about me, i am a christian, i am a dentist, i am a mission dentist, this is life

Two Hundred Pesos

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Two hundred pesos is not so much but sometimes it’s all about perspective. If you’re buying an expensive 2 million automobile, it’s quite worthless; but when you’re starving and looking to feed your family, two hundred pesos is a decent meal on the table. And really, life is all about perspective. It’s about seeing things in a positive light.

In our first site in Mindanao, we served a cluster of barangays, and as much as 700 people came. When hordes of people are rushing in, it’s quite easy for the team to get lost in the panic. When the queue of people don’t seem to thin, human nature sets in and the heaviness will settle. As a dentist in the field, the pain starts on my neck and back. Almost permanently hunched back to look into people’s mouths, the pain can be quite excruciating and uncomfortable as the day progresses. Hunger and exhaustion will soon manifest as a fairly limiting headache—and you see yourself checking the time and the number of patients that still need to be served. And often times I hear myself faintly cry out, “Oh Lord,” even more so when I am being overwhelmed by a difficult case. Almost instantly, I get the strength I need to finish the work, and of course I know it is no longer my own effort but the Lord’s.

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But then it’s not easy being a patient in a Medical Mission, either. Desperate and hopeful, you come in as early as you can, in order to register your name. And after getting your name in, you go through the process. In a Team Jesus Mission, you go through the following steps:

Step 1: Registration

Step 2: Vital Signs

Step 3: Counselling

Step 4: Medical, Dental, Optical, Circumcision

Step 5: Pharmacy

You go through the tedious process when the truth is that everyone just wants to go straight to Step 4, and the volunteers would rather be at the comfort of their homes. Fortunately, that is not God’s design. It’s not easy to understand why we travel so far, but when the burden to serve is placed in your heart by the Lord, you will answer the call.

“For many are called, but a few are chosen”

Matthew 22:14

And while many are called to serve, only a few people will actually do it. Because why would you take time off work and travel far? Why would you close your clinic for a while, and tell your patients to wait so you can go up to the mountains? It’s not easy to explain why we do this, but you just have to know that it’s clear in my heart that this is what I have to do. It is clear in every volunteer’s heart… and so we go to the field to serve. Not a lot of people get this, but sometimes someone does.

I Want to Help You

In our first site in Mindanao, amidst the crowd of patients, our Pastor found herself counselling a woman. She was quite enthusiastic and a little overeager, so it didn’t help that our Pastor was already feeling quite tired for the day. When you’re speaking to a large group of people you only hope that they are listening and not merely hearing your voice. Otherwise you’re only making noise and the word will fall on deaf ears. Our pastor continued to talk to the group and she remembers seeing the woman as she preached, and hearing her exclaim “Amen”, in almost automatic repetition. Her curiosity immediately grew, “Who is this woman?” she thought to herself.

Acts 6 4

When the session ended, the crowd started to move out of the room, but the woman stayed. As soon as everyone had left, she approached our pastor and she said, “Nakakatuwa ang ginagawa nyo” (Your work makes me happy). She continued, “Gusto kong tumulong pero wala akong pera.” (I want to help, but I don’t have much money). Completely moved by her spirit, our Pastor smiled reassuringly and said, “Madaming paraan para tumulong. Pwede mo kaming ipagdasal. Ipagdasal mo kami para maipagpatuloy naming ang gawain ng Panginoon”. (There are many ways for you to help. You can pray for us. You can pray for us so that we could continue with God’s work). Volunteerism come in three forms: some work, some give, some pray. And so our Pastor told her not to worry if she has nothing to give, because her prayers will be worth so much.

Just then, she took two hundred pesos from her pocket and handed it over, “Ito lang ang meron ako, pero gusto ko tumulong sa inyo”. (This is all I have but I really want to help you). And she left with the promise to pray for the team.

Two hundred pesos is not so much but sometimes it’s all about perspective. And that gesture of generosity and grace is worth more than what it can actually afford—a box of gloves, two packs of cotton balls, or two bottles of alcohol? Many wonder where we get our medicines from, but just like the old woman, there are people who believe in the importance of God’s work to reach the last, the least and the lost, so they share whatever they can so we can buy medicines. And sometimes, supplies arrive in boxes without us asking—it’s quite overwhelming.

Team Jesus functions entirely by FAITH. As a matter of fact, before the Mindanao Mission, I was severely short of dental supplies and one by one it got filled up until all I lacked were two boxes of gloves. Anyway, a friend saw my IG post and sent me exactly what we needed. Another friend saw it, but I told her it’s already been filled, so she offered to give 100 bags with school supplies for the kids, instead.

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Two hundred pesos is not so much but sometimes it’s all about perspective. After our second day we ran out of some things and that donation went towards the replenishment of some dental and surgical supplies. So we might not see that old woman again, but her spirit will remain with us, always.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.” Matthew 6: 19-21

You see, it’s not easy to be a patient in a Medical Mission. Some people wait for hours for the chance to receive free care, and it isn’t so much what we are able to give in the field. But they wait patiently to be served and to receive free care, because money that you can save from free dental and medical, is money that can go towards a few decent meals. So when a patient turns to you and says, “Please take my money, I want to help you.” You receive it with sincere gratitude, because that’s grace from God.

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