‘Unfortunate’ sacrifices challenge officers in LAN, around world



SERGEANTS Carlos and Irma Rueda, in charge of the 25 de Julio corps, pray with a woman who attends the corps.


Where do your unneeded dollars go? Think about officers serving on this world’s mission field. For instance, serving without receiving all or part of your monthly allowance is an unfortunate reality for officers in Latin America North, as it is in many parts of the Army world. Some call this an “unwanted” or “unfortunate” sacrifice.

In Latin America North, for example, while an officer couple with children is allotted a monthly allowance of $700-900, and a single officer $400-500, it is common for officers to receive far less.

When Captains Gerardo and Agripina Góchez served in their first appointment, in Guatemala, their home was an 8’ by 8’ shack. “We had no indoor toilet, no running water, and little electricity,” recalls Gerardo, “and the bed was broken.” They lived for two and a half years under those conditions; they had to pay rent of $50 U.S. per month for the quarters.

During the 11 months they served as corps officers in Colombia, they received the equivalent of only two months’ salary.

Cuba presents its own unique situation. There, officers are paid in three-month cycles: the first month they receive $220 U.S.; the next two months they receive 220 pesos per month. That works out to a monthly allowance of about $72, which is equal to a factory worker’s salary.

“We lose so many officers in Latin America because they reach the point where they think, ‘I cannot do this any longer’,” says Major Rhode Danielson, Costa Rica divisional women’s ministries director. “They leave The Salvation Army to get a job that will supply their basic needs: food, medical care, and education for their children.”

Danielson’s parents were Salvation Army officers in Mexico. “There were five children in my family, and the seven of us lived in one room for seven years.

“I know what it’s like to have to raise all your own money because divisional headquarters has no money to give you.”

One solution would be for officers to supplement their income with an outside job, she suggested. “That way we could fulfill our mission and beliefs without feeling denigrated and a failure.”

In the meantime, Danielson finds other ways to help lighten the burden. “There is so little I can do for my officers. But I can give them appreciation and respect, and not add to their stress.”

She gives an immediate example: “I told the corps officer we would be here today at a certain time, so we could take photos of the children (for this article). We were late, and by the time we got here, many children had left.

‘Don’t worry,’ I told the corps officer, ‘it’s okay—we will be fine. It doesn’t matter.’ And you know, it all turned out just fine.”


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