Saturday, August 30, 2014

Dental Clinics – Part One

When I was told one of my jobs in India would be helping at dental clinics, I was under the impression that I would be taking down people’s names and sitting them in chairs. We did a bit more than that.  I have to confess that it was more than a bit stretching for my germ-phobic personality and gave all new meaning to Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

But Dr Rick, Chris and I made a great team and it was the most memorable part of the trip (second only to driving). We met so many people from different places and different ages. It provided a sense of accomplishment, making a difference in peoples’ lives, and of truly sharing God’s love in a country that doesn’t allow foreign missionaries.

clinics 01 getting packets of meds ready for the clinics in our “office” in the courtyard outside our room

Every clinic was held in a different location but each was advertised for weeks prior. Some were in homes, churches or in community buildings. Some were spacious and bright, some were tiny and crowded. Every clinic started with a program: worship songs, prayer, a welcome of our team and other special guests, and testimonies from “the famous American dentist” Dr Rick and sometimes, Chris. Some patients came from very near (houses right in the neighborhood) and some came long distances to see the dentist (we saw some that came from over 100km!). Some patients were church members, some were Hindu or Muslim. All had the electricity go out for some portion of the time. All had some easy cases and some not-so-easy cases. But there was always food served, although we didn’t always have much of an appetite afterwards. Eventually they learned that we never took a break to eat and would feed us before and after the work was done.

All of the clinics were set up the same. A waiting area, a sterilizing station for boiling the tools, a recovery area and the clinic area. The clinic was set up around a central work table with 4-6 stations set up on the table and 4-6 chairs set up around the table. Rick would start at one patient, assess, numb, move to the next. Then repeat this until we got back to the first patient. Then he would go around the circle again and again. Sometimes a more difficult extraction or more Novocain would mess with the flow but it pretty much worked just like that over and over again.

Our first clinic was the day after our arrival at a church/pastor’s home close to the IEM campus. While we had no idea what to expect, it was nothing like I expected. The waiting room, sterilizing station, and opening program was under the covered porch in front of the house. It was a good thing because it POURED most of the day, which was a shock after the beautiful sunshine our first day in India!

clinics 03clinics 06 clinics 08clinics 10   clinics 07The room for patients was made in the living room by hanging sheets from the ceiling. It was made even more tiny by the constant coming and going of the audience to watch and the pavarazzi constantly taking pictures. We were on FB before we even got back to IEM! The power went out more than once and finally the generator had to be fired up out back. It turned out it was our most challenging clinic and made for a great initiation into missionary dentistry!

clinics 04reception and recovery area (I love the bright cheery blue paint!)

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getting all set up

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My favorite patient of all the people we saw (and I loved so many of them) was from our very first clinic. A beautiful and very scared 17-year-old girl with a very stubborn tooth! It took over an hour to get the thing out and she never let go of my hand once the entire time!

clinics 12When the clinic was over, they cleared off the table, took down the curtain and served up lunch. I started feeling nauseous about 30 minutes into the clinic and couldn’t eat a bite of the lovely lunch they made. :o(

clinics 14The second clinic was COMPLETELY different! This one was held in the auditorium at the IEM campus. The room was roomy and bright and no spectators! They brought in a band for the opening program and to play during the clinic. How many dentists have their own band??? “famous American” dentists do! While the music was nice it made it very hard to hear! One of our patients was a young nurse named Binti, who asked us to pray for her passport/visa paperwork so she could go work in Saudi Arabia. Many Indians go to work in professional jobs in Saudi because the pay is so much higher!

clinics 15 the band

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waiting area on the balcony

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reception, recovery and sterilizing station

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Binti is in blue on the left

Our third clinic was at Babu Paul’s, another pastor’s home/church near the campus. It was such a pretty little house with a nice yard right across the street from the railroad tracks.

clinics 22the church is on the right and their home on the left side of the house

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the street in front of the house, the wires are running along the railroad tracks

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Rick and I in the “clinic” and Babu Paul’s wife is in the doorway

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Babu Paul and some of the church members

Although we had a slow start with few patients, it picked up and had some very tough cases at the end. Because of the slow start, Rick even agreed to pull out an 80-year-old man’s remaining 14 teeth so he could get dentures!

clinics 25It was so nice to have so much natural light when the power went out!

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This was also the clinic where Chris trained our driver, Vipin, to sterilize instruments for us. He was happy to have a job and we were happy for the help!

As we were preparing to leave, Rick’s now-toothless patient came to hug him and thank him for “plucking” his teeth!

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Bible College

While in India, Chris had the opportunity to teach 11 classes at the Bible college. People come from all over India to attend three years of courses to prepare them to return to their home state and minister to people in their native language. Many of them leave and then return to their homes where they may face severe persecution. Some travel for days (or even weeks) to get to the campus. Some come with only the clothes on their back. But they all come with a desire to serve the Lord and bring others to faith…

Two of these students are siblings from a Brahmin level Hindu family who were recently saved and came to the Bible college to study. They have been truly blessed with the gift of tongues! While they know hardly any English, they are able to understand all of the preaching and teaching that they hear. I wish there had been someone to interpret for them to hear their story! You could just see the joy of the Lord in them!

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Classes are taught in English since the students come from many different states and all speak a different language. That was very nice but also challenging. I also had the opportunity to teach a class to the Bible college girls and Dr. Rick spoke about the WWJD? concept and gave each of the students a bracelet.

