My Return to the Dominican Republic (Part II )
SECOND TRIP and second email to my yahoo and catholicity groups :
Date: Fri Mar 29, 2002
My Return to the Dominican Republic
Every once in awhile, God moves just a little, and if you listen closely, you know that you are being directed to do something. When He says "Now, go!", you can go and be blessed, or you can pretend it wasn't Him. IF you listen, you can touch, and be touched by many.
I don't fly well. Well, it isn't the actual flying! It is the getting TO the planes that is irritating. The first trip, a Hurricane prevented me from getting to the DR on time. THIS time, it was snow, and it was an airline itself that was late and caused me to miss a total of three different flights!!! THEN, it was the exhausted traveler herself oversleeping who missed her re-scheduled fourth flight! 'Nuff said. My oldest daughter sincerely asked me if I was sure that I was supposed to be going when all of these things began to happen. My answer was, I am even MORE certain now than I was before!
I had 'met' Jack via the internet the first time last June, when he answered an inquiry about the possibility of doing some work with orphans in the DR in a city where a friend of mine is living now. I made a trip last November to visit a friend, meet him in person, and to speak to someone at the orphanage to see if they were even interested! They were, and the young girls there made lasting impressions on our hearts!
I do NOT want to mention any names, as the girls there are all cuties, and I don't want to offend any of them by leaving any out. But, there are about three, er...four...well, to be honest, about seven...or...more, whom I would LOVE to snatch up and bring home. Reality sets in when I remember that all of these girls will eventually turn into teenagers...and, as much as I love someone else's teenagers--been there, done that! (SMILE) and not asking for more!
Working with portable equipment that I was unfamiliar with left me feeling TOTALLY inadequate, and as though I had NO idea how to do sealants. The added language barrier was no help (I found out the other day that I was telling them 'zipper', not 'don't close your mouth!'); nor was the fact that I did not realize that IF I didn't plug the fan into "La PLANTA", the generator that Jack has, then IF the power in Puerto Plata quit as it frequently does, there would be no breeze! I melted the first day. Literally. Between suction that I could NOT get to work cuz my hands were just too small to reach the button to push to get it working, and the heat....the massive saliva and resulting messed up sealants, and my own sweat…it threatened to send me home faster than ANY late flights had just a day before!
*smile* But, I don't give in that easily!!
I asked Jack if he minded if I cut the high speed suction tips in half, and armed with fourteen halves, I was ready for the next day. THEN, Jack said, "YOU KNOW, if you plug the fan into this, and use the generator, it will work all the time!" DUH!! I was no longer melting...Day Two began with a cool breeze that felt like Heaven.
I was a terrified child myself, once. I know what it is like to feel sheer terror at the site of any kind of syringe, OR even a doctor, nurse, or dentist!! These kids have NO idea what a Dental Hygienist is. They only know it hurts to see 'Dentista'!! Now, imagine that you are seven, have had a horrible experience, and this strange lady is telling you "No dolor!" as she holds a syringe!! She could care Less if I could speak English/Spanish/PigLatin!! She sees PAIN. She isn't listening, she isn't hearing, she isn't wanting anything to do with me OR Jack!
But, imagine the sheer wonder when she allows you to do the sealants, and actually finds out that it didn't hurt! Then, as she goes to Jack to get that tooth fixed...the terror builds again, and she is allowed to leave without it fixed, told that IF she decides to return, he will fix it and he promises her that it won't hurt.
She leaves, and is obviously NOT believing him. She returns many times, and peeks in shyly, watching. No one is crying. She leaves, she returns, she leaves, and finally, she consents to give him a chance. He fixes the tooth, she smiles. "NO DOLOR!" She is the best advertisement we have, as she goes around telling others that it didn't hurt, and returns, at seven, to become HIS assistant! SHE reassures the others, and she holds the suction for Jack. She will no longer be afraid the next time someone tells her that she needs to see the dentist. A miracle. A smile.
A young boy, one of his anterior permanent teeth badly discolored and Â enough to cause HIM to cover his mouth when he talks, obviously a source of discomfort for his young teen esteem. He is terrified that Jack will 'pull the tooth'. Instead, Jack is able to restore it, and make it look like the other, MAYBE for the first time this young man can ever remember! He walks out smiling, widely and NOT covering his mouth, telling every one of the other kids that it didn't hurt! His friends all see the difference. A miracle. A smile. Forever, a life changed.
A beautiful eighteen year old young woman, needing sealants and three teeth filled. Gorgeous smile. Those permanent teeth will NOT be lost soon, because someone was able to restore them. A miracle. A smile. A life that may be changed forever.
A Hygienist, not able to speak the language tries to 'sing' reassurances to one of the young kids...in a tune that the others recognize, and soon, one begins to sing the song in English, and the others pick it up, and the entire room is filled with kids singing "If you're happy and you know it clap your hands!"....smiling, in a DENTAL office--a source of fear and pain in earlier times--NOW a place to have fun. A miracle. Smiles all over. Lives changed, maybe a little, maybe much.
A nun, caretaker of the girls, has a very bad tooth that has to be extracted. They CANNOT afford to go to a dentist, but, can Jack help her? Yes, and a hygienist who has NEVER assisted at oral surgery helps him to do an extremely difficult extraction. A female friend, herself afraid of dentists helps in the background and sees the miracles in progress herself.
A couple of teachers from the school nearby need prophys, and MAYBE to see the "dentist"....and are thrilled when no cavities are found. Others KNOW that they need the "dentist" more than the other...and are equally thrilled to know that one is there, that they can afford...free.
Jack had warned me....I am a strong and hard worker, and have always been. But, by Thursday, at ten, the wall hit! I had gotten to the point that I was glad the time was ending. I was praying for the day to end!! By eleven thirty, I even admitted it. I loved every minute, but it was beginning to be hard to continue. Some of the girls had already begun having tears the day before when they asked when we were leaving. Hugs....Many many many hugs.
Friday, the girls began to bring letters, and pictures, and their toys, as gifts to US. My grandmother/mother's heart wanted to say...NO these are YOURS...keep them! thanks, but YOU keep them, but I knew that that was NOT the thing to do. Instead, hug each, and say "Gracias!" and tell them that you will put them up at work, and take a picture to send them. I have Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, troll, clay, bracelets, a bear, a lizard, a Tweety bird painted plastic piece that can be turned into a refrigerator magnet easily, and....a Barbie brush and comb. I have many "Te quiero mucho!" and 'don't go!' messages. I have MANY pictures!!
I have plans to return.