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How Far Have You Traveled?

The I-DENT team recently traveled to Peru to conduct an extraction/silver nitrate (preventative) training. We had 13 students (6 returning from the I-DENT training back in May 2016, as well as 7 new students). Two of these new students were a husband and wife team named Portacio and Rosalia. I don't think I have ever had a husband and wife team participate in a dental training, nor anyone to have traveled as far as they did in order to attend a training. On the first day of training, we were told by our host, Jairo, that more students would be arriving. He said that they had experienced "engine trouble" along the way and were going to arrive one day late. My immediate reaction was to say, "No," and that it was too late for them to join the class. They had already missed the entire first day of training, which is about 2/3 of the classroom portion. However, Jairo explained to us that they had traveled for seven days (4 days by boat and 3 days by car) in order to get to the training in Chazuta. They live in a remote area of Peru where Portacio is a pastor and Rosalia is a teacher. Not only had they taken the time off from work and left their older 2 boys at home, they had brought their 5 and 9-year-old girls and a parrot! When I learned this, my attitude changed. We have discovered that students who have not made an investment (either financially or time-wise) are often not committed to the training or to using their new skills after the training is completed.

Bringing Portacio and Rosalia Up to Speed

When I learned that Portacio and Rosalia had traveled seven days to attend the training, I knew they were serious. So, they joined the rest of the group on Tuesday morning where we finished the final 1/3 of the handbook/slideshow. While we brought our first patients in on Tuesday afternoon for the other students, Hector (a Bolivian dentist) used that afternoon to go over the first 2/3 of the training that they had missed the day before. Hector could go through the slideshow directly in Spanish, which allowed them to cover the material in a shorter amount of time. Due to the limited number of adult extraction cases that we saw during the training week, we could only allow one of them to be trained in extractions. Portacio was less timid when it came to treating patients, so they both agreed that between the two of them, he should be the one trained to do extractions. Portacio continued to gain competency with extractions as the week progressed. Rosalia did very well in the classroom portion, and she will be a big help to her husband assisting with instrument sterilization and also placing silver nitrate.

Graduation and Reflection

The training week ended on Saturday, and we had graduation and instrument distribution on Sunday. Before going our separate ways, we met with each student or pair of students and prayed for them. Rosalia asked us to pray for her family as she is the only Christian. She shared some of the difficulties they have had trying to live out their faith among family members who want nothing to do with Jesus. I admired their tenacity, which was evidenced in their commitment to coming to the dental training. There is no dental care available where Portacio and Rosalia live. They will now be able to bring dentistry to their area. We are praying that this will also open doors for the Gospel. When I think about this couple, I am both encouraged and challenged by their example. As we reflect on 2017, may we follow Jesus more closely in 2018 than we did in 2017. May we not forget that following Jesus involves sacrifice. As the famous missionary to India Amy Carmichael once said: "Yet as the Master shall the servant be, and pierced are the feet that follow Me. Can he have traveled far, who has no wound nor scar?" As the Apostle Paul wrote: "we have not ceased to pray for you . . . that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God" (Colossians 1:9-10 NASB).  

Check out the updated schedule for upcoming ITEC trips. Please join us in prayer for these upcoming trainings.

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