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(Not) Just a Nurse

By Erin Pettengill, May 10, 2016

I tell people I’m "just a nurse” to point out my limitations. And yet being “just” a nurse means I can be so much more! Let me explain.

When my family first set foot in Honduras, I looked at the medical deficiencies around us and wondered how I could possibly make a difference. But I knew God had equipped and called me, so I took a step. I decided to hold a pregnancy clinic in a nearby village.

One of the first women who came was definitely in need. I took her vital signs and measured her belly, and then asked the question that needed asking. “Are you sure you don't have twins?”

She looked at me like I was stupid. "Of course not! This is my 12th child--I would know if I was having twins."

“Well,” I told her, “you need to go have your baby now!” She said she was going to have her baby at home just like she had her other 11 children. I implored her to please go to the hospital. “You might not survive this delivery and be able to even care for your other children!”  She left completely disgusted.

I was so discouraged! What was I thinking? How could "just a nurse” make a difference here? I couldn't even convince a pre-eclamptic, gestational diabetic mom to go to the hospital. My heart sank. I don't belong here! I can't make a difference. What do I know?

Two days later I was making house calls when a young girl came running. "Just come!" she said. I followed her to a wooden lean-to house with a dirt covered floor, and there was the mom who’d been at my clinic, with a grin from ear to ear—holding a baby in her arms.

A 14-pound baby
“I went home mad,” the woman told me. “But then I thought about what you said. I need to be here for my other children. So I went to the hospital. They checked my vital signs and scheduled an immediate C-section. Thirty minutes later they placed a 14-pound baby upon my chest! You saved me and my baby."

Tears came to my eyes. Tears came to her eyes. And she placed this precious child in my arms. Wow, so I had made a difference. I’m not “just a nurse” after all.


Are you “just an accountant,” or “just a teacher”? There are so many ways to serve Him in missions! “He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it” (1 Thess. 5:24) ESV. Check out our opportunities at mtw.org/serve.

Erin Pettengill served as a missionary in Honduras for eight years. She now serves in Equatorial Guinea. 

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