It was a mission of mercy that helped thousands of East Texans. Free health care was provided this weekend by hundreds of volunteer medical professionals at the Y-WAM grounds near Lindale.
From Friday morning through Sunday at noon, they estimate two thousand people received dental, vision, or medical care at no charge. After a weekend spent in constant motion, they were breaking down the equipment Sunday afternoon. The M.A.S.H.-like operating room was filled with the remnants of surgeries and operations.
Mercyworks co-chairperson Debbie Lascelles said, "We kind of thought last year we saw the greatest needs, but we saw so many people with just really horrific needs, just rotted teeth, rotted mouths. There's a lot of needy people out there so we're grateful we could help and just hope we could help in the future."
Some patients slept in their cars so as not to lose their place in line. Even with eleven hundred volunteers, some people were still turned away.
Midland dentist Dr. Melvin Pate Jr. explained, "We've seen people here that we only did a fourth, a half of their work, because it was just too much to do under the circumstances. We did what we could."
"It was the best we could with what we had."
Pate came seven hours from Midland to help, and he says it was worth it.
"One lady yesterday, we took her teeth out and put dentures in at the same time," he said. "And she was literally in tears with appreciation for what was done for her."
People were given fillings, false teeth, extractions, whatever they could be given to help. "I think about some of the people that were especially touched and were ministered to physically and spiritually," Debbie explained, "And their smile is changed forever, so I think about those people."
Sunday they were breaking down their operation, confident this mission of mercy had made some of those smiles brighter.