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Costa Rica 2016 - Chapter 3

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Costa Rica- 2016 – Chapter 3
Click here for:  Chapter 1     Chapter 2     Chapter 3     Chapter 4
Written by Brenda Fenderson
 
We arrived early to set up the Health Fair. As the opening hour was approaching, nervous eyes glanced toward the door as we realized that people were arriving for the Health Fair before we were completely set up. Just as fast as the PUC students could put chairs in the middle of the gym, people were filling them. Very soon, people backed up at the first two stations where (1) height and weight, and (2) blood pressure were taken and recorded on attendees' Health Fair checklists.There were plenty of students staffing these stations but they only had two blood pressure cuffs. Having the height, weight and blood pressure squares filled in on their Health Fair checklists was a pre-requisite to being seen by the doctors and dentists. As fast as they could, the students worked through the lines of people wanting to be seen.
 
Dr. Anita Morales, an attractive 28-year-old medical doctor currently working for the government had organized the event. In spite of living in San Jose, Costa Rica, she was a local church member. Rather than treating patients, she spent her day making sure things were set up, working and everyone had what they needed.

The gym's classrooms were along both sides opening directly to the main gymnasium. On one side of the gym, the doctors used 3 classrooms for exam rooms, with chairs lined up along the gym walls for patients to wait. There was one room for each of the specialties. Medical exams were in the first room, including a tabletop 'pharmacy,' staffed by our eminently qualified 'pharmacist,' Caleb, the 14-year-old son of Dean
Granados. We believed that he could be trusted with such highly controlled substances as Gummy Bear Vitamins and Motrin.
 
A local Optometrist provided eye exams dispensing the reading glasses we had brought to people who, like me, had great vision until around age 40 when their ability to focus while reading began deteriorating. 
 
The last room was for dental procedures. As usual, the dentists did the most procedures. Through an amazing network of people in Costa Rica and the US, a nice set of portable equipment was assembled, including 2 portable exam chairs, suction, digital x-ray and sterilization. A local orthodontist added amalgam for fillings and a curing light. A local dentist and church member provided some instruments to assist the dentists. But she needed them sterilized and returned by the next morning at 8 am when her clinic opened. For a quickly set up mobile clinic, our dentists were well equipped. Our dentists included the Canadian, Darnell Dickson (and wife, Julie), the father of Riley, one of the PUC pre-med students, and Dr. Art Garbutt who attends the Carmichael church.
 
The most amazing outcome of the day came from the 'Trust in God' station where Hernan Granados, the PUC Bible teacher and speaker for the series of meetings in the evenings, met with people. Throughout the day, he discussed with people their need for Jesus. Many of the people who stopped by his station were touched as they recognized the void in their lives. By the end of the day, Pastor Granados presented the local pastor with three lined pages filled with names of people requesting prayer and follow-up Bible studies. While this is amazing in itself, it also caused us to realize that the Health Fair had been attended by at least 75 non-members, ie., people from the community. To put that into perspective, if the evening evangelistic meetings were to generate 75 non-members interested in Bible Studies, we'd consider it a huge success. One of six stations at a one-day Health Fair, in the hands of a great God and a skilled pastor produced this great outpouring of interest.

When presented with the list, Pastor Richards said the Guapiles church will give the 75 names to trained church members for follow up. It just reminded me that we can never know the preparation God is doing in people’s hearts ahead of the tasks He calls us to do. Pastor/Dean
Granados and the Health Fair were vital links in a much larger chain of God’s activity to win peoples' hearts.
 
Your prayers are needed, asking that God will send His Spirit ahead of these follow-up visits, as He continues to prepare hearts and minds to receive Him. Be the one that fills the gap between God’s willingness and people’s need. As you pray, ask that the follow-up visits will produce Bible studies and people will be won to Christ. 
 
A friendly, older gentleman, who I later learned was Dr. Ron DePass, "Colonel", an 80-year-old retired professor from the Dental School in Costa Rica, walked into the school office to sit down and eat his lunch. I was there seeking a semi-quiet corner in which to write the first chapter of this trip. I didn't know who he was, but I had an idea he might be the dentist from San Jose, Costa Rica that had come to enable our doctors and dentists to work under his license (read more in Chapter 4). As he ate his lunch, he asked what I was doing. I told him I was writing the story of the trip for our church back home. He started asking questions about our previous mission experiences, which I shared. I asked him his background. He began sharing with me his passion for reaching the isolated, native Indians in the high mountains of Costa Rica. I was fascinated. Over the next few days, I discussed this with him further. Thursday evening and Friday morning, Manuel, the local Maranatha representative, shared much more with Keith and I. From their stories, I obtained a colorful picture of these people and learned that there is already a developing Adventist presence in this area which Manuel is involved in. The need and the mission to the 'indigents' of Costa Rica is a very interesting story all in itself that could lead to future mission projects.

Throughout the day, the pre-med and pre-dent students were quite pumped as they sat with the doctors and dentists, helping where they could, listening and asking questions as they learned more about doctors exams, diagnoses and treatments. While the doctors and dentists saw and treated patients, the doctors taught them as if they were attending physicians teaching medical and dental students. I think both enjoyed their temporary roles.
 
Our dentists were quite productive. Because of Dr. Ron’s connections, our 'United States' dentists could drill and fill teeth using amalgam and light-cured composite acquired from a local Orthodontist. They could do extractions. They saw some procedures that went beyond the scope of what they were providing, but their ability to fill and extract teeth caused our dentists to work very hard throughout the day. There were so many dental patients that the dentists decided to come back the next morning and finish those who hadn’t been seen on Sunday.
 
For that reason, the next morning when the medical doctors (Andrew and Keith) and the VBS team (headed by Diane Chang) went to the new Adventist church that had recently been built in a much poorer area (where we had gone door-to-door on Sabbath afternoon), the dentists were not part of our team. That turned out for the best because there wasn’t a good, covered area for them to set up in. Because people in the area hadn’t been informed that we were coming, the attendance was good, but not great. The Pastor, Elder, Manuel and Alex Chang went quickly from door-to-door drumming up business. At this slower pace, Keith and Andrew were able to spend extra teaching time with the students, who were really enjoying hearing more about their anticipated careers in medicine and dentistry.