With ambition and faith, one local dental office worked hard this year to spread their knowledge and love to a much-needed community in Central America. In April of 2019, Maple Family Dental took its mission on the road and landed in Tiquisate, Guatemala.
“Every year, we put together local and oversea mission trips to educate on proper dental hygiene and care, provide dental services with poverty-stricken communities. This year, our team consisted of eight individuals from North Dakota, thirty-plus from CA, WA, ID, and Canada, as well as fifteen Guatemalan locals, the biggest team yet,” says Dr. Jonathan Bultema.
Dr. Bultema is a native of Fargo, ND. After spending several years in the Navy as a Dental Officer, Dr. Bultema and his family chose to move back home to pursue his dream of building a dental community through relationships and missions.
While obtaining his degree at the University of Southern California School of Dentistry (USC), Dr. Bultema began doing missions with the Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA) in 2005. He has served in US inner cities and rural areas, Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Venezuela, and Ghana, Africa. CMDA pairs dental students with dental professionals on these mission trips as a real-life mentorship. This unique opportunity allows students the chance to spend one-on-one time observing and practicing dental work. The
mission trips aren’t just for dental professionals either. Volunteers and other business professionals are encouraged to join.
When Dr. Bultema started his practice in Horace, ND, he knew that doing missions with CMDA would be on the top of his list as a way to give back. Working together with the blended team, Maple Family Dental served 530 people on their 2019 trip who were in dire need of dental care.
“We provided over $163,000 worth of dental services. It was stunning and rewarding and difficult this year, but we wouldn’t change it for the world. Our team of forty served in an area that less tend to go because of the climate. We worked through 102 plus degree conditions, and focused on downing fluids, fighting heatstroke and our physical limitations,” says Dr. Bultema.
With assistance from local organizations like Bell Bank and Horace Lion’s Club, Maple Family Dental was able to bring more professionals from the local Red River Valley area overseas. Children received toys after their visit, and often these small gifts become their prized possessions. Every toy, no matter how small, was received with love and appreciation. Once every child received their toy, there was enough left over to spread joy to a local children’s hospital.
Maple Family Dental will be rallying their troops and heading out again to Tecpan, Guatemala in 2020 for another mission trip at the end of April. They welcome you to contact their office if you would like to make a donation toward their mission trip or to provide toys and soccer balls.