Black '09 brightens smiles in Romania

Release Date: 9/24/2012

Lauren Black, 2009 Ozarks graduate, may have followed her heart when she earned her bachelor's degree in religion and philosophy, but it was her teeth that took her all the way to Romania as part of a medical mission team.

Lauren Black

Lauren Black, a 2009 Ozarks graduate, recently spent a week in Brailia, Romania, with a team of five dentists and 10 other volunteers as part of ServingHim Healthcare International Ministries.

Lauren Black, originally from Arlington, Texas, recently spent a week in Brailia, Romania, with a team of five dentists and 10 other volunteers as part of ServingHim Healthcare International Ministries, a group dedicated to sending medical teams to impoverished areas around the world.

"This summer, I attended a mission night at my home church, Grace Presbytery in Arlington. I had really only planned to attend to support my sister who was speaking about her own mission experiences," Black said.  "Then, Dr. Whinery, a local dentist, spoke about his upcoming trip to Romania. When I heard him speak, I understood the impact his team makes. I realized that I took for granted something as simple as having healthy teeth."

Black's job, along with assisting the dentists and dental hygienists, was to counsel patients and offer them prayers before and after their procedures.

"Dental problems in Romania are severe," she said. "Some of the people we worked with had never even had their teeth cleaned and were terrified of the dentist. Even though some of our patients had been suffering with dental pain for months, they were still afraid."

Black said she took heart in knowing that she was able to soothe some of their fears.

"One girl, in particular, sticks in my mind. She was about my age and had a four-month-old daughter. She was so afraid she was shaking, but I offered to pray with her and we just talked for a few minutes. By the time she went back, she was much calmer. She even made a second appointment. When she left, I had huge smile on my face, because I knew I had done something good," Black said.

The ServingHim dental team was the last dental team in Romania for the year, and Black was struck by just how much the people of Romania had to endure.

"Most of the population here can't afford dental care. They just live in pain until a group like ours comes back to the clinic," Black said. "By the end of the week, I knew that even though I was out of my comfort zone, I was doing something right. God was there."

Black currently lives in Arlington, where she continues her work as a youth director for Emmanuel Presbyterian Church. She is also a swim coach at a local Catholic high school and MidCities Arlington swim club.