The Best Medicine - Dr. Paul Andelin

Below is a short but inspiring article titled "The Best Medicine" written by Dr. Paul Andelin following his most recent rotation with Sea Mercy. He shares what he learned from his time with us in the Kingdom of Tonga (South Pacific).

The Best Medicine

Juan Ponce De Leon died in Cuba in 1521. He was returning home after a failed search for the legendary "fountain of youth". He may have done better to search in the South Pacific for the "fountain of happiness".
This past summer my sixteen year old daughter and I visited the Kingdom of Tonga as part of the "Sea Mercy" medical team. Our first visit was to the small village of Ofu - population 200. The people live without cars or "modern conveniences". Yet, they are rich in mirth. Our first patient was an 87 year old bedridden woman. She smiled, she thanked us, she laughed.
Then came visits to other tiny islands. The natives came with diabetes, hypertension, ruptured ear drums, and pneumonia. Then there was roast pig, fish, octopus, papaya, bananas. And for dessert...we had laughter.
Sunday came in the village of Hunga. They went to church; they sang, loud and in harmony. The minister's text was Psalms 81:1: "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord". Then they sang more. No piano, no guitar, just beautiful voices that could bring a tear to the eye of even a non-believer. Next came handshaking, hugging, smiling and more laughter.
They laugh when they are happy. They laugh when they are sick, They laugh with strangers. They laughed when I was trying to sleep. I was told they even laugh at funerals.
Yes, Juan Ponce De Leon should have searched the South Pacific. He may have found the Kingdom of Tonga. Perhaps he would not have lived any longer, but at least he would have died laughing..

Dr. Paul Andelin
2013 Sea Mercy Volunteer
The Kingdom of Tonga

Sea Mercy ( is a non-profit organization that operates a fleet of free floating health care clinics (sailing catamarans) in the South Pacific. Staffed by US and international health care volunteers from all professions, they serve the remote island citizens that do not have access to health care services. Come and join us for a 2 week rotation and enjoy the best "working holiday" you will ever experience.

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