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While sitting in the dental chair waiting for my x-ray, I heard the dentist tell his assistant, "We won't charge her. She's a missionary nurse, and she probably can't afford it. She doesn't have insurance anyway." As I heard his words, surprising feelings welled inside. I found myself holding back tears of humiliation but couldn't understand my feelings. Then I realized that I felt inferior and helpless. The dentist intended to show mercy, but I didn't want to accept.

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As a missionary nurse in Brazil, I enjoy caring for people's physical needs because I feel that I am following Jesus' example. He healed people first, and then met their spiritual needs.


I work in a poor community where few people can read. I often think of these people as the least of these that Jesus mentions in Matthew 25:40. I feel privileged to care for their needs. Yet, as I sat in that dental chair, I began to reflect on my attitude toward the patients that come into my home daily. Does a feeling of superiority intermingle with my desire to serve? Am I serving my pride as I care for them? Probably yes on both counts. Suddenly I saw those people with new eyes-as precious children of God, no different from me.


The dentist never knew the impact of his comment, but it forced me to reflect on my attitudes as I care for people in underserved communities. I am learning to let go of my pride, loving those I serve as brothers and sisters, not simply as needy people.