Tonganoxie pastor spends four days in Mexico
When Rick Lamb returned from a medical mission to a Mexican village, he was more thankful for things he had taken for granted.
Lamb, pastor of West Haven Baptist Church of Tonganoxie, was in the village of Guanajuato from March 4 to March 8. Of the 27 participants, he was the only pastor and the only person from Tonganoxie. Most of the others were medical professionals from the Overland Park area.
During the four days Lamb stayed in the village, he assisted the pharmacist by writing prescriptions in Spanish and helping the people understand how to take the medications.
During his time there, the group set up a clinic at the invitation of the Baptist Church of Guanajuaro. The medical and dental staff saw about 700 patients and treated everything from rashes to severe diabetes, Lamb said.
Moreover, the mission group collected and distributed about 100 dozen toothbrushes and 30 to 40 dozen boxes of toothpaste, Lamb said, noting that it was the simple things that mattered so much to the people.
One day a man brought in his 14 children, five of whom needed to have teeth extracted.
"After they pulled the teeth, we gave them medication for pain," Lamb said. "Then we gave them each a toothbrush. It was just like giving them bars of gold. They were so grateful to get them. Later we got to talking with the father, and he said that prior to that they had all shared one toothbrush."
The Overland Park dentist told Lamb he was accustomed to seeing about 16 patients in a day. At the clinic in Mexico, he saw many more.
"One day the dentist pulled 58 teeth," Lamb said.
The medical staff worked with limited tools and finding a place to work was challenging.
The clinic around to private homes during Lamb's time there. Sometimes work even had to be done in the street.
On one occasion, the only space available for the dentist to work on a little girl was a patio outside of a house. But wherever they worked, most of the patients were grateful.
The dentist had a particularly difficult case one day with a woman, Lamb said.
"The dentist pulled four of her teeth," Lamb said. "He didn't have a drill or all of the necessary tools."
Finally after he got her teeth out, she had a little bit of blood on her lip and they cleaned her up.
"She gave him a hug and said 'God bless you' in Spanish," Lamb said.
That wasa difference that many of the medical professionals, who were rarely thanked by a patient in their practices in the United States, noticed, Lamb said.
Lamb watched as the pharmacist fought back tears when a woman hugged him after he filled a prescription.
"Here in his practice in Overland Park he deals with insurance all day long and no one ever just really says thank you and God bless you," Lamb said. "All he really did was fill a prescription."
Lamb said his limited command of Spanish prevented him from getting to know the Mexican people as well as he would have liked.
He said he hoped to return to Mexico to help with another medical mission and would like to practice his Spanish in the meantime so that he is more fluent on the next trip.
Lamb smiled as he talked about his trip and the other people.
"I just felt like they really changed people's lives and helped people in a very practical way," Lamb said. "They demonstrated the love of God in what they did as much as what they said."