|Three-year-old Marisol enjoyed her first-ever visit to a dentist|
"A Smile for Guerrero." That was the motto used by a group of dentists organized by the Coordinadora de Acción Social in the parish of San José del Altillo, in Mexico City. Twenty-two people came to the mountains of Guerrero for three days to offer free dental service to the indigenous people in the parish of San Marcos Xochitepec.
|Mike with some of the children awaiting their turn with a dentist|
This involved real sacrifices on the part of the dentists and their assistants. Surely one of the most challenging experiences was that of traveling on the back of a truck on very dusty roads for about twelve hours during those three days of labor. The dust here tends to be like talcum powder, and the curvy roads on the sides of the mountain makes it impossible to travel without raising huge clouds of dust. But the dental brigade handled it with smiles at all times. (It was more the bouncing around and the steep cliffs that led to an occasional “Ay!”)
|Some of the dental brigade (ready for the dust) on the back of the Mission Mexico truck|
Hundreds of people of all ages showed up for the free service. The care offered was superb. As the photo below shows, the dentists brought portable equipment with them from Mexico City. Some people received cleaning; others required fillings; many needed extractions. And several received false teeth: the mold was taken on day one, and the false teeth put in place on day three.
|Father Vicente (left) and dental brigade setting up equipment in mayor's office in Agua Tordillo|
The days were long but full of laughter and satisfaction. The meals that the dentists ate were simple: mostly beans and rice and tortillas. But no one complained. The brigade from Mexico City knew that the people were sharing with them the best of what they had. It was a great experience for all involved.
|Some of the women who prepared meals for the dental brigade|
And at the end of it all, the brigade from Mexico City “quemó vela” (burned candles) in the small chapel belonging to the community of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, in Xochitepec. This is the special way of drawing close to God in this mephaa culture.
|"Burning candles" on the last night. Thanks to Dr. Veronica Aguilar for use of her photo.|
Thanks to the dentists and those who accompanied them for this incredible expression of solidarity. I smiled on Sunday afternoon as I thought of so many people in “the north” sitting in front of their TVs to watch the Super Bowl, while these twenty-two friends from Mexico City were sitting among the poorest of the poor in the mountains of Guerrero and surely experiencing just as much joy as the many football fans cheering on their favorite team.
|An unforgettable experience for all involved|
On my way back to Tlapa (a ten-hour drive that day, with only one hour on a paved road), I decided to visit Marist brother José Luis Castillo Nuñez, the director of the Champagnat High School of the Mountain, in Potoichan—an educational project for impoverished indigenous youth that is supported by Mission Mexico. I wanted to express my best wishes to him on his 48th birthday. But he wasn’t eating birthday cake at the school. He was accompanying a group of his students who were clearing gravel and rocks from the road leading to Totohuehuetlán. This road doesn’t lead to the school, but the school wished to express its solidarity with the people of the neighboring village. It was a great example of living out the motto of the school: To Live Is to Serve.
|Happy Birthday, Brother "Guicho" (José Luis, director of Champagnat High school of the Mountain)|
And I also visited the junior high students in the village of Tamaloya. The twenty-three students have a one-room building made with sticks and mud and with a dirt floor and with one white board; the teachers, Rosi and Juan, are good friends of mine. I gave each of the students (as a gift from Mission Mexico) a notebook and two BIC pens: blue and red. They asked all kinds of questions about Canada, and they send to Mission Mexico and those who support Mission Mexico their heartfelt thanks.
|Junior-high students in Tamaloya with teacher Juan and a strange white guy in the back,|
and with their new notebooks donated by Mission Mexico
So the days go by. The next few months will be the hottest and dustiest time of year. It can also be one of the most difficult times of the year, since the supply of corn and beans harvested in the fall by the people will begin to run out for many (the next rainy season won't start before June). But together, things can work out. Thanks to all who support Mission Mexico and help to transform the lives of these noble people. As the mephaa people here say it, “Numa ueñou” (Thank you very much).
|Braulio sends greetings to his friends in Canada|