Dr. Michael McCoy is my guest blogger today. Dr. McCoy has joined us on several medical mission trips to various locations in Northern Mexico in the state of Chihuahua. Today’s blog represents his thoughts on a trip that we took in October of 2009 to Chihuahua City, Chihuahua.
She walked in with her head down. She barely made eye contact as I said good morning in my best broken Spanish. She mumbled something as she took a seat in the dental chair, never looking up. This didn’t surprise me too much, as most people would rather eat raw liver than go to the dentist. Through an interpreter, I found out that her name was Elena, and that she was fourteen years old. As the questions continued, she answered, never smiling, no matter how hard I tried to “kid” with her. I assumed that she was in some type of discomfort from a severely mangled molar ravaged by years of neglect. After all, I had seen a steady progression of neglected teeth for the last day and a half of the medical mission trip, why would this be any different. When asked if she was in pain, she shyly said that she was not. In fact, Elena had no pain at all. By this time I was getting a bit impatient, after all we had a line of people waiting outside with rotten teeth and periodontal disease that needed attention. I didn’t have time for this. Through the interpreter I asked Elena what it was about her teeth that bothered her. She hesitantly replied after a few minutes of coaxing from my interpreter Javier….whom I by now had decided was a direct descendent of Job…. that she was embarrassed about her teeth. She told us that her friends made fun of her because they were brown. At this point she opened her mouth to reveal her front teeth that were not only brown but a number of other colors as well. There was even a little spot that I would swear resembled a burnt orange Texas longhorn. Through a few tears that by now had appeared on Elena’s cheek, she asked if I could “make them pretty”. OK… I have always been a sucker for the “tear” thing, and besides, the Longhorn, I decided, had to be a sign from God himself. I explained to Elena that I couldn’t do it today because we didn’t have time ,but that if she would come back first thing in the morning I would do my best to make her pretty. I half expected that I wouldn’t see her again. The next morning however, when we arrived at our make shift clinic, there was Elena, first in line. She was ushered back and we began. For two and a half tedious hours I took out unnatural colors, replacing them with a more normal color. I even reluctantly removed the little Longhorn although it saddened me greatly and I can only assume God as well. When I finished, Elena was handed a hand mirror and she hesitantly looked at the result. The smile that ensued, I feared, would undoubtedly sprain facial muscles she had never used before. What a total change in this young girl’s demeanor. It was a life changing moment for her.
That night I was sitting with Chris Frizzell as we ate pizza at a Mexican pizza restaurant….go figure!! I was recanting the day’s events and reflected on Elena. I mentioned to Chris with what I’m sure had to be a bit of smugness, that that little girl had no idea what kind of gift had been laid at her feet. If you take all the volunteers, the cost of the equipment, the travel expenses, educational time and expenses, time away from work and family that it takes to make something like that possible. She literally has no clue how much of a sacrifice was made for her and likely never will. I guess I expected Chris to agree with my profound assessment of the event. Instead, Chris hit me with a verbal two by four right between the eyes that I never saw coming. “You know,” Chris said, “that is very much like God’s gift to us”. WOW…. What a revelation. I guess if ever there was a moment in my life where I finally “Got it”; I have to say that was it. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son….. A gift and a sacrifice we cannot possibly fathom and likely never will. I never saw Elena again but now and then when I reflect back on that event, I realize now that I wasn’t ministering to her at all as I had thought. God had in reality, sent this little fourteen year old child into my life to lay an unfathomable gift at my feet. ——Michael McCoy