Of all the children we could see in Iraq this week, there was one that I requested: Parwa.
Two and a half years ago, when I arrived in Israel as a foreign exchange student, I was a hurting person. Lonely. Confused. Angry. Disaffected. Fresh off breaking my neck and neurosurgery, when I heard about Shevet Achim, I felt an immediate sympathy for the heart patients. Plus, ever since I was one, children have brought me joy.
So I showed up at 29 Prophets Street one day, and here was this girl, Parwa, age six, from northern Iraq. Precocious, sensitive, playful, artistic, and adorable: big brown eyes, a beauty mark on her right cheek, and a smile full of baby teeth. Over the course of the semester, between classes, research papers, and field studies, the time I spent with this little girl reinvented for me the possibility of
Our farewell to Parwa began Thursday afternoon as Mary presented her with a beautiful handmade quilt from the Bartow First Baptist Church in the US. Then we all gathered in the courtyard, and I was surprised by the tears from both my coworkers and the traveling moms when it came time to say goodbye. See how they loved each other!
We reached Amman about midnight Thursday, where my wife Michelle and I were blessed to host Parwa, Deeman, and Abubakr and their moms for the night before turning them over to Dirk and Manuela for more hospitality before the families flew out Saturday.
Thank you all for your support and your prayers, which have been so richly answered in the lives of these beautiful children.
Sweet Parwa is seldom seem without her beautiful smile and animated curiosity. She is polite, asks for what she wants and waits her turn. In some ways she may appear not to share the same pain the other children share because her surgical procedure didn't leave a scar on the outside. No stitches to be removed today on her last day at the hospital, and no medicine to take. She is free and clear to go home! We are so grateful for the successful repair of the small hole in Parwa's heart. Without this repair, future stresses on her body (such as pregnancy, once she was ready to start her own family) may have made a life- threatening situation for her. It would have always been an area of potential weakness, waiting for disaster without warning. It was quite a sacrifice for Parwa's mother to be away from her other children during this time. It was a price she willingly paid for the good future God wants for His children.
I sincerely pray and ask you to join me in seeking the Father's grace and mercy, to look into Parwa's heart and fill it full of any good thing she may lack to be a healthy and truly happy person. May God put examples in her life of what it means to have an open heart toward others and teach her the importance of never closing your heart to other's needs.
Today was my first full day at Shevet Achim, and what a pleasure it was to go down from Jerusalem to Wolfson Hospital in Tel Aviv and bring back charming little Parwa and her mother. They were waiting eagerly for us in the entry hall when we walked in. They would have come right out to the car, but a check for necessary paperwork gave Parwa a chance to give a new friend a goodbye hug.
Once in the car, she was eager to hop up and see where we were going, but we had to fasten her seatbelt, which she took with good grace. Parwa's mother was asking when they could go home to Iraq, and of course that will have to wait for the doctors' final OK.
Parwa was happy for the hour or so it took to get back, looking at a picture book, playing with roses purloined from the hospital flower beds. She bounced her balloon around the back seat until it popped, but she took even that with a smile, and showed us what was left.
There was a very happy reunion with her friends in Jerusalem, and everyone is glad to have this little lady back. Please pray with us that Parwa and her mother will get the final OK to return home soon!
Please continue to pray for Parwa's continued recovery, as well as this entire family. There are many needs within this household in each family member's life. Our heavenly Father knows best how to meet each of these needs as the two ladies of the house return and continue to wait for the soon arrival of a new baby brother or sister for Parwa.
Sweet, quiet, studious, cooperative and lovely six-year-old Parwa started her admission process at Wolfson Medical Center today. She was as quiet and reserved as her friend, Abubakr, was rambunctious and vocal. But Parwa set the example of a no-tears blood test for her friend. Bravery and cooperation was the theme of the day. On Monday echo doctors will determine whether they can close the hole in her heart through catheterization or if they feel surgery will be necessary. Please ask the "Greatest Physician of All" if He might spare this little lady the surgical procedure by His mighty touch.
Six-year-old Parwa peacefully rolled across the Jordan River bridge this afternoon into Israel. Throughout an eight-hour journey she was pleasant and patient, with a sweet smile, surprising me only with the way she first set foot in Israel:
Tomorrow morning our coworkers will take Parwa to the Wolfson Medical Center for her first exams, in preparation for her life-saving heart treatment. We'll keep this spot updated.