On a cold Spring Sunday morning on March 23rd 2014, a group of medical professionals huddled together, at the John F. Kennedy airport, all wearing their Bethesda Medical Mission shirts. The group’s destination was Montrous, Haiti. Their trip would last seven days. Spear-headed by Dr. Roy Kellerman Sr. MD, and Dr. Bryan Wilson, DDS This was the 3rd trip to the impoverished Caribbean island for the Bethesda Medical Mission group.
The team was comprised of 34 medical professionals and volunteers from eight different States. Included in the group were ASI members: Dr. Bryan Wilson, DDS, his wife Kareen Wilson, CDH, and Sandra Sergeant, RN.
For seven days we shared Christ with over 1800 persons including children, by providing medical and dental services. These services were provided in make shift clinics, that was set up in schools, churches, and areas in the “tent cities “ that has become part of the landscape of Haiti, since the devastating earth wake. Team members found time after our long days to conducted Vacation Bible School for over 200 children. We also visited and provided services and needed supplies to two orphanages, which housed over 35 children. As not to exclude anyone, the teams also provided services to the inmates in the prison, in the town where we stayed.
As with most mission trips, the experience for each participant is different, but what bonds us all is the desire to serve others, and to carry out Christ’s commission to bless others with the gifts he had so richly bestowed upon us. Dr. Byran Wilson ,DDS, Co-director of Bethesda Medical Mission, and leader of the Dental team, life was impacted in a very different way by a chance encounter, he shares this touching story, which he entitles ,” A Bottle of Water”
A Bottle of Water
During the Haiti 2014 orientation meeting I told the volunteers that the mission trip to Haiti would create stories that would not be forgotten and that would be remembered for a long time.
Here is my story
After clinic on Thursday at tent city it was hot and I was very tired. I found tent city to be a very surreal place. There was nothing green growing even though we were in the Caribbean. Everything was brown from the dust that would blow into the air when the wind blew. The homes were smaller than my two car garage and a lot of them resembled a poorly built shed with a tarp or corrugated metal roof and often with a sheet as the front door. There were no public bathrooms and the toilets we did find were basically holes in the ground surrounded by a tarp propped up by sticks for privacy. The roads, in tent city, were very difficult to navigate due to ravines, rocks, and no maintenance. I realized that if I was magically transported from my home in Connecticut and was placed in the middle of tent city, I would not believe I was just at an hour’s flight from Florida. It felt like I was in a refugee camp.
I was walking from the dental clinic which was just a small building with four walls, a dirt floor, and a ripped tarp roof to the medical clinic, but it was one of the best buildings they had to offer. I headed down a small dirt path with a deep ravine in the middle that appeared to be created by rains that must have come long, long ago. I mostly kept my eyes focused on each step so that I would not slip into the ravine, but I noticed a young girl of about 14years of age coming up the path toward me. She said Bonjour and I returned the greeting as we stepped around each other. I walked about 15 more feet when I heard her calling in my direction. I turned to see if she was trying to get my attention and when my eyes met her I could see she was energetically waving in my direction for me to retrace my steps and follow her. I walked up to where she was and when I reached her she began to walk down a side path that led to a few small 10 x 15 feet shanty houses. A very thin man in his late 30s approached me and began pretending that he was drinking from a bottle. I realized that this man had asked the girl to ask me to come back up the path because he needed water. He had no idea if I had water or any beverage, he did not speak English, and I did not speak Creole---but his thirst to drink water did not stop him from asking for a drink from a stranger at the risk of being rejected or looked down on. I did have a bottle of water in my backpack which I was saving to drink when I reached the bottom of the hill. The day was very hot in the mid 90s, I had been working and sweating all day, and I was looking forward to quenching my thirst, but he needed water. I immediately opened up my backpack and gave this man my bottle of water. He gave a big smile and enthusiastically took my bottle and began to drink. He showed more gratitude for that bottle of water than many of my patients showed for the free dental care I provided. I personally felt happier to be able to help this man than I did for almost all that I had done on that mission trip. It was just a bottle of water, but I will remember giving it to that man for a very long time if not the rest of my life. My favorite quote is from Clyde Kissinger and he stated there is an innate quality for us to do good for the betterment of mankind. I know that I did not bring this gentleman out of poverty. I know that in a few hours he will be thirsty again. I know that there may be no way that he can escape living in one of the poorest areas of the poorest country in the western hemisphere. I know that he most likely has less than a decade to live since he is in his late 30’s and the average Haitian dies in his mid to late 40’s. But for that one moment I was able to help out my neighbor and that made a world of difference.
What a remarkable encounter, that reminds us that each individual can make a difference, one life at a time, by simple acts of kindness. This embodies, our ASI mission of sharing Christ, and lifting Him up, and he promises to draw all men to him.
For information about Bethesda Medical Mission, you can visit us at www.bethesdamedicalmission.com.