Things I learned while on my first medical caravan:

  • Duct tape is priceless.
  • If you have an alternator rebuilt but the problem is a loose electrical wire: the truck won’t run anyway.
  • An old bread truck fitted out with medical equipment can run at a top speed of 3 miles per hour over a dirt road.
  • An overcast day in a tropical region is to be appreciated.
  • A beautiful 19 year-old girl that has to have a front tooth pulled out will ask to have both front teeth pulled out for the symmetry of it and good dentist won’t oblige her.
  • Spiders the size of the palm of my hand are almost as afraid of me as I am of them.
  • Bathing in a river isn’t as quaint as it sounds, but you will feel cooler if not cleaner.
  • How to mix dental fillings, how to clean the instruments, and after a day of assisting the dentist, it’s better not to watch every procedure or my teeth begin to ache in sympathy.
  • Being given the mosquito net and the sleeping bag in the middle of the team is the place of care, as the approach of any spider or snake is impeded by your team members.
  • A buzz cut, though unattractive on me, would have been convenient.
  • Ecuadorians are gutsier than North Americans. They don’t even expect Novocain for the drilling of their teeth.
  • Never use a restroom with an open padlock hanging on the outside of the door.
  • The daytime mosquito carries dengue fever and the nighttime one malaria
  • Horses are still used in parts of Ecuador as the main mode of transportation.
  • Never ask for food to be identified until after you’ve finished eating the meal.
  • Doctors and dentists have an incredible amount of energy!

It struck me that this medical team had simply left the comforts and conveniences of home (electricity, flushing toilets, running water, etc.) to serve, but Jesus left the comforts and privileges of heaven to come to save.


©2003 Thrive

View the original print magazine where this article was first published.