The Mission of Miracles is an annual volunteer medical campaign in El Salvador, undertaken by Central New Yorkers in partnership with our Companion Diocese of El Salvador. The Mission of Miracles team provides medical, dental, vision, nutrition counseling, pastoral care and mental health services to hundreds of Salvadorans each year over the course of the week-long campaign.
Longtime Mission of Miracles team member Jim O’Neill reflects on the 16th Mission of Miracles, which took place in February 2019. All photographs are O’Neill’s; more images are available in our Facebook album.
The old saying “time flies when you’re having fun” surely applies to the recently concluded Mission of Miracles medical campaign in El Salvador. Despite long days, which included riding cramped buses up to two hours each way and working in the heat and sometimes in not-so-sanitary conditions, we did have fun. Knowing that we were doing this ministry as Jesus Christ calls us to do, and with guidance from the Holy Spirit, our task was an easy one to bear—especially compared to the hard life endured by the Salvadorans we were there to serve.
When we arrive at each village we find people already waiting. Many have walked from far away, maybe an hour or more. Many will wait all day to be seen. They are willing to do this because it may be the only way some will receive health care they desperately need. Common diagnoses include hypertension, headaches, diabetes,and chronic kidney disease. Volunteers with the Mission, which is in its sixteenth year, can run EKGs and can test for blood sugar and cholesterol issues, anemia, and urinary tract infection. A nutritionist provides dietary counseling. In the five villages we visited, medical providers saw 483 people, while our nutritionist counseled 68 individuals.
Another part of this ministry is our vision team. We tested vision for 369 patients and fitted them as needed with prescription glasses or readers. This essential service allows people, especially women, the ability to do close-up work.
Over the years, one aspect of the Mission that has evolved is what we now call pastoral care. Our own deacon Pat Kinney eases the burden of many by just being there at that moment for them. I see the Holy Spirit working though Pat helping out a person in need.
There is one more feature of the Mission that has made great strides over the years and that is the dental program. Started years ago by Dr. Gard Lory of CNY, the program now runs year-round, led by our Salvadoran partners. This year the program treated 157 patients. In the past, extractions were a major focus for the mission. Now, cleanings and restorations along with fluoride treatments are an indication of the program’s success.
Hundreds of people make donations throughout the year that allow the Mission to succeed. This support is never overlooked and deserves recognition. Financial contributions and in-kind donations—even the pill bottles people save—make our work possible. The people of this Diocese and supporters all over Central New York are the backbone of the Mission Of Miracles. Together we are spreading the love of Jesus Christ and the blessing of the Holy Spirit to our fellow children of God.