Living the Mission

August 01, 2003

Some time ago, the father of an ICU nurse was admitted to Walla Walla General Hospital (WWGH) with heart problems. Things weren’t looking good when Walt Meske, a hospital chaplain, stopped by for a visit. “As I came in the room, he said, ‘I think my time’s about up.’ You could see the uncertainty in his eyes, so I just asked if he was ready. He opened up with a flood of questions. ‘Tell me, what does it mean? What happens?’”

Walt shared the simple Gospel—we are all sinners but if we accept Jesus, we can trust He’ll provide us a home in heaven. “As we talked, it was like a cloud lifted off of his face. Finally he said, ‘I’m ready for that. Would you pray?’ As we finished the prayer, he told me, ‘I’m ready, everything is OK.’”

His daughter came to check on him a little later, concerned at how restless he had been the night before. As she came in, he told her, “Honey, I’m going on a trip. The chaplain was here, and we talked. I asked the Lord to accept me as one of His children.”

That night the man died.

Walt touches the lives of those he serves. Duane Meidinger, vice president for finance, may have said it best: “Walt is genuinely interested in people’s souls. He breaks down barriers and is able to reach people’s hearts.”

Walt has been a teacher, a principal, dean of students, men’s dean and more. Retired today, he maintains his legacy of service as a chaplain. Every day he continues to give—to the patients at WWGH, to the community and to the people he works with. Walt says, “I pray every single morning, ‘Lord use me in some way to meet someone’s need, whether I know it or not.’” That is his creed, his prayer, the words he lives by.

“Restoring peace…Restoring hope…Restoring health…To do as Christ did, this is our Mission.” That’s the mission of Walla Walla General Hospital. It’s a mission that goes far beyond the scope of services offered and is exemplified in the lives of the people who work there.

“I think Walt lives the mission, especially the phrase, ‘To do as Christ did…,’” says Morre Dean, hospital president and CEO. “He is able to talk to people like Christ did—not intimidating them—to hold their hand while they pray or to offer prayer when they can’t.” Walt has a calming presence that exudes the empathy and compassion that people crave.

“Walt Meske is a generous, kind, warm-hearted person that makes you feel he really cares about you,” says Lauri Rootvik, RN. “He brings such warmth to his environment…patients feel welcomed and spiritually blessed.”

Walt takes no credit for the impact he makes in people’s lives. He comes to do his job and to live his mission, and in that he is blessed. “To know you’ve been able to help someone realize that God accepts them…Praise the Lord,” says Walt. “God is good; I just want to serve Him.”