Soon after arriving in the Middle East, I became aware that in the rich Arabic countries there are many foreign nurses working in the hospitals. I started reading books about their experiences. Several of them were not positive in terms of the demands, expectations and more. I read about passports being taken away, inadequate housing, endless shifts with few days off and more. However, I reached out to several contacts that I had and the nurses I spoke with sounded very positive. I longed to meet with them face to face. That was 3 years ago.
Recently, this dream of meeting with foreign nurses who are interfacing with the local culture, at its most vulnerable state, became a reality. My goal was to dialogue and hopefully inspire them to be caring for the whole person. Specifically, offering spiritual care of prayer and/or reading a comforting passage from The Book when they felt impressed to do so.
Journey with me back 30 years… I was a young nurse graduate. Those first few months of learning to manage 5+ patients on a step-down unit were intense. There was a need to prioritize care and become skilled at inserting IV’s, prepping people for open heart surgeries, reading heart monitors, comforting the worried families, and so much more. I quickly became aware that caring for one’s physical needs was only part of the total care package. There was the real heart issue of patients desiring peace and hope no matter the outcome. Shyly, but with an inner spirit calling, I would offer to pray with various patients or read them a favorite passage. Always asking permission first. In 30 years of bedside nursing, I have only ever been denied less than a handful of times.
This became my favorite part of bedside care. Often it was done after a long 12 hours of performing some very humbling tasks (physical needs met first). At last, at the end of long days and gained trust on my final rounds, I would shyly offer the peace and hope that I know. This exchange between patient and I was so sweet that I began to liken it to a dance, and it was when I felt the most alive. AS if this was the very thing I was purposed for.
Even the 8 years I was in Papua, leant endless opportunities to pray with patients. Again, a gorgeous dance of hope and peace despite inadequate medical facilities, limited access to tests, procedures, and even specialized doctors.
Then we moved to Lebanon. The dance stopped. This is because I was not allowed to do bedside care as a foreigner. Even though I have learned to thrive in other areas, I often referred to this very special part of my life as having died. While most of the time I can forget about it, a message from a nursing friend, stumbling across my name tag from clinical days, or other very random medical things will trigger this deep feeling of loss. I have yearned many times to be placed once again where I can dance and have just had to learn to trust the One who knows best.
So, as I was preparing what I wanted to share with these nurses and health care workers about spiritual care, the most beautiful insight came to me. Just the week before I had been pondering Jesus’s words where He spoke with his disciples regarding his own upcoming death. He shared with them that unless a seed dies, it cannot bring forth more wheat. I contemplated the significant truth of what that meant. How truly His death equaled life for all who would accept his sacrifice. This thought returned to my mind, as I prepared, and I realized on a much more simplified scale that my “death” to bedside nursing and spiritual care was not to be wasted but would now be the planting of the seed to bring forth much fruit in the lives of these foreign workers.
I wept at the insight.
It is worth the death.
I had a marvelous time with these precious people.
For His honor and glory. Amen.
No matter what you do with your life, I hope that a little part of it feels like a dance or your purpose. I remember hearing a study from Mayo clinic which revealed that we can survive 90% of not enjoying what we are doing, if 10% of the time we are thriving in our profession/work. I have often reflected on this. And if you are in a season of not being able to do what you love, I hope that one day you will see the bigger picture. What a privilege to know “why”. If you have a story of loss, I would be honored to hear it. Meanwhile, deep courage. For sure, your pain will not be wasted.
For your interest, many foreign nurses in the wealthy Arab countries can earn $5,000+ a month, with rent, transportation, and airline tickets “home” provided for. One needs to do much careful research into the company and hours expected to work. In addition, it is helpful to have a support system when heading to a foreign culture…. but I was pleasantly happy to hear the positive reports of the people whom I met with.
2 thoughts on “Understanding the purpose”
I am very touched and encouraged once again. Love that you keep writing! Much love, Malinda
Kentucky-Tennessee Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Ministerial Spouses Association Sponsor
Health Ministries Coordinator
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“I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” John 10:10
I love that you keep reading. And much more. Thank you my friend.