Lake Highlands resident Dr. Kerry Goad doesn’t consider himself a world traveler. In fact, this dentist has stayed pretty close to home since graduating from Lake Highlands High School in 1971.

But last year when a friend approached him about a mission trip to Sudan, it seemed like a great opportunity, he says. Although he didn’t necessarily feel a burning desire to go abroad, Goad notes that because of his faith, he has a “stirring in the heart” to server others. So when his friend’s mission team needed a dentist, Goad hopped on board for a week of service in Africa.

Goad literally hopped on board again this summer, this time traveling by boat along the Amazon River with a team of missionaries, translators and a 10-man crew. He and his assistant, Gail House, performed dental work in villages bordering the river. They planned to take two of the largest suitcases they could find full of dental supplies.

“For us to provide the services they need, we have to bring everything ourselves,” he says, adding that he couldn’t bring the bulky air compressors, suctions, drills or even a chair that normally comprise his dental setup. Last year in Sudan, Goad’s patients sat in an old, beat-up recliner to have their teeth examined.

This year, those suitcases full of dental supplies almost didn’t make it on the trip. They were lost during a flight to Miami while the mission team was headed to Brazil.

“We had to use some of the supplies on board the boat for a couple of days, but our own supplies arrived in time for the last three days of the trip,” Goad says.

Besides being well stocked with supplies, the boat also was stocked with hammocks for the team to sleep in at night.

“It wasn’t bad actually,” Goad says of the sleeping arrangements.

The first night the team was awakened, or rather shaken, from sleep as their hammocks swung wildly, he says. A tanker with a huge wake passed by, causing their boat to pitch back and forth.

“It was really weird. I woke up from a dead sleep and was thinking, ‘What did I do to get myself swinging?’” he recalls.

Despite the (humorous) challenges, there were obvious rewards for Goad and his team.

“To see the faces of these people who are in need in so many ways – it’s just so rewarding,” he says, admitting that the adventurous aspect is enticing, too. Word is that one night on the Amazon, Goad went crocodile hunting.

“The crew took us out in a boat and they snared a crocodile and let us have a picture taken with it. It was probably two and a half, maybe three feet long. Not a huge animal, but it sounds better just to say it was a crocodile,” he laughs.