It was the last month of my freshman year in training, and my mother was spending a long-looked-forward-to week end with my sister and me. I had been staying nights for the past week with a patient, because she was nervous and afraid to be alone after a minor operation. Now, as my mother was leaving soon, I begrudged every minute away from her. "She doesn't need a nurse any more than I do," I stormed. "She had her operation a week ago, and couldn't have got along better. I don't see why I have to stay with her now."
Nevertheless, nine o'clock found me in Mrs. Wilson's room beginning the usual routine.
First, I applied two mild fomentations to her spine and followed them with a slow, heavy, rhythmic massage. Then, after opening the window, and turning the lights out, I knelt by her bedside for our "good-night prayer," as she called it. In a very few minutes, her deep, even breathing told me that she was sleeping, but on my cot on the other side of the room I lay awake, thinking of the long confidential talks my mother and sister were having, and I could not be with them.
Months passed, and the incident was forgotten. One morning in the nurses' worship hour, we were having an "experience meeting."
We who were still probationers had pledged among ourselves that we would offer to have prayer with our patients when we gave evening treatments, or got them ready to go to sleep at night. Most of us carried out this practice faithfully, until it had become one of the traditions of the Mountain Sanitarium and Hospital. Telling of our experiences encouraged us to keep up the practice ; so we often had these experience meetings in morning worship.
On this particular morning, I was thinking that, although all the patients seemed to appreciate my prayers, even asking that I come and pray with them after their evening treatments were discontinued, I had no outstanding experience to tell. I had helped no one gain a special victory. When it was my turn, the superintendent spoke up, "I have an experience I'd like to tell for you, Miss Rottmiller. You remember how, some time ago, you were on cot duty with a Mrs. Wilson ?" Of course I remembered. "When she paid her bill at the business office, the accountant was talking with her, and she made this statement, 'If I ever do become a Seventh-day Adventist, it will be because of the prayers of my night nurse.' I received a letter yesterday announcing that Mrs. Wilson had been baptized into the church."
Truly, that was one of the happiest days of my life, and it started me thinking. Sometimes experiences that seem the most unpleasant to us, are planned by an all-wise God to accomplish some definite purpose. I believe, too, that the Lord often allows sickness to come to a person so that he will have time to think of eternal things. What a glorious privilege nurses have, in their close contact with their patients, to direct their thoughts in the right channels.
Although during an illness may not be the proper time to present our doctrinal points, we can, by living sympathetic Christian lives, make our message so attractive that our patients will want to know more of our teachings when they have recovered. A Seventh-day Adventist nurse has done less than half her work when she has cared for the physical needs of her patient. Her largest field of service, as well as her greatest joy, will be found in co-operating with Christ, the Great Physician, in the healing of sin-sick souls.