Signs of deliverance

Friends, brothers, and sisters,

Greetings from those of us in Ashdod.

At the front of our hearts and prayers this week is Eva, who continues to endure great hardship. We shared in the Sunday letter about Eva’s improving oxygen levels, and indeed, her stats continued getting better and better as the week progressed, although she remained sedated and intubated. On Thursday, Eva was taken back into the OR to install a pacemaker and to close her still-open chest.

During this procedure her oxygen fell sharply again, and although the pacemaker installation was successful, her chest had to remain open. She is recovering since then; in critical condition for a little while but now more stable. This dear little girl, unconscious though she is, is fighting her hardest for life.

Eva closeupPray for her! Pray for the recovery of her oxygen levels; the healing of her mind; and the successful closing of her chest.

And pray for her mother, who is being tried in agonizing ways. Each time she has resigned herself to Eva’s passing, Eva has improved; but each time she begins to hope, Eva seems to deteriorate.

Eva mother at bedsideCompound this brutal cycle with her own consistent health issues, and it seems a miracle she’s still standing at all. She has been experiencing pain when eating or drinking and is losing weight. On Tuesday she has a colonoscopy booked. Please pray with us that it will help us discern the root of her ailment and help her be treated. And please pray that she will be comforted in this time, and that God will show us his will for Eva quickly.

Our little friend Montaser from Bethlehem also remains in the hospital. Although he is largely recovered from his big surgery—he walks and plays but gets tired—his color is still not great and his oxygen dips. Today we learned that the doctors have found a blockage of some sort in his left pulmonary tract, so they will be meeting soon to discuss next steps.

Montaser and motherIt could potentially be resolved with catheterization; it could potentially be left completely untreated. Pray that the doctors will have care and wisdom in their deliberations and that this precious boy will soon be restored to his home.

Speaking of children from the West Bank, please also pray for little Mohammed Bushkar, who had an internal defibrillator installed in Israel and was followed-up in September just before the war.

 This week he experienced an episode of some sort while at home in the middle of the night, which according to his mother resulted in unconsciousness and cyanosis for two minutes. He’s recovering, but the nature of this attack is uncertain. We’re presently trying to get him to Sheba Hospital at the recommendation of his electrophysiologist. Pray for his full recovery and that whatever caused this attack will not be repeated.

Wednesday was the last day in Israel for 13-year-old Rozh from Kurdistan. Our sisters Bethany and Diane took Rozh and mother, along with the mother of Eva, to Jerusalem to pray on the Temple Mount.

And the rest of us piled into a (very hot) car (due to an uninspired AC system) to drive to Bethlehem and visit with our Gazan families for Eid Al-Adha, the second of the two main Islamic holidays.

zech loai naimThey continue in that strange, interim life of theirs in Bethlehem, waiting for news and signs of deliverance.

Gaza moms at eidAnd despite the tension between the two camps of families, it was a joy to see and reunite with them; to see how big the kids are getting; to laugh and play with them and introduce them to the coworkers who haven’t been able to meet with them yet.

selena kate bethlehemThat night we had our farewell party in Ashdod for our friend Rozh and her mother, featuring Max’s video with some outstanding special effects:

Rozh farewell videoI mentioned in my last letter that I hadn’t gotten to spend much time with Rozh or her mother, and that remained true up till the end; but we were able to have a blessed farewell anyways, and indeed, Rozh’s mother was more affected by the proceedings than most I’ve seen in my time at Shevet. She shed tears as our coworkers shared words of kindness and appreciation to her and her daughter, and we sent them on their way with “The Blessing” from Numbers 6.

On Thursday morning, coworker Beth and I drove them to the border, and after some brief confusions, they were on their way to the airport with our brother Ben. We pray that they return home to a joyful reunion, and that Rozh will remain strong and healthy as she turns to the rest of a new and rejuvenated life. Hold her in prayer!

Our work at the border wasn’t done though. Beth and I remained there for a few hours waiting for two new children to arrive from Kurdistan: 8-year-old Bavia, and 10-month-old Mir!

new familiesBavia, older than most of the kids we get, speaks very good English, and so does Mir’s mother who works as an English teacher. We look forward to getting to spend time with these children and their mothers. Pray for these new children, both of whom will have their first echos the beginning of next week.

Keep Sohaib and his mother in your prayers as well. Sohaib’s surgery date, although never made official, was postponed another week. Although his mother is cheerful, she was disappointed at the delay. Pray that his surgery date will be secured this week!

sohaib and mother on stepsIn the meantime, we rejoice in getting to spend time with Sohaeb and his mother. She has become a real pillar for the Kurdish side of our community, regularly cooking food for Eva’s mother in the hospital and for us. Yesterday, when we reached home after a long day of driving and travel with our new families, she had prepared a proper Kurdish meal to welcome them into this new, foreign space. We’re grateful for her and the example she gives both to us and to the other families.

This coming week will be a busy time for us in the hospital. We have many appointments, at least two catheterizations, and likely a surgery. One of those catheterizations, God willing, will be Hur, the precious little Gazan girl who’s been in Bethlehem all these months.

We’re still trying to secure a guarantee of her crossing into the country, so please pray for favor in that. And please pray for God’s guidance with regards to Bethlehem housing, too. We’re moving some of the families to a new home, and we’re discerning whether to send female volunteers to Bethlehem on a rotating basis to assist them there. With our sister Keyla gone, none of our female volunteers have a solid grasp of Arabic, so this may be a difficult task. But we trust the Lord to make our way clear in the matter.

For now, we enter into the rest and peace of the Shabbat, trusting that we will be strengthened and encouraged through this time set apart for and with God. Pray for our community and our families, that we will have genuine and humble hearts; hearts that will not hold on to anger and to bitterness, but instead rejoice in love and in the truth and in fellowship with one another.

May the God of peace and love be with you all,

Zechariah for Shevet Achim