Recently, after being out in town for a couple of weeks, having some long talks with some of the “big cheeses” of our organization, and making a few earth-shatteringly huge ministry decisions, we eventually were able to fly back into our quiet little bush location… just in time to host a dental team that had graciously offered their services to our village.
It was a busy time for our family, as we were (are) still processing some of the conclusions that we had come to out in town, but it was also a really encouraging experience. The team that came was comprised of a female expat dentist, Sheena (who is Chinese-Canadian),* and her three national assistants. It was such a joy to be able to host these 4 amazing women and stand witness to their incredible testimonies.
All 4 of the ladies showed themselves to be professional, competant, rugged, humble, and extremely friendly! Our people were all SUPER impressed by the kindness of the ladies and their eagerness to help the people during the mornings and then visit with them all throughout the afternoons.
Over the week that they were here, Sheena and her crew were able to “extract”** teeth from over 70 patients, who came from many different villages, several over 5 hours away! Many of her patients had been suffering from significant pain and discomfort for a very long time, so her efforts were a huge blessing.
As we had set up the clinic about 4 feet from my office desk, I had a front row seat to a few days’ worth of some impressively efficient work. Only time will tell whether Sheena’s admonitions towards adopting good oral hygiene will be heeded by the Iski men and women that she treated, but I can certainly guarantee that I won’t be cutting corners with MY flossing anymore! I have seen enough periodontitis*** to last a lifetime!
I can also confidently declare that if there happened to have been any latent inklings to pursue a late-breaking career in dentistry hiding somewhere back in my subconcious, this dental clinic has thoroughly purged them from my system. I am 0% desirous of ever getting involved in pulling chunks of bone out of people’s heads.
Ironically, the day after the dental clinic headed back out to town on the heli, Griffin was playing in the dirt under our house and unearthed a human tooth of unknown origin. What I thought was funnier than his discovery though, was the fact that neither Rochelle or I were surprised to learn that our son had managed to dig up human remains while making sand castles. Again.
Actually, I think the exact quote from the conversation was, “Well, at least he wasn’t sucking on it this time…”
And, to the original owner’s credit, though the rest of him may have wasted away,**** I think the fact that his tooth was one of the better ones I have seen this week is a real testament to his character. I’m sure his smile would have made Dr. Sheena proud.
*Sheena has been in PNG, with Sumaritan’s Purse, for several years now, and related quite well with the Iski via the trade language. I only mentioned her nationality, because this was the first time that many of our people had ever interracted with someone from China, so it was pretty cool.
**This is dentist-talk for “pull.”
***This is dentist-talk for “jaw bone has turned to mush.”
****Thanks to Sheena, I am now privy to the knowledge that our teeth are stronger than any other bone in the human body.