Nina (my mom Beverly) and Parker
This was a dream team! They came ready, willing and available to serve. They prepared devotions and crafts, they scraped porches and painted, they served lunch to hungry kids, loved on kids and babies, they taught kids how to brush their teeth and blessed our families.
My dad (Larry) painting.
Mom serving lunch at Manna.
Mariely and Kristen teaching dental hygiene at Manna.
Using her new tooth brush...
getting assistance from big sis...
We took advantage of a unique opportunity with this team. One of their team members is a dental hygienist. So we partnered with another ministry, Servants 4 Him, to host a dental clinic. Servants 4 Him brought the dentist and many supplies, we brought the team and the patients!
Crossing Church team, Servants 4 Him team and EN team.
I am constantly amazed at the little things we take for granted in the U.S. - for instance, hygiene and health education. I can remember from my earliest days being taught the importance of brushing my teeth and regular dental visits. I learned about it at home, at school and every time I set foot in the dentist's office.
Most dentists in developing countries do what we would call, "triage" or "critical care" - in other words - they pull rotten teeth. Very few people brush their teeth, even fewer get them cleaned. They only go to the dentist when they have no other choice. By then, the aching tooth is rotten and requires pulling. Root canals aren't an option because a secondary infection can leave the patient worse than before. Extraction is the primary tool for most patients.
Dr. Dennis Ruano explaining procedures to mama.
Lee holding hands and comforting while Kristen cleans teeth.
This breaks my heart. Going to the dentist should be a good thing - not a terrifying trauma. The cure for trauma in the dental chair is preventive maintenance. I am reminded of Ben Franklin's wise saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." There is the rub - this culture does not utilize preventative maintenance for anything - not teeth, cars, homes nor health. A little planning for the future, a little care of your body or your home goes a long way towards preventing painful and costly problems in the future.
Dr. Dennis and his assitants...very serious business.
So cool I got to wear shades!
Yet, I am beginning to better understand the tyranny of the urgent - like "where am I going to get some money to buy some beans and rice?" I guess when you spend your day focused on how to feed your family, the "little things" like brushing your teeth don't even register on the radar. We take for granted the luxury of brushing teeth, regular dental and medical care. We take for granted the "daily bread." I'm pretty sure you have more than the "daily bread" in your pantry. (I know I do.)
So what do I do about this? This bothers me, but how do I live differently because of it. The scope of needs can be overwhelming. I am learning to ask the Lord, "What is the next thing?" What is it you want me to do next? How can I serve today? If I focus on today's daily bread or today's calling, I don't have to drown under the weight of what could or should be. God's got it - He can handle it! He just wants me to be a willing vessel in this moment for what He has set before me right now. What's next for you?
(Probably, brushing your teeth! hahaha)
Clean teeth and smiles!