Caring for Church Members in Need

January 06, 2021 | Health | Janelle Klein

It was a cool morning in the mountains of Republic, Washington, when Yarrow Watkins, a longtime Republic Seventh-day Adventist Church member, threw a coat over her pajamas and hurried out the door to start the sprinkler on her lawn. After flipping on the frost-free lever, she stepped back to avoid the water spray.

Suddenly she lost her balance and fell backward, landing on her left hip. “I have had falls before but that was the hardest landing I’ve ever had,” she says.

She tried to move her left leg, but it would not move correctly. “Something was definitely wrong in there,” Watkins remembers. Severe pain began gripping her, and she began to shiver. She rolled over and with great effort pulled herself onto a nearby platform. Sitting uncomfortably on the platform she assessed her situation. Her husband was out of town, and she knew it could be days before she would be missed. Sending up a prayer to God, she ask for help to get into her house.

Watkins is no stranger to God’s providential care in overcoming difficult situations. Because of this, one of her favorite verses is Phil. 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Crawling with great effort more than 50 feet of uneven and rocky terrain, she reached the house door. Grasping the door handle, she pulled herself up and struggled over two more steps, finally settling down on the couch in her living room. She pulled a blanket over her attempting to get warm. Realizing her severe chill was a sign she was in shock, she roused herself to reach for the phone near the end of the couch.

“I was afraid to call 911 and go off with them, with no one knowing what had happened to me,” Watkins explains. So she first called her son who lives 80 miles away. He told her to call 911 immediately, which she did. Then she called two more church members who kept her talking on the phone until the EMTs arrived about 30 minutes later.

Once at the hospital, Watkins learned that her pelvis had cracked in two places where many muscles and tendons attach. Despite powerful pain medication, any movement of her left leg, especially bearing weight, caused debilitating pain.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions Watkins was allowed absolutely no visitors. The staff struggled to provide acceptable food, and therapy was excruciating. Watkins needed to be able to care for herself independently, as well as be able to climb stairs, in order to return to her trilevel home. Even getting into her home through a multilevel garden that surrounds her house presented a problem. It all seemed to be impossible under the present circumstances. Church members called often, attempted to visit through the closed hospital window, and sent food and flowers to help Watkins cope with the discouraging situation in which she found herself.

But God had already prepared the way for Yarrow in the form a newly found church friend, Kim Gallegos. Gallegos had recently moved from Oak Harbor to Republic after falling in love with the area while taking a health program at Klondike Mountain Health Retreat (KMHR). She began attending the Republic Church, where she became friends with Watkins.

“I feel so bad for Yarrow,” Gallegos told the staff at KMHR. “I want to bring her here for treatments and be her caregiver.” After 17 days in the hospital, the physical therapist did an on-site visit at KMHR and approved Watkins for immediate discharge.

The days passed quickly with treatments, walks to and from meals, and several forays to her house to try the uneven walkways and flights of stairs. After 10 more days, Watkins' husband returned and was able to help Watkins get settled in at home. When asked what part of being at the retreat center that was most helpful to her recovery, Watkins said, “Well, that is hard to say because all of it was helpful.”

“The accelerated healing that Yarrow experienced from the treatments she received at KMHR helped her to be able to better overcome the pain and get back home in a much better condition,” says Martin Klein, registered nurse.

“I think I received the double blessing,” Gallegos confides. “Not only was I able to help Yarrow but because I was at the retreat, I was able to stop smoking. I am 10 days cigarette-free, and it really wasn’t all that bad this time."

Watching these ladies work together was a testimony of how God’s church members are truly family to one another — especially when they help each other through difficult times.