Toothbrushes for Mexico

By Linda Porter Carlyle

 MacKenzie Isabelle Evans unbuckled her seat belt and jumped out of Mrs. Korner’s truck. “You won’t believe how much food we bought!” she shouted. “I think we could feed all of Jacksonville!”

“And now I suppose you want help unloading it,” Dad teased. He looked into the back of the truck at the cases and cases of little fruit juice cans and little bottles of water. There were long loaves of bread, fat bags of chips, boxes of cereal, bunches of bananas, heads of lettuce, and a whole army of long, green cucumbers. And that was just the top layer. Dad whistled. “I don’t think the missionaries will be going hungry on this trip,” he exclaimed.

Joseph hurried over to the truck. He had a damp towel in his hand. “I washed and dried those huge ice chests,” he told Mrs. Korner. “I think they’re ready to pack the food into.”

Mac gazed around. The driveway and the open garage was a beehive of activity. Everyone was helping get things ready for the mission trip. Trevor and his twin big brothers, Brad and Ben, scrubbed the blue mission van with soapy sponges. Their mom was helping to wash the long, boxy trailer already attached to the back of it. Hannah and her mom were busy packing dental instruments into a plastic chest of drawers. Mrs. Pastor Chuck stood at the garage sink, filling about a hundred empty gallon jugs with water.

Mac twirled. She couldn’t possibly stand still. There was way too much excitement in the air.

“Hey, Miss Mac!” Dr. Monroe called. “Would you please count the toothbrushes in this box?”

Mac took the box and began. One, two, three. . . . She looked up. “Are these the toothbrushes you are going to give to the Mexican people?” she asked. “Are you going to give a toothbrush to everybody?”

Dr. Monroe smiled. “Well, we couldn’t possibly take enough toothbrushes for everybody!” he answered. “But we try to give one to each person whose teeth we work on. Plus, we will give tooth brushing demonstrations to the children. And I want to be able to give a toothbrush to each child afterwards.”

“How do you know how many toothbrushes to take?” Mac asked. “How do you know how many people are going to come to your clinic? They can’t call up for an appointment like we do when we go to the dentist!”

“We never know exactly how many patients we’re going to have,” Dr. Monroe replied. “But we always pray that the Lord will have His hand on all the plans for our trip. And usually we have enough toothbrushes and other supplies to go around.”

“That’s what we get to do!” Brad shouted. “Ben and I are going to be the tooth brushing teachers!”

Mac felt a quick stab of jealously. It wasn’t fair that she couldn’t go on this mission trip too! She was sure she could teach tooth brushing to the Mexican children just as well as Brad and Ben could. Probably better!

Pastor Chuck strolled across the garage to Mac. He bent over and whispered in her ear. “Be patient. It won’t be very long before you’ll be old enough to go on a mission trip too.”

Mac looked up, shocked. “How did you know what I was thinking?” she demanded.

Pastor Chuck grinned and tugged one of her red curls. “You’d better always be careful about what you think,” he warned. “It’s written right across your face!”

Mac frowned and rubbed her forehead. That didn’t sound like a good thing! She hoped it wasn’t true!

“So how many toothbrushes do we have there, Mac?” Dr. Monroe called.

“I’m sorry! I haven’t finished counting them yet!” Mac answered. She got back to business. One, two, three, four, five. . . .

“Here comes G.M.” Joseph said. “If she’s frowning, it means she burned them.”

Fifty-three. . . . Mac looked up. She  watched G.M. climb out of her old truck  with a big bag in her hand. She was not  frowning.

“Missionary cookies!” G.M. announced. “I made them myself. I may not be going on this trip, but I’m giving cookies and prayers!”

Everybody working in the garage stopped what they were doing and laughed. “We’ll think of you with every cookie we eat,” Pastor Chuck assured her.

Eventually, hours later, all the hard work was done. The ice chests were filled with food. (Joseph actually had to sit on the last one to hold the top down so Mrs. Korner could fasten it.) The folding dental chairs, the lights, the tables, all the instruments the dentists would need (like the tiny round mirrors with handles for looking inside mouths), and the boxes of other supplies were finally packed and loaded into the trailer. The fans, generators, and tools to work on them were loaded. The missionaries’ duffel bags, sleeping bags, and sleeping mats were stuffed in last. For a little while Mac wondered if it would be possible to shut the trailer’s doors!

Dr. Monroe wiped his dusty hands on his pants. “I want to thank all of you who have given your time to help us get ready for this trip!” he said gratefully. “You have really blessed us!”

“Oh!” G.M. put in. “That reminds me! I have more cookies in the car. I also wanted to bless the workers who aren’t going to Mexico but who came to help get the missionaries on their way.”

“I’ll get them!” Mac volunteered. She was hungry! She could probably eat about a dozen cookies! She skipped across the driveway to G.M.’s truck. She felt light and bouncy inside. Maybe she couldn’t go on a mission trip yet, but she was old enough to help those who were going. She was doing what she could.

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