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Laughter Therapy in Action


Seminar students join the Family team in a Children's Day project, Mexico
Sam giving a presentation to medical students attending the "Laughter Therapy" seminar
A young cancer patient is cheered by Liz, Mexico

In 1998 I had the opportunity of meeting Dr. Hunter "Patch" Adams in person. At the time I was living in Santiago, Chile, and was doing a lot of work with shows for children. I and other members of my Home would perform professional puppet shows at businesses, malls, and parties to teach children lessons and values through entertainment. We would also visit hospitals with our puppet show, using it as a means to encourage the patients and share the salvation message with them. We encountered positive reactions to our efforts, but at the time we weren't yet familiar with the concept of laughter therapy.

On one of our regular hospital visits we heard that Dr. Patch Adams would be in town and would tour some of the local hospitals. We were interested in meeting him, and offered to help as translators. We invited him over to our Home for dinner, where we were able to talk to him about our work, as well as hear about his life experiences and ideals.

After spending a few days with Patch Adams, I fell in love with the laughter therapy program. Shortly after, a group of us got together and began visiting hospitals on a weekly basis, using this method. The time we spent cheering up the children was very special to all of us, and this was a memorable learning experience. Since then, I have always been involved in hospital visitation as part of the missionary work I do in the countries I have lived in.

Sammy with "Patch

Sammy with "Patch Adams"

Dr. Hunter Campbell "Patch" Adams, M.D. (born May 28, 1945, in Washington, D.C.) is an American medical physician, social activist, citizen diplomat, professional clown, performer, and author. For more than 30 years he has been putting into practice the idea that "healing should be a loving human interchange, not a business transaction." He challenged conventional medical procedures by using humor and friendliness in his work, with impressive results. He founded the Gesundheit! Institute in 1972, to provide free medical care with a humane touch. Each year he organizes a group of volunteers from around the world to travel to various countries where they dress as clowns to bring hope and joy to orphans, patients, and others.

His life was the template for the plot of the 1998 film Patch Adams, starring Robin Williams. (Compiled from online sources.)

I have been living in Mexico since 2001 and have gotten married and started a family here. I, along with the members of my Home, including the children, started Dr. Payaso (Doctor Clown), which is a laughter therapy project, aimed at bringing cheer to hospital patients. It's a wonderful avenue to witness and bring the Lord's love to many, especially during the trying times they experience when ill and in pain.

Since then, some of us have taken recognized courses on laughter therapy, and we've created our own seminar to teach others what we have learned. This seminar emphasizes the importance of positiveness and highlights the joy and happiness that is found in reaching out to others. We've received invitations to present these seminars to young people in private schools, as well as to the medical staff in the hospitals we visit. We have had about 100 doctors participate in our classes, and the response has been tremendous. We present our missionary work during the seminars, and it is a great opportunity to witness and get others involved in our projects.

We recently purchased a motor home for the Dr. Payaso ministry and have begun making trips all over Mexico, which are financed by friends and companies that we have met through this project. This work has become a part of our daily lives, and the whole Home is involved. Wherever we go, even when we are on vacation, we dress up like clowns, and take "Dr. Payaso" to the local hospitals and institutions.

This last year while on vacation in Puerto Vallarta, we invited those who we met at the hotel we were staying at to join us in our hospital visitation that week. Many of them came with us and were deeply touched, and some said that their lives completely changed after just one visit to the hospital. Many now support our work on a regular basis. Many of our friends in Mexico City also join us on our regular hospital visits and are active in this ministry. We're very glad to help others discover firsthand the joy that comes from making others happy.

When we first began this project in Chile we adopted the slogan, "Happiness isn't a station you arrive at, it's the train you travel on." This is proven to us every day as we experience the happiness of meeting special and needy people, making their lives a little brighter, and most importantly, bringing them to Jesus.

Originally Published in 2009.