Dental / Medical
How many of us have ever thought that our business could be operated in a third world country...for free! Not me either! Running a dental clinic in Honduras was not exactly in my mind years ago. Sure, I'd done a week's worth of dentistry in Jamaica, but everything was handed to us when we got there and we walked away from it when we left for home. Honduras proved much different...
In 1999, friends of mine, Wayne and Char Merz, asked me to help with the dental needs for an orphanage in the middle of Honduras. After this first trip, a dream was put in my heart of using dentistry to spread the Word of God. Opportunities crossed our path. We stepped out in faith knowing God would help us pull this together; this being a portable dental clinic that could be brought to areas not served by Honduran dentists. Through the help and support of my wife Lori, Nancy Nagtzaam and Donna Swineheart we expected the best and moved forward with confidence, each knowing that this is what God wanted us to do. Of course we had fears to deal with...
- it's too big of an idea for us
- we wouldn't be accepted
- we can't afford the equipment and won't get the funding
- to what area do we bring the clinic to?
- how do we get the equipment down to Honduras?
- where do we store the equipment?
Before we started any sort of fundraising, we set up the following goals, stating what we wanted to accomplish. To provide free dental care in a clean, safe environment in an area not serviced by other dentists. The care delivered was to acceptable to United States standards and sterilization of instruments guaranteed. To spread the Word of God through the handing out of Bibles, study guides and contact with local pastors.
With our fundraising efforts we raised enough to purchase the equipment, with enough left over to purchase Bibles for our first clinic. Through this process we prayed and asked many questions. The fears we were dealing with were eliminated. With all of the information we received, the idea didn't seem too big to be attainable after all.
Our acceptance was affirmed when the Honduran Board of Dentistry issued us temporary Dental Licenses and a Honduran dentist told us that we were the best and most organized clinic she had seen.
We have contacts in Honduras that schedule our visits with mountain villages so the people are aware of our arrival. Whenever we set up a clinic, local Hondurans have been in prayer for our arrival. They help us load and unload, interpret, fix us lunch and provide us with snacks. The local Pastor will pray with us before the clinic opens stays to hand out Bibles and invites people to worship as they leave the clinic. I honestly have never seen people fighting over Bibles like you see in this setting.
Several times with the help of doctor volunteers, we have set up a medical area that runs in conjunction with our dental clinic. They will set up in another room or off to the side if we are able to use a larger room. The lines to see the doctor are just as long as they are to see us. A goal that we have in the future is to travel with an Optometrist as there is a great need to fit Hondurans with glasses.
The clinic is run with the help of donations from generous friends. The Midland Quilt Makers of Midland, MI have donated hundreds of quilts. Others have donated dental supplies, clothes, toys, medicines, Bibles, study guides, soaps and shampoos, etc. Doctors, Dentists, Dental Hygienists, Nurses, Assistants and quickly trained Assistants have donated their time and money. It takes 8 people to fully run the clinic. Working together, each person is responsible for a specific task, whether it be screening patients, sterilizing, post-op instructions or controlling the flow of the clinic.
Most important are the prayers. Without them we would not even have this ministry.