In 2011, my friends and I organized a trip to Tonga. This trip was an eye opener for me as I was able to take part in the planning process from the beginning. I came to appreciate the amount of effort it takes behind the scenes to organize something like this. Every country is different, and some are easier than others, but I don’t believe this is ever an easy task.

This was a fantastic trip that brought me to one of my favorite regions in the world. The people in the South Pacific are among the nicest and most selfless people I have ever met. The need was similar on this trip, but we did not have quite as many days to spend doing the dental work, as the travel time to and from Tonga was considerably more than for Central America.

We worked fast and were able to help hundreds of people again. We performed cleanings, fillings, root canals and extractions. We also went to local schools again and taught them how to prevent tooth decay and gave them toothbrushes. I wish we had enough time to ensure that they all had protective sealants. We’ll have to save that for the next trip.

This was my last trip for a couple of years as I started a residency for orthodontics the next year. I knew it would be a while before I could get back to serving, and this made leaving Tonga that much harder.