DCMF Mission Trip June 2018
by Dr. Trent McCord, DDS
In June of this year, my wife, Sara McCord, and I were blessed to be able to spend a week (and celebrate our 10 year anniversary!) in Guatemala City on a trip with Dustin's Dream. We went to serve and provide medical and dental care. We returned with more.
While at the Heart of Love Clinic, we provided care to hundreds of people in and around the garbage dump of Guatemala City. I'm just a dentist, not a real doctor, so I know little about the medical side of the trip and the services they provided, though I have no doubt that many lives were greatly improved, possibly even saved, by the services Sara, Dr. Duncan, Deondra, Carrie and team were able to provide. On the dental side of things, we just had a blast. We were able to bring along my rock star dental assistant, Eva Hicks, who served as assistant, translator, dance move teacher, and even dentist (She pulled 4 teeth!) during the trip! Shoot, my new Gentry Bestie, Jodi, even ripped some teeth out!
The people of Guatemala City were amazing. They helped me to learn Spanish, and sang and danced with us in the dental clinic. Some have made appearances now with Eva on Facebook rocking the infamous "dab" dance move, though few could keep up with Da "whip" Nae Chamberlain's rug cutting skills. We had one gentleman who came to see us on his birthday. And do you know what he said? He said his birthday present was that he was able to get his tooth pulled. When's the last time you got excited on your birthday to see a dentist? Don't lie. It's never happened and never will. I hear "No offense, doc, but I hate the dentist" multiple times a day. And here's a guy telling me I'm his birthday present. Wait, what?
We all work every day doing "normal" USA things. But "normal" USA things aren't the norm. To many, they are impossibilities. And guess what? Despite the differences in life and circumstances, we saw smiles. We heard laughter. Everyone got hugs. I think what we saw were happy hearts and joyous people. So, while Eva and I were able to provide dental services, and Sara and team were able to provide medical care... we were in return blessed with joy, smiles, laughter, and hugs. And a dose of simple reality that says maybe its the little things that make for happy hearts. And maybe those little things, like smiles and hugs, did more for our hearts than our tooth pulling and medicine giving did for the people of Guatemala.
Thank you to everyone for supporting Dustin's Dream and this group of amazing people. It is truly amazing to see the widespread joy and healing that has come through the life of Dustin.
Megan Rogers of Siloam Springs recently traveled with John Brown University to serve at the Heart of Love Clinic with soccer camps and Bible class camps. She generously shares her heart for the mission in Guatemala and what drives her to return and serve.
Hello all, my name is Megan Rodgers and I am a freshman at the University of Arkansas. I was born and raised in Siloam Springs and have had the opportunity to travel the Dustin Dream’s clinic with a group from John Brown University a few weeks ago for a spring break trip. This was my third time spending my spring break in Guatemala City and every time I leave I say that it’s the last, but something keeps pulling me back. You see, these people are different. Their lives are hard. Every time I go back I am reminded of this fact. Most of them have lived in this community for their entire lives, caught in a cycle of poverty with no hope of escaping. They work long days rummaging through the dump, trying to make a living for their families. Their homes are often no larger than my dorm room, but house entire families. And yet, they don’t feel sorry for themselves, they have not let their hardships make them bitter and they are not selfish about the little that they have. But rather, they are the most hospitable and joyful group of people I have met.
More than anything, I have been struck by the gratitude that these people have exhibited. Whether it is children, willing to share their snacks with me, parents brought to tears by our small gift of food during home visits, mothers not asking for treatment for themselves while taking their children to the clinic, or church ladies waiting until every other person has been served before eating at lunch time, these people hold everything that they have with an open hand, never taking anything for granted. Every year I return to the states with a new perspective, seeing my many blessing and swearing not to take them for granted. Every year, that promise is broken as I begin to become selfish once again, comparing my lot with others around me and pitying myself when others have more. Every year I sign up to return to Guatemala, hoping that this time that perspective of gratitude will stick around a little while longer. But this year something was different. This year when I flew out of the Guatemala City airport I shed a tear knowing that plans will not allow me to return next year. This year I resolved not to leave unchanged. I have spent the past few weeks wondering how to make this true and I believe I have stumbled upon an important truth.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably heard the saying that love is not an emotion but rather a choice. I believe the same is true for gratitude. The fact that people who have so much less than I do are consistently more grateful than I am is proof that gratitude is not dependant upon circumstances. If that were the case, you and I would constantly be overflowing with gratitude for the many ways in which we have been blessed. Gratitude is a choice. Not a once and for all, I resolve to grateful choice like I believe upon returning to the states in previous years. But rather a daily choice of thanksgiving to our Lord and Father who knows exactly what we need and promises to give it in His good and perfect timing. The reality is that if we know the truth of the sacrifice that the Lord has made for use we should be overflowing with gratitude every day, no matter what our current situation is. This is a reality that the people of Guatemala have embraced, leading to an abundance of joy even while they are surrounded by pain and misfortune. It is my prayer that you and I would also learn how to live in this reality, choosing daily to be grateful for the abundance that the Lord has blessed us with.
.I had the privilege of visiting the Heart of Love Clinic with a team from Life of Hope ministries. We assisted in the pharmacy, taking vitals, and praying with patients. As always, there is much more going on in and around Heart of Love Clinic and it is amazing to see!
Some patients we prayed with had left their homes as early as 4:30 a.m. in order to ensure receipt of a ticket to see Dr Layla. The waiting area is full of faces eager for both physical and spiritual healing. We prayed with patients who lived in the settlement and attended Pastor Saul's church. We prayed with patients who were not believers.
Pastor Saul gave us a tour of the third floor construction. I went with Nancy, our leader from Life of Hope, Dr. Layla, and Pastor Saul to a home improvement store where we looked at tile for the third floor and discussed ideas for a bright area, with a little color. Dr Layla chose the tile and we saw much of it installed by the end of the week!
Dr. Layla went with our team on Wednesday and Friday as we delivered bunk beds to families in the settlement. She then took us on several very emotional home visits.
We visited the home of a young woman whose four month old infant had passed away that morning due to illness and malnutrition. The infant was still on the bed. I could see the silhouette of his tiny face through the sheer covering draped over him. We tearfully prayed with the mother, and later attended the wake. I cannot even put into words the emotional weight of that day.
As I walked down a settlement street with Dr. Layla, she explained to me that the conditions are much more extreme in the newer colonies. There is little or no electricity, no water, and the methane fumes are very high. We visited a family in this area. Multiple members in this family were victims of gunshot wounds from a gang retaliation hit. The most seriously injured, an 8 year old little boy. He was shot below the knee. His injury required rods, screws and skin grafts. He has to lay still in bed for weeks, in order for proper healing to occur. As we left his home, we walked by the corner where the family was shot, noting the bullet holes in the sheet metal from the incident. These are not isolated situations. This is life in the settlement.
The love and compassion seen in Dr. Layla and Pastor Saul's ministries is evidenced in the clinic, the home visits, feeding the Pereginos, the Friday night feeding of hundreds at the settlement, and the way they are known and respected by all we encountered.
Please continue to lift Dr. Layla and Pastor Saul in prayer. Your support of Dustin's Dream Foundation extends far beyond the clinic walls in ways that you may never see firsthand. The needs are great. But through the ministry of Heart of Love and the passion of Dr. Layla and Pastor Saul, we see lives changing, people turning to Christ, and God's love continually poured out to the community of the Guatemala City garbage dump and beyond.
"Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen." 1 Cor 13:7-10 (J.B. Phillips New Testament)