By Dr Tan Bee Bee
On 7 October 2023, The Bible Church sent a team of 9 members consisting of 4 dentists to West Nepal to conduct dental camps in 4 villages. The mission trip sought to build bridges between church planters and the communities, especially in villages where the ground is hard.
The preparation for this trip was met with some challenges. One village which we had intended to visit obtained approval from local authorities but was declined by the mayor. Our vehicle could not gain access to another village because there was no motorable bridge over the river. However, just a few days before the trip, the church planter overseer identified 2 other villages for the dental team to go.
One of the requirements is to have 1 Nepali dentist and 1 Nepali hygienist to go with the team. We waited a few months before we found them. God provides! The dentist was hesitant to go because there was a lockdown in the area where we were to go due to conflict between Hindus and Muslims in Nepalgunj. In the end, she decided to go because we will bypass the areas that have racial conflicts. A few days before our trip, there was an earthquake 400km away from where we were going.
It was a relief when we finally set off. At the airport, we had difficulty clearing the customs due to the dental suitcases. The atmosphere was tense. Some of us started praying, and some sent text messages to church and prayer partners asking for prayer. That night, we left around midnight without our dental suitcases. The next day, some of us went back to the airport, paid tax and managed to retrieve back our dental suitcases. However, we could not take our morning domestic flight. God provided an evening domestic flight for us.
The team was exhausted due to the inadequate sleep and early morning travel to the first village. The weather was also very hot. The dentists were sweating profusely under their gowns. The gloves got 'stuck' with sweat, but God sustained us till the end of the day.
It was heartwarming for me to visit the church which I last did dental camp 10 years ago. At that time, the church consisted only of 4 pillars. We treated patients with their heads leaning against the pillars. Today, this church is a beautiful building with an average congregation of 50-60 members worshipping every Sunday.
On the 3rd clinic day, I was mixing dental cement under a ceiling fan. Minutes later, the fan dropped inches away from me. Anyone walking under the fan at that moment would have been seriously injured. Truly thank God for His protection.
On the last day of clinic, when we departed from the church, we witnessed a beautiful sunset in the paddy fields. It was a beautiful sight! It reminds me of our Creator, the Maker of heaven and earth.
As I reflected on this trip, I see how I experienced God's goodness in sustaining and strengthening me despite my poor eyesight and rashes on both hands. Truly going on a mission trip like this is an adventure with God. There are unexpected changes and obstacles, but God is sovereign and He is in control. God's purpose will always prevail. All glory to Him! My prayer is that God will raise up young dentists who share the same vision of reaching the unreached using their dental skills.
Which God supplies
He will provide
Christ in us
We will go forth in grace alone
(Lyrics from ‘Grace Alone’)