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Rounding In The Hospital


Entering the unknown can be exciting. You never know another person’s story waiting inside a hospital room. This particular door had a clue. “Interpreter needed,” said the sign. Perhaps the patient was hard of hearing, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. The patient was sitting in a recliner. Upon introduction, she responded in Spanish. The mystery of “interpreter needed” was solved.


My Spanish is limited. After some mutual attempts at connecting, she understood my role, then pointed to the bathroom with some Spanish that didn’t seem to fit the situation. I heard the Spanish words for “bathroom” along with the word for “cloth” and “head.” Thoroughly confused, I went to the restroom and retrieved both a wet and a dry paper towel, not knowing if she wanted to wash her hands, or blow her nose. (When confused, give options)!

She took the wet towel and washed her hands while I asked again, “Would you like a prayer for your health?” She set the wet towel down, took the dry towel and placed it on her head, then bowed. My heart melted. Here was a woman that refused to pray without first covering her head. While this practice is not part of my faith tradition, I could not help but be moved by her devotion.


Having reached the end of my Spanish knowledge, I offered the Lord’s Prayer in English while she joined me in her language. Two Christians, hindered by a language barrier, now joined together in mutual supplication to God. The Holy Spirit was our interpreter. She wept. I got a lump in my throat.


No longer were we separated by a lack of comprehension, but rather united in spiritual understanding. Few things open us more to the voice of heaven than a health crisis, and nothing unites us more than the Spirit of God, who transcends language, race, and culture.*

John 4: 23 - “…but an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.”


Dr. David Martin

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