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A Companion Synod Story: Tanzania

I was on a health care mission in Southern Highlands of Tanzania, Africa. A make shift dental operatory had been set up for me consisting of a chair borrowed from local villagers and a benched carved out of a tree. A sugarcane fence had been constructed to keep the crowds back while they observed others being treated.

I was the only dental professional who had ever visited the area. People came for miles to have their teeth cleaned. Many had to wait a long time. I had to earn the trust of this community I was serving. Not only were dental concepts new and different, but- to them- I was different as well. While I struggled to work in a radically new environment, they struggled to accept me. Many were anxious about receiving treatment.

I called the name of a boy who was about seven years old. He was frightened, just like most kids his age anywhere in the world. I went over, picked him up, and sat down with him on my lap. Tears streamed down his face. In an effort to console the lad, I picked up a mirror and told him to look at those big tears. I knew he couldn’t understand a word I said, but I watched as he peered curiously into the mirror. It took only a moment for me to realize that he had never seen his reflection before. The boy slowly moved his head from side to side and seemed amazed that the reflection imitated him. We both watched in the mirror as I cleaned his teeth.

The youngster left the clinic area with a big smile on his face. Not only had he survived the treatment, he had also received a lasting image of his own refection. Wiping the tears from my eyes, I also smiled, grateful for being able to give him such a precious memory.

From this experience, I learned that I can make a difference in someone’s life. Would you like to feel the joy in your heart from knowing that you made a difference in someone’s life? Consider contacting the Tanzania Companion Synod Network. There are many ways that you can become involved that will not only make a difference in someone else’s life, but may also make a difference in yours.

Contact Cathy Milejczak at

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