Doing a good work

Hello friends and coworkers,

Greetings from our community in Ashdod. We praise God for another week of walking in his way and partnering with him in the good work he is doing here.

We are back to having just two children in our family house, Eva and Sohaib, and we all miss the loud and boisterous nature of little Jan in the house. But now that Jan has gone home to Kurdistan, Eva and Sohaib are working to fill that role. Eva everyday is learning new things, and after watching Jan for so many weeks now talks and makes sounds much more:

And it is common to hear a resounding “Spiderman” as Sohaib runs around the house and neighboring park and does his signature Spiderman pose:

We relish the time we get to spend with them and their mothers. We have continued to share dinner with them every evening, and it is such a joy to laugh and smile with the mothers and their children.

Eva and Sohaib both had appointments in the hospital this week. Sohaib had his first echo in the hospital on Tuesday. We were praying that Sohaib would be a good patient in the hospital, because no matter how calm and peaceful a child is at home, when they get to the hospital anything can happen. However, we praise God that Sohaib did very well for his echo, laughing the whole way through:

Sohaib first came to Israel a year and a half ago to have a surgery to fix the hole in his heart. However the hole is very close to a valve, which made closing the hole very difficult, and doctors eventually had to reverse his surgery a year and a half ago. The hole is still present in his heart, and still very close to the valve, so his doctors will take their time to determine the best surgery and plan going forward. Sohaib will need a vascular ultrasound for his next diagnostic procedure. On Sunday, Sohaib will also go to the dentist for some dental work. Join us in prayer that Sohaib’s joyful spirit would remain even throughout the dental work.

Eva had another echo the next day, on Wednesday. We went into the echo with prayers for a decision about what Eva’s next steps would be, as her mother has been waiting anxiously throughout almost two months of echo after echo.

eva and mother at hospitalEva has grown very much since her last surgery and is looking very good, and praise God, the same was true with her echo. This last echo was finally looking good enough that the doctor said we could schedule a diagnostic catheterization in two weeks. This is the first step towards Eva’s second surgery.

The doctors do not know which surgery she will need yet, there are two possibilities, one that is more risky than the other but with a better outcome if successful. Eva is being taken off one of her medications to see how her heart reacts, and the catheter will show whether to take the more or less risky approach.

eva smiling at echoGod has already done a mighty work in Eva’s life throughout her time in Israel and we trust him to continue that good work, to keep Eva strong and healthy and to guide the doctors in their decision.

Jonathan and Zeporah joined Jan and his mother when they went home last Friday to Kurdistan, and another former volunteer Jakob flew in from Germany to meet them there. They are visiting many families that were here in Israel with us and a few families of children who are looking to come to Israel soon. Everyday we are sent pictures and videos, and we also received video calls from many families while they were visiting.

Jan familyWe praise God for this time that we are able to spend with these families and their beautiful children. It is a testament that our relationship with these families does not stop when they return to their homes, but by God’s grace it continues on.

While our family house in Ashdod has many rooms unoccupied, our staff side is filling up. We still have the Bagley family with us, Kate arrived last week, and yesterday we had Diane arrive from Texas. We praise God that he is providing more coworkers to join alongside us, and we thank him that our house is full again. While we are just a few days in the hospital each week we are continuing to work on house projects.

chicken coop in ashdodThe most recent project is building a coop for the chickens from our recently-closed Jerusalem home, whom we hope to transfer soon to Ashdod. It has turned into a tricky project because it is difficult to find good wood to build the coop. Ben and Max have been working very hard and are making a very beautiful home for our chickens.

As we count down the days to Pentecost, we have begun a new book of the Bible in our morning scripture study, the book of Acts, and we have been reflecting on the lives of the apostles and the early church. They routinely asked God to grant them boldness to speak the words of life and were earnestly seeking the working of the newly-given Holy Spirit in their life. We also noted that this didn’t mean the apostles were aggressive with their message, not shoving it in people’s faces, but they labored on every day, continuing to speak about the work of Messiah in their lives.

This is our prayer as well, that while we walk through this life with our families, with our neighbors and those we meet at the hospital, that we could speak the truth with love. Jesus is doing a good work in our life and we can’t help but share that. Friends, would you join us in this prayer for our community as we labor on in the good work that God has called us to.

And now, Lord…grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus. (Acts 4)

Bethany for Shevet Achim