Hundreds Line Up for Mission Of Mercy - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

04/22/04 - Near Lindale

Hundreds Line Up for Mission Of Mercy

We're just hours away from one of the biggest events in East Texas this year: free health care, including dental, medical, and eye care, at the "Youth With A Mission" campus. More than 450 people were in line tonight. The Texas Mission of Mercy says it can serve close to 1,500 patients over the next two days. Just tonight, we've received word they're not receiving anymore dental patients tomorrow. But starting tomorrow, they will begin taking more dental patients for Saturday. There's still room for more medical, visual, and women's diagnostic care patients for both days.

Since 2:00 p.m. yesterday, there has been a steady stream of people getting in line. This afternoon, missionaries started letting people in to park on the grass. The patients, who have been pre-screened, are thankful for the hundreds of missionaries and volunteers who are giving their time and services.

"A lot of people will never be able to get their teeth pulled," Diane Sparks, a patient from Coffee City, said. "They have to suffer with toothaches and things. This is a gift to us, special gift to us. And we just thank God for them."

Some are camping under tents, others in their vehicles, and others in lawn chairs, making new friends. Some aren't wasting a minute, like one man who was putting together armor for his next jousting match.

The dentist who made the event possible says he has a lot of work ahead this weekend.

"The greatest problem we have, that we're seeing, is young adults with totally rotten teeth, as many as 20 or 30 rotten teeth," said Dr. David Nichols, East Texas Chair of Texas Mission of Mercy.

For the dentist who founded "Mission of Mercy," this couldn't have been a better day.

"I'm very proud of all the volunteers that have come out and be a part of this community," Dr. Terry Dickinson, who came all the way from Virginia, said. "I think it speaks well for this community."

Julie Tam, reporting.

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