AMA Volunteers Provide Calm in the Storm
Until recently, there was no mention of coronavirus in Selawik, Alaska. Edna Estrella, nurse and HIV specialist working as an Arctic Mission Adventure (AMA) volunteer, and her husband, José, were worried to see the lack of knowledge and leadership in setting up safety protocols.
The Lord kept impressing Edna Estrella to call a meeting with the tribal administration, the city administrator and the clinic supervisor, but she resisted. As the story of Esther kept playing in her mind and the words “for such a time like this" repeated day and night, Estrella gave in. She shared her concerns with the city administrator, who immediately called a meeting with Selawik city, tribal and clinic personnel.
The following morning the group gathered (6 feet apart, of course) to discuss what steps to take to protect the community. At that moment Estrella realized how much help the village needed and how eager they were for guidance. She was able to share lessons learned from her work as a specialist during the HIV epidemic, emphasizing the devastation COVID-19 could cause in Selawik with its lack of medical infrastructure. By the end of the meeting, the group had a solid plan in place to protect the community and mitigate potential infections.
God knows the beginning from the end, and He knew the Estrellas could help set protocols for the village where there were none. The Selawik community has been so welcoming to these volunteers, and they cannot stop praising God for His mercies. What a blessing to be a modern-day Esther and answer God’s call to lead out at such a time as this. Under Estrella's guidance, Selawik leadership has received praises from the Maniilaq Health Center and North Slope Borough as “an example that other villages should follow.” Most importantly, the Selawik community felt empowered and prepared for whatever comes.
The Estrellas are social distancing through all this. Their home remains closed for visitors. They are not entering homes and are using hand sanitizers and masks. They are also practicing the important step of boosting their immune systems with vitamins, antioxidants and plenty of rest.
Please continue to lift the AMA workers, isolated Alaska Native villages and all of Alaska up in prayer during this time of fear and uncertainty. AMA volunteers, like Christ, can be a calm in the storm.