for the people of San Isidro but is only open a few times a month and usually doesn’t offer all the services and medications that are needed.
It was nice to be able to see some familiar faces during this clinic and to follow up with some of the people and families we have cared for during the past two delegations. One of these individuals is Omar. He is a 16 year old boy that was born with some physical handicaps but has a smile that can make everyone feel good. 4 years ago we were able to purchase a new wheelchair for Omar but I was informed by the family that the wheelchair only lasted two years. The conditions here in El Salvador are just to extreme for the equipment to last. I had a nice visit with Omar. We talked about the challenges of being a teenager in a wheelchair. I learned that the thing that makes Omar happy is music. Omar and I have that love in common. We are taught to never make promises to the people we serve but in my mind I hope that we could someday supply Omar with another more durable chair and a radio so he could enjoy his music.
It was a very successful clinic day in which we served over 150 people. For the first time on this trip we returned to the pastoral house before dark. We were able to enjoy some ice cream to celebrate another successful day.
I'm Rachel Diaz, general doctor, from El Salvador. I have the opportunity to work for the first time with the medical team delegation that has come to work in the different communities of Berlin.
Thanks to our Heavenly Father who has put in the heart of each one of them to come to serve my country.
It has been a beautiful experience, every day is an adventure, continue to know my country and continue to know good people, patients and our medical team. They are a team with diverse skills and abilities and with great empathy and love for others. Thank God it has helped many people with medical attention and supplements.
I do not doubt that God works in different ways, and touches hearts inside and outside the country.
Thank you for the effort, dedication and sacrifice of coming every year to serve.
I am sure that my people will always welcome you and welcome you with great joy. Is a team very special.
God bless you and multiply.
"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others" - Mahatma Ghandi
"Hooonk!!!!" The loudest truck horn beeps. And we all startle awake. The world around us was our alarm clock today. 6am. We got into town a little over 5 hours ago. In the girls dorm we peel back the blankets and begin to get ready for our day to do God's work.
Thanks to the pastoral house/team for the wonderful breakfast of plantains, beans ,and eggs. As we sit around the table at breakfast , I look around and am so glad to be surrounded by this second family for our week long journey. With them the impossible seems possible.
Today we have a mini clinic but have to prepare medications for the week to come. Hundreds of bottles of vitamins, antibiotics and other medications fill the room and we sit in our assembly line with our individual zip lock bags and labels. Vitamin dust fills the air, and fingers are sore from sealing bags ,but this won't stop us the people deserve this and we push through the fatigue of lack of sleep last night and the hours of bagging medications.
We load up the cattle truck and head on the road to our clinic. It's been raining hard the past couple days so everyone held on tight with the couple of mudholes and slippery road we traveled on.
We arrive to open hearts and welcoming arms. Familiar smiles as we serviced them last year and they dazzled us with music last year. A quick setup and we were ready to take on the day. I worked again in the pharmacy this year and noticed that there aren't as many new conditions this year. Not many new medications were dispensed and people seemed to be having just check ups. This was nice to see because that made us feel like they really took to heart our advice from last year.
Another thing I really like about the community this year was the strong group of women who were in leadership positions. That is great and empowering to see.
We wrap up our mini clinic with our prayer circle with the medical delegation and community. Thanks to old friends, new friends, and family. And thanks to God.
Back to the cattle truck we go to head back home to rest for another day of full clinic tomorrow. As I turn back children run following us waving, goats singing, and the sun setting. What a blessing.
Our first day of our 5th year serving the people of El Salvador. Each year of this mission is different. There are always new challenges and blessings each year. This year we were able to raise the funds for the medications and supplies, but the challenge became finding the people that could commit to taking the time off from work and that would be willing to spend their time off working in a third world country. This year we were able to recruit three El Salvadoran doctors to help ensure that we would have enough help to care for the 500-600 patients that we see every year.
All of the volunteers this year except one had been on this delegation before. Helen the new person this years is a nurse that has family from El Salvador and is fluent in Spanish. Because almost all of us have had experience in El Salvador we skipped the normal historical tour of San Salvador and traveled straight from the airport to Berlin. We arrived safely at the Pastoral House around midnight tired but excited about what adventures this year will bring.
The Medical Delegation founder visited San Isidro, a rural community in El Salvador, years ago and saw the need for medical attention. She was called to spread God's words and love to make a positive difference in the world.
It is no secret that we live in an imperfect world with a huge imbalance of wealth and power. God is a God of justice and wants his people to make a difference in the world, standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves and sharing what we have with those who have nothing.
The Medical Delegation is sharing what they have (knowledge, skills, talents, love) with those who have nothing. We hope by sharing our stories with all of you, that you will be inspired to live out what God requires of each of us.
"No, the Lord has told us what is good. What he requires of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God." Micah 6:8
The 5th Annual OSP Medical Delegation leaves for El Salvador on October 22 and returns October 29. Check back October 22-29 to learn more about this year's trip.
Well, we are home… Carrie in North Carolina and the rest of us in Iowa. It was hard to part with Carrie in Houston and everyone else once we got to Des Moines. The trip home was uneventful, other than one person’s phone disappearing somewhere between the plane and the restroom at the Houston airport.
It was a very successful trip, from all perspectives. To my knowledge the only person who really got sick was our driver from the Pastoral Team, Alejandro, and that was on the last day of clinics. He picked up some kind of a stomach bug, but was better by yesterday, when we left.
I can spout some statistics, like:
Despite the volume of patients, the physicians treated each person as an individual and each received the time commitment that fit their needs. The patients ranged from babies a few days old to seniors in their 90’s. There were families and singles, women and men, boys and girls. Some just needed some Tylenol for their aches and pains while others had cancer, Parkinson’s, congenital skeletal deformities or severe depression. Many heard they have a virus that just has to run its course. Others had high blood pressure, parasites, infections or found out they were pregnant. Others got reading glasses. Everyone received vitamins and a tooth brush and tooth paste.
My task for the week was to orchestrate the flow of patients. After registration each patient had their symptoms, temperature, blood pressure, pulse, weight, etc. recorded by a nurse and then sat in a waiting area. From there I would make sure they saw the next available doctor. When they came out from the doctor I made sure they got to where they needed to go next. Most of the time it was to the pharmacy to get what they needed and head home. But sometimes they needed a urinalysis test, or to see the chiropractor or physical therapist, or to talk to the Pastoral Team about emotional issues, or to see Simei, our Salvadorian doctor, in order to be referred for further treatment. It was my job to keep track of them and make sure they got to the next “station” when that person became available.
My position uniquely allowed me to constantly interface with everyone in our amazing group and observe how they worked as a TEAM. Quite frankly, it was a thing of beauty. I really find it hard to put into words. Without exception everyone had a genuine compassion for their patients. Our team members worked together seamlessly with each other, each doing their part to serve the patients.
I want to stop here and make sure you understand who all comprised this TEAM I’m referring to. It wasn’t just the physicians, nurses and support staff from the states. It also very much included Simei, the Salvadorian doctor who took time off to join us; the 7 Salvadorian translators who made it possible to communicate; the members of the Pastoral Team who provided sage advice, counselled patients, registered patients, fixed our lunch at each clinic, drove us to the clinic sites, bought medications and medical supplies locally and took care of us back at the Pastoral House; the leaders of each community who organized our patients, prepared the sites where we set up our clinics and helped with various needs during the clinics; and local Salvadoran “health promoters” who helped set up follow-up visits or further consultations or treatment for those who needed it. Every last one of these people pitched in with whatever needed to be done… loading and unloading heavy tubs of supplies from the big flatbed truck, setting up examination rooms, holding a baby while its mother was being treated or washing dishes at the Pastoral House. No one complained. It was always, “What can I do to help?” We all had each other’s back.
The medical delegates from the states weren’t just there to “see some patients”. They all wanted to know more about El Salvador, its history, its people and their lives. They asked loads of thoughtful questions. 10 of this year’s delegation members were repeats. For most of them this was their 3rd or 4th Our Sister Parish Medical Delegation (out of the 4 Our Sister Parish Medical Delegations that have been held). This a testament to their convictions and their commitment to this mission, especially when you consider that they not only paid their own way, but they took a week of their vacation time and many lost a week’s worth of income. I’m proud to say I was once again a part of this wonderful TEAM and can’t wait to go back again next year.
I hope those who are reading this can search out someone who has participated in an Our Sister Parish Medical Delegation or church-sponsored Our Sister Parish delegation and learn more about their experience, the Our Sister Parish mission and what you can do to help.
Today we served the community of Las Delicias. We arrived to unload at a lovely church with welcoming community members eagerly awaiting our arrival. The medical delegation had been here two years ago and noticed several improvements to the area. Within minutes our now extremely efficient team had the clinic set up and ready to run.
We served 144 people today with varying needs. I am constantly in awe of the ability of this team to work to meet the multiple, often complex needs of the community.
Lunch was held at a the home of a generous family just down the road from our clinic. We broke down the clinic in mid afternoon and started an adventurous trek home. The roads were narrow and winding and we shared a small portion of the road (got slightly stuck) with another truck as large as ours for about 25 minutes. With some problem solving, teamwork and skillful driving from our driver Mauricio, we were able to free ourselves and eventually return to the pastoral house.
We concluded our evening with a dinner out with the pastoral team, our translators and the members of the medical delegation in Allegria, a town about 7 miles from Berlin. We said our goodbyes (at times tearful) to our translators and the pastoral team.
Until next year, Berlin...
Mark and Carri