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Experiences on a Medical and Mentoring Mission
By Peter Cariaga, 15

Dr. John Bailey of Colleyville, Texas had been receiving newsletters and updates from my father for years, yet never replied. Then, one day, he wrote back and said, "I want to come to the Philippines. What can I do?" My dad, a little surprised, wrote, "You're a dentist, right? Come on over, we'll organize a medical mission." And that's just what they did.

I was about nine years old the last time I went on on a medical mission. Besides helping at the operating table, it was an enjoyable experience. As Dad and I discussed my role in the mission, he told me I would probably be Dr. Bailey's assistant a lot of the time. Apart from conversing with the doctor, I could help him at the table by handing him his equipment and communicating with the patients. At that last part, I wondered if my language skills were enough; I'd never had to ask someone, "Which tooth do you want pulled?" in the local dialect. I also wondered how I'd get along with Dr. Bailey. I guessed that he must have good people skills to be a dentist. I just wondered if he was the kind that can work with teens, and, more importantly, how he would react to Filipino culture.

I found out I had nothing to worry about, though. >From the minute we met him at the airport, I liked John Bailey. He was enthusiastic about getting to work, and about seeing the place and meeting the people. It turns out that he has been traveling to different countries to preach and do medical missions all of his life. I was anxious to start working, and to get to know the man I now count as one of my mentors.

That night after dinner, my dad presented Dr. Bailey with a schedule that would take him around the Philippines and utilize his skills as a physician and a speaker. Besides holding dental clinics in three different cities, John would be speaking about leadership to the leaders of the local churches. It would be a tough schedule, my dad told him. John chuckled and replied, "That's what I came here to do."

The Mactan Dental Clinic was held at the church building next to our house. Since Dr. Bailey was staying with us, I found myself running back and forth to his room to get things he'd forgotten. Thankfully, though, there were more than enough volunteers to take over whenever I had to leave. Members of the church came to help register patients, take blood pressure and prepare refreshments. Church workers followed up on the patients with invitations for Bible study and counseling. Even some of the young men from the youth group volunteered to help set up chairs and tables. And some with the training (or, in some cases, just the stomach) assisted Dr. Bailey at the instrument table.

Although John himself had a steady line of patients coming in, I never heard a serious complaint or a word of criticism from him. I think that was one of the factors that kept the workers motivated and the patients feeling secure. That night he spoke at a seminar on leadership, drawing on his own experiences as an elder at his home church in Texas. Response from the crowd was immediate. John answered questions about everything from women in church leadership to the appropriate age for elders. And though it tired him, I could tell that John really enjoyed what he was doing.

The rest of the mission was blessed to go just as well, and the attendance for the seminar grew with each day. John Bailey did more clinics in the neighboring barrio of Babag and in Iloilo city. And while he immensely enjoyed all of his visits, I think John liked the final stop in Baguio the most. There, he met with the elders of the church at Rimando Road, one of the few churches in the Philippines to reach that level of leadership. Most of his time was spent mentoring and giving more lectures on leading and teaching. The biggest clinic was held at Rimando Road. Dr. Bailey worked with fellow dentists from MARCH for Christ in treating over 100 patients in a one-day workshop. Volunteers showed up throughout the day to help in any way they could. I enjoyed it a lot, even though I had been delegated to an instrument hygiene maintainer (in other words, I sat and scrubbed the utensils all day).

John Bailey's visit to the Philippines was an inspiring one for a lot of people, but it was special to me in a unique way. The last few days before he left, I got to talk to John one-on-one about a lot of stuff. The man who the day before had been talking to elders about the most complicated issues in the church sat and conversed openly with a teenager. We talked about baptism and the remission of sins, a topic I really had on my mind lately. He let me begin discussions and pose questions, and then he would answer in ways that made sense to me. I felt like I had learned something without really being taught.

All of us have mentors. John Bailey was a mentor to me in a lot of ways. So are my dad, and my teachers, and those who are wiser than I am. Mentors build and refine you. They show you things that you didn't know you could do and take you to places you thought you couldn't go. And even if you don't think you have a mentor who does that, remember that God is the greatest mentor, and He will guide you through the toughest obstacles life has (Matthew 11:28-30).

If you don't have someone you really count as a mentor, talk to someone you know, preferably one older than you. Ask them about life, about their walk with God, and about what you have in common. You'll find they have a lot of wisdom in some things.

You'll find they have a lot to offer.

Click the URL below for dental pictures>>>



Peter Cariaga is a 15 year old MK (missionary kid http://philippinechurchesofchrist.org/pcc/4.htm) . He is the eldest son of Salvador & Jennie Cariaga, and their mission work is sponsored by the Altamesa Church of Christ in Fort Worth. Dr. John Bailey is an elder of the Legacy Church of Christ in North Richland Hills (jcb2of3@aol.com). If you would like to know more about their work, join a mission campaign and/or a mentoring or medical mission, help with shipping projects, etc, please contact Salvador Cariaga at cariaga@yahoo.com or call 817-737-4968. You may also visit their website at philippinechurchesofchrist.org or philippinechurch.org. If they could be of assistance to you in any way, please feel free to let them know. If you wish to be deleted off their list, please write "delete."

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