By: Rhoda Keener and Carolyn Holderread Heggen
Sharing Sister Care seminars around the world has introduced us to thousands of new sisters, and some have become dear friends with whom we stay in close and meaningful contact. During this pandemic, our hearts are heavy not just with concern for our own families and communities but for our international sisters and the burdens they are carrying. When we asked how they are doing during this crisis, responses came in from 16 countries on five continents, many noting how helpful their Sister Care learning has been. May we also hold our sisters and brothers around the world in our hearts and pray we may find new ways to be God with skin on for one another in these pandemic times.
Churches in many countries have responded to the physical needs of others as well as the emotional and spiritual needs. In Guatemala, people experiencing homelessness receive food and lodging in some church buildings. Many women are making and sharing face masks. In Mexico, churches provide food for migrants traveling through Mexico and they worry and pray about safety and health for undocumented persons in the United States.
In Cuba, people over 60 are not allowed to leave their homes now. Sister Care coordinator Midiam Lobaina says her neighbor has been God with skin on for her as she has stood in long lines to buy food and bring it to their home.
Women developed a prayer chain in Cuba and call each other daily at 9pm. In India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Ukraine, South Korea, Puerto Rico and throughout Central and South America, churches are holding virtual worship. The Movement of Anabaptist Women Doing Theology in Latin America has organized support groups for women in Central and South America and shared a virtual workshop on dealing with stress. But as several women noted, the elderly often don’t have the capacity to engage electronically with this kind of worship and support.
Because there are many losses and much discouragement due to the disease, Olga from Guatemala, noted how vital it is for women to remind each other of a key Sister Care concept, that each is a beloved daughter of God and has a special gift that she can offer to the community. Other women noted that the Sister Care teachings on transforming loss and grief will certainly be relevant in the months ahead.