Oh, the escapades I get myself into…
Last Sunday, I was watching a movie, and happened to be biting my nails. I felt something sharp sliding around in my mouth, then fished it out with my fingers. It sure looked like a piece of tooth. I thought nothing of it, until a few minutes later I noticed my upper lip was scraping on something rough. I made my way to the mirror – Lo and behold, a large chunk of my front right tooth was missing.
I rubbed my eyes. Maybe I was just seeing things. I closed my mouth, then opened it again. No way! There was a distinct gap in my pretty white smile. I couldn’t believe that my tooth chipped, let alone from biting my nails! Now that will teach me to break a bad habit.
It was this event that brought Katy and I to a random dentist’s office in Moldova last Tuesday afternoon. I was quite nervous due to the fact that a translator was not able to join us, so I made sure to figure out how to say a few key phrases beforehand: “I chipped my tooth” “How much will it cost?” and “White, not gold.” Above all else, I wanted to be sure to come out with the white teeth of Kelly Steinhaus, and not the gold teeth of Captain Hook.
We sat in the waiting room for a few minutes, then a man entered the room, looked at us and said something like, “Champagnea?” He kept saying it, and Katy whispered to me, “I think he’s offering us champagne.” I said, “No, That couldn’t be.” But he kept repeating, “Champagnea? Champagnea?” to us. Then, “Me, boss. Me, happy birthday.” Finally, we put two and two together – today was his birthday, and he was inviting us to join him to celebrate with champagne in the back room with the other staff. We tried to refuse, but he quickly ushered us away and sat us down on a plush leather couch. He spread a variety of chocolates on the table, then pulled out a bottle of champagne from the cabinet and offered us some. We refused a few times, but realized that in this situation it would be extremely disrespectful culturally not to have any. So we agreed to have, “chut, chut” (a little bit), then relaxed to enjoy the afternoon, hardly believing that we were sitting in a leather coach in a dentist’s office in Moldova with a dixie cup full of champagne in hand. Little did we know that our afternoon would just get funnier.
I pulled out my phrasebook, then asked him, “Do you have a hobby?” in Russian. He said, “tennis” and then Katy lit up and said, “Tennis!?! Me too!” Dr. Smile went into a cabinet, then ruffled around to find the tennis racket. While he was trying to find it, he pulled out a large rifle and set it to the side. Our eyes got real wide and we wondered what kind of dentist visit this would be…He pulled out a piece of an old tennis trophy, offered it to Katy saying, “Present.” She said, “Oh wow! What a surprise! Thank you…” For the next thirty minutes, Katy and I were given a tour of the place, which included cabinets full of alcohol and a large picture of Jesus on the wall in his office area.
Finally, we were taken to the operating room. I quickly noticed that the dentist who was doing the procedure had not been indulging in the birthday party festivities, thank goodness. I also noticed that the cleanliness and quality of the equipment looked exactly like they have in America, including the blue UV-light which shines in your eyes and seals in the filling. Katy told me that the dentist did a really good job, which was reassuring.
Afterwards, we were taken to the back again, where we were sat down and offered more chocolates and champagne. We sat and talked for a few minutes, then I asked him how much it would cost. He thought about it for a few minutes, then said, “No money. Present.” Wow!
When I look back on the experience, I realize how each and every thing that happened was an answered prayer. That morning, I had prayed that God would fill my teeth, which He did. Katy and also prayed that I would be calm during the procedure (I guess God has a funny sense of humor…) and that it wouldn’t cost much. I am always amazed at God’s faithfulness to provide for His children!
Really, words can’t do this story justice. We were lucky enough to document the entire afternoon with my video camera. Watch the video to see what happens when a chipped tooth, a birthday party, and two World Racers meet…
Unfortunately, this fairy tale does not have a happy ending. The filling fell out two days later when I was eating some corn flakes for breakfast. So, what do you think – should I smile with my toothless gap or change my smile to one of the two below?