Mission group brings help to BelizePublished 10:10am Friday, August 1, 2014
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The missionaries of Faith Presbyterian Church are planning a presentation for the church on their recent mission trip to Belize.
Organized by Bob Massengill, the Faith Presbyterian missionaries started volunteer work June 22 and finished up on June 28. A presentation reporting on the trip is planned for Aug. 10 during Sunday school hour from 9:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m.
The local missionaries banded together to bring health and dental care to help under-privileged residents of Belize. Faith Presbyterian partnered with Shalom Presbyterian Church located in Louisville, Belize, and provided upkeep labor to aid the native church.
Russ Hightower, pastor of Faith Presbyterian, said there is a community of established Presbyterian churches in Belize. The mission trip to Belize was Hightower’s first trip, but Faith Presbyterians members’ second.
Hightower added half the work during the mission trip was put in by volunteers to help paint and clean Shalom Presbyterian and provide maintenance support, and the other half of the work was led by local doctors, nurses and dentists to supply the natives with modern health and dental care they most likely would not be able to afford under everyday circumstances.
In the previous year, Hightower reported Faith Presbyterian’s missionaries completed construction on the roof of Shalom Church.
“It was great to partner with what God’s already doing there to support them and to advance God’s kingdom,” said Hightower of the experience.
The medical missionaries who traveled to Belize included Richard Rushing, obstetrician and gynecologist, and his wife Paula Rushing.
The medical and dental team members worked four out of the five days they were in Belize and began every workday at 8 a.m. in the morning with prayer and tried to finish around 3 p.m., but normally worked until 4 p.m. because of the patients waiting.
Shannon Patterson, Brookhaven dentist, volunteered to provide dental care to natives. Patterson said he had served as a dental-care missionary once during college and said in his experience, the dental care usually involved extracting teeth in a primitive setting.
In Belize, the country does have access to modern health and dental care, but residents throughout the country cannot always afford access to doctors and dentists, he said.
“Most of the residents are poorer people who very possibly couldn’t afford this type of care under normal circumstances,” explained Patterson.
In Belize, Patterson was relieved to have a functional dental chair and most of the tools he needed to perform dental work, as well as translators. He said it was relief to not be obligated to transport needed equipment to the site by plane. Faith Presbyterian was able to bring needed supplies as a supplement to the stockpile at the church in Belize.
As a result, the medical missionaries were able to do more than extract teeth, but also to perform more dental work to the patients.
Patterson reported they were able to offer comprehensive dental work such as cleanings, fillings, extractions and one root canal. Ideally for natives, it is best to avoid removing teeth, and Patterson mentioned a program is in the beginning stages of bringing a program to Belize to train some natives as dental hygienists to provide low-cost cleanings to impoverished residents.
He specifically complimented Paula Rushing, Dr, Rushing’s wife, on her support and patience with the patients. Patterson said her “mothering” qualities were essential in keeping patients calm and comfortable during treatment.
Bill Jacobs, another Brookhaven church volunteer, said, “It was a good experience to be around Belizeans, Belizean culture and to be able to help their church and medical needs.”