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.
Christ Smiles Dental Mission is classified as a non-profit organization by the IRS, under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Your contribution is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Our EIN is 47-5604023.