St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Camillus hummed with activity this past Saturday, as community members ages 16 to 92 sorted and packed hundreds of pounds of donated medical and hygiene supplies for the upcoming Mission of Miracles medical mission to El Salvador.
Thirty-two individuals, including medical professionals, high school students, and other volunteers, will travel to El Salvador in February for the thirteenth medical mission. Mission volunteers partner with leaders in our Companion Diocese of El Salvador to provide health and wellness education and medical, dental and psychological support services to Salvadorans in need.
Emery and Jordan, both studying Spanish in their Manlius high school, worked Saturday to prepare medical record forms that will track patient care on the mission (mission medical providers see many families return year after year). These two students, along with three other young people participating in the Mission for the first time, are looking forward to putting their Spanish skills to use as translators, and see this trip as an extension of the volunteer work they do here in Central New York.
Terri, a nurse practitioner from Syracuse who has traveled with the Mission of Miracles four times before, also sees a strong connection between her experiences on the Mission and her work here at home with Central American refugee minors. “The children we see in El Salvador are trying to escape from gangs and violence, just like kids here,” she said. “They give me insight into the past lives of my refugee minors here.” This insight has helped her to better relate to her clients: “A glow comes over their faces when they feel understood.”
Barb Connor, an energetic ER and urgent care doctor who is one of the “Original Eight” founders of the Mission of Miracles, bustled around the church encouraging volunteers. According to Dr. Connor, a typical day on the Medical Mission starts with an early wake-up call. Team members travel to a different village each day, setting up a mobile clinic in a school or church selected by Bishop Alvarado of El Salvador and Dr. Daniella Flamenco, the Salvadoran doctor who works closely with the Mission and follows up with patient care throughout the year. The Medical Mission serves as a health campaign—a community event that brings people together and enhances the year-round care they receive in El Salvador from doctors like Dr. Daniella.
“The constants of Dr. Daniella [Flamenco], of our team members, and the support of the Diocese means that this really is a sustainable mission,” said Dr. Connor. “In thirteen years, we’ve seen so much improvement. We’re providing ongoing care and wellness.”
Pam, a registered nurse who was present at the packing day, is looking forward to her sixth Medical Mission and feels supported by her home parish, St. Paul’s in Waterloo. “We may be a small parish,” she stated, “but people really care.”
That care was evident in the wealth of supplies carefully selected and donated by parishes and communities throughout our diocese. Please join communities throughout the Diocese in praying for Bishop Skip, his wife Bonnie, and all who will be participating in this 13th Medical Mission to El Salvador, which begins February 6, 2016. Please pray also for the clergy and people of our Companion Diocese of El Salvador, and for the doctors and caregivers who partner with the Mission and provide medical care to Salvadorans year-round.
Heavenly Father, giver of life and health: Comfort and relieve your sick servants, and give your power of healing to those who minister to their needs, that those for whom our prayers are offered may be strengthened in their weakness and have confidence in your loving care; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.