Indigenous Teeth

those teeth - yikes

Who has stronger teeth... the Otomi or the Mazahua?
The answer could spark an ethnic war!

[Now that I've piqued your interest, read on and enjoy this story told to us by our Brazilian medical missionary friends, Carlos and Monica Oliveira] 


Acahualdo is a zero stoplight pueblo surrounded by cornfields in the central highlands of Mexico. It is a predominately Mazahua indian town, but just a few miles to the north there is a concentration of ethnic Otomi. There's no real bad blood between these two groups, but a little cultural pride can make for a good story (think of them like as you would ethnic Irish and Italians in New York.)  
Monica and I were visiting Acahualdo as part of a free medical/dental campaign. In this high mountain village the electricity would fail then surged, shorting out our electrical dental equipment.  Added to that, near the end of the day a volunteer dentist attempted to extract a tooth from one of our Mazahua patients but ran into problems.  The tooth wouldn't budge.  Monica, an oral surgeon, came to his aid.  After an entire hour, a lot of sweat, and even muscle spasms in their arms, they succeeded in dislodging the tooth. 

As the exhausted team packed up their equipment, the patient who's tooth they had just struggled with came up to Monica and asked, "Doctor, who has stronger teeth, the Otomi or the Mazahua? 

Monica acknowledged that his Mazahua tooth  had been the most difficult to extract.  Half the group assembled behind her shouted for joy.  The Mazahua gloated to an Otomi man standing beside him, "I told you that the Mazahua have stronger teeth!" 

"But who has straighter teeth?" asked the Otomi. 

"Yours are straighter," Monica said to the downcast Otomi man, but added, "It really isn't a racial issue, but an individual one.  The location and type of infection of the damaged tooth  made a big difference. And you can be comforted by the fact that your Mazahua friend is going to have much more pain than you as soon as the anesthesia wears off. 

This put a smile on the face of the straighter toothed Otomi.  

Tooth envy aside, seeing love in action has produced a good reception for the Gospel.  The indigenous Mexicans have an old proverb:  

Stop shouting against the wind.  Words are noise if not accompanied with action.
They have responded to our love in action and now our words can be heard attentively.  After the service and invitation, many showed a desire to accept Christ as their savior. 
Carlos Oliveira
Monica Oliveira
Carlos and Monica Oliveira
to email them:
 contact us | latest newsletter | all newsletters | homepage | happenings | links | audio greeting