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Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

CORNUCOPIA: In the Merchant of Venice

CORNUCOPIA: In the Merchant of Venice

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by Betty Weiss

In The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare wrote: “How far that little candle throws his beams. So shines a good deed in a weary world.” DR. MICHAEL HARRIS his wife, CAROL, and nine other members of Grace Bible Church in Killeen spent eight days in the town of San Juan Sacatepequez, (I can’t pronounce it either) Guatemala on a mission doing many good deeds in this weary world. And one of the many things they did was to brighten the smiles of 250 patients of all ages in serious need of dental work. Dr. Harris led the team of five adults and six teenagers from Killeen, and they received assistance from five students at the dental school located in Guatemala City. Dr. Julie Moore, a friend of Dr. Harris since high school, left her practice in Plano to take part in the mission. .
The group flew into Guatemala City and traveled north into area where the mountain people live in San Juan Sacatepequez. The dental treatments consisted mostly of cleanings, fillings, extractions, and instructions for proper oral hygiene. The children only attend school half a day, and they are not taught anything about dental care. There just wasn’t enough time to do any complicated procedures, but I think Carol said they managed to do one root canal. Just one of many satisfying accomplishments was saving the two front teeth – rotting from decay – of a beautiful 17-year-old girl. She would have lost both of them without the treatment she received.
Besides dentistry, they did some construction work, too. Built six latrines and, in connection with HELP International, they constructed nine ONIL stoves. Throughout the years Mayan women cooked over an open fire pit on the dirt floor known as ‘the-stove fire.” The pits caused ventilation problems, and many people – mostly children – were severely burned because of falling into the pits. And each day hours were wasted because of the time it took to gather enough wood to keep the fires burning. An engineer, Don O’Neal, developed the ONIL stove compatible with the traditional cooking methods of the Mayans. His solution was to contain the fire in a clay-fired firebox insulated, durable stove that sits on the floor, vented by a galvanized steel chimney. Lives and time saved.
This Christmas there will be more people in San Juan Sacatepequez that will NOT be singing, “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth,” because some caring people let a beam of light shine.
For anyone who is Guatemala challenged – as I am – a bit of information about Guatemala: Located in Central America, the country has a population of over 15 million, and its capital city I Guatemala City. Since the UN negotiated a peace accord, the country has experienced some economic growth and has democratic elections. But it still struggles with poverty, high crime, and drug trade. The average annual income is $2,740, and the lower middle class averages around $1,619 in US dollars. The country has a unique ecosystem and a fusion o Spanish and indigenous influence. It’s known for its steep volcanoes, vast rainforests, and its ancient Mayan sites.


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