If you really want to do something different on your summer vacation, try taking a tip from John and Ginger (Layman) Davis, who spent four days on the Baja Peninsula, where the temperatures were in the 70s and 80s, and surprisingly balmy with little to no humidity to contend with. But this wasn’t a typical vacation. They were part of a medical/dental/eye mission trip, along with others from Guntersville, Huntsville and Gunnison, Colorado.
Ginger and John met because of his interest in going on a mission trip to Scotland. It seems that the young man from Belmont, MS, and then attending Heritage Christian University, came to Mars Hill School one day to inquire about funding for his trip. While there a young kindergarten teacher from Moulton caught his eye. The rest, as they say, is history.
The couple shares common interests such as this mission trip, which was one of several for John, who has made similar trips to Scotland, Russia, Panama, Guatemala, and places in the United States. Ginger often made trips as a teenager with the Moulton Church of Christ to places in the states; this was her third trip outside the U.S.
They began their 2000-mile journey in Huntsville, where they flew to San Diego, California, then boarded a charter bus to Ensenada, Mexico, changing buses for one belonging to the host mission, and headed to their destination, Diaz Ordaz, Mexico, on the Baja Peninsula. The last leg of the trip took two hours, which gave them ample time to get to know the other 17 people who decided to use their vacation to help out on the mission trip. There was a dentist from Huntsville, and several nurses, mainly from Guntersville, ranging in age from 18 to 80 years old.
The mission trip would service local residents, offering free eye, dental and medical services, plus a mobile pharmacy would supply them with medications like antibiotics and medications for diabetes and high blood pressure.
Ginger, who speaks some Spanish, would be helping patients and interpreting. She worked with dental patients, and says jokingly that she now knows lots of dental terms in Spanish.
John’s job was to help with the dental process, mainly disinfecting dental instruments following extractions. In such limited conditions, the dental care offered consisted of extractions and the cleaning of teeth. “Each dental patient received a bag filled with donated items like toothpaste, a toothbrush and floss and it was part of my job to explain how important dental hygiene is and why they should always brush their teeth,” Ginger explained.
They were joined by former Moulton residents, Andy and Lindsey White, who recently moved to Gunnison, Colorado when Andy was offered the pastor-ship of a church there. By the time Andy left Mexico he was well versed in cleaning teeth.
In four days the group saw just over 450 patients, ranging in age from young children to grandparents in their eighties. “We saw all kinds of medical and dental issues, from a construction worker who had gotten injured on the job resulting in a screw piercing his eye, to a woman with an abscessed tooth, and a little girl with parasites in her eyes from playing with untreated dogs. “One little girl suffered from congenital cataracts,” said Ginger.
“Another little nine year old girl came with a rash over her entire body,” said Ginger. “It was determined that the rash came from working illegally in the fields and coming in contact with pesticides.”
At night the group stayed in the only local hotel, a few miles from the clinic. “It was clean, but even there we couldn’t brush our teeth or even rinse our toothbrushes with the water from the tap,” Ginger explained. “The hotel supplied bottled water for everything.” The plumbing was primitive, and there were cisterns on the rooftops where water trucks delivered water for cooking and washing. It rained one time during their stay, which surprised Ginger, who had never seen rain on her two previous trips.
“There are no paved roads there, it’s very rural,” Ginger described. “Even the 18-wheelers drive on rock or dirt roads.”
The host church is sponsored by the Moulton Church of Christ. It is built of repurposed shipping containers, by missionaries five years ago. The concrete surrounding it was hand-poured by local concrete masons.
While they were there, a small house, Ginger guesses around 800 square feet, was built by some of the missionaries for a local couple who are members of the congregation. “Tears of joy streamed down their faces when they were presented with the key,” Ginger recalled.
Their meals were supplied by neighboring churches and were very good, mostly American dishes.
In summing up her emotions about the mission trip, Ginger quoted Matthew 25:37-40, “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’"
Ginger went on to refer to Luke 12:48, “For everyone to whom much is given much will be demanded.”
“We in the U.S. are so blessed materially. The Lord expects us to share our blessings. John and I have been blessed with the time, talent, and resources to work with and serve the people of Baja. The work is rewarding and does so much good for the people there. God is glorified and the people of Baja see Christ through us,” she affirmed. “Every time we served a patient in Baja, we served Christ.”
“Many thanks to the Moulton Church Of Christ, Double Springs Church of Christ, and Liberty Church of Christ in Dennis, Mississippi for funding our trip,” she continued. “We also thank individual donors who supplied toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, toys, and other supplies to be distributed during the work. Thank you to the Moulton Foodland for donating plastic bags.”
“I never dreamed when I took high school Spanish back in 1990-92 that I would one day use it to help spread the Gospel,” Ginger smiled. “Last summer when I returned home from Baja, I actually tracked down Mrs. Guin, my Spanish teacher, and thanked her over the phone for teaching me. She was thrilled to know I was using it for good.”