Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Dentistry and Days Speeding By

Behold, the suitcase.

It was an exhilarating walk to the dental clinic this morning, rolling a suitcase that contained all the missing pieces. I spent the day analyzing numbers and fixating on my watch. How many patients had we seen? How many are in pain? Who is left on our list? Yesterday we were able to do orthodontic exams on all children Rising Star requested assessments on, cleaned about 15 kids teeth and fixed all the broken front teeth we could find. Today we saw about 30 patients - removed all the abscessed teeth we are aware of, cleaned around 20 kids teeth and did some other restorations. With what we have to work with, we made amazing progress.

But it's not so exhilarating to sit amongst 223 beautiful children and have to choose who to leave behind. No matter how many we help, it doesn't feel right to not help even one of them. We talked a lot about it tonight Aaron came up with a game plan that he feels will have the most finite, long term benefit. Because the reality is, he cannot rehabilitate each child's mouth in the 3 days we have left. He will do the work required to alleviate any pain the children are having, but beyond that we will implement a prevention program that will include cleaning and sealing the kids permanent molars and holding a fun class for the kids and teachers about oral hygiene. Different geographical regions present unique dental problems and for these children and the limited time we have, this will have the potential to do the most good. We will also leave detailed treatment plans for the children and pray that more dentists hearts will be open to serving here.

Here's a glimpse into the first 2 days of clinic:

The waiting room

The nice clinic details ;)

I met this girl the very first day we were here. I took a picture of this little group and then asked her why she wasn't smiling in the picture. She put her hand over her mouth and wouldn't talk. I forced a smile out of her and when I saw her tooth I knew exactly why. I told her that if she wanted it fixed I could help make that happen. She asked me every day when Aaron would be here and yesterday he was able to give her a new smile. What a difference such a small thing can make in someone's life.

Aaron is still drawing monumental amounts of attention from the kids. The story behind the mice in his arms is that they think there is no way he can have a bicep that size and shape unless there was a rat or a mice hiding under his skin! When we assessed the kids for dental needs before Aaron arrived, we only found a handful of kids who admitted to having pain. Today everywhere he went he had kids opening their mouth, asking him to look and telling him they had pain! He asked them if they were just trying to find an excuse to skip school or if they really wanted to hang out with him.

Faith has spent the last 2 days tutoring children at the school. She is so natural working with the kids and has made friends she will be very sad to leave - and I know these kids will miss her dearly.

Today was Nicky's 30th birthday! Sweet Erin made her cookies and french toast tonight, but before that she got a birthday letter from a little girl here and the entire school sang Happy Birthday to her, which brought tears to her eyes. It was so awesome!

There is just so much to tell. The minutes of our day are so full, not just with activity but with thoughts. I stayed up late last night talking with Anita about the cultural differences between this country and ours and the level of acceptance of certain realities that we can't imagine. Maybe one day I'll be able to express more of my thoughts out loud. The faces in these pictures have unfathomable stories, most of which I am holding and trying to process myself. The thing I find interesting is that the lessons I am learning from them are not what I'd expected. For that, I am grateful.

And the most beautiful thing I saw today was Aaron granting the simple wish of a little boy who wanted to have "spikes" on his hair, just like him. Labeled a "troublemaker", whether deserved or not, makes things difficult for him. In fact, during play time he was only allowed out of his hostel to get his hair done and then had to go right back in. Knowing what he has endured in his life makes me wish I could stay here and love him through the pain he has been caused, and he is now causing himself. Maybe I'm being dramatic, but I felt that when he reached out to Aaron today it was less about spikes and more about a boy who needs someone to see the good in him. And that he did.


  1. Aw- LOVE the spikes! Great job Aaron. :) I loved the picture of the boys doing push ups. So adorable. And that cute picture of the boys heading out to play bball w/ Aaron. That boy on Aaron's right, with his hand on his shoulder. Great great pictures. Faith IS a natural and so are you! Today I had a big grin on my face as I read through. Btw, HAPPY BIRTHDAY NICKY!
    You guys do such cool things! I love it all so much.

    The most beautiful thing I saw today:
    All of the love around here for Trevor- such sweetness
    and Aaron spiking a little boy's hair.

  2. These blog posts are my lifeline to your reality and every day I can't wait to see what has happened. Grateful that the wayward suitcase found its way to the clinic. Kind of reminds you of life, doesn't it? Sometimes we get sidetracked and lose our way. But the contents are destined for great things if we put them to use as God intended - in the right place and at the right time. Such happy kids! Faith looks the happiest of all! What a sweetheart! Poor Aaron looks exhausted but the smile says it was worth the effort and sacrifice to make it happen.

  3. Happy Birthday Nicky!!! What a wonderful time to celebrate on an experience of a lifetime!! I'm so proud of all of you!!! I love the blogs and reading about what's going on. I tried a few times at work today to read some but was in tears in about 10 seconds. Had to come home to read them and have a big cry fest!! Tears and laughter. I am keeping you all in my thoughts! Praying for safety, health and energy!!! Love to you all !!! Jayme

  4. SMILES OF INDIA!! So many beautiful smiles...Love it! Loved the picture of the boy getting the spikes, and Tara with a big smile, and Faith walking hand in hand with a new friend. You guys are doing good and making change in many ways--in hearts and mouths. Thank you! Jill

  5. As I sit here tonight and read your blog I am in tears. You, my sweet friends, are such an amazing inspiration to all of us, and a wonderful lesson for us to go through and talk about and read your blog each night as a family! We are honored to be your friends. Thank you for being amazing!
    Love Krista, Scott, Giacomo and Ava