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
My name is Deanna Pingel. I am a registered nurse and I work in the intensive care unit back home in Iowa. This is my 3rd year in El Salvador on our medical mission trip. Below is my journal from today's clinic in Jicaro.
The city of Berlin is already wide awake. I hear the cars and motorcycles drive by. Horns honking, people whistling, children laughing. Minutes later my alarm goes off. I stretch in bed, muscles sore from the previous clinic days. As I look around the room I see my fellow roommates popping up one at a time like tulips in the morning. We all look at each other, and with the same passion get dressed and packed for the 3rd day of clinic in Jicaro. We are in the middle of our clinic day stretch, which can be the most tiring but we do not let this overcome is to help the people in Jicaro.
I walk out of the room to go downstairs for breakfast. The sun is already high in the sky with full force. Today is going to be a hot one. Walking through the pastoral house the wonderful smell of a breakfast made with love by the pastoral team is waiting for us. Hot scrambled eggs, black beans, and plantains fuel our bodies for the beginning of the day. Bless the pastoral team for waking up before us and preparing this meal for us.
“The trucks are here!!!”. We all load up the trucks and climb the ladder into the cattle truck. We take our daily clinic day picture (it has become a tradition), and embrace our wooden planks that will be our seats for the next hour to Jicaro. We absorb each bump on the half paved/half dirt road with our bodies and smiles on our faces the entire time.
As we pull up to Jicaro we are are greeted by the community leaders who help us unload and selflessly provide anything we need. Walking up to the building we already had 30 people waiting to be seen. The doctors set up in the building to make 6 exam rooms. This year I worked in the pharmacy. We set up outside with two tables as our pharmacy. Two tables were not enough for our supplies so we had to use an outdoor sink to place medications to grab. Creative effectiveness is what we do most days :)
Clinic rooms are set up and the day begins. Most of of scrubs are already different colors from the sweat from the heat. Pants rolled up, handkerchiefs in water placed around necks… anything we could do to survive the day so we could all stay in for shape to take care of these wonderful people. In this community we saw more chronic kidney disease issues, and vision problems compared to the previous clinics we have been to.
We also had the pleasure of having a chiropractor as well as physical therapist this year alongside with the doctors. One instant I remember from today looking up from the constant business of the pharmacy was an older lady being shown stretches for a hurt shoulder. The amazement of pain relief from just starting one stretch was indescribable! A simple stretch changed this woman's life.
Each family received vitamins for adults and children in the family, as well as toothbrushes and toothpastes for each member of the family. Even if they did not have a prescription for other medications, the appreciation on their faces will forever stay in our hearts. That is what gets us up and going everyday, not just helping with health but the gratitude of the people.
Our clinic day ends and we served 150 people in the Jicaro community. We end the day with thanks for the community and letting us enter their community. Praise and thanks is also given for providing us a wonderful lunch and making us feel welcome. We climb the ladder again into our truck to head back home to the pastoral house. It takes each of us twice as long to make the climb up the ladder from exhaustion from the heat and busy day. The bumpy road greets our bodies again with a quick hello. An hour trip back again we make, “we can do this” I say to myself. Then I look up and am blessed with a refreshing drop of rain on my face. As if God responded “yes you can”. Day 4 of clinic here we come!
On October 26, we serve the communities of San Felipe de Bajo. Upon arrival there already a long line of patients waiting to be seen. They were anxiously anticipating the day. We serve 203 people from these communities. There is a variety of illnesses including a lot of skin disorders. There were a lot of children in this community which made our day rewarding.
The weather was incredibly hot and humid. And then a storm with rain came through and the temperature drops significantly. Our exam rooms were under a tin roof with a dirt floor and sheets to divide the rooms. The sheets were blowing into the patients that were waiting to be seen.
An incredible meal was prepared for us including meatball, pasta, rice, and a sweet corn drink. We completed our day by driving back to the pastoral house in the dark. This year there was no rain though During our ride home.
Hema and Stacey
Our first FULL day in El Salvador
We woke up bright and early for our first full day in El Salvador. This is a day spent in learning a bit about the history of the people we plan to serve.
We started the day with a delicious breakfast at our Guest House. Our trusty microbus driver Alfredo picked us up and delivered us to our historical sites. This morning we went to the Divina Providencia to see where Monseñor Oscar Romero lived while he was Archbishop and the chapel where he was assassinated. Romero was canonized on October 15th of this year and is now El Salvador’s first saint!
Then we drove to the UCA (University of Central America) to see where 6 Jesuit priests were killed along with their housekeeper and her daughter. They have an impressive museum for not just them, but for other martyrs throughout El Salvador and the world. We were very lucky that a student was able to accompany us in the museum to explain the exhibits to us. A bonus for me is that she spoke English so I didn’t have to translate!
By then it was time for lunch – we always enjoy going to the Artisan Shops where they have a buffet with an assortment of very good (and safe) food at a reasonable price. Since it is part of the artisan shop compound, we are able to purchase some crafts for our loved ones back home - or even for ourselves!
From here, we loaded up the microbus for the 2+ hour drive to Berlín. We arrived at the Pastoral House about 4 p.m. and almost as soon as we landed, we started organizing for our clinic days. All the medicines need to come into the country in their original unopened containers and we needed to count and divide them up into little zip lock baggies. We are talking about 10’s of thousands of pills. We have acetaminophen, ibuprofen, antihistamine, children’s and adult vitamins, pills for acid reflux, Tums, anti-fungal creams, etc. The Pastoral Team purchases the antibiotics and parasite medicines we need.
We also had to count out several thousand toothbrushes and tooth paste to put into our daily pharmacy tubs – everyone gets these items!
After we filled all our baggies, we needed to count and organize those bags in the quantities we will need for each day’s clinics. We worked between 4 p.m. and about 10:30 p.m., taking only a small dinner break. ALL 13 of us worked through the night. What a great team!
Everyone is excited to begin!
Thank you to everyone who collaborated with this Medical Delegation; either with funds, goods or prayers. Please continue to keep us in your prayers so that all our staff stays healthy so we can serve our brothers and sisters well throughout the week!
With love and gratitude,
Hello Friends and Families,
We are excited about our fourth trip down to El Salvador to do our medical mission work. We have a group of 13 people. So, today is our travel day.
Warren Pitcher has been our chauffeur for the Covenant Presbyterian Church members to and from the airport. The last three years, we had to get up at 3 o’clock in the morning for our flight. This is the first year, that we had an afternoon flight.
Thank you for your love and support!
Latsamy Hilliard RN, BSN
The 4th Annual Our Sister Parish (OSP) Medical Delegation departed for San Salvador, El Salvador today. They arrived in Houston, Texas late this afternoon and should arrive in San Salvador later this evening. We are so thankful for the thirteen member team. Please keep the delegation in your prayers as they share God's love one clinic at a time.
Check back throughout the next week to hear about their adventures, struggles, and success stories!