Nursing Home Ministry

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO VISIT RESIDENTS IN A NURSING HOME?

Woodbridge Care Center (WCC) is one of the Nursing Homes in our Town ‘n’ Country community. Those who have been placed there by their families who are unable to care for them in their homes are the residents of WCC.

They are men and women of different ages, races and temperaments who once lead productive, useful lives in our society. Some still have memories of their past lives.

Theola remembers how she and her mama always used to sing in the church choir. Her only consolation is singing those hymns again such as Amazing Grace. And Theola, 100 years old, remembers all the lyrics. Ann, my friend of many years at Bayshore UMC, likes to hear Psalms and especially Psalm 103. Jose remembers his life and Catholic Church in Venezuela, after leaving Cuba when he was very small. He has a sister that takes him coloring books and takes him out occasionally. Virgilio, from Mexico, has no legs and loves to hear the gospels. Oscar used to be a pilot in Cuba and then moved to New York. He still mourns his sweet departed wife. He says he does not believe in God but allows us to pray for him. Even those whose minds are not quite alert but were believers in their past lives remember how to pray THE LORD’S PRAYER.

Some remember that I (and sometimes someone from my Hispanic Ministry for Women) go every week to visit them and tell them stories from the Upper Room or My Daily Bread (in English or Spanish), familiarizing them with stories from the Bible. Others do not remember from week to week, but always greet me with a welcoming smile. Some like to talk about their past lives, family and pets. Anastasia fantasizes about having a life outside of the WCC’s walls and tells me how she has just come from the mall where she had met her sister, continuing with more and more tales. Sometimes she invites me to go with her on one of her outings. In “her world” sometimes I am a relative that has come to visit her and introduces me, as such, to the staff. She has a great sense of humor and many times we laugh together at whatever nonsense we may be talking about.

Others are sort of self-absorbed and grumpy and, like kids, just want to know what I’ve brought them. They are all so thankful for the few minutes of company. Some have family that visit them sporadically. Very few are ever taken out of the Care Center to visit with family. There are a couple of men who stay with their wives all day and look over the care they are given. A couple of months ago, I started taking communion to those who are believers and wish to receive it. This has been a real blessing to them and to me!!!

At WCC, activities are held in the fellowship room for those who want to join in music, singing, or hearing preachers and games are provided such as bingo, monopoly, etc. They also have a Beauty Salon for hair and nail care for men and women.

As I go through the aisles of the Care Center looking for the dear residents God has given me to visit, I look into other rooms with men and women, all God’s children. Some are asleep, some are awake, staring blankly at the television, listening to noises; all are alone. In each room I enter I feel the sorrow of loneliness and inactivity. I see a child of God forgotten by the world of which he/she was once a part. Now, at the end of their lives, they are in a place of solitude. The only company they have is the figures glaring at them from the television or the nurse aides coming in to check something on a required schedule.

I remember the first time I felt a nudging from God to visit Nursing Home residents, only about a year ago. Going to a Nursing Home was the farthest thing from my mind or my comfort zone. Wesley MUMC had one of its GO DAYS and some members were going to go visit and sing at a Nursing Home in Temple Terrace. I called the Nursing Home and inquired if I could go with the Wesley group and visit residents in their rooms. I was told this was not possible since their rules did not permit it. Then I figured I might as well contact a Nursing Home in the Town ‘n’ Country community and keep it near home. When I called WCC, the Activities Director told me that it was OK for us to visit the residents in their rooms. I spoke with Pastor Ernie about it as I wanted to go with the backing of and as a representative of the church. He encouraged me to answer the call and go to WCC.
At first, we started visiting Hispanic residents and then visited whomever the Lord directed us to. And that is the way I spend a couple of hours, one day a week of my life.

How does answering God’s calling in our lives start? Mostly by listening and obeying. If someone reading this is listening to God’s call to visit WCC residents, please contact Renee Kincaid at rkinc@tampabay.rr.com.


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