A dental assistant is on a mission to bring faith to remote villages

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Dental assistant Scarlet Sandoval takes goes beyond the root of a tooth to the root of her faith in her work as a missionary in her native Guatemala.

Healthy Teeth Journey of Hope provides dental care, haircuts and eyeglasses to remote villages in her homeland as well as in Mexico, Ecuador and Peru.

Her four-year-old “mission” was chosen as this year’s winner of the annual Catholic Herald “Adopt a Charity,” where the staff chooses one charity from nominations to support through publicity and donations.

The staff collected items from Sandoval’s wish list — small toys, shoes, sandals, combs, toothbrushes, eye drops, reading glasses, as well as holy cards and rosaries.

Sandoval said her inspiration came from a trip she took to El Carmen Village in Guatemala with a dentist who was providing dental care to the poor. She noticed their spiritual hunger and felt called to share God’s love. Since then, she has traveled to all four countries on mission trips where she hires local dentists and local hairdressers to handle the practical work.

Her faith inspires her work. Sandoval hands out rosaries and prayer cards to the villagers, and prays the rosary with them. “I love Jesus very much and by serving others I feel close to Him,” she said. “My biggest blessing is to be a missionary and have my own charity.”

She obtained nonprofit status this year. “I think it will help because now if people would like to give a donation, it will be tax-deductible,” she said. “I’m very happy because I can reach out to companies through my charity for donations and not through my job as a dental assistant” at Cusumano and Stuvo dental practice in Arlington.adopt a charity 5

Her goals for the coming year include providing portable dental equipment, exam chairs and curing lights for the villages, and an increased focus on evangelization, as simple as providing toothbrushes printed with the message, “Jesus loves me.” She also plans to teach more people how to pray the rosary and the Divine Mercy chaplet, and wants to share Christian music as another tool to evangelize.

With increased donations, she hopes to continue feeding the homeless and helping children with medical expenses and education.

Her transportation costs add up, but she said this year she received help from friends, and St. Mary of Sorrows Church in Fairfax helped with travel costs for one mission.

Sandoval has advice for those considering missionary work. “We all are called to do a mission. Just listen, do it and do not be afraid.”

Sandoval said her mission work has helped her faith grow, “because I know Our Lord, Jesus, is with me.”

How to help

Contact Scarlet Sandoval at scarlet2017@hotmail.com or 571/215-5701.

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016

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