Here comes part 2 of the story about the Dental Clinic Outreach.
Without a break and after experiencing a time of intense heat and work at Niksek, the team just continued with their mission at Moropote, caring for the physical and spiritual well-being of the people there.
At Moropote, many people from Kagiru, Bitara, Hanasi, Sarunapi, Hepide, Mapue, Maposi, Lariaso and Sio were already waiting for the team; some of them had walked three days to get there. Gerhard was so pleased not only to see the older generation gathered together but also many young men and women joining the crowd, about 100 alone from the village of Bitara.
“They didn’t come to see the dentist,“ Gerhard said, “they came to have ‘open heart surgery’ and wanted to hear God’s Word. I taught 12 sessions, sometimes three sessions a day.
On top of that, Brigitte and I had many personal meetings to counsel people and to pray with them. We were shocked by what we were told as people were deeply stuck in animistic beliefs and bondage; women, young and old, told us how they get maliciously and nastily treated and raped. It really made us sad.“
All of the team were sick at some point. “We really felt a spiritual battle going on around us, especially at Moropote,“ continued Gerhard “but as a matter of fact, we also could feel the presence and strength of the Lord within us. I had a hard time speaking to the crowd and was fighting a cold and a sore throat, but I taught my sessions with great joy. On Sundays, Immanuel did the preaching and Brigitte and Stefan gave testimonies.“
Before Immanuel and Stefan began their dental clinic, they had to fix the community’s generator so as to have power to use their electrical dental equipment, for a total of 56 patients at Moropote, extracting 68 teeth.
After clinic hours, they also tried to repair the old tractor which the community uses to cut the grass on the airstrip. However, just as one part began working again, an essential cable broke. Brigitte now needs to find this spare part in one of the many workshops at Mt Hagen and send it on a MAF flight to Moropote. This means, for now, the airstrip has to be cut by manpower and machetes only.
At Moropote, the people farewelled the dentists with traditional bilums (hand made bags out of natural fibres) and feathery headdresses, bows and arrows and even a garamut, a bush drum carved out of a tree trunk.
Exhausted and ready for somewhere a little more comfortable, the team was glad to hear the sound of the MAF Caravan in the circuit of Moropote to take them back to Wewak for a few days to enjoy some coastal scenery. But there as well, Immanuel and Stefan offered a dental check to the Wewak mission community and saw another 14 patients, removing 2 teeth and doing 6 fillings. What a blessing!
For the fifth and last time in three weeks, the team boarded the MAF Caravan to be flown back to Mt Hagen, where Gerhard and Brigitte live and run a small Bible School at Aviamp. Here, Immanuel and Stefan were seen again in their shiny white uniforms, setting up their mobile dental clinic under the Stamms‘ carport and offering their skills to more than 50 patients from the area there, extracting 24 teeth and doing 26 fillings.
This certainly wasn’t a holiday for the dentists, but an eye-opening experience in serving remote communities in a unique physical and spiritual way. This was especially so for new graduate Stefan who has seen a total of 186 patients and having removed 236 teeth in those 3 weeks, now stands out among his colleagues from university having grown amazingly in his dental knowledge and surgery skills.
“It was so worth it!“ stated Gerhard. “It was draining at some points, but to see so many people walking hours from nearby villages to Moropote, being open and hungry to hear God’s Word and coming to us for counselling and advice really lifted our hearts.
Preparing for this kind of ministry was not easy. Too many factors remained unknown and yet preparations still had to be made and a lot of money spent at least on the part of the dentists. Bad weather, a sick pilot or broken aircraft, a closed airstrip or break down in wireless communication, all of this could have messed up our plans. But the Lord was gracious to us and granted us success. This holistic ministry was worth all the effort. It left people very happy and thankful to be without nasty toothaches.
At the same time it gave the communities very much-needed biblical teaching and joy that the long-promised, God-given redeemer, Jesus Christ, also came to call people from remote areas of PNG into God’s kingdom.
For future planning we have to consider similar ministries to bring the love of Christ to people otherwise quite forgotten by the outside world.“
While at Niksek and Moropote the Stamms sold a huge amount of Tok Pisin Bibles and solar-powered audio Bibles as well as Christian literature and solar lights, supplied by CRMF and Christian Book Melanesia.
“We are so appreciative of MAF and all their staff who made this ministry possible,“ Gerhard expressed. “We are so grateful for all their assistance, safe and timely flying and the highly subsidised flights. We could not have done this without MAF as Niksek and Moropote are nestled between the foothills of the highlands and the plains of the mighty Sepik River.”
“Last but not least, our pilot even blessed us with a freshly-baked cake by his wife when he transferred us from Niksek to Moropote and a load of brownies when getting us back to Wewak. I wonder how many truly can understand our appreciation of this MAF in-flight service after almost three weeks of intensive work in the jungle of PNG. Thanks, dear brothers and sisters from MAF, that all of you made this ministry successful.”
The blessing continues as the German dentists personally donated lots of their dental equipment and unused medicines when visiting the dental clinic at the Nazarene Hospital at Kudjip.
MAF has already flown the mobile dental unit, with all its attachments, and the suction unit back from the Sepik to the Highlands. It has found its new utilisation at the Enga Baptist Health Services’ Kompiam District Hospital, and it arrived at just the perfect time. Dr. David Mills reports: “Actually we had only just taken the decision late last year to begin to set up a dental service here in Kompiam and with patrolling to outlying areas. We have secured a dentist from overseas and she is now in the process of applying for registration. So we were already starting the hunt for equipment. It couldn’t have been more timely. We are very grateful and trust this equipment is going to be very well used.“
Mandy Glass. Photos Gerhard Stamm (GS), Paul Woodington (PW), Mathias Glass (MSG)