This is my story

Dear friends,

There is a Shevet tradition for new volunteers to share the story of how they became followers of Jesus, and while the five of us now in Jaffa have been here for months and years, we have started one day a week to share in the morning meeting the story of how the Lord encountered us.

Not only is this a lot of fun but it has also been an incredible gift that stimulates new conversations and new trains of thought. These stories–really the same story which is so powerfully and wonderfully diverse each time it is expressed through the lens of our lives–add layers of depth to our reading of scripture.

Today as Sabrina shared her testimony of faith she showed us a short clip of her baptism. Hearing how God transformed her heart, mind, and actions I couldn’t help but think of what the book of Hebrews says of Jesus: “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

His joy to bring us into his family of unconditional and eternal love is why he went to the cross; God is devoted to us his creation. Prayer, as Hans Ur  von Balthasar wrote in Love Alone is Credible, “…is the act of worship and glorification that befits love, the act in which one makes the most fundamental attempt to answer with selflessness and thereby shows that one has understood the divine proclamation.”

Let our prayers be an answer to this manner of love which the Father has bestowed on us that we should be called his children.

alaa arrives at shebaLast night Alaa came back urgently from Gaza to the Sheba Medical Center, due to fluid buildup in his stomach which has kept him from eating and drinking for many days. After going through the emergency room he was admitted in the cardiac unit for further observation and treatment to relieve the fluid retention. Those of you who’ve been praying know how much Alaa has already been through!

The family of Alaa contacted us Monday, and as soon as they said he was not well our coworker Amar worked tirelessly to bring him back to Israel. Thank God for Amar who is there to intercede for these families. I’ve said this before, but his job is not an easy one, and yet he is so faithful in it. Please keep in your prayers Amar and his beautiful family in the US while they are separated from each other.

I’d also like to ask you to pray this week for our beloved “Schlingel” (rascal) Mohaned from Gaza. He had a catheterization yesterday to help plan for his next surgery, which carries significant risk due to the complexities of his heart:

mohaned and mother
The high mortality rate of his coming surgery is a haunting reality for his mother, and would only increase the longer he waits, so please pray for Mohaned and his mother as they are with us in Jaffa until his surgery.

Baby Lalo from Kurdistan is in the secondary ICU now, and is doing better each day as he slowly recovers from his surgery 16 days ago:

lalo recoversThe medical team are seeking to wean him off of the supplemental oxygen which he still requires. Thank God for his progress and for his beautiful mother who is doing well now that he is stabilized.

At less than two weeks old, Mohammed R. had surgery yesterday to switch his misplaced great arteries:

mohammed r postopHe was brought urgently on Shabbat from Gaza. Please pray for him as he recovers and for his young mother as she is with him through this.

Newborn Omar, who also came out emergently from Gaza this weekend, underwent a catheterization today to place a stent in his heart, and is doing so well he has already been moved to the secondary ICU unit, thank God:

omar from gazaLittle Mariam from Gaza had her second surgery with us last Thursday, and praise God she is also doing well now in the secondary ICU:

mariam postopHer mum is looking forward to coming to stay with us in Jaffa again in the next few days after Mariam is discharged.

We also thank God for Asmeen from Kurdistan, as this sweet girl is was finally weaned from mechanical ventilation yesterday, nine days after her heart surgery:

asmeen extubated
Her heart function is good, but the unusual anatomy of her diaphragm made it difficult for her to breathe efficiently enough on her own. We pray she will continue to grow and strengthen.

On Friday baby Huda from Kurdistan was discharged from the hospital after successful surgery to switch her great arteries, and she and her mother joined us for Shabbat dinner:

alena and huda motherToday on the porch of our house Huda’s mum had her on her lap, relaxing in the sun. Huda’s mother has grown in confidence in giving medications and caring for her daughter and has good support from Georgia and Carina.

So there’s much progress for which we thank the Lord as this week draws to its close. We also remember before him six more urgent children waiting to come to us from Kurdistan, including two more with transposition of the great arteries:

six childrenWe received their visas to enter Israel today, but they still cannot travel until the airport reopens, which will be no sooner than Sunday.

Thank you for praying with us, and may God bless you.

Alena for Shevet Achim