Some of our followers and missioners may remember that our plan for 2019 was to set up our Christ Smiles Dental Mission clinic in Santiago Suchilquitongo, a small municipality in the Etla District of Oaxaca (wa-ha-ca) but only a few days before setting up our clinic it became necessary to locate a new place for our mission. At the suggestion of one of our contacts in Oaxaca the municipality of San Agustin, also in the Etla District and closer to Oaxaca city was our "new place". As a group with a great trust and dependence on the Holy Spirit of God we soon realized the amazing guidance of God
calling us to San Agustin, Etla. With only a few days notice the presidente of the municipality and his staff and other volunteers an excellent space was made available for our use in the lower level of the San Agustin Municipal Building. They also did an amazing job in moving all our equipment and supplies to the location, literally a Herculean task. But even more... a mission clinic without patients is lonely and the San Agustin municipal staff worked miracles getting the word of our Christ Smiles Dental Mission and the services we provide out to the population of San Agustin.
Our Mission group was no less Spirit driven, women and men hearing and answering the call to serve our family bonded in the love of Christ. We came together from Texas and Mexico, Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio and Colorado and one Honduras native: seven dentists and about 20 others with little or no professional dental experience that came together like a profession dental office and staff to provide a high quality of care for our family in Christ in San Agustin, Etla.
In the coming weeks there will be more information on our Oaxacan Mission Journey and the incredible experience of Spirit and family, labor in the Lord's vineyard, food and fellowship, and more food and a great and fun time joining in the fiesta and festival in the parish of San Agustin.
I met Janice in 2000 when we both ventured into a dental mission trip with a group sponsored by Peace Lutheran Church in Hurst, Texas. We had no idea what to expect, what might be asked of us or how it might change our lives. On that mission I had the opportunity to observe all the volunteers to see what might have motivated them to serve. What most impressed me about Janice on that first mission experience has been confirmed time and again in the years since. The picture to the right of Janice with the young is from that trip and it says a lot about her spirit of love. The story behind the picture: the mother of the child was in oral surgery; the child was frightened by the noise and unfamiliar activity and feared for her mother. The fear came out in loud wails and big tears. Janice stepped in, picked up the wailing child and calmed her and cared for her until the mother was finished and able resume her care for the child.
Over the years that impression still holds true. Janice’s willingness to give freely from the store of love within her, comforting the little ones and offering a warm smile and loving touch to many others has never wavered. She uses that same gift in her interactions with members of the mission team with simple gestures and words of loving-kindness.
Another trait I see in Janice is flexibility, adaptability and a willingness to move between one task and another while we are in mission. That is complimented by the fact that over the years she has acquired skills needed to serve those who come into our clinics. Love produces Joy and that sense inner happiness and joyful spirit has been a bright spot in our clinic as Janice greets patients with a smile when she is serving as a dental assistant. Maintaining that is no easy feat considering that many of the villages we serve offer us high heat, high humidity and no air conditioning. That sense of joy carries into a God given sense of humor that comes out even at the end of a hot tiring day when the team shares the challenges and difficulties of the day and prepare for the next day. Her sense of humor can liven up our evening meals and lead into our evening devotional time with hearts uplifted. Even in our times of faith sharing Janice is willing to openly share the goodness and strength God has given her. Janice freely gives of what has been given to her. Her generosity is seen also in the time she dedicates in preparation for our mission trips. Preparation is a collaborative effort of several people and Janice is a key person with organizing our inventory, assessing what is usable from the previous trip and projecting what will be needed for our next mission venture.
I know that words can never describe the fullness of a person’s character but one more thing that stands out is Janice’s attention to detail in whatever she is doing while in mission with us. As in most workplaces whether it is a paid job or a volunteer labor of love there is a hierarchy of work, some tasks more valued, some seemingly less important. In our mission work I have seen Janice doing every task that makes our mission succeed except act as dentist. The value that she brings to the most thankless task, the job of cleaning up after the patients receive
treatment is done with the same attention to detail. She gives value to the task because she knows that failure in the smallest detail here, cleaning, sanitizing, sterilizing can cause catastrophic failure if one of our brothers or sisters leaves our clinic carrying some unknown pathogen.
Love, joy, willingness, generosity, flexibility, attentiveness, these are all powerful descriptive words but they are simply descriptors unless they are put into action. Janice has proven her ability to take all these traits given to her and bring them to fruition through her actions in mission and in every aspect of her life.
We are now at the end of day eight of our ten day drive to raise funds to purchase Bibles to be given away on our July Mission to San Miguel del Puerto.
We are still at $695.00 with no new donations but it is Sunday a day when God's Word is heard around the world and we give thanks for that and see God's Word at work. Remember that every donation is a Gift from God and we know God is always generous but we are closer but still a long way from being able to buy the 300 Adult Bibles and 200 Youth Bibles. We will purchase the Bibles in Mexico at a cost of about $4.50 U.S. ( about 82 Pesos each) $2,250.00 U.S.
Our short term fundraising campaign began on April 21st and continues through May 1st. Your donation will help us purchase and ship Bibles to be given away on our mission July 19 – July 26, 2018
Please share this request and update with your friends and HELP US MAKE CHRIST SMILE.
Thank you and God bless
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Donations can also be mailed to:
Christ Smiles Dental Mission P.O. Box 14193
Actually only one person asked who these people are. This was a group of about 50 women and men and children (many in mother's arms) who arrived at our Christ Smiles Dental Mission clinic in San Miguel del Puerto at about 11:30 AM on the Tuesday of our clinic. Their day had begun well before dawn, eating and taking care of necessities before getting to the arranged pick up point from their remote village and areas surrounding areas where. We knew they were coming in to the clinic but no one could anticipate what they might need in the way of dental treatment. It was their arrival and presence that prompted the quote from Dorothy Day about "dealing with the innumerable visitors who come all through the day... keeping patience and acting intelligently".
Our prayer that day intention was to serve all of God's Children who came to be served and on this day, like others, we worked with that purpose in mind. There is no doubt that by the end of the day with this group and others who arrived as well, we were all tired but tired with the sense that on this day God's will was done. We had the privilege to be instruments of God's will.
And all these seemingly little things we each do every day--dealing with paperwork in some way, cleaning house, welcoming visitors and being patient, acting intelligently and with intention to act rightly and justly--these are the things we do that brings God's peace into being in our world.
Sometimes getting there is a great part of the adventure of Mission and the road from Huatulco to San Miguel del Puerto where our clinic was set up and the road from San Miguel to our home-away-from-home at La Palapa de Cascadas Magicas certainly did not disappoint on the adventure aspect. Trust in God is always necessary and trust in the skill of our drivers was also essential especially when our van met oncoming traffic on these winding roads that were too narrow for two vehicles to pass. One or the other always had to back up to a place wide enough to allow the other to pass. On these roads courtesy and cooperation are not options but essentials of the road.
The truck at the top of this post and its passengers is a part of the story of our Mission Clinic. The town of San Miguel del Puerto is the Governmental center of this part of the District of Pochutla in the State of Oaxaca. There are 61 pueblitos, ranchos, villages or communities within the governance area of San Miguel, some are very remote. Residents of one pueblito who visited our clinic began their journey to San Miguel by way of a cable stretched across a river because road and bridge were washed away by the recent tropical storm. Women carried their children across in their arms to bring them in for dental work. A government truck from San Miguel provided transportation to the clinic and back making for an all day journey. Thanks to God and the gifts brought together on this team all who needed dental service received what they needed.
This community is just a small part of the stories of the 494 men women and children from a dozen villages and towns who made their way to receive service at Christ Smiles Dental Mission.