Thursday morning Simona and I sat together at the start of our Ashdod community morning meeting – everyone else already somewhere on the road doing what needed to be done on the last day of this busy week. We started with one of our favorite psalms:
I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.”
What a beautiful reminder after a week that slowly stole all the strength left in us, as we were working from early mornings to late evenings to give our many kids the best care possible. How good to know that we don’t have to fight this alone with our mortal bodies, but that God is our strength, especially in our weakness, when we are filled by his spirit.
We continued reading and came to these verses, without knowing how soon we need them to not lose hope or joy:
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Minutes later we received the message that our good friend Abed had died in a hospital in Gaza the day before. Many of you probably remember the sweet boy that stayed for over nine months at Sheba and who went home on a ventilator. We were so thankful to see him growing up, gaining strength, and coming off the ventilator.
This also gave us hope for Somaia, our little girl that is now fighting on the tracheostomy at Sheba for eight and a half months. She slowly is making progress in getting off the ventilator, and we always said: She will God willing come off like Abed one day.
And we want to keep fighting and praying for our new arrival Habeeb who was safely delivered to Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem this Wednesday evening:
As I write this another little boy, Hamed, is on his way in an ICU ambulance from Gaza to Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv. We are thankful that Sheba finally accepted him now as they were short on ICU beds this week and couldn’t take him. Thank God that he is now on his way to a hospital where he can get the help he needs:
The last new emergency baby we had this week from Gaza is little Ahmed J. who arrived in Israel exactly a week ago:
And we finally have a surgery date for the Kurdish boy San. After a long wait he completed his pre-surgical dental treatment Sunday, and will go into his big open-heart surgery in two days:
Over the weekend San will still be here in our community house in Ashdod, where he is continuing to stir up mischief with his friends Naim and Lya. Delightful Lya will have an echo on the day of San’s surgery, and if everything looks good after her interventional catheterization, her doctors might even decide that she doesn’t need surgery and from a cardiac perspective can return home to Kurdistan:
Naim came from Gaza on Tuesday afternoon to our house for an CT on Wednesday. He is now staying over the weekend with us and waiting for an echo at the beginning of next week. In the meantime he is making friends with everyone, walking frequently in our house with a big grin and saying salam alaykum (“peace upon you”) to everyone and asking for his best friend, our dog Shevie. Yesterday morning he and San joined us during our scripture study, and were sitting very well-behaved on the couch with us and listening angelically to words that they didn’t understand:
Our longtime patient Saif came from Gaza to our house to wait here for his echo next week, and he woke up the next morning with a cough, fever and a little blood coming out of his tracheostomy, so we brought him to the ER at Sheba:
Our friend Kenan B. was also back from Gaza this week from Saturday night until Tuesday. He suffered seizures in Gaza lately and so the doctors did a few tests like a holter and an EEG to find out more about it, and then discharged him with a medication against the seizures back home. He will come back in three months for a neurology and cardiac follow-up and we pray that he will stay stable until then:
As Fayez is diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart, the hardest heart defect to fix, his condition is very serious but there is not a lot that doctors can do for him right now. His heart is weak but he is not well enough for his next surgery yet. His doctor started a new medication for him which she hopes will help him to get a little better, and told the family again how important it is that he gets his meds on time and to limit his fluids, but that’s all she can do for him now. It made me very sad that there is not a lot of hope that Fayez will grow old in his life, and to see him suffering like this. But again I need to remind my self that our hope is not on this world, and that Fayez one day also will say: …therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead.
Surprisingly admitted after her echo this week was little Rifan who came this Sunday from Gaza. Her doctors discovered a severe coarctation of the aorta and admitted her straight to the intermediate ICU. In the CT they performed the next day – on her first birthday – they saw that the narrowing is so severe that she may even need surgery and they can’t fix the problem with a cath:
A few doors down Mohammed R. is finally making good progress in his fight against his viruses. Doctors were able to wean him from the ventilator this week, and his collapsed lung is now finally recovering:
Our other Gaza Mohammed–Mohammed B–had a joyful day this week. On Wednesday his mom finally got the permission to travel to her son and change places with his aunt. Please pray that things will go a little faster for him as he is still waiting and waiting and getting bored in the hospital:
Waiting with him in Jerusalem for his next post-surgical echo is 14-year-old Mohammed M.A. from Kurdistan. We are very thankful that he stayed stable since his third ER trip one and a half weeks ago. We still don’t know exactly when his next echo will be but if he stays stable until then and everything looks good there he might also go back to his family soon:
It was a long week where again tears and laughter were mixed. And while most of us are at the end of our strength and need to process our emotions on this Shabbat, we don’t lose hope. From the second psalm we read in our morning meeting yesterday:
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
And knowing that he is surrounding us we want to rest in the hope we have in him, and keep fighting at the side of all the little ones he is entrusting us.
Thank you for joining us in prayer,
Doro for Shevet Achim