This past June, Dr. Chad Hutchison along with his entire family — wife Alethea, 13-year-old daughter, Blythe and 11-year-old son, Zaine — participated in an eight-day mission trip to Panajachel, Guatemala under the auspices of the Mayan Families charitable organization.
This was Dr. Chad’s first trip to Guatemala. Blythe’s music teacher, Debbie Lutes of Studio 108 Music with a Mission, has been going to this region for years, to perform for the villages and to educate the children about music. She introduced Chad to Mayan Families and invited he and his family to join her this year. Everyone had a role: Chad performed dentistry with assistance from Alethea, Blythe played music (violin), Zaine worked on infrastructure projects and they all helped deliver food to various villages.
Unlike past mission trips where the conditions have been primitive, Panajachel has a dental clinic co-sponsored by the Mayan Families organization and a U.S. dentist from Florida. Volunteer dentists from the states show up to staff the clinic on a part-time basis. It’s a huge benefit to be able to grab an x-ray, to see what you are up against. This luxury allowed the visiting dental team was able to perform fillings and even root canals.
For example, thanks to an x-ray, Dr. Chad could determine that a cavity on one child’s tooth was in a baby tooth, so a filling was unwarranted. Instead, he removed the baby tooth, knowing that a permanent was not far behind.
The village of Panajachel is built around a lake formed by volcanoes, one mile above sea level.
“We really noticed the altitude while we were assisting on some of the more physical projects”, said Dr. Chad. “The locals weren’t phased at all. They were hardworking and friendly.”
Shifting the conversation, Dr. Chad went on to explain, “As beautiful as the region and the people truly were, it was the horrendous poverty of the surrounding villages that moved my family— dirt floor huts, no running water; open trench sewage— it was a shocking thing for a family from Franklin, Tennessee to experience”, he said somberly.
“One day we met a young boy, named Juan. He had a very sweet spirit which we all fell in love with. We learned from our hosts that most of the local children drop out of school at an early age to go to work in order to help provide for their families. It’s a big problem. The Mayan Families organization administers a sponsorship program to address this very issue. So, we decided to sponsor our new friend, Juan, in hopes that he will be able to stay in school, which could change the entire course of his life.’
Later in the week, Alethea invited Juan’s entire family to come to the clinic for some much needed dental care. “It feels great to be able to give back”, said Chad. “I am so thankful that we were able to share this experience as a family.”
To see more pictures from this trip of a lifetime, visit our Facebook page for images posted on or about June 02, 2016.
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