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Father and sons head to Peru and find thanks in what they have

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High in the Peruvian mountains the reality of what people there cope with versus what Americans have available is stark and very real

That's the lessons Joshua Wieland hoped would be imparted to his 15- and 18-year-old sons after they accompanied him on a mission of dentistry outreach recently. Wieland, who bought the Canby Smiles practice three years ago, has been to the Peruvian mountain four times in the last 10 years as part of Wide Open Humanitarian. When he went April 19-29, he took along sons Jared and Kristopher for a little horizon expanding experience.

"When you get out of America, you realize how blessed we are over here," Wieland said. "I hoped they (his sons) would have a similar feeling of compassion and recognize just how much we have here in America. We have an obligation to give, serve and share the abundance we have."SUBMITTED PHOTO - Joshua Wieland took his 15- and 18-year-old sons on a life affirming trip to Peru.

And share they did. At a clinic 12,500 feet in the mountains, Wieland and the other eight dentists who went, saw roughly 1,200 patients in about five days.

"One of the areas we worked was a Catholic orphanage," Wieland said. "They are just the poorest of the poor."

What he and his fellow dentistry professional saw was plenty of dental infections, tooth aches and more. They also saw teeth that they could treat and fix.

"We passed out all the toothbrushes we had, then went and got more and handed those out," he said. "We just tried to teach them the basics of dental health – they don't have access to it. Hopefully, we can make a difference in their lifetimes. Wide Open Humanitarian's mission is to take dentistry where it's not accessible. We had battery-powered equipment we had to take and huge duffel bags full of equipment"

Wieland put his sons to work. One assisted him with instrument set-up, while the other ran the sterilization part of the program for the group of dentists. The work for all who were on hand was long and rewarding. And there were special moments as well.

"At the end of one of our clinic days, a little boy came up and started talking to us. I don't speak Spanish, but one of the others did and it turns out the little boy wanted to play basketball with my boys," said Wieland.

There was also some soccer and other interactions.

"Some of those experiences were pretty cool for the boys," Wieland said.

One of the aspects of the trip that stay with those who go is the poor nutrition that's available to those who live in the area. You can't drink water out of the tap, sewage gets into the groundwater and with no water treatment facility, it makes eating the vegetables problematic as well.

"The mountain villages are very limited in their diets," Wieland said. "People are also shorter there because of that limitation. They live in brick houses with dirt floors and pigs running around, but they were happy. I hope it taught my boys that it isn't what you have that brings joy to your heart."