Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Recent news from Nic and Honduras

Hello to all the missionaries of the best mission in the world.

As a missionary from 78-80 walking down the dusty dirt streets of Central America, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would one day return, as an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, to continue to serve these wonderful people who I had grown to love so much.

On many occasions as a missionary, I would sit in very humble homes and see the evidence of physical pain, suffering, and hunger. I often wondered how it was that these wonderful spiritual people could possibly have any interest in our message while living in such conditions. But yet more often than not, at least on some level, most accepted and a few embraced our message.

It was in December of 2003, just after our reunion, that I made my first trip to Honduras to use my skills as a surgeon to help alleviate, at least in a small degree, some of the physical suffering that I had seen as a missionary.

My wife and I had been looking for 3 years to find just the right project for our family to do humanitarian service - I don't know if it was because of the reunion or if it was just fortuitous timing but it was soon after the reunion that I was asked to join a group headed to Honduras to do the exact thing for which we were looking.

Since then our group has been going to Honduras twice a year to provide medical, dental, and humanitarian services to these people - many of whom are members of the church. In many instances we provided care for those young people preparing to serve missions and Latin missionaries.

Because of our work with "pre missionaries", we were invited by church leaders to go to Nicaragua in November to specifically do the work for young people who plan to leave on a mission within the next year. I just got back this past week.

During our 5 days of clinic we were able to get photos, physical exams, dental treatment, and all papers completed for 167 young Nicaraguans. As you are aware the church is growing exponentially in Nicaragua.

Hopefully by helping overcome some of the barriers to serving a mission, like medical, dental, and even photos for the mission papers (things we would not even give a second thought to here but can be a big barrier to people in Central America), for the first time Nicaragua will send out more missionaries than will be sent in to serve in their country.

The church members of Nicaragua are absolutely excited. They look forward to the day that they will have a temple. The church members in Honduras are literally jumping with joy that they will soon have a temple.

I never thought this would be possible as a 19 year old missionary. It just goes to show how little I know and just how great is the gospel plan.I feel very fortunate that I have been able, after all these years, to go back and serve these great people.

If you would like to know more, I can be contacted a drgcrawf@aol.com. Thanks to Tom and Phil and the other organizers. You are awesome. I look forward to seeing everybody in 2008.

Gary Crawford

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