Dr. Delvin Hansen, a retired dentist from Harvey, North Dakota, recently accompanied dental students from Loma Linda University on a mission trip to Mozambique. Each dental student at Loma Linda is encouraged to participate in at least one mission trip during their four-year program, and alumni are sometimes recruited to travel with the students.

Logistics for the mission trips are coordinated by the university and Global Health Institute. This does not, however, preclude challenges. Arrangements were made to clear customs in Maputo, Mozambique, but Hansen and his wife JoAnn ran into complications. After six hours, though, the union office provided the necessary papers and they were allowed to enter the country.

Next, the group had to set up their health clinic. Arrangements had been made for the clinic to operate in a stadium, but the stadium was closed due to an accidental death.

Eventually a local hospital was found where tents were set up to accommodate preventive healthcare. The hospital allowed the students to work in their dental clinic, and ophthalmometric and pediatric surgeons worked with local surgeons in their surgical hospital.

Overcoming more obstacles

Still, the challenges continued. No chairs were available for the dental hygiene students, so portable chairs were borrowed from a blood bank. Compressors had to be found to operate the portable units, the 110-volt sterilizer brought along wouldn’t work in a 220-amp environment, and the amalgam mixer broke the first time it was used, so no silver fillings were available.

After the second day, a press report warned the people not to come to the American clinic by giving an untruthful review. However, people of Mozambique typically assume any healthcare from the United States is of higher quality than their free healthcare, so they continued to come en masse.

Dedication and appreciation

Hansen was the only dentist brought along to supervise the students, but much to his relief an Adventist dentist traveled 300 miles to participate with the group. Hansen was grateful for the dentist’s assistance, and let him have first pick of the disposable items to be left behind when the mission was completed. “He about broke down he was so appreciative,” said Hansen.

The university’s goal of providing a service-learning opportunity for its students and improved healthcare around the world was accomplished. Christ’s name was uplifted through the participation of dedicated Adventist students, graduates and volunteers. And Hansen was able to share years of experience with students eager to learn in a supervised, hands-on environment.