Guatemala City, Guatemala
Last month Dr. Argyle and his family were able to go down to Guatemala and provided free dental work for many of the children and teenagers who normally don’t have an opportunity to visit the dentist. We had a wonderful time providing service as we fell in love with a beautiful country with even a more beautiful people. Dr. Argyle learned of this opportunity through his membership with the Academy of LDS Dentists which helps provide dentists with opportunities for service in locations throughout the world. We worked out of a dental clinic located in the northern end of Guatemala City (Zone 2) that is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It is ran by retired dentists and their spouses who voluntarily work in the clinic from 12-24 months. Many of the children we saw were “municipal kids” which means their families do not have adequate money to allow them to go to school so the government helps provide the opportunity for them. We also saw many young men and young women who were preparing to serve missions for the LDS Church. Many of them would travel from five to ten hours away in order to come and receive the care they needed. All of the patients we had the opportunity to serve were extremely polite and so thankful for the help we gave them. It was such a wonderful opportunity for our family and one that we will always remember and hopefully be able to continue through the years.
With a crash course in dental assisting, infection control techniques, and sterilization of instruments on a Saturday afternoon at Argyle Dental, the Argyle family was ready to go. Natalie, Dr. Argyle’s wife, his two teenage kids, Kaden and Allie, as well as his father-in-law, Earl, were a huge help in the clinic. They all helped assist with each of the patients, break down and set up the room between patients, and sterilize all of the equipment. Kaden and Earl were the lead assistants when it came to removing teeth while Natalie and Allie loved to help out with the fillings and cleanings.
We arrived in Guatemala City late Sunday night and started in the clinic early the next morning. We were in a rush Monday morning to get to the clinic because we were not sure how long it would take us to get there and so we didn’t really get anything to eat. Unfortunately this did not work out very well for Allie! The next series of pictures tells a pretty entertaining story. Kaden assisted Dr. Argyle most of the morning while Natalie and Allie cleaned instruments and put together hygiene kits for the patients. Allie decided she wanted to help assist around lunchtime so we got her in the chair. We numbed up the patient and started cleaning out several teeth that had cavities when Allie said, “Dad, I don’t feel very good and feel lightheaded”. We immediately stopped and had her set down the suction to switch out with her brother. The next thing we knew, Allie was doing a back bend over the assistant chair completely passed out! Dr. Argyle and Kaden pulled her up and got her to wake up. She ended up being just fine but became Natalie’s patient for the next hour or so while she got feeling better. To her credit, she didn’t let it slow her down as she was back in the assistant chair later that afternoon helping out again. We did make sure to get Allie breakfast every other morning after that though!
We spent Monday through Thursday in the dental clinic. The kids did an amazing job and were extremely helpful. We were very thankful to be able to have them along not only for the help they provided but for the experiences they gained and lessons they learned in the happiness that serving others can bring. However, they are still teenagers and couldn’t keep their focus for the entire time. Here are some of the pictures we found after the trip from their phones.
None of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for the amazing missionary volunteers at the dental clinic. On our last day at the clinic we took this picture of all of the volunteers that make it possible for all of these special patients to receive the dental care that they do. They are wonderful people and we appreciated all of their help from finding things in the clinic to knowing where and what we could eat! We knew we would miss each of them as we finished up our time at the clinic.
The last two days we had in Guatemala were filled with trying to see as many of the sites as we could in as short of a period as we had. We were fortunate enough on Friday to be able to fly out to the Tikal Ruins in the jungles of northern Guatemala. It was amazing to see these ruins and try to comprehend how the people were able to build structures that large 2500-3000 years ago. The next morning we woke up early to go hike the Pacaya Volcano and visit the ancient colonial Spanish capital of Central America, Antigua. Pacaya is one of several active volcanoes in Guatemala and most recently erupted in 2014. In fact, the week after we got home, it was closed for two days because of volcanic activity. Glad it remained calm while we were on it! Antigua was a quaint, beautiful city with many old Spanish style churches, convents, monastaries, and the fanciest McDonald’s we have ever come across. It sits in a beautiful valley with three volcanoes that surround it to the south.
Pacaya Volcano and Antigua
Our service trip to Guatemala was an amazing experience for our family. Dr. Argyle had a lot of reservations as he put it all together and learned of the high crime rate and danger of Guatemala City. He had many sleepless nights worrying about it all coming together and his family being safe while there. Fortunately, we never felt unsafe and felt nothing but love and appreciation from the wonderful people of Guatemala. We will forever remember the experiences and joy that we had as we provided dental care for many individuals that would normally never have the opportunity to receive care. We owe a special thanks to Minky Couture for their donation of many of their “Mini” blankets to give to babies throughout Guatemala as we visited different areas. They were also used to provide 50 newborns in Guatemala City hospitals a comfortable beginning in this life. Here are a couple of pictures of some of the cute little kids we were able to share some of them with.
We would also like to thank Patterson Dental Supply and VOCO for providing us with much needed dental supplies that we were able to take down in our luggage to help stock the clinic. This will allow the clinic to continue to operate and provide dental services to those in need in Guatemala City and the surrounding areas.