This is Ann Medianick—the wife of Dr. Tim Medianick. I work behind the scenes here at Boulevard Dental. One of my jobs is to help write our monthly blog posts. And because the month of February is National Children’s Dental Health month, it makes sense this month to educate and motivate you to encourage optimal oral health for the children in your lives. We planned to go about that in our usual way this month, but I was exposed to something this weekend that put me on a different course.
This past weekend, Tim and I rewatched the documentary, “Almost Holy,” by film director Steve Hoover. It is about the life of Gennadiy Mokhnenko, a pastor who lives in Mariupol, Ukraine, 5 miles away from the war that still rages between Ukraine and pro-Russian forces. Tim drove right past this city on his way to provide dental care along this very same war zone three years ago. Pastor Gennadiy has devoted his life to the drug and alcohol-addicted street children in his city in radical ways, adopting 34 children. He is also the founder of the Pilgrim Republic Children’s Safehouse in Ukraine. On Saturday, Tim had the amazing opportunity to hear Pastor Gennadiy speak at a nearby church in Philadelphia.
I couldn’t learn enough about Pastor Gennadiy and his ministry this weekend. It was all a vivid reminder of our experience in the Ukrainian orphanage on our second trip to Ukraine as a family 2 years ago. I learned this weekend that Pastor Gennadiy and some of the street children whom he adopted also traveled to Africa to help the street children and orphans there. While in Africa, one of his Ukrainian adopted sons said, “These children have it so much worse than we had it.” If you watch the above documentary, that seems almost impossible to say. But his statement was a moment of deeper realization for me. Perhaps I would be more careful with what I do have, if I expose myself more to what others don’t have. And maybe if I learn to be more thankful for what I have, I will learn to use what I have more fully.
Many if not most of the orphans we visited in Ukraine didn’t have toothbrushes, let alone floss. They don’t visit the dentist every 6 months; they visit (if they are lucky) when their teeth hurt. And even if they visit the dentist, they can only hope that the dentist really cares, and that the dentist is not doing their job simply for a government pay-off. These kids just want their teeth to stop hurting; they likely are not thinking of how valuable it is to have strong, healthy teeth into adulthood.
Do I wake up each morning saying, “I’m thankful that I get to brush my 5-year-olds teeth?” I confess that when I brush his teeth, I more often than not am frustrated because we are in a rush to leave for school. But what if I stopped to say thanks for quality health care…that my kids can eat healthy food because their teeth are strong…and that they can leave for school with no tooth pain?” Do I even stop to think of these things as privileges? Maybe if I did, I would be even more diligent and motivated to care for the oral health of my children, and I would learn to be more thankful in general.
We have so, so much, don’t we? Will you together, along with me, strive to be more thankful for what we have? This past year has been a really trying time for all of us, but we and our children have so much more than what we need. I’m so thankful for people like my husband and his team who can share their dental expertise with us, and who provide excellent dental care for us and our families in this community. Aren’t you thankful for that as well?