Home Care in the Cemetery

Fall Quarter, 1976 – Senior in College of Nursing

I had a really wonderful quarter of working in Public Health with the County Board of Nursing. I was assigned to a family of 10 Laotian refugees and a pregnant lady who needed prenatal care. The first visits were with my RN preceptor, and then I visited them weekly by myself the rest of the quarter.  The Laotian family had 3 generations who had escaped from the communist takeover in Laos and were sponsored by the Catholic Church. They were placed in the empty caretaker’s house at the rear of the large Catholic cemetery outside the city in the country.

Laotian Refugees coming off the boat in the 1970's

Laotian Refugees coming to the USA in the 1970’s

I had to visit them at night after the father came home from work since he was the only one who could speak some English. I have to admit, it was a little spooky to drive through the huge dark cemetery to their house which stood isolated in the woods. When I entered, they were all gathered around a large dinner table eating rice and vegetables. They appeared tired and looked at me suspiciously. I examined each one of them and took each one’s history using the father as interpreter. They all had parasites and were quite malnourished when they first arrived in the USA. The grandfather was diagnosed with tuberculosis and was being treated for it. At each visit, as they became more comfortable with me and their health improved, they became more relaxed and looked happier. I was never able to find out too much about their story due to the language barrier. I wish I could have shared the gospel with them, but none of them could read English.

Home care in the Cemetery at Night

Home care in the Cemetery
(photo by R. Spearrin-used with permission)

The Lord has laid a burden on my heart to minister to German speaking people in some way after I graduate. I asked the Army Nurse recruiter to come to my dorm room to explain what it was like to be an Army nurse as a way to go to Germany. But she said there were no guarantees as to where I would be stationed. If I was sent to Germany, I would have to live on base with the other nurses, and work rotating shifts in the base hospital. A Christian friend who is in the Air Force and stationed in Germany wrote a long letter to me discouraging me from joining the Army. So after praying about it, I decided not to join.

Then I heard about a scholarship to Germany where the University chooses one student a year to study abroad. I applied, but did not get an interview, so another door was closed. I’m learning to wait on the Lord! I was encouraged by Isaiah 30:18 – And therefore will the Lord wait, that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you; for the Lord is a God of justice; blessed (happy) are all they that WAIT for Him. 

Dear Lord, Help me to wait patiently upon You as to where You will have me to work when I graduate. I trust in You to provide a job and guide me to a place where I can be used by You. Amen.

I also took a German history course which was interesting and helped me to understand the culture better. For my third course, I decided to audit German Scientific Writings which was a good grammar review for me. Mr. G, the professor, was a hardened proud older man who made many sarcastic remarks about being “born again”. One morning I awoke at 5 a.m. thinking about him and knew I would not have any peace until I went and spoke with him about his soul. So after much prayer and reading in II Chronicles 20:15  that “the battle is not yours, but God’s, ” I went forth in fear and trembling to his office. I shared the gospel with him, and he then proceeded to rip apart the Bible and Jesus Christ verbally for the next 30 minutes. He gave me no opportunity to say anything else, but I had great peace when I left his office knowing that I had obeyed God. I leave the results with God who convicts of sin, righteousness, and judgement. Remembering how much the Apostle Paul hated Jesus Christ before he received him on the Damascus road encourages me. (see Acts 9)

It is rather a strange feeling to think that I only have one quarter remaining before I graduate and this part of my life will be closed forever.  Quite truthfully, I am not exactly looking forward to a 40 hour work week grind, but I know God will always provide for me and strengthen me.

Reflection – 2014

Home care was one of my favorite quarters in college. Twice in my career I have worked as a home care nurse which I will tell about later in my blog. I enjoyed the autonomy of home care nursing and getting to know the patient within the context of their family. The most difficult part was driving in all kinds of weather, dealing with safety,  traffic, and road rage.

After not speaking German for many years, I met a delightful German couple at church recently. The wife is also a nurse about my age and learning English. So we are getting together so I can help her with her English, and she can help me with my German! I went to http://www.Duolingo.com to brush up on my German, and I am delighted that I am able to recall it fairly quickly.

By the way, Duolingo is a wonderful free web site to learn a new language. I have been working on my Spanish there for several months, so now I am trying to work on both at the same time. I hope I don’t become too confused! But they say learning a foreign language is good to prevent memory loss, so I am going to keep working at it. Plus, I really enjoy it. Auf wiedersehen! Hasta luego!

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