Bible college 01 Chris lecturing to the students.

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Bible college 02 

At the college, the boys and girls attend classes together but sit apart. They also don’t sit together at meals or do the same chores: ie- girls clean while the boys chop firewood. But they all get up at 5:30am and love to sing! You can hear them singing all the time. It’s wonderful to listen to on an evening walk after tea! In the afternoons, some of the boys go and play volleyball in front of the auditorium.

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Bible college 05Bible college 04Boys’ side

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Girls’ side

After the class, the many of the boys would come and thank us for coming and shake our hands. They would also ask Chris questions and want to take pictures on their phones.

Bible college 11 Bible college 10 These kids all have an amazing testimony and faith in God but I also found that they are just like kids their age everywhere. They struggle with the same things, enjoy the same things, want the same things…

The last day of class, we got everyone together for a group shot…

Bible college 13 Bible college 12

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Kids at IEM

These are pictures of the kids at the Children's Home. There are currently 50 boys and 50 girls ages 5-12. Three men take care of the boys and two women are in charge of the girls. While we were there, we held a 5-day VBS in the evenings. It was a TON of fun!

The kids only speak Malayalam, so either Varghese or Reji translated for us. Each night we started with the kids singing us a song. Then we sang Jesus Loves Me in English and taught them the motions. I told the story, followed by a craft, a game, and ending with review and prayer with Chris. And we had gifts for them just before we left. We learned the first night that the next time we’ll buy all the same toy to avoid any conflicts… :o)

The room we met in was the boys’ sleeping room. Every night they put out their beds and every morning they stack them against the walls again. The girls’ room was on the other side of the back wall. All their backpacks are on the table in the back all ready for school in the morning…

The first night we told the story of Moses, made bookmarks and played a game with the globe balls from Rick…

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 children 62 children 63 children 04 children 05children 06 

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The globe games were great fun!

When we arrived on the second night, the power was out and the kids were just sitting in the dark singing a song. Just as we walked in the door, the power went back on and all the kids burst into applause when we walked in the door! :o) Night two was the story of Daniel, a glow stick craft (Jesus is the light of the world), and a globe ball relay…

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After we all got our necklaces made we turned out all the lights…

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It was great hearing them when they looked around and saw one another!

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We played a game of Simon Says, which is challenging with a translator… ;o)

The Wordless Book was the lesson for day three. It went much better than I expected! The kids knew all the colors in English and remembered what they all meant for their bracelets. They liked them so much that they would show them to me every time I saw them…

As a bonus we were able to give our extra bracelets and the Wordless Book I had made out of felt to one of the pastors we met who is involved in Child Evangelism Fellowship in India!

children 65children 67Helping tie bracelets for the boys. The girls tied them on for one another. I guess boys don’t do that??? ;o)

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Every morning the kids get up at 5:30am. They clean up the sleeping room, take baths, eat breakfast, have Bible lesson, do chores, and head to school around 9am…

children 15 children 16  children 18children 19

The next night, Varghese went home to his family for a few days and Reji came in to translate for our story about Noah. One of the boys requested the story and I just couldn’t say no. So I quickly wrote up the story, modified half our fish crafts and we added a fun and lively dental hygiene lesson from Dr Rick! It was a very good night!

 children 69

Singing Jesus Loves Me

children 20 children 21 children 24 children 23   children 76

children 26children 25children 30 children 27 children 28 children 29   The boys made some pretty fancy arks!

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The kids loved taking “photos” and getting to see them!

children 78Praying with Pastor Chris

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Learning that you can’t brush your teeth with your eyes. LOL

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Everyone got a new toothbrush!

The kids don’t get home until about 4:30 or 5 in the afternoon. They have tea, take another bath, do homework, have dinner, more homework and head to bed around 9:30! They have a very full day!!!

children 79children 80children 81children 83 children 82Getting home from school

Then before we knew it, it was the last day of VBS. :o(  For the final day we told stories about Jesus and fish (the calling of the disciples to be fishers of men and the feeding of the 5000), made fish and gave the kids their balloon balls that the ladies at our church made for them. I’m glad to have had help blowing up all those balloons! They LOVED them!!!

children 38That’s only half the balls! 

children 39children 42 children 40 children 41     children 45 children 43 children 44 children 46 children 47  children 48

A whole school of fish!

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children 54 children 52 children 53The kids held their balls on their heads while waiting for their next instructions.

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Final review with Pastor Chris

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Us and the gang!

It was really hard to say goodbye to these guys! We had thought these kids were orphans but they are not. Most merely have parents that are simply too poor to care for them. After they turn 12, they have to leave the Children’s Home and then IEM supports them financially to live at home. A few are abandoned. Some have heartbreaking stories. Like the two girls who were hated by their father who wanted boys and tried to kill one of the girls by placing burning coals on the back of her head. They were eventually found by one of the wardens begging in the street. Joshua and Moses were left waiting while the other children were all picked up by family or friends for summer vacation and had to spend their holiday with a warden’s family.

more children 01These three kids have a happier story. The boy and girl on the ends are 11-year-old twins and their 10-year-old brother is in the middle. Their parents are missionaries in northern India and they are living here at the home while they attend school. They are very talented, well-behaved children who hope to be in the ministry someday and love English classes in school!

Kids at the home are available for sponsorship through IEM and are always in need of your prayers!