Tuesday, June 12, 2012

“The Dr. Dave Dickerson Family and Friends: 50th Wedding Anniversary and Service

“The Dr. Dave Dickerson Family and Friends: 50th Wedding Anniversary and Service
Elder Darrel L. Hammon

Room is full
Have you thought about what you might be doing on your 50th wedding anniversary? Just thinking about getting to 50 is an amazing thought process in and of itself. Some might go someplace exotic. Others might stay at home, basking in the outdoors and even the backyard with the BBQ grill, some steaks sizzling on the open grill; others might even think about renewing their vows or being with all of their children at a nice restaurant.
Dr. and Sister Dickerson; Sister and Elder Snow
 Then take the Dr. David Dickerson family and some of their friends. They decided to do something special for their parents. They planned a humanitarian dental visit to Consuelo, Dominica Republic, a small community about 1.5 hours from Santo Domingo. The community is poor; the sugar cane industry has almost died; and jobs are hard to come by. Going to the dentist is not the normal every-six-month routine that many of us are accustomed to. In fact, going to the dentist is a privilege, and not many have the opportunity because they don’t have money.

The person who had to give the shot....Sister Rogers
The Dickersons came with their 40-strong group, set up at the Catholic health clinic, which is next door to Consuelo’s Catholic Church, and began seeing patients. They started on Monday morning and did examinations, education, oral surgery, and fillings for three days. They had to take a break on Thursday because of the Corpus Cristi holiday, and then back to work on Friday morning. Literally hundreds of people showed up to see Dr. Dickerson and his friends. Most of them were in line way before the Dickerson group ever pulled up in their guagua (bus) and parked behind the clinic.
Ana Maria, her grandmother, and Mother (Maribel). Ana Maria helped Dr. Dickerson, and now she wants to become a dentist.

We went out on Wednesday morning because I had visited several times with Dr. Dickerson over the past several months. I wanted to see their wonderful work. Plus, we helped provide rides for several people from Quisqueya, a small community about 20 minutes away, who also needed dental work done.

Dr. Dickerson, his daughter, and I talking to a patient
Dr. Dickerson involved me immediately by asking me to help translate during his examinations, which I did for a couple of hours.  Each person came and sat down in the chair. We asked them a series of health questions, and then Dr. Dickerson looked into their mouths, checked their teeth, made a diagnosis while one of his daughters wrote all of the information on pre-printed slip, and then gave the slip of paper to a “runner,” usually one of the grandchildren, who took the person to the appropriate station to have their teeth fixed.

Playing with the children
Very few had perfect teeth. The majority of the patients needed some sort of care—a filling or two, a tooth or two pulled, and education on how to clean their teeth. Dr. Dickerson’s granddaughters taught the participants how to brush their teeth and then gave each one a dental kit, filled with a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, and other dental accoutrements.  

Using dinosaurs to teach about cleaning teeth
While this was all going on, the Dickerson’s grandchildren and the children of some of the other dentists were outside, keeping the children busy. They were painting finger nails, playing baseball, chatting with their new Dominican friends, painting pictures, etc. These young people were having a time of their lives and experiencing things they had never experienced before. And now, they have made friends for life.
Friends for life
Overall, I was impressed with what I saw. It was amazing work, and I met some amazing people. Some of them were not too excited to see the dentist (doesn’t that sound familiar?). But they knew the ache that had been a part of their lives for several months needed to be taken care of, and here was an opportunity of a life time. Pain or no pain, they were stoic although more than skittish about the whole ordeal.

The Dickerson grandson who had served a mission in the DR
What was more impressive was how Dr. Dickerson and his wife spent their 50th anniversary with family and friends, helping people with dental needs. One of their grandsons had served an LDS mission in the area accompanied them; so, it was a “coming home” of sorts for him and another person who had come to help who also had served in the area.

Sister Hammon and I doff our hats to the Dickerson Family and their friends who spent a week doing a wonderful service to the people of Consuelo and surrounding areas. Thank you for being the kind of people you are and have been throughout your entire lives. You are the epitome of the wise words of King Benjamin in his speech to his people in the Book of Mormon: “…that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 3:17).

1 comment:

Robert Dunford said...

This is a great write-up on some great people. I echo your comments after seeing their first day at work. Thanks for sharing!