Who is my neighbor?

Hello friends and family,

After many early mornings and late nights, friends reunited along with friends leaving, and tears shed together, God has brought us to the end of the week without even the taste of defeat or disappointment!

We are spending more and more time in prayer each week, and as we reflect on the past week and find what we will pray for in the week to come, we hope you will join us in all of these prayers, which brought us success every week before and I have faith will continue to bring the same success in the weeks to come.

By far the central focus of our work this week is sweet little Eva from Kurdistan. Her body was rejecting the changes introduced by last week’s Glenn surgery, and the built-up pressure in her lungs not only risked permanent damage, but also kept her oxygen saturation dangerously low and unstable.

eva precathAfter an interventional catheterization on Monday failed to turn things around, on Wednesday her doctors decided to reverse the Glenn and instead place a simple shunt. Since Eva was already quite weak going into this surgery, we were in constant prayer along with her mother.

bagleys with eva motherEva came out of the surgery on ECMO heart-lung support, and was eventually stabilized. Since then she has remained stable, but is still at risk, as ECMO can only be eventually removed successfully in about half of these cases. We are praying next week she will be strong enough to be taken off ECMO, and that no damage will be permanently done, but neither of these outcomes are a given without the miraculous intervention of our Father.

eva ecmoA special blessing came in the form of the return of Andrea and Bethany to support Eva’s mother. Andrea flew in from her home in Switzerland, and arrived at the hospital just as Eva was taken to her catheterization:

andrea and eva motherAnd an hour later Bethany returned to us after a trip to America for a wedding, and after arriving at the airport went straight to the hospital to hold and support her friend, just after flying across the world with no sleep or time to even go home. Eva’s mother told us she had prayed two days before that God would send her someone because she didn’t know how to face this alone.

waiting togetherAfter weeks of waiting Sohaib, another Kurdish child, has also had a lot of action this week. We got the call on Monday that Sohaeb would have a dental appointment early the next day, and then the day after that they would do his heart surgery. We were grateful for such rapid development, and the dental operation went off without issue. (Sohaeb has taken to his four silver crowns with excitement, after his mother told him that Spiderman has the same thing.)

sohaib dentalThen due to Eva’s emergency surgery the hospital had to postpone Sohaib’s. Instead of showing anger or even disappointment, Sohaib’s mother went quickly to comfort Eva’s mother and to wait by her friend’s side. Sohaib is also concerned about Eva, crying after learning he could not visit her, and constantly asking about his little friend and her condition.

sohaib playingWe are praying we will have good news to give him soon, both about Eva, and his rescheduled surgery.

Our last Kurdish child, 13-year-old Rozh, got the all clear for a discharge to Kurdistan this week, but her family decided to exercise extra caution and requested to stay at least one more week to let her get more energy and recover.

We are happy with this decision since we get to see Rozh come out of her shell more as she gets more comfortable in Ashdod; this week was filled with trips out to the park which Rozh enjoyed, getting photos with our staff and exploring the best of what our neighborhood has to offer.

rozh and mother in park 2Many kids needed medical treatment this week besides our Kurdish friends; we had two West Bank children come for catheterizations, and another in preparation for surgery this Sunday! Sanad and Meera both had catheterizations just yesterday, and both were clear successes! Meera will now be able to continue to surgery, as the catheterization both diagnosed her condition, and prepared the way to a safer surgery:

meera cathSanad was a similar case, they sought to increase blood flow and after a few balloons in his veins, he came out to the satisfaction of the doctors:

sanad dischargedBoth of these children were discharged today, they came in and went out together, both a story of success which we are praising God for.

Our other aforementioned West Bank child, Montaser, left at the beginning of the week after a catheterization, and came back to Sheba hospital today to be prepared for his surgery this Sunday.

montaser smileWe will be with him early Sunday morning to see him get this surgery, and pray he will come out healed and stronger.

We also saw both the loss and gain of volunteers this week, as the Bagley family left us to go back to Jordan after seven weeks in our Ashdod community.

bagley familyWhile they were here they contributed so much; Ben headed the construction of our chicken coop, Kerstin was always reliable in our work and an incredible cook, and their girls worked beside us excelling in family care, turning every child into a brother or sister. Toward the end of their stay Eva would only eat if Linnea jumped up and down, and Sohaib has been crying on and off since they left, just wanting them to come back!

To fill the gap, Bethany returned early this week as mentioned, and is now planning to stay a year or more, after she just couldn’t stop extending her three month trial period.

bethany and maxWe are happy Bethany is back with us, and we are looking forward to seeing many more acts and expressions of God’s love through her, as she has displayed even this week.

And a mother’s heart was warmed this afternoon, with Zech’s return after a month in America, visiting family and friends, celebrating and resting after a long period of work.

zech and motherWe are grateful to have our community coordinator back and pray for a fruitful season of work ahead, with renewed strength and vision.

We continue to pray for a resolution of our financial commitments to partner hospitals, and we look for different areas to cut down on in order to save money. With our current payment plan for treatment for kids, we literally watch the money come in for each child, waiting till we have enough to bring them in for treatment. More tangibly than ever every dollar counts, and every dollar gets us one step closer to getting a child life-saving treatment. Pray we keep our eyes on God, his providence, provision, and perfect plan in all of this.

This week my father sent me an article engaging with Messiah’s words on what it means to love one’s neighbor. The literal translation of “neighbor” in the parable of the Good Samaritan is simply those who are near to us, regardless of their origin. And while we may be an international community, all strangers in a foreign land, the call of Jesus is clear.

good samaritanOur coworker Andrea flew to Israel just to sit with the friend she made here, our female volunteers have been spending every night at the hospital with Eva’s mother, and the mothers of our other children are readily making food and going to support Eva’s mother when they can. This week I have seen my coworkers following the steps of the Good Samaritan, responding in love to those who God put in front of us, and I pray that we will keep on the path which he walked.

Max for Shevet Achim