I served on the 2012 Isla mission team. It was an incredible experience that left me completely humbled and beyond grateful. Not only is Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo a gorgeous island in Mexico where most of the photos I took looked like scenes from a postcard but it is also is filled with very genuine people. The authentic food experience of Isla was definitely memorable. I can’t decide if I am looking most forward to Vivian’s plantain tostone sandwiches at Qubano or homemade guacamole and pico de gallo made by our friend, Gaspar. Our group enjoyed a few local tastes but we were constantly reminded of the numerous locals who are without good food. In fact, many of the patients we saw and friends we met throughout the island were living without basic necessities in over populated spaces with unsanitary living conditions.My favorite memory I have from the Isla 2012 trip was pulling up to the Cruz Roja for our first full day of dental missions.. before many many “Limpiezas” (cleanings) and “extracción” (extractions) would later take place. An elderly local woman was sitting at the doorway waiting on us. She was smiling as she explained to our translator that she was in a lot of pain. As word spread we would be in the area, she walked several miles to the clinic. She had been waiting two hours before our three golf carts arrived, but she had the calmest most appreciative demeanor the entire visit with us. After hours of dental work, she thanked each of us repeatedly while smiling with a mouth full of red gauze. She was grateful to be out of pain and I was more than grateful to be there to help her.My 2012 Isla experience ultimately sparked a passion toward my current profession as a dental hygienist. I learned the importance of using the skills, that God gave me, to help make even the smallest impact in the lives of others (Hebrews 13:16). More importantly, the smiles of that tiny island refreshed my soul and made me more grateful than ever for things that I so easily had taken for granted. I look forward to learning more from our Isla friends again in May 2014!
– Tizzy