Dr. Frank Campbell and Dr. Chris Widner perform a dental treatment on a Guatemalan patient. The two dentists performed more than 300 dental procedures in their three-day clinic.
Dr. Frank Campbell and Dr. Chris Widner perform a dental treatment on a Guatemalan patient. The two dentists performed more than 300 dental procedures in their three-day clinic.

Archived Story

Mission to Guatemala

Published 3:39pm Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Local church sends mission group to build home, give free dental treatment

Dr. Chris Widner learned a lesson in gratitude from children living in Guatemala.

He was one of a group headed by Fairview: The Grace Place church in Falkville that went on a mission trip to San Pedro las Huertas, Guatemala.

The team ministered by building a home for a family and giving dental treatments to Guatemalan patients, from children to adults.

Widner, whose practice is Widner Family Dentistry in Hartselle, said the children were thankful for the help the team brought.

“After we got through a dental cleaning or treatment, the kids actually came up to me and hugged me,” Widner said. “I’ve never had that happen to me here. Usually kids here are almost running away from me after their appointments because they’re scared.

“Guatemalan children get scared just like kids do here, but they didn’t run away from me when it was over. They still wanted to be around me. They’re just so thankful for anything they get – whether it’s a dental cleaning, a toothbrush or toothpaste. They’re just so thankful.”

Todd Presley, who organized the mission team, echoed Widner’s sentiments about the people.

“They are just so thankful for anything they can get,” Presley said. “They’re hard-working people just like us. The only problem is that they don’t have the jobs like we do here.”

Presley said a good-paying week’s salary in Guatemala is about $80 a week, but the biggest thing they struggle with is getting consistent work.

“If you have a regular job there even if it pays less than $80, then you’re considered blessed,” Presley said. “It really makes our problems seem so small here. Here, we’re more concerned about luxuries while they are concerned more about necessities.”

Widner said the dental clinic presented some logistical issues. The place where the clinic was held didn’t have running water.

“We had to bring a lot of stuff with us for the clinic,” Widner said.

The group sponsored by Fairview, which left two days after Christmas and returned the following week in early January, went to the community where local missionary Danny Lopez and his family have been ministering.

“Danny was our youth pastor here when he felt the call to the mission field,” Presley said. “He just fell in love with the people there in Guatemala. Our church sponsors Danny and we sent three mission groups there last year. We’re hoping to send four this year.”

However, this was the first time they sent a team to perform a dental clinic.

Decatur dentist Dr. Frank Campbell, several former dental interns of Widner, several nurses and Widner coordinated the dental clinic. They saw about 300 patients during the three-day clinic.

“Chris and Dr. Campbell brought all of their own equipment,” Presley said.

This was the first trip for both Presley and Widner.

“This is something that I would recommend for anyone,” Widner said. “It’s a life-changing experience.”

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