Before we were commissioned as officers last year, COVID-19 hit. It took us all by surprise and changed our lives. Stationed now at the Kansas City Westport Temple, Mo., Corps, we are living in a new reality. We don’t know how long this will last, but as we serve people, we share our hope in Jesus who died and rose to give us life in abundance.
We were fortunate that just before we arrived last July, lockdowns had been lifted. So, from the start we have been able to meet, wearing masks and socially distanced, with our soldiers for worship and Bible studies. On Sundays our corps averages 30 people, which is about half of the maximum capacity given regulations, so we encourage our soldiers to share their testimony with others in a responsible way and invite them to join us so we can have a fuller fellowship. Three families, 10 people, have begun attending because of their efforts to share hope.
My wife, Yami, and I also attribute this to prayer. In our second year of officer training we began to pray regularly for the place the Army would send us to serve. Now, we are praying for our corps and community but in a more informed way and moving ahead one step at a time in faith through this crisis together.
We are grateful we have been able to help meet our community’s physical needs. Social services have been provided by appointment one-on-one with up to four people at a time, wearing masks and socially distanced by screens dividing a large room, to help ensure the health of our staff and clients. Safety rules are posted inside and outside the corps.
Another service our corps has been able to continue providing is a weekday sandwich program where anyone who is hungry can receive a sandwich, drink and cookie or brownie at lunchtime. Every day we serve 40-60 individuals and families with food provided by the Harvesters Community Food Network. In the future, we are praying we can serve a hot meal as well.
Since November our corps has partnered with the public schools to become an e-Learning center where children come from 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. to participate in online classes in a safe environment and receive lunch while their parents work. In the future we hope to provide a permanent computer lab for the community.
Many residents don’t have access to computers or the internet, so this would be a blessing to them. We are grateful for the support from donors and the staff at divisional headquarters in helping to realize this vision.
When my wife and I left Venezuela in 2016 with our youngest son for the U.S. my prayer was, “Lord if I go to a foreign country to start a new life, I don’t want to serve the world anymore. I want to serve only You; I want to be a messenger for Your Kingdom.” More and more we see God answering that prayer and our dreams of ministry coming true.