In 2010, I was unable to return to Tampico, as the trip was cancelled due to civil unrest in the area. Undaunted, I found another opportunity to serve in a rural community in the mountains above Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. The people dressed differently and spoke a different native tongue, but their need was just as great, as was their gratitude.
We were able to make a particularly large impact on this trip as we were able to visit a nearby elementary school and teach hundreds of kids how to avoid cavities. We showed them how to brush and floss properly, and we gave them toothbrushes. The children were unbelievably excited to get some attention from foreigners. The school challenged us to a soccer match. I think the kids we were playing couldn’t have been more than 12 years old, but they smoked us. They were pretty proud of themselves.
Over the course of the week, we were able to provide dental procedures for over 400 people that simply had no access to dental care otherwise. It was wonderful to help, but it was tough to close down that last day with so many more needing or help.