Surgery day for Mohammed began exactly on time at 7am. Mohammed remained calm and friendly with every interaction as teams of nurses and doctors surrounded him with questions and assessments. Confusion began as the medical team realized that they need a Kurdish interpreter. This was one of our early morning prayer requests – that barriers with communication would not be a problem today.
Prayers were answered when we called Mohammed’s uncle in Kurdistan who speakers good English and was willing to interpret for the day. The doctor explained that this will be a very long day and that Mohammed will go through an extremely difficult surgery and that he faces many risks in the days to come. The mother agreed to everything – what more could she do? And more prayers are answered as communication seems to not be a problem. We were amazed when the surgical team handed mom and the Shevet volunteer surgery clothing, and invited us to accompany Mohammed into the OR, and to remain at his side until he fell asleep.
Then suddenly – in a moment – Mohammed was asleep and we were asked to leave, and Mohammed’s strong mother ‘B’ began to cry for the first time. Her tears flowed and flowed for almost an hour. The Shevet volunteer would have been feeling alone and at a loss for how to comfort her with the chasm of language, gender and culture between us – but for the Hand of God.
Within moments of settling into the waiting room, with B still crying & crying – three Arab families who were also waiting in the hospital, jumped up to assist and comfort. We were given tea and breakfast treats, B was accompanied to the bathroom to wash her face, then more food arrived, and then more food. At the end of the day, B had more food than she could ever eat. The other families were confused about why this American man was helping this Kurdish woman and wondered how she could be in Israel at all. They had trouble understanding that this mother comes from Iraq. Doors flew open and walls collapsed when I was able to share with these families the amazing work of Shevet Achim. I shared stories from the website and described the great work that God is doing for these families. One of the Arab girls wiped her eyes and responded, ‘this is really a beautiful thing – thank you for everything you are doing.’ Coworkers Berith and Tatiana joined us in the morning and B began to melt, then even smile, then even laugh as the arms of the Lord wrapped around her with love and peace and comfort.
One of the OR nurses came through the waiting room with updates and was bursting with joy to share that she is Jewish and that her family comes from Kurdistan! Instead of calling the uncle for interpretation, this wonderful Jewish-Kurdish angel offered the few Kurdish words she could remember from childhood and comforted B. We were moved to tears to see the Hand of God working in our midst, in such a beautiful and special way. Berith offered a perfect reply to this amazing encounter:
‘Wow. This is the Hand of God, for sure – He has eyes and ears and hands and feet working all around us – to help us – with whatever we need.’
Amen to that, Sister Berith. Amen
Within the hour we were invited to move to the PICU to see Mohammed for the first time. Dr. Seraf explained that the surgery was completely successful, that Mohammed’s damaged aortic valve had been replaced and that all of the cardiac defects had been repaired, noting that there were no complications or concerns with the surgery today. B began calling all of her family members. She was full of joy with the news and embraced the Shevet volunteers with thanks and gratitude.
As we said good bye for the night, we knew that we were not leaving Mohammed and his mother alone tonight. We were confident that we were leaving this beautiful mother and son in the hands of our loving Abba – who has eyes and ears and hands and feet working all around us – to help us – with whatever we need